In July 2021, shipping a parcel to the EU got a little more complicated due to changes caused by Brexit. This meant that all packages sent to countries in the EU are now considered international shipments and so have to go through a few more processes than they did before.
On top of that, the costs involved with shipping internationally changed as well, which put many small businesses off of offering international delivery as an option to their customers.
At first, it was a lot more confusing to ship into the EU but at Parcel2Go we are international shipping experts, so we want to help you navigate these changes with ease.
That’s why we created our International Shipping Hub, which is chockablock with helpful tips and guides on customs, VAT and all your international shipping options as either a consumer or a business sender.
As part of helping our customers the best we can with international shipping, we want to keep the conversation open so we know where we could help with more. That’s why we sat down with Sarah, to talk about her experience of shipping internationally with Parcel2Go.
Hi Sarah, to start with, can you tell us about your business and what your role is?
I work in video production and selling cinema camera accessories. The latter are sold nationally and internationally. I’m the Office Manager, which in a way is a jack-of-all-trades and I take care of all courier bookings and related queries.
Why do you use Parcel2Go? And why especially for your international orders?
We use Parcel2Go for a vastly simplified, cheaper option.
Although we mostly use FedEx, having other delivery options presented alongside is always helpful, without needing multiple accounts. The booking process is also much smoother and less daunting than trying to navigate the couriers’ own websites.
Which couriers do you use for international shipping and why? Which do you tend to use for your EU orders?
We use FedEx because it is invariably the cheapest and fastest. UPS is sometimes faster or the only option for a remote location. And TNT was good when I used to ship to Germany.
How easy do you find it to ship international parcels?
Pretty easy, but I do wish that the customs area was better set up to allow for more detail.
When sending to the US, for example, the HS code is not required by the form, so I have to add it into the description.
We know that customs forms can be restrictive because one size doesn’t fit all, but it’s important to remember that any information needed can be added into the description. So you’re doing the right thing there, Sarah!
How have you navigated all the EU shipping changes over the last 12 months?
With difficulty - it was an EU customer that told us about the phrase below.
Government guidance is difficult to navigate as it’s so difficult to tell if it pertains to you and the little camera accessory you’re sending via courier, or only to the company shipping barrels of chemicals through ports themselves.
Have you come up against any challenges shipping to Europe and if so, how have you overcome these challenges?
For sending UK-made products to the EU, it is vital that a standard paragraph is included in order for the recipient to not have to pay duty. The exporter of the products covered by this document declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of UK preferential origin.
I have to paste it into each description to be sure it is seen at customs.
Our customer service team recommended this as the best option. Again, as long as it’s included in the description and attached within the form, the customs department of the country you’re shipping to shouldn’t have any issues with this.
Another issue is that we send mostly with FedEx, who process all their information electronically. This means that for particularly bureaucratic customs, no signature accompanies the paperwork. The physically signed invoices taped to the box are disregarded. As such, the ability to add an electronic signature on FedEx documentation, even if just typed, would be great.
Most countries will accept electronic signatures but if not, it might be worth using a courier who will allow you to print documents and sign physically - most couriers should let you do this. As you said, the perk of using Parcel2Go is you have lots of options while still being able to manage your orders all from one place.
Thank you for the feedback. Have you had to alter your business in any way to navigate these challenges over the last 12+ months?
Due mostly to the EU changes, we now have a detailed spreadsheet of all our shipping, which autofills values and HS codes as my colleagues add which products are being shipped.
Transferring that information to the courier booking is then much easier. German import procedure is particularly detailed and so all values have to match every scrap of paper.
That’s a great process to have in place. What other advice would you give to our other small businesses when shipping for the first time?
Keep a record of what you’re shipping - you never know when a customer will disagree.
Measure and weigh parcels accurately.
Be aware that parcel clearance on the other end is ultimately down to an individual - and one day you might just be up against someone who makes a real mess of it. The vast majority of our parcels booked through Parcel2Go flow through the system without a problem, but every now and again a parcel no different from all the others you’ve sent will be delayed beyond belief, or require a load of bureaucracy, even if it’s gone to an established customer.
We know that shipping overseas can be daunting. At first, it might take some precious time to understand and build up processes to make shipping to the EU and beyond feel like second nature.
We hope that Sarah’s advice helps you and don’t forget you can find more information in our international shipping hub.
We’re excited to take Sarah’s feedback and use it to improve the customer experience with Parcel2Go even more. And if you’ve never shipped with us before - what are you waiting for? Get your free parcel delivery quote today.