Customs Clearance 2023: Rules and Charges on International Parcels

International shipping customs fees and duties | Europe and worldwide

Shipments travelling to and from any country outside of the European Union undergo customs, which in some instances can mean paying additional customs clearance costs such as taxes and duties. Even though shipments travelling Europe are not subject to customs fees, there may be some exceptions. Additionally, goods that travel from abroad, outside of the EU undergo customs duties and charges, even if they are declared gifts. Find out everything you need to know about taxes, customs procedures, the required documentation and how to calculate the declared value of goods.

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Shipping in Europe: Customs clearance costs

The European Union is a customs-free zone. Goods produced in member states of the EU, or any other country with specific contracts for free circulation of goods, will not be subject to customs charges. In most cases, when shipping within the European Union, there are no additional customs clearance fees.

Paying European Union customs clearance fees – The exceptions

Different rules may apply to goods subject to a state monopoly, which is the case with alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Depending on the local legislation, some goods may be forbidden to leave or enter a specific country.

Customs clearance – Exemption of paying duties and tax in the European Union

Shipments entering from non-EU countries to the EU may be subject to additional charges. There are several cases in which one may be exempted from payment of customs duties for your international shipping during the customs clearance procedures on your international parcel:

  • Some commercial goods may be exempt from customs duty.
  • There is also a possibility of exemption from customs duty on international parcels if you deal with items subject to the so-called zero duty rate.

Customs charges for international shipping after Brexit

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

You pay for VAT and customs duties on some international parcels for specific goods when shipping outside of the EU. Every country has distinct and different regulations, so we advise you to check in detail with the importing and exporting countries.

  • The VAT is calculated based on the total cost of specific goods and the country regulations.
  • The applied customs duties are calculated based on the value of the goods, the customs tariff and the origin of the goods.

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, when shipping internationally, the declared value for customs is calculated based on the following methods:

  • 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.

However, we advise you to check this in detail with the selected country. Some costs may be added or deducted from the customs value of the product, and this depends on each case specifically.

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 to the same and is lower than the declared value for customs.

Customs clearance procedures on international parcels

Customs, or the customs duty office, is a national body of the local government whose task is to uphold customs clearance procedures for international parcels. Each country has different regulation systems and if you are shipping outside of the EU, we have compiled a guide on all you need to prepare beforehand!
Exporting outside the EU


Customs duties on gifts from abroad: Shipment is marked as a gift

European Union – For most countries, you will not have to pay customs duties and VAT for shipping gifts. However, you should check the country’s regulations in more detail before shipping.

Non-European Union – When you are shipping goods marked as gifts from abroad, outside of the EU, different customs duties and charges will apply, based on the specific country. However, each country has its own set of rules for charging customs fees.


Customs documentation for international shipping

When shipping globally, outside of the EU, a proforma invoice, commercial invoice or customs declaration (CN23 or CN22) is required to contain all the necessary information about the content you are sending. Customs authorities will need each item in the parcel to be listed separately with its own description on the invoice.

The shipment should also contain the receiver’s information, which will allow the customs officers to contact the designated person.

How to fill in the customs documentation

Customs regulatory authorities around the world are automating their processes to optimise clearance speed and efficiency. The details you provide in your customs invoice (commercial/proforma) will be transmitted electronically to the customs authorities to clear your shipment faster. This is why providing correct, high-quality information is extremely important. Follow the steps below to fill in your customs documentation properly:

  • List each item of the parcel separately.
  • You will need to describe: what the goods are, what they are made of, their origin, and their purpose.
  • Provide the corresponding HS code for each item.
  • Avoid writing general terms such as clothing, personal belongings or gifts. Use precise descriptions such as “men’s t-shirt made of cotton”.
  • Write the value of the goods, as the courier will only reimburse the written value in the event of a damage claim.
  • Keep original invoices to prove the value of the items.

