Guide to Customs Declarations
What is a customs declaration and when is it required?
A Customs Declaration is a form that lists the detailed information of the imported and exported goods when citizens or tourists enter the customs area or when importing or exporting goods crosses national borders.
Top tips for completing your customs declaration
Completing the customs declaration correctly is essential to avoid delays, unplanned returns and hold-ups at customs. Few tips to help your parcel clear customs as as smooth as possible:
- Avoid using generic terms like "clothing", "personal belongings" or "gifts".
- Be honest about the value of the item you"re sending. Keep in mind that Customs may check the market value.
- Make sure you provide accurate contact details for the recipient. If the recipient can not be contacted by customs the parcel may be returned to the sender.
- Ensure you provide a Tariff Code for every item. If you can"t find an exact match for the item you"re sending, get it as close as possible by using the official Tariff Code list.
How to fill in the customs declaration correctly?
Whether you are a private individual or a business, all shipments sent internationally require a Customs Declaration. This form that lists the details of goods includes:
- Country of origin
- Reason for export e.g. gift, sale
- Information about the sender
- Information about the recipient (including contact details)
- Item description e.g. 1 pair of blue high-heels, 1 green knitted sweater
- The value of each item sent
- Tariff Code for each item (this applies to shipments to the EU)
- Sender IOSS (The Import One-Stop Shop)
If the parcel is being sent by a business or company, the information above should be accompanied by:
- EORI number for the sender and importer
- VAT CODE
What is IOSS and what to do if I don"t have one?
According to the European Commission, The IOSS allows suppliers and electronic interfaces selling imported goods to buyers in the EU to collect, declare and pay the VAT to the tax authorities, instead of making the buyer pay the VAT at the moment the goods are imported into the EU as it was previously the case (for products over 22 EUR).
The IOSS number is not mandatory. If you send a small number of consignments and the cost of setting up and maintaining the IOSS seems prohibitive in relation to the income you receive, just keep on sending DDU or DDP. However, when using DDP, the parcel or postal carrier may charge you an extra fee to reimburse you for the VAT. With DDU, your parcel or postal carrier will ask your customer to reimburse the VAT before delivery and may also receive a large local "handling charge", which is a terrible customer experience.
What is a Tariff Code?
Tariff Codes are used for describing different types of commodity. Every commodity that enters or crosses international borders has to be declared to customs by means of this code. We strongly recommend that you select a Tariff Code with the utmost precision, using the tool provided by Ecoparcel (When completing the Customs Declaration, click on "Enter Tariff Code Manually") or by selecting the relevant Tariff Code from the list on the official Government website Tariff Code list.
Please note that it is the responsibility of each sender to find out whether the goods are prohibited or restricted. Depending on the destination of the shipment, if the sender is shipping a Prohibited Item, the carrier may dispose of the parcel at its own discretion.
EORI number for businesses
Businesses and people wishing to trade must use the Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number as an identification number in all customs procedures when exchanging information with Customs administrations. Any economic operator established in the customs territory of the Union needs, for customs purposes, an EORI number. Those who do not have an EORI number can obtain one from the official government website.
DDU and DDP Explained
Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) is an international trade term meaning the buyer is responsible for import duties. By contrast, Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) indicates that the seller must cover duties, import clearance, and any taxes . This means that if you do not have an IOSS number available, you will be able to choose the method of duty payment that suits you best when completing your Customs Declaration.