Help and advice

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, our customs "top tips" on major destinations have been supplied from Tates Export Guide which is an excellent source of current requirements. You can find out more about Tate, and other organisations which provide exporting advice, on our export support page.

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

  • Ensure you do not send anything which is prohibited by Parcelforce Worldwide or any of our partners as listed in our Worldwide Directory
  • Check you know any prohibitions and restrictions set by governments overseas for the types of goods you are shipping. We have provided some "top tips" as a starting point in our directory for major destinations
  • 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 3700. You can also find information on the HMRC website.

What are Customs regulations there for?
Customs processes are there to monitor trade levels between countries, help maintain national security, but also 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.

Inward Processing

IP goods are primarily goods that arrive in the UK for a temporary period. So the duty and VAT are suspended. The type of goods that fit this regime are for example items coming in for repair and then being sent out again.

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 - this depends on the type of goods
Excise duty - % charge per kilo for perfumes, cigarettes and alcohol
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 contact HMRC's customs team by e-mail at Look up your Customs tariff code.

Further information

As all duties and taxes are raised by HMRC, we cannot answer any queries. If you have any queries relating to customs, taxes or duties raised by HMRC, please contact visit the HMRC website.

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