Customs clearance procedures and fees in international shipping

Shipping goods abroad can sometimes bring unexpected additional costs when the shipment is subject to customs fees. Even though it is widely known that shipments within the EU do not undergo customs charges, there may be some exceptions to it. Additionally, goods that travel outside of the EU do undergo customs charges, even if they are declared gifts. Here is everything you need to know about how is the declared value of goods calculated and the customs duties and procedures in the shipping industry.

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European customs charges

European Union is a customs-free zone, meaning that there are no customs charges. Not only for goods produced in member states but also for any product which has already been released for free circulation after the respective EU import duty rates were covered. That is why, when shipping within the EU, any European customs charges are usually included in the shipping price.

An exception to this, where different rules may apply, are goods that could be a subject to a state monopoly, such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Thus, depending on the local legislation, some goods may be forbidden to leave or enter a specific country. Make sure to check our list of forbidden goods to ship!

How much tax do I have to pay when shipping outside of the EU?

When shipping globally, outside of the EU, a customs declaration (CN23 or CN22) is required that would contain all the necessary information about the content that you are sending. The amount you will be required to pay depends on the items you are sending (the declared value of the goods) and the regulations of each country.

The applied customs duties are calculated as a percentage of the VAT from the arrival country, the regulations of each country, or in some specific cases, some additional eventual costs may be applied depending on the content of the package.

Calculation of the declared value for customs when shipping

When shipping internationally, the declared value of the goods is essential for the customs officers when imposing customs duties. It depends on the country regulations but in general, the declared value for customs when shipping internationally is calculated based on:

  • The purchasing price of the goods;
  • Identical goods, produced in the importing country;
  • Similar goods, produced in the importing country;
  • The selling price of the goods;
  • The production cost of the goods; or
  • Adaptation and mix of some of the methods mentioned above, in exceptional situations.

Declared value for carriage

The declared value for carriage is computed from the value of the shipment. It serves as a basis for imposing freight charges, which is generally not amounted the same and is lower from the declared value for customs.

Can I refuse to pay the customs fees on international shipping?

Customs duties are usually paid by the receiver unless otherwise agreed with the sender. The amount of money that the receiver would have to pay depends on the data provided in the customs declaration, the supporting documents or the additional information which may be requested by the customs officers.

There are two things to do when asked to pay the additional taxes:


You can either cover the cost that the customs officers will require you to pay


You can refuse to pay customs fees for international shipment.

The receiver can choose to do one of several scenarios:

As a receiver, you can refuse to pay customs and the package will be destroyed.

You can return it to the sender. When you refuse custom fees on international shipping, the sender will have to pay for the shipping costs.

Or alternatively, you can accept the goods and pay the duties yourself.

What are the customs duties when the shipment is marked as a gift?

When you are shipping goods marked as gifts, outside of the EU, customs duties and charges may still apply. However, each country has its own set of rules for charging customs fees. You may want to write a value of the items lower than their actual one to avoid customs fees on shipments, but there are situations where this could go wrong.

What could go wrong if I write a lower amount to avoid customs fees applicable to my shipment?

It is important to note that it is illegal to write a lower amount to avoid customs fees on shipments. The customs office checks the content inside the parcels, therefore, you could be charged a penalty for writing false information or lower amount in the customs declaration on the declared value of the goods. And not only that, but the goods will also be seized.

Another reason for putting the correct value of the content of the package is that in case of damage the courier will only reimburse you for the written value.

Exemption of paying customs duties in Europe

There are several cases in which one can be exempted from payment of customs duties during the customs clearance procedure:

When a parcel is marked as a gift and its value does not exceed €45. The same way as when shipping regular packages, customs duties and fees do apply when the shipment is marked as a gift. However, it is essential that the parcel is sent between two private persons. Depending on the value of the goods, different products are charged differently. If you want to check the customs value for the goods you are shipping from a non-European country, you can check the tariffs applicable in the TARIC database.

Purchases (i.e. items) whose value does not exceed €150 are exempt from customs duty.

There is also a possibility of exemption from customs duty if you are dealing with items subject to the so-called zero duty rate.

Customs clearance procedures for international shipping

Customs, or the customs duty office, is a national body of the local government whose task is to uphold customs clearance procedure. This task consists of preventing illegal and prohibited items entering the country, as well as determining the number of duties to be paid when importing goods that are subjected to taxation under the local law.

How to fill in customs documents


Be specific when filling out the customs declaration, list each item of the package separately, and avoid writing general terms such as clothing, personal belongings or gifts.


The customs officers have the right to open a package to check its content, if there are any prohibited items, to confirm the value and description on the customs declaration, and to determine the customs fees.


Failure to provide the required documentation for the customs clearance or refusing to pay the applicable fees will either result in further delays in the shipping process or in having the goods returned to the sender.


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Customs clearance procedure: FAQ

What other documents do I need, apart from the above mentioned?

It is important to keep the invoice for the purchased goods. It serves as an official statement of the value of the goods. It is in your best interest to keep the original and send a few copies of the invoice with your shipment. Whether you need to present other documents like a certificate of authenticity or shipping insurance depends from country to country, it is up to the customers to inform themselves. If the courier company responsible for the shipping is DHL, you can find these documents directly on their website.

Why is my package stopped in customs and how long will it take to be released?

There are many reasons why a package can be stopped in customs. Depending on those, it can take from hours to days, and sometimes even months for it to be released. Some of the reasons may be:

  • The customs in the delivery country require more information.
  • The paperwork is not done as required.
  • The taxes are not paid on time.
  • The package contains any prohibited or restricted items.
  • The mode of transportation the package is being shipped with (air, road, rail, sea).

Customs fees when using Eurosender services

When shipping through Eurosender, the receiver pays for the customs fees directly to the selected logistics provider upon customs clearance. However, as a sender, you have to leave the package open prior to the collection so that the courier driver can check its content.

If you have any questions about the customs clearance procedure or European customs charges, please contact our customer service team. Our specialists will be happy to answer any questions you may have.