Ways to ensure you avoid problems with your delivery at customs

Ways to ensure you avoid problems with your delivery at customs

Booking your first international parcel delivery can feel like a daunting task. You might be sending a gift to a friend or relative who lives abroad, shipping an order to a customer in a new location or even sending an item back to an international retailer.

No matter what, finding a reputable courier service is half the battle. To find the best parcel delivery service for all your needs and requirements, use a parcel delivery comparison site such as parceldelivery.

To ensure you avoid problems with your delivery at customs, take a look at our top tips below.

Missing documents

When you ship internationally, it is vital to understand the required shipping document to avoid problems with your delivery at customs.

Common errors when completing paperwork include vague content descriptions, incomplete shipment documentation, incorrect product code, invoice in another language, incorrect value and incorrectly prepared textile samples.

To avoid these problems, make sure the product description is detailed, accurate and written in English. If you are sending computer pieces, remember to include the model, brand names and serial number(s) of the product(s).

Incomplete invoice

A customs invoice is a document that travels with your parcel, containing information about the goods inside – your package can’t leave the country without one.

To make sure your customs invoice doesn’t hold up your parcels delivery at customs, you need to ensure the following details are included:


  • Collection address
  • Delivery address
  • Accurate product description
  • Total shipping value
  • Tax status
  • Reason for export (is it a gift, sold item?)
  • Country of manufacture
  • Declaration statement
  • Itemised goods description
  • Approximate value for each item in the parcel


The information you provide customs officials will be used to determine whether additional important documents are required for clearance.


Missing country of origin

Each country has different customs requirements, so the requirements you use for one might results in your packaging being stuck in customs when you use another. No matter what it is vital to provide certificates to prove the product’s country of origin.

It’s just as important to package your parcel correctly. When it comes international shipping, packaging your parcel to ensure it arrives intact is vital. We recommend using a corrugated cardboard box with plenty of internal packaging to keep your parcel safe during transit.

If your parcel is of particular value, we suggest taking out additional parcel compensation cover in the unlikely even anything was to happen to your parcel.

Restricted and prohibited items

Before you send a parcel abroad, make sure you understand what you can and can’t through the post. There are several restrictions on what can be sent in the posts, and some items are prohibited.

It is your responsibility to ensure you are not sending any restricted or prohibited items through the post, so it’s best to be absolutely certain what is and isn’t allowed.

Restricted items include the likes to Aerosols, including deodorants, body sprays, hair sprays and medicinal purposes, alcoholic beverages, balloons, batteries, biological substances, Christmas crackers, counterfeit currency, electric devices, guns, lighters, human or animal samples and perishable items.

Custom charges

Keeping in mind that anything posted or couriered to you (or abroad) goes through vigorous custom checks to ensure it doesn’t contain any banned or restricted items and so you pay the right customs charges on it. This includes anything brand new or used that you buy online, buy abroad and send back to the UK or receive as a gift.

As a consumer, you have to pay VAT, Customs Duty or Excise Duty on goods sent from outside the EU before you can collect them. You will not be required to pay when your things are sent back to you, providing they are described as ‘personal belongings’ on the customs declaration.

If you don’t follow the rules your goods may be seized or you might be eligible to pay a fine or be prosecuted.

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