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Clearing your parcel through international customs

By 26th May 2016

Any parcels, including gifts, sent to a non-EU destination need completed paperwork to clear it through the Customs of the destination country. This paperwork is called a Proforma or Commercial Invoice.

Most countries require 4 copies of the invoice for each shipment (not each parcel) and each copy must have an original signature.

What Customs require on the invoice

The invoice must state whether it is a “proforma invoice” or “commercial invoice”: 
A proforma invoice is for consignments that are being supplied to the recipient free of charge, for example a gift or promotional item. 
A commercial invoice is to be used for consignments which are being sold to the consignee

For sending parcels outside the EU, including:

  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Channel Isles 
  • Rest of World

Not the most exciting prospect I know but here are some quick steps to make sure you have filled in the customs paperwork correctly, which in most cases will smooth things along when shipping.

We have devised a customs form as simply as we can with nice big boxes to fill in.

First are you sending a gift or promotional item?

If so tick the proforma box at the top of the form.

You will still need to fill in the form, even brochures for an event have an intrinsic value

Are you selling something?

Then you tick the commercial invoice box.

Then you fill in:

1. The Date.

2. The consignment number which is your tracking number.

3. The sender's name.

4. The full address of the sender.

5. The contact name of the sender

6. The contact telephone number of the sender.

7. EORI Number or PID Number

Next one is the EORI (Economic Operator Registration & Identification Number)

If you export outside the EU on a regular basis, you need to get an EORI number.
It only takes 2 - 3 working days to get one organised.
You can get a lot of information and help from this site: 
www.gov.uk/starting-to-export/outside-eu

https://www.gov.uk/eori

PLEASE NOTE

If you are exporting something to Switzerland or Norway or the Canary Island you must have the receiver's Personal ID Number PID from them and fill this in here. 
 

8. FDA Registration Number, for exporting to the USA

Certain commodities exported to the USA require the sender to register with the FDA in the USA.
These commodities include cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and non-perishable food items. A copy of the prior notice must be attached to the invoice before export.
For advice on this visit this website:
www.fda.gov

Next the same information for the consignee:

9. Name of company or individual receiving the goods.

10 Address of the receiver.

11. Contact name.

12. Receiver Contact telephone number.

If there is any duty to be paid the customs officers need to be able to contact them by phone to arrange to pay duties so having a local telephone number is very important.
A lot of carriers have their own designated agents in most countries who will assist with clearance.
With some of the larger carriers like UPS and DHL they have permission from some of the governments to collect the taxes on their behalf on delivery.
 

13. Receivers VAT number

Ask your receiver for a VAT number if they have one, if not fill in Not Applicable.

14. Number of parcels  in your consignment.

15. The total weight of your consignment in Kg
 

16. The Commodity Code

The Customs Commodity Code dictates the amount of duty that will be applied by Customs to the goods when they arrive. This is required for export and import Customs clearance and ensures the goods are classified accurately and that the shipper's customer is not being over-charged in duties. To look up commodity codes: www.gov.uk/trade-tariff
 

17. A full description of the goods.

They need a full description, not just clothes or garments.
They need to know it's jeans, tee shirts etc. How many and price per item.
Failure to fill this in honestly could result in your parcel being opened and searched and excess duties applied and your delivery delayed.

18. The number of items in the consignment

19. Unit value is the value of each individual item.
20. The total value of the items.
21. The country of Manufacture.
22. The total value of the all the items in the box.
23. The reason for export. i.e. sale or gift.
24. The terms of delivery we have already filled in for you.
25. The declaration the goods will most of the time be of UK preferential origin.
26. Then sign and date the invoice print the name of the person signing the invoice and their position in the company if applicable.

The more you can fill in on a computer the better as a lot of countries customs officials prefer typed commercial invoices.
We have created ours as a pdf that you can right click and save on your desktop.
For a copy of Pharos's template please click here:


https://www.pharosparcel.com/images/comercial-invoice-template.pdf

If you are not sure we are at the end of the phone and if any of this information is not relevant to you, you can fill in Not Applicable.

We recommend sending four copies of this and attach them securely in a shipping pouch or big envelope with COMMERCIAL INVOICE written on in big letters.

That's it you're good to go!

Finally PLEASE, PLEASE TRACK YOUR PARCELS!

We simply do not have the time to track each and every parcel.
If there is a problem we are here to help you, and we encourage you to contact us not the carrier direct as we have access to their preferred desks who can usually get us an answer and resolution quickly. However we don't always get notifications in time, and the cost of a return parcel back from the other side of the world can be very expensive!

That's it!

Do please consult your local customs officer for further details and advice. Our courier partners will not accept shipments containing any items that are subject to any export or import prohibitions and restrictions, unless agreed in writing prior to export.

 

Get a quote

 

You will need to fill in a customs invoice if you are sending a parcel to Switzerland, Norway, the Channel Islands or the Canary Islands.

Click here to download and print up your customs invoice

Customs Invoice

 

 

 

 

Invoices are not required for countries within the EU:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain or Sweden.