Friday, 3 May 2013

A Guide to Courier Services: Customs invoices

Have you ever been confused by the documentation associated with courier services or international parcel delivery? If you’ve used courier services for a long time, producing and attaching air waybills and all of the other necessary documents is a doddle. But if you’re new to courier services, or even if you’re a seasoned shipper who's sending items outside of the EU for the first time, you may need some guidance.


At Transglobal Express, we like to make our quote, order, booking and documentation process as simple as we can, so as to ensure a smooth and seamless delivery for all of our customers. We've found that the documentation side of things is where some of our customers would like some guidance, so we've set about producing a handy set of articles explaining the ins and outs of the documents associated with courier services. It's easy when you know how, but if you're not sure- we're here to help!

Earlier this week, we looked at Air Waybills and their importance in international parcel delivery. Today, we look at Customs Invoices: what are they? When do I need them? Why do I need them? Read on to find out more... 

What is a Customs Invoice? 

A Customs Invoice is a document detailing  the contents, selling price, and the weight and volume of  your international shipment. If you are sending your parcel to any country outside of the European Union, you will need one of these documents. Our carriers ask you to give four copies of this document to your driver when he or she comes to collect your parcel.

Invoice? But I'm not selling anything!

If you are used to exporting for business purposes, you are most likely familiar with customs invoices; the term 'commercial invoice' is often used interchangeably with customs invoice and serves a similar purpose. But if you are not sending your parcel for any kind of commercial purpose, the term 'invoice' can be quite confusing! Whether you're sending some clothes to your daughter in Australia or sending chocolate to a friend in the States, it may seem strange to have to quote a value for your items. Nevertheless, you do need to do so, to avoid unnecessary delays, and to satisfy international customs. But fear not! Transglobal Express produces a customs invoice as part of our booking process, which is available in your My Account area as soon as your order is confirmed. You can download and print it yourself, or let us know if you do not have a printer and we'll happily send out all the relevant documents to you! If you prefer, we also give you the option to produce your own customs invoice, just check the documentation page of our website.

Do I have to use the Customs Invoice automatically produced by Transglobal Express?

No- we try to be as flexible as possible! If you are sending your parcels for business purposes, it's likely you'll have your own version of a customs invoice and we'd encourage you to use it: it's better for your records, and as a professional exporter, you know your products best. Commercial customers are welcome to use our customs invoices too of course, and will see them in the My Account area like every other customer, but there is nothing stopping you from using your own documentation.

Still confused? 

In summary: If you're shipping within the EU, you don't need a customs invoice. If you're shipping to a non-EU country, you do need one, whether you are sending your parcel for business purposes or not. You can either use the document that we produce for you during the booking process, or use your own business's version. If you need any more guidance, don't hesitate to contact us on 0845 145 12 12 Monday- Friday 9:00-5:30pm. Happy Shipping!

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