In an increasingly globalised world, the ease of international travel, increased economic migration within the European Union and the proliferation of e-commerce can make national borders seem more porous than ever. It's therefore easy to forget - especially if you're new to international export or parcel delivery - that all shipments from the UK to any non EU country are subject to customs clearance.
If you are shipping within the EU, then your goods are moving within the EU customs union, meaning that they will not be subject to any duties or taxes imposed by customs clearance, but if you are shipping internationally, the customs service of your destination country has the authority to impose restrictions and levy any associated duties.
In order to ensure you are prepared for customs clearance in advance, we recommend you follow our top tips:
Don't assume your goods are immune: Even if you are shipping items which you believe to be of no commercial value such as a gift or personal effects, this does not automatically mean you will be not charged for the clearance of your goods - always check.
Do your research: although some countries have more transparent customs clearance procedures than others, most customs authorities have websites which list their restricted items and many give an indication of the taxes levied for certain categories of items. It's a good idea to check these in advance.
Complete all relevant documentation: shipments to non-EU countries require four copies of a Customs Invoice at the very least - this is a document detailing the items contained within your shipment and the value of each. Different countries have different requirements of this document, so check with your chosen carrier in advance so you know that is required.
Seek Expert Advice: Exporting can be complicated. If you're shipping for commercial reasons then it's a good idea to seek expert advice in advance of shipping your goods. UK Trade & Industry offer a "talk to an expert service" and there is also lots of useful information on the HMRC website.