customs & security
Customs & Security Information
Customs and couriers have the right to check any package; they are all screened no matter where they are going. Shipments can be inspected and X-rayed to check if safe for transport.
Shipments outside and into the EU are subject to customs clearance. This includes territories associated with EU member states, including Falkland Islands, Canary Islands etc.
It would be an impossibly long list to cover the specific customs policies of every country so below is an overview of general customs advice.
The courier companies all have rules about how long they will hold items pending customs clearance. Once this time has passed they will re-export the items back to the shipper. Usually this is a full transport cost, not necessarily discounted. The other area of concern is if there are too many delays there may well be storage fees to pay. Therefore, it is always advisable to talk to the consignee about the import arrangements before dispatch of the goods and if the item is held in customs discuss with the courier the best options for clearing the item. Not all couriers are good in this respect. What always helps is a full description of all the goods dispatched with the description matching the harmonised code.
Useful web links
Guidance websites for dispatching goods out of the UK:
The shipper has certain responsibilities; adhering to these will get your shipments there quickly, safely and may even save you from fines and penalties. They are as follows:
Prohibited or restricted items:
please check before shipping anything that you are allowed to do so. it is up to the shipper to check whether they can send an item to specific destination or not. These restriction may not just apply to the country but may also be carrier specific.
Some items are prohibited by certain governments. These can include foodstuffs, animal produce, plants among others. Always check the specific destination countries’ customs website.
TIP: prohibited or restricted items can change over time so it pays to be up-to-date
Check out our documentation page for additional information.
all shipments going outside or coming into the EU require 4 copies of a customs (proforma or commercial) invoice (this is not required if only sending documents). This details the contents and value of all the items within your shipment.
TIP: When using our online portal these can be created as you are doing the shipments.
certain countries require extra documentation in addition to the Customs invoice. Please check the specific countries’ customs website. These may include a TSCA statement for the USA or Arabic countries require a Certificate of Origin signed by the relevant embassy.
It is up to the shipper to check whether the recipient has the authority to import into their country. Certain countries require an import permit, which must be supplied with the other documentation during transit.
Duties, Taxes and charges
These may be payable by the receiver or shipper (Although it is always preferable for the receiver to pay as additional charges may apply if the tax is passed back to the UK). Make sure if the receiver is paying that they are aware of these charges as the shipment will not be released or delivered until paid.
Import duty is based on a percentage of the value of the goods. There may also be charge for the customs clearance, an administration fee.
Personal effects are exempt from these charges in some, but not all countries. Again, you would have to check with the specific destination countries’ customs.
TIP: Certain taxes and duties are eligible for refund. For instance, if you are sending goods for an exhibition or for repair, when they come back you are entitled to claim a refund for the taxes paid. However, when making the Customs invoice, you must state this as the reason for exporting and/or importing. It always good to check if a refund is available as this is more revenue back in your pocket
Certain countries have trade agreements with the EU. This means you can obtain preferential trade tariffs when exporting or importing certain goods. The HMRC website has more information about this.
When shipping personal effects to certain countries like the USA, Australia and New Zealand, completing a form ahead of time will save delays in customs.
If you are shipping personal effects to the USA, Australia or New Zealand, completing the following forms ahead of time can help to speed up the customs clearance process. If you do not send them with your shipment, they will need to be completed by the receiver.