Customs and Export Guidelines

Export Customs Information

Customs rules and regulations are independent to all carriers across the world and set by national governments, bodies like the European Union and the World Customs Organisation. As a carrier, we are bound by these rules, as are all of our competitors.

In addition, the British Chambers of Commerce have a comprehensive range of export publications and support services, as do UK Trade & Investment, Business Links and SITPRO.

In brief, it is always your responsibility as the shipper to:

  • Ensure you do not send anything which is prohibited by or any of our partners
  • Check you know any prohibitions and restrictions set by governments overseas for the types of goods you are shipping
  • Complete and attach any other necessary documentation required for customs clearance overseas. This will vary by country, and will depend on the types of goods you are sending
  • Explain to overseas customers that their imported goods may well be subject to import duties and taxes which will need paying before parcels will be released for delivery

There are a range of organisations in the UK who can help you with all of the above. As a starting point, we recommend that you talk to HM Revenue & Customs who can be contacted on 0300 200 3310. They also have a website,

What are customs regulations there for?

Customs processes are there to monitor trade levels between countries, help maintain national security, and for fiscal purposes. Depending on the type of good, country of origin, and the country of destination, goods may, or may not, be subject to prohibitions, restrictions, and the application of duties / taxes.

Exporting Worldwide — General

There are some rules and additional documentation that may apply to some EU and non-EU destinations alike, depending on what is being sent and to where. You need to know the regulations for your products in your chosen export markets.

Import licences

Certain goods being imported into some countries may require an import licence, imposed by the overseas government for a range of reasons including health & safety, import quotas and so on. We recommend that you check with the importer that relevant licences have been obtained from the relevant government department before shipping any goods. Be aware that rules and regulations change all the time and it is your responsibility to check with your overseas customer that relevant licences have been granted.

Export licences

Certain goods being exported to some countries may require an export licence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.  Attach it to the package in an envelope marked "Export Licence" and tick the relevant box on the Despatch Pack. A licence is usually valid for a single shipment, even if the value of the goods being sent are less than the amount specified on the licence. Different governmental departments have different export licence requirements; customers are advised to check with the relevant one for their goods. These departments include:

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
020 7215 5000

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
08459 33 55 77

Department of Culture, Media and Sports
0207 211 6000

Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
0191 226 5050

Moving goods into the EU

Shipping goods into the EU is commonly known as "moving" rather than "exporting". This is because the EU is a single market — as such trade between the countries is easier and mainly without barriers. Shipping to the EU has fewer trade restrictions and no specific customs documentation is needed (except the despatch pack and potentially some of the additional licences listed above). There are 28 EU members, plus 7 territories where we do not require customs declarations.

EU Member states
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria 
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxenbourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
EU Territories
  • Monaco
  • Corsica
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily
  • Azores
  • Madeira
  • Balearics
Other Territories

EU special territories (including the Channel Islands and the Canary Islands) and overseas territories linked to EU members (for example, the Falkland Islands) should all be treated as non-EU destinations.

Exporting outside the EU

The key thing to be aware of is that for all parcels going outside these EU destinations, parcels will pass through customs procedures. The customs team overseas will make a judgement on whether any duties and taxes are applicable to the parcel, based on the information provided on the despatch pack and commercial invoice.

These charges are made up of: Import duty (% charge on the declared value — dependant upon the type of goods), Excise duty (% charge per kilo for perfumes, cigarettes and alcohol), and Import VAT (VAT at the prevailing rate in the destination country applicable on the total value and duties).

Clearance fee — an administration charge to cover the costs of additional handling, administration, collection of monies etc.

Export preferences

In order to help trade and the flow of some goods from the EU to non-EU destinations, there are some EU wide preferential agreements on particular goods going to certain non-EU countries. When exporting to countries with which there is a trade agreement, items may be eligible for reduced duty rates or treatment free of duty. If so, you will need to complete an EURl or EUR2 Movement Certificate or include a specifically worded Invoice Declaration. You should either include the Movement Certificate (authenticated and stamped by HM Revenue & Customs) in our Despatch Pack or attach it to the package in an envelope marked "EUR Movement Certificate". In some cases, an EUR2 Movement Certificate signed by the sender may be used.

Movement Certificates and Invoice Declarations

Some countries require certain goods to have a Certificate of Origin attached to the parcel. Turkey, for example, requires a certificate of origin for most types of goods, and Taiwan requires them for textiles and clothing. You need to make sure that you have checked with the local Chambers of Commerce who can advise on specifics.

Harmonised System (HS) Numbers

We advise including the World Customs Organisation 6 digit Harmonised System (HS) tariff number (also known as commodity codes, tariff headings, tariff codes, or classification codes) for each type of good, along with details of the country of origin. This will aid customs authorities who assess and charge appropriate duties and taxes. For assistance, HMCE's Tariff Classification Helpline gives verbal (non-legally binding) advice on 0300 200 3700 or by e-mail at Look up your Customs tariff code.

VAT paid on Exported Goods

Each item valued over £100 must carry a VAT Label 444 on the outside of the package. You can obtain these and VAT notices from your local Customs VAT office, or the HMCE National Advice Service. For proof of export for re-claiming VAT, the recognised evidence is the customer receipt.