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Shipping to the EU? Here’s what you need to know about the new customs declarations paperwork

Shipping to the EU? Here’s what you need to know about the new customs declarations paperwork

By: Ashley Stevens 16 February 2021

Now we are no longer part of the EU, businesses have spent the new year adjusting to new rules and regulations when it comes to export and import to and from the EU. At the same time, there’s been a third national lockdown to contend with here in the UK and shipping firms working at never seen before capacities. It has made for a bumpy road in recent weeks.

Part of the Brexit issues at the border is the new customs paperwork. Prior to Brexit, it was a simple CMR form to accompany your goods across the channel, but now a much more detailed exchange of information is required from both sides. And it’s this level of detail which is tripping a few businesses up.

It is the shipper’s responsibility to complete the customs documentation correctly.

To give your shipment the best chance of a smooth entry into Europe, it’s vital to have the correct customs paperwork accurately completed. This will minimise the risk of your package, parcel or pallet being held-up and the headache of extra costs and penalties.

Whether you are filling in the new customs forms yourself or having an intermediary do it, there are a few things to watch out for.

Speak to the HMRC first if it’s the first time dealing with customs paperwork

If it’s the first time that you’ve had to deal with customs paperwork, then it’s important that you speak to HMRC to explain what your goods are and ensure the correct commodity codes. Ask about the countries you’ll be sending your parcel delivery to so you understand the customs charges that could be applied by the receiving country/customs.

Understand and agree the trading terms

Both the sender and receiver need to decide on the terms of shipment also known as Terms of Trade or Trading Terms. You’ll need agreement on who is going to pay for any potential Duties & Taxes that may be applied by local customs due to value of goods and purpose of shipment. There are costs applied by the carriers associated to such terms.

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) means the seller / sender pays for the import customs clearance, duties and taxes associated with importing a product into another country. Delivered At Place (DAP) also known as DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid), means the buyer has to pay for all import customs clearance, duties and taxes upon delivery.

Make sure the Waybill is filled out correctly and in detail

Customs look at three key parts of the Waybill to assist in clearance. Description of goods, Value of Goods, and Trading Terms.

European Customs require an accurate and specific Goods Description to be on the Waybill as well as the Commercial or Pro-Forma Invoice. Descriptions such as ‘Sample’, ‘Car Parts’ or ‘Clothing’ will not be accepted, and you’ll need to provide more detail.

The invoice needs to list each item by line, starting with the most valuable. It is also imperative that the goods are valued accurately to ensure smooth movement through Customs.

The sender always has to put their EORI number on the invoices

For Business to Business (B2B) shipments, ensure that the Receivers EORI number is included on the Commercial / Pro-forma Invoice. This is a must for B2B shipments to Germany.

Ensure the Proof of Origin is clearly stated on the Commercial/ Pro-Forma invoice

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement allows for a zero tariff to be applied to goods entering the EU from the UK (and vice versa). However, to qualify they shipment must meet the rules of origin requirements and have the Proof of Origin Statement clearly stated on the Commercial/ Pro-Forma Invoice.

Here is an example of a generic Commercial Invoice:

The exporter of the products covered by this document (Exporter Reference No. (REX or GB EORI number) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of ……. preferential origin. (Place and date) (Name of the exporter)

Please be aware though that there are country-specific requirements which will be additional to the invoice example.

UK-EU shipments: the origin statement on the invoice can be made out by any exporter who has a GB EORI number. The GB EORI number must be included within the origin statement regardless of the value of the shipment. EU-UK shipments: the origin statement on the invoice can be made out by any exporter where the value of the consignment is 6,000 EUR (currently £5,700) or less. Above this amount the EU exporter must have a Registered Exporter (REX) number and include it in the statement.

What about VAT?

While a zero tariff may be applied, VAT still must be paid or accounted for. Please check if your products comply with the agreed Rules of Origin. The Agreement can be found here.

It’s worth noting that current EU regulations state that Customs Duties will not be applied to goods under €150 (regardless of origin), however VAT can apply. VAT will not be applied to goods under €22. Both are in place until July 2021.

Remember, to qualify for preferential treatment (zero tariff) at the time of import, the customs declaration in the EU or the UK must include a proof of origin statement on the Commercial or Pro-Forma Invoice (as above). Excise Duties will be applied to Excise shipments of all values, regardless of origin.

Ensuring your paperwork and documentation is completed in full and with the correct details will go a long way to ensuring your parcel delivery into the EU goes as smoothly as possible.

Need to get a package, parcel, or pallet to Europe? Take the stress out of shipping and rely on our extremely competitive rates, exceptional customer support service and experienced logistics specialists.

Call us today on 03334 567 567 for a more straightforward and smoother process end-to-end.