How to Complete a Customs Invoice



If you are sending goods internationally, you will be required to complete a ‘Customs Details’ form before finalising your booking. The information provided in the form will be used to generate your Commercial Invoice.

Should you need to amend any details on your commercial invoice once the parcel is in the courier’s network, you can fill it in manually by downloading the following form:

Below is a short guide that will walk you through each section and provide you with some tips to help you fill it out:


Vat status

Selecting a VAT status is simply based on your circumstances - if you're a non-business shipper and the goods that you are sending are for private (not commercial) use, then you should select “Personal” here.

If, however, you're sending commercially (for business) you should select company (VAT or non-VAT registered).


EORI numbers

If you’re registered as a business and sending shipments to the EU will need to supply an EORI?number (Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number). This is mandatory for both VAT and non-VAT registered businesses.

If you move goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, you don’t need an EORI number. But, if you move goods between Northern Ireland and the UK, you will.

For more information on EORI numbers and how to apply for one, please visit our International Shipping Hub.


Purpose of export

The reason for export is key, since it affects how much VAT can be applied to your shipment. Due to exporting permits and whether or not a broker is needed. Not all couriers are able to export for all purposes. During the booking process you’ll only be offered the export reasons available for our current service providers. Below is a breakdown of each available reason:

All couriers:

  • Gift: for items being sent by one private individual to another, which are in no way consigned to a business.

  • Sold: for goods that have been sold.

Parcelforce, Landmark, TNT, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Canada Post:

  • Not sold: for shipments containing brand new personal belongings.

  • Sample: for items that have been sent that aren't suitable for sale and are to be used with the view of soliciting a future sale.

Landmark, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Canada Post:

  • Repair: for sending goods to be repaired, or after having repaired them you are now shipping them back to the customer.

Landmark, TNT, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Canada Post:

  • Return: for goods that have previously been shipped but are now being returned to its original destination.

Parcelforce, Landmark, TNT, Evri International, Royal Mail, Canada Post:

  • Personal Effects: for any shipment containing personal items, most often baggage or household goods that individuals will have delivered when moving house.

Landmark, TNT, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Global Packet, Canada Post:

  • Intra company transfer: for any shipments being sent within the same company in different countries.

Landmark, TNT, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Global Packet, Canada Post:

  • Temporary Export: for any shipments that will stay in the destination country for a short period of time (6 months or less).

Only for EU destinations on Parcelforce, Landmark, TNT, FedEx, Evri International, Royal Mail, Canada Post:

  • Documents: for parcels that include documents or paperwork of any kind.


IOSS number – For EU shipments

Should you be a business who has opted in to IOSS to meet VAT obligations you can enter your unique IOSS number on the invoice.

You can use your IOSS number for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) shipments for goods worth €150 (£135) or less.


Description of goods

If you are asked to provide a new invoice, it is likely that you’ll need to pay extra attention to this section. You’ll need to itemise your goods on the invoice, which means you’ll have to separate each item based on the description.

Customs will require a clear and accurate description to quickly (and correctly) clear your parcel into their country. The more detailed and accurate the description the less likely your parcel is to be delayed.

The description needs to be specific, not vague. For example:

  • Incorrect description = Clothes

  • Correct (detailed) description = Children’s leather shoes

Make sure your descriptions are short but descriptive and each item group is listed separately to avoid your parcel being held at customs.


Tariff code

These are also known as a Commodity or a HS codes (Harmonised System). They are used to identify the item(s) so customs can check they’re safe and legal to be imported/exported to calculate any duties owed. You can find them on the gov site here, keep in mind the codes can be anything from six to a twelve-digit number.

We've simplified the process and included a free 'HS Lookup Tool' within our booking form for our customers to use which you can also access on our international shipping hub.


Country of manufacture

This part is important as the origin of your goods determines their economic nationality and it identifies their duty band. This doesn't describe where they have been shipped from or bought from, it applies to where they were made.

For example, an item can contain many parts with components made in different countries then shipped to the UK to be assembled into the final product. In this case the country of manufacture would be the UK. This is because the country of manufacture is determined by the 'last substantial transformation' location.


Item Value

The value of your goods required for each item group, individually and as a total. If this isn't correctly declared your commercial invoice, or if you have purposefully undervalued your goods, customs may issue you a fine or have your goods seized.

If customs officials need more information about the value of your goods, they may hold your parcel or ask the buyer to provide a proof of sale. Make sure declare it correctly to avoid the delay this could cause.



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