Customs Postal Data

This page is for our Parcelforce Worldwide account holders and has been created as a guide to customs. Please remember that customs rules and regulations are different in each country and Parcelforce Worldwide is not responsible for setting any rules. Below is a guide only and rules may differ depending on what and where you are exporting to.

What is a Customs Declaration?

A customs declaration is required for all exports of parcels from the UK to overseas destinations. The customs declaration is managed and submitted by PFWW (and our chosen partners) as appropriate for each product. Customs agencies use the information provided within the customs declaration to ensure items are compliant with their own local regulations and to calculate what, if any, tax and duties are due. If you are sending goods to a country outside of the UK, you must provide full and accurate information to avoid parcels being rejected by customs. For more information please click here.

The CN23 is an officially recognised document to capture essential details to support and make the customs declarations in the UK and in destination countries.

Each destination is responsible for setting their own import controls on restricted goods. Customers are advised to identify whether items being imported into a specific destination will require licences / certificates or incur additional charges. To identify specific Country requirements, please visit our individual country pages here.

*Please note: When sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU, no customs declarations are required for sending gifts or goods.

What is a Commercial Invoice?

A commercial invoice is a supporting document for customs purposes. The commercial invoice enables the overseas customs authorities to confirm required information about the goods you are sending.

How do I present the above Supporting Documents?

These documents must be physically provided when sending the item. We recommend you include these physical documents within a plastic wallet affixed to the outside of the parcel. You must attach this to the same side as your address label where size permits, however if this not possible, we suggest that you attach it on the reverse/back of the item if there is sufficient space. Items sent without valid or incorrectly or partially completed documents may be delayed or returned to sender. These documents will need to be completed accurately before collection or dropping off at the Post Office®/Depot.

You must ensure that you are confident that the information provided is a true and accurate reflection of the items being dispatched. Parcelforce Worldwide cannot be held liable for any incorrect information but the sender can be legally responsible for ensuring data provided for customs purposes is accurate. It is worthwhile ensuring that you are familiar with the customs laws for exporting and importing.

Electronic Customs Data

Electronic customs data is also mandatory. Pre-registration schemes such as the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) require accurate electronic data to enable items to be cleared through customs successfully. Any items with incomplete or missing data may be delayed or returned.

CN23 Customs Declaration

Image of a CN23 document

Commercial Invoice

Commercial Invoice - postal example


Where can I complete the CN23 and Commercial Invoice?

Our International account holders can input the required information via WDM Online or via our API (ExpressLink) and these systems will automatically generate these documents for you where appropriate using the information you have provided. You must ensure that you are confident that the information provided is a true and accurate reflection of the items being dispatched as this will form part of the Electronic Customs Data created. PFW cannot be held liable for any incorrect information but the sender can be legally responsible for ensuring data provided for customs purposes is accurate. It is worthwhile ensuring that you are familiar with the customs laws for exporting and importing.

Postal Product Requirements

Product Data Needed Documents

Sender’s Details in FULL, including Phone Number
Include the senders full name, address and postcode, alongside a phone number. This will ensure you can be contacted regarding the item if required.

Recipient’s Details in FULL, including Phone Number 
This is required by overseas customs authorities and will help the recipient to be contacted if required. There is an increased risk of customs delays if this information is not provided. Please ensure that you provide local contact details.

Sender’s GB EORI Number / IOSS Number (Where applicable)
EORI numbers should start with 'GB' followed by 12 digits (14 characters in total)

IOSS numbers should always be 2 alpha (always "IM") and 10 numeric characters with no spaces.

Where this is provided incorrectly, the package is likely to be returned or delayed 

Reason for Shipment 
For example ​​​​​gift, sold, returned goods or sample

Please note: Gift’ is not applicable as a description / nature of goods for commercial items.

Content Description
This must be as detailed as possible e.g. Women’s cotton t-shirt / Children’s board game / Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate Bar Not: Clothing / Toy / Sweets

Customs use the content description to faciliate border checks 

The HS/Tariff Code (Minimum 6 digits)
Tariff Codes are an internationally recognised standard which means your  items can easily be identified worldwide by all customs systems, regardless of language barriers. This makes it easier for overseas partners to process the item through customs. To find out more please click here. We also have a HS code look up tool for you to use, this can be accessed here (Please note that, PFW cannot be held liable for the HS code selection).

Item value for each individual item in the parcel
Please DO NOT combine the value of the parcel, if the content is not the same. If you have a mixture of goods within the parcel, these MUST be entered separately. The item value is the customs value of the goods and should not include postage. Items can not be declared as zero value regardless of why the item is being sent - this includes gifts, samples, returns/repairs etc. See here on how to value goods for customs purposes. 

Individual item weight for each item in the parcel 
Accurate weights are required for each item in the parcel to ensure that the customs duty and taxes can be calculated where applicable to weight-based calculations. 

Country of Origin
This means the country where the goods originated e.g. were produced, manufactured or assembled.

Postage should be declared separately and not included in the item value calculation 

Sender’s Signature
This confirms your liability for the item in terms of the contents of the parcel.

Product label x 1 
CN23 x 1 
Commercial invoice x 3 
Any additional licenses


Export Licenses / Regulatory Controls

Certain goods being exported to some countries may require an export licence or a document from other regulatory bodies. Attach it to the package in a clearly marked envelope. Customers must also advise us of this electronically as part of the booking process. 

Please check with the relevant government department prior to shipping your goods to see if they require additional licenses or documents. 

Sending items to the EU and Non-EU destinations – VAT & Customs Duties

For items being sent to countries outside of the UK the customs thresholds at which point taxes and duties are applicable will vary from country to country and are decided by local customs authorities. We would always recommend that you check these before sending and further information on this can be found here.

For customers sending an item from NI to the EU there is no requirement to complete and apply a customs declaration. NI remains in the EU Customs Union and therefore customs taxes and duties are not applicable. The taxes and duties applied depend on the individual contents of the parcel, the weight, and the value. 

I’m sending to the Channel Islands; will I need a Customs Declaration?

Yes, if you are shipping item/s to the Channel Islands you will require custom declarations. This includes Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark. Please note goods to Jersey may also be liable for GST (Goods and Service Tax) which is currently 5%. Find out more about shipping to the Channel Islands at our Worldwide Directory.

Additional Information

There are a range of organisations in the UK who can help you with all of the above. As a starting point and for additional information about exporting goods from the UK please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website.

To check your item is not prohibited or restricted please click here.

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