Shipping to Europe got a lot more complicated when the UK left the EU in 2021. Since then, countries and couriers have worked hard to adapt to those changes and make the process of shipping from the UK to the EU easier.
But we know it can still be confusing, which is why we created our International Shipping Hub for both business senders and consumers shipping to the EU. The Hub explains everything you need to know about shipping to Europe, including VAT and documentation.
We also recently ran a webinar on EU Shipping, where Head of Commercial and international shipping expert, Ashley Taylor, used his decade of experience to explain:
- the regulation changes
- duties and taxes
- DDP, DDU and IOSS
- the importance of data richness
- what documentation you need
- P2G’s tips and recommendations
- your commonly asked questions
You can watch the full webinar here or find the answers to our EU shipping FAQs below:
1. How can I pay for Duties and Tax upfront and stop recipients having to pay anything?
You’ll need to ship using DDP (Delivery Duty Paid), which means you’ll pay all the costs before shipping, so the recipient doesn’t have to. This usually makes for a faster delivery too.
We offer a few different DDP services with Evri, DPD and UPS - when you get a quote, look for the services that have the red banner on the top left corner stating ‘Pre-Pay Delivery Duty Available’.
This banner means that you can choose DDP with this service during the booking process - you’ll reach an ‘Import Tax and Duties’ page where you can tick ‘Yes, I’ll pay the taxes and duties. (DDP)’.
It’s important to know that DDP is only available when IOSS is not applicable - find out more about IOSS and register here.
2. How to send gifts?
Just select sending a gift as the reason for export when you book your parcel.
If the total value of your parcel (that’s the value of the items inside plus the cost of shipping) is less than €45 (about £38) then VAT won’t be applied. This means you or your recipient shouldn’t be charged.
Make sure you always fill the value and items within the parcel out honestly. Find out more about shipping gifts to the EU.
3. How do I know if the commodity code is correct?
There are tens of thousands of commodity codes (sometimes called HS Codes). We provide categories during the booking process, for example ‘Toys & Games’, ‘Clothes, Shoes & Accessories’ but we understand that some of our customers send quite niche items, so it can be hard to know which commodity code to use.
If you feel the commodity code we give you based on the category you’ve chosen isn’t quite right, then you can use our commodity code search tool to find a code that fits better. Below the search tool, we go through how to manually select a commodity code, step-by-step.
And don’t forget to include commodity codes for every single item in your shipment - just click ‘Add Another Item’.
4. Are there any countries I should avoid shipping to?
Each country has adapted differently to handling imports post-Brexit. At first, Parcel2Go saw some issues with parcels shipped to Spain and Italy, but we’ve found that this process has improved from where it once was.
Once you ship to a country a few times, you’ll get used to the way they handle deliveries. But if you need help, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer service team, who are available for you 24/7.
5. Which service would you recommend?
We only work with the best couriers so we can confidently recommend all of our international delivery services!
However, if you’re sending with DDP, we recommend using one of the services with the red ‘Pre-Pay Delivery Duty Available’ banners. This includes some of our Evri, DPD and UPS services - with UPS you can send to almost every country in Europe, so that’s a great option if the place you’re shipping to is more niche.
If you’re choosing to ship with DDU, Royal Mail International Tracked is reliable and prices start at just £8.75 exc VAT.
6. Why were my goods returned?
There may be a few reasons why your parcel is returned for you:
- Descriptions aren’t detailed enough - The courier will check that all the right information is provided on the paperwork you provide. If descriptions and values of contents aren’t detailed enough, it may be returned to you. It’s really important that you give as much detail as you can and submit the true value of your parcel.
- Recipient’s details aren’t right - It’s also really important to submit the right contact details for the recipient because if any issues do come up at the country’s customs department, they will usually contact the recipient. This is especially true for parcels sent with DDU, as customs will need to reach the recipient to request payment before the parcel can go any further.
- Duties aren’t paid - Another issue could be that the recipient doesn’t pay the duties, although this issue will only come up if you ship with DDU. Sometimes a recipient may be surprised that they’re being asked to pay further charges and may not trust the courier that has requested it. That’s why Parcel2Go emails the recipient to let them know what to expect, but it’s always important that you make this clear to your customers before making a sale.
7. What documents do we need for EU Customs?
Parcel2Go will send you all the forms you need to ship to any country outside of the UK, the most important being the commercial invoice - think of this as your parcel’s passport. On this form, you’ll need to include details about the contents of your parcel. Check out our top tips for filling out a commercial invoice.
If your items need any additional forms, we’ll let you know and send them over to you as soon as you complete your booking with us.
8. What if I am a small company not registered for VAT?
If you’re not VAT registered, because your business doesn’t need to be, then you don’t need to enter your VAT number.
9. Can I send food to Europe - e.g. an English food hamper to friends abroad?
You can send food in the post, as long as it’s not:
- perishable (fresh)
- prohibited in the country you’re shipping to
- prohibited by the courier you’re shipping with
Some countries have very specific rules around food imports, for example, it’s illegal to send a kinder egg to the USA. But if you’re just hoping to ship some Dairy Milk to your British friends abroad, this usually won’t be an issue.
It is crucial that you check our prohibited items list before you send your food parcel though, otherwise it might be held at customs and in the worst case, destroyed. Remember to filter by the country you’re shipping to and the courier you’re using.
10. How does it work if you send via a marketplace such as eBay?
If your business sells on a marketplace, we recommend using IOSS if the goods you’re selling are under £135/€150.
This makes shipping easier because the marketplace will deal with IOSS directly, collecting and paying EU VAT for you.
They will give you an IOSS number and all you need to do is add your IOSS number when entering your parcels details into the booking process. If you use our free shipping management platform, Smart Send, your marketplace will automatically pass your IOSS number onto us, so all the hard work is done for you!
We hope you found the answer you’ve been looking for! If you’re still unsure about anything, make sure you watch our EU Shipping Webinar for more detail and extra tips and recommendations from us.
We’ll have more webinars on all things parcels coming soon, so watch this space. And don’t forget that Parcel2Go’s customer service team is available to help you whenever you need us.