Bear in mind that the failure to provide the required documentation for the customs clearance or refusing to pay the applicable fees will result in further delays in the shipping process or in having the goods returned to the sender.
Required documentation

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FAQ for customs clearance procedures on international parcels

What is meant by customs clearance for international parcels?
If you are shipping a parcel internationally across borders, the shipment will go through customs. The customs authorities will make sure it is following the regulations of the importing country. This means that they will check if the shipping parties have provided all the required documentation and that the customs fees for the international shipping are paid.
Am I required to pay for customs clearance for my international shipment?
You will be required to pay for the customs clearance costs for the international parcel if the shipment goes outside the European Union. Every country has different regulations, so we advise you to check this further on the governmental websites.
Who pays for the customs fees for 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 the customs officers may request.
Can the sender pay for shipping customs charges?
The person or organisation responsible for clearing the customs will contact the receiver of the parcel. In almost every case, it is the receiver paying for the customs duties.
How much are the customs charges for my international delivery?
The customs fees for your international shipping will depend on the item you are shipping and the country regulations. You should check this in detail with the respected import country, and to see what else influences the customs costs, click here.
Can I refuse to pay the customs fees for international shipping?
Yes, but keep in mind there are two possible scenarios if you refuse to pay the customs fees:
  • You can refuse to pay customs for your shipping, and the package will be destroyed.
  • Parcel is returned to the sender. When you refuse to pay the customs fees for the international shipping, the sender will have to cover the shipping costs.
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 officers check the content inside the parcels. You could be charged a penalty for writing false information or a lower amount in the customs declaration on the declared value of the goods. Not only that but the goods will also be seized.
Are the gifts I am receiving from abroad taxable in the UK?
Any shipment going between borders is taxable in the country of import. This means that if you are receiving gifts that were sent from abroad to the UK, you will pay the taxes in the UK.
Will I pay customs if I send gifts from Europe to the UK?
You will have to pay customs for gifts exceeding €45 (or £39) when shipping from Europe to the UK. Not only that but, if you are shipping to and from the EU to any third country, your shipment will go through customs so that you may be charged additionally.
Why is my package stopped in customs?
There are many reasons why a package can be stopped in customs:
  • The customs in the delivery country require more information.
  • The paperwork is not done as required.
  • The package contains any prohibited or restricted items.
  • The mode of transport the package is being shipped with (air, road, rail, sea).
Can I avoid paying customs clearance charges for my international shipping?
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid paying the customs clearance costs if you want to receive the shipment. However, you can refuse to pay the customs charges, and the shipment will be destroyed or sent back to the sender.
How long will it take for the customs to release my package?
It depends on each case specifically, but it may take from few days to a couple of months. How long the customs will hold your package will depend on whether you have paid the taxes and duties, if you have provided them all the required documentation, whether the box contains prohibited or restricted items or the transport method.
What customs clearance documents do I need for my international parcel?
It is in your best interest to keep the original invoices of the purchased goods and send a few copies of the invoice with your shipment. The invoice serves as an official statement of the value of the goods. 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 shippers to inform themselves. If the courier company responsible for the shipping is DHL, you can find these documents directly on their website.
What are the customs fees when using Eurosender services?
Each case is specific, so you will have to pay for customs duties for your international parcel in some cases, and in others, you do not have to. Read the cases in which circumstances you will have to pay customs, and if you are still unsure about the customs clearance procedures for your international parcel or other European customs charges, please get in touch with us; we will be happy to help you out!
An important thing to note is that when shipping through Eurosender, the receiver pays the customs fees directly to the selected logistics provider upon customs clearance for any international parcels. However, as a sender, you have to leave the package open before the collection so that the courier driver can check its content when shipping outside of the EU.
All information presented on this page is true and correct as of August 2021 but is subject to change at any time. Eurosender will not be liable for inappropriate, incomplete, or inaccurate data presented. Still, we do our best always to have up-to-date information on our page.