Currently, you can send a parcel domestically in the UK and into Europe with no requirement for any customs documentation and you won't incur any customs charges. However, if you are sending outside the EU to popular destinations such as the USA, China, Australia or India, you will need to complete a customs declaration form and customs duty may apply.
We have collated some customs advice that you should be aware of to help you understand customs charges and what you can do to ensure your package clears customs.
Customs is an authority who control what is shipped in and out of a country. They ensure no illegal or prohibited goods get through and also ensure the government they represent receive the correct tax and duty owed on goods that are liable for charges.
Each country has a different set of rules regarding customs, so you will need to do your research before you post your parcel overseas.
Customs duty is one of the fees you may be required to pay if you are sent gifts or goods from outside the EU that are above a certain value. The value includes the item itself, plus postage, packaging and insurance.
You'll be charged customs duty on:
In addition to customs duty, there are a number of other customs charges you could incur, depending on the item you're receiving.
Excise duty - If you receive tobacco or alcohol as a gift from outside the EU, you will be required to pay Excise Duty at the current rate. If it has been sent from within the EU the duty may have been included in the purchase price.
VAT - You may be required to pay VAT on goods sent from countries outside the EU. This also applies to EU special territories (such as the Canary Islands) and the Channel Islands.
VAT will be charged on:
VAT will be charged at the rate that applies to your goods and is charged on the total value. This includes the price paid for the goods, postage, packaging, insurance and any duty you owe.
What qualifies as a gift?
For an item to qualify as a gift it needs to be something that has been bought and sent between individuals (not businesses) for personal use. You will also need to describe the item as a gift on the customs declaration form.
Royal Mail does not directly apply customs charges, however, if you receive a parcel from outside the EU, which is being delivered by Royal Mail, you may receive a 'Fee to Pay' card. This is because you have been sent a parcel which has incurred a customs charge and Royal Mail has paid it on your behalf.
Royal Mail is legally obliged to present all packages entering the UK from outside the EU to Border Force and if there are any charges due, Border Force will apply these on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Royal Mail will pay these charges to clear your parcel through customers more quickly, then they will hold your parcel at a local customer service point until you pay the customs fee, which also includes an £8 handling fee.
Find out more about Royal Mail customs charges.
If you are sending a parcel from the UK to a country outside the EU, customs charges will apply and you will need to complete a customs declaration form, detailing the item you're sending and its value.
All packages sent with Parcel Monkey are Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU). This means any customs duty owed must be paid by the recipient.
When the package arrives, customs will contact the recipient for payment if there is any duty owed and this will need to be paid before the parcel is released. Packages will be held by customs until payments are made and returned or destroyed if payments aren’t received.
When you book with Parcel Monkey you must provide a working local contact number that the recipient can be contacted on and a working email address that belongs to them.
Customs fees will be taken from the recipient by customs or a customs broker. No cash will be asked for upon delivery. If an issue like this occurs, you should contact us via live chat and we will resolve this with the courier.
Calculating potential customs charges can be complicated, as different rates apply to different items in different countries, so we advise you to work with the recipient and establish the rate of duty before you arrange a courier to collect your parcel. It's important the recipient is aware they will be responsible for paying any duty owed.
During the booking process, we will ask you the necessary questions to complete your customs declaration. All you need to do is provide the following information:
The customs documents help customs officers find out what's inside the package and check if any customs duty and tax applies to your package.
Customs officers will check what you are sending and duty will be applied - even if you mark the shipment as a ‘gift’, it won't necessarily mean it will avoid customs duty.
Parcel Monkey will provide an easy-to-fill-out form during the booking process that covers all this. All you have to do is print the completed customs documents and securely attach them to the outside of your parcel.
Our terms and conditions state (3.5) state that it is the responsibility of The Customer to submit all papers required for the customs clearance.
Completing the customs documentation correctly is essential to avoid any delays with customs.
Be accurate and honest when you list the contents of your parcel. List every item individually and avoid writing generic terms like 'clothing' 'personal belongings' or 'gifts'.
If you're sending clothes, for example, be specific - 1 x red t-shirt, 2 x blue jumper, 1 x pair of Nike trainers.
Failing to provide a detailed overview can cause a delay with your parcel, or even a return if customs has reason to believe the information you have given is inaccurate. The same goes for value, customs officers will always check the market value, so be truthful to avoid additional charges.
For locations such as India, you may need to complete a 'Know Your Customer' form. This will be provided by customs for the recipient to complete. It checks the recipient is who they say they are and helps prevent fraud.
Once you have completed an order, we provide the shipping labels and customs documents ready for you to print out and attach.
TOP TIP - Put an extra copy of the customs invoice and the shipping label inside of the box, this way if for any reason these documents come loose or the box is damaged, the courier has some information to continue processing the parcel.
If on the tracking you see any customs related updates, contact the recipient to ensure they have been contacted by customs and if they haven't, get in touch with Parcel Monkey and we can contact the courier to resolve this.
Unfortunately, delays can occur in customs and there is sometimes nothing that can be done until they have taken the time to clear the goods for you. Parcel Monkey has no control over this and neither does the sender, so do let the recipient know that delays are possible.
As a courier reseller service, we do not have direct contact with customs, we liaise with the courier you booked through our quote engine to resolve any issues.
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