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Understanding customs declarations and charges

Understanding customs declarations and charges 

When sending a parcel domestically within the UK and within the EU* there is no requirement for any customs documentation and there will not be any customs charges.  

*This does not apply to the following destinations within the EU: The Channel Islands (Jersy, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, and Sark), Andorra, The Canary Islands, Gibraltar, San Marino, and The Vatican.   

When sending a parcel to destinations outside of the EU and internationally you will need to complete a customs declaration form and customs duty fees may apply.  

Here at Parcelpal we understand that this may be a difficult topic to understand, so we have designed this guide to provide our customers will all the information they need on customs declarations and customs duty fees in a simple and easy to read way.  

If at any point in your parcel ordering process you get confused do not hesitate to contact us for help and advice. Our friendly customer care team are happy to help with any questions on customs declarations and charges.  


What is customs?  

Customs is an official authority who operate a system that controls what is being shipped in and out of a country. The main role of Customs is to ensure no illegal or prohibited items enter the country. The also ensure that the government where they are based get the correct duty and tax from goods entering that specific country. Every country has its own Customs Authority and because of this each have separate rules and regulations. Make sure you research into the customs rules and regulations of the country you are sending too before sending your parcel. 


The customs declaration form  

You are required to complete a customs declaration form when sending parcels outside of the EU and to the following destinations: The Channel Islands (Jersy, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, and Sark), Andorra, The Canary Islands, Gibraltar, San Marino, and The Vatican.   

If the parcel you are sending is within the EU and not any of the destinations above you do not need to complete a customs declaration.  

Once you have booked with Parcelpal you will receive a copy of the customs declaration within your conformation email along with your parcel label.  

You must print out 5 copies of the customs declaration and fill them all out the same for a parcel. 2 copies must be attached to the parcel in a documents pouch of plastic wallet. The remaining 3 must be given to the courier on collection or at the depot.  

We recommend you also put an extra copy of the completed customs declaration inside the parcel as an extra precaution for a customs inspection.  

The customs declaration form requires:  

  • -A detailed list of the contents of the parcel

  • -The value of the contents of the parcel  

  • -The nature of the contents of the parcel- i.e. is it a gift, something you have sold, or personal belongings.  


How to complete the customs declaration  

The most important thing to understand when completing your customs declaration is that it must be completed as accurately, detailed, clear, and honest as possible.  

List and describe every item of the parcel individually. You must not list and item as ‘clothing’, ‘shoes’, ‘gift’. This too vague. You must give detailed information of the items such as 1 x grey jumper, 2 x yellow satin scarf, 1 x pair of white tasselled loafers 

You must be honest in valuing your contents. Customs will check the market value of the contents you check you have been honest in the value. Make sure to research the market value of your item to ensure the value is accurate 

The more detailed you are in the deion of your parcels contents the easier the parcel will pass through customs. Failing to fill out the form correctly and detailed enough will result in delays.  


Additional customs documents  

Additional customs documents are only required on parcels being sent to South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and India.  

For South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Saudi Arania you must include the passport number or tax ID of the recipient on the customs declaration.  

For India a ‘Know Your Customer’ form is sometimes required. This is issued by the customs authority in India to the recipient and requires the recipient to complete information about themselves to ensure they are not a fraud.  


What are the UK customs charges?  

It is important to note that you will only be required to pay UK Customs Charges if you are sent ‘gifts’ in the UK from outside of the EU that are above a certain value.  

This value is calculated by the value of the item itself, the postage, the packaging, and the insurance cover combined.  

You will only be charged UK Customs Duty on goods above £135, ‘Gifts’ worth between £135-£630, and ‘Gifts’ above £630.  

‘Gifts’ are an item that have been brought and sent between individuals for personal use. This does not include for business use. If you are outside of the EU and sending something you have brought for someone in the UK this will apply to you and you will need to describe the item as a ‘Gift’ on the customs declaration form before you send.  


What are the additional customs charges in the UK?  

In additional to the charges stated above there are a few other UK customs charges that may be charged to you. This depends on the specific item you are receiving from in and outside of the EU.  


Excise duty: This only applies if you are receiving tobacco or alcohol as a gift from outside of the EU.  If you are receiving tobacco or alcohol as a gift from inside the EU excise duty may have been included in the price or the parcel order, but this cannot be guaranteed and the receiver may incur the charge.  

VAT: Something you may already be familiar with. VAT customs charges in the UK only applies to goods being sent from countries outside of the EU to the UK as well as destinations within the EU such as The Channel Islands and The Canary Islands. VAT custom charges in the UK will be charges on ‘Gifts’ worth more than £39, goods worth more than £15, any item classes as alcohol, tobacco, and fragrances of any value. The rate of VAT you will be charged is calculated on the total value of the goods, postage, packaging, insurance/protection cover, and any duty you already owe to on them.  


What are the International customs charges?  

International customs charges only apply if you are sending a parcel from the UK to a country that is outside of the EU.  

If this applies to the parcel you are wishing to send you will need to complete a customs declaration form detailing the item you are sending and the items value. Customs charges will then apply.  

Because customs authority differs from country to country, we cannot guarantee the international customs charge you will incur. You can research into the specific country/territories customs charges on your item to prepare yourself for the fee, but this should not deter you from sending your parcel with us as customs charges are out of our control and not set out by us.   


How can I calculate the customs charge?  

Because different countries have differing customs authorities it can be hard to accurately calculate the fee you will receive.  

We recommend you research the countries customs charges to be prepared for the fee, and let the recipient know of this so they are aware that they will be responsible for the paying any duty owed.  


Who will be charged customs duty and how do you pay?  

Customs authorities will require the recipient of the parcel to pay the customs duty. This will be taken from the recipient or a customs broker.  

Once the package has passed into customs the customs authority will contact the recipient with details of the fee and details for payment. Customs will not release the parcel to the recipients address until the fee is paid.  

If the recipient does not pay the customs fee the parcel will either be returned to the sender or destroyed at the customs authority. We cannot guarantee which of these happens if the recipient does not pay the fee.  

If the recipient had any problems or disputes in paying the fee do not worry as here at Parcelpal we require contact details of the recipient to contact them on if needed.  


Being issued notices from customs 

All parcels sent with Parcelpal include tracking within the price. So, you can track your parcel every step of its journey. On the tracking of your parcel you may see updates related to customs. We recommend you keep in contact with the recipient of the parcel to make sure they are aware of customs charges and have been contacted by customs.  

Because of the nature of our company we only offer cheaper rates for parcel delivery services and have no control over customs charges, rules and regulations. We can only offer you the best advice and information on these procedures.  

Parcelpal has no direct contact with any customs authorities and because of this the best way to resolve a customs dispute, claim, or confusion is to contact the courier you booked with directly.