Stack of shipping containers

Customs Declarations

When shipping from our warehouse in Livingston customs declarations are not required for:

  • England, Scotland and Wales
  • Business-to-Consumer sales to Northern Ireland
  • Isle of Man

Customs declarations are required for:

  • Business-to-Business sales to Northern Ireland
  • Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey
  • The EU and any other country

To ensure our system identifies Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies correctly make you use the following details:

  • Northern Ireland country code GB, postcodes start with BT
  • Isle of Man country code IM, postcodes start with IM
  • Jersey country code JE, postcodes start with JE
  • Guernsey (and Sark) country code GG, postcodes start with GY

All businesses sending parcels needing a customs declaration are required to submit a customs declaration to HMRC electronically through an API. Given the hundreds of millions of declarations made every year, it would be impossible for HMRC to deal with them on paper forms.

In addition to the electronic declaration, a printed declaration must go with the parcel which is different depending on whether the parcels are being sent by post (in which case it will be the Universal Postal Union forms CN22 and CN23) or by courier (in which case it will be a Commercial Invoice).

To simplify the process, we have a single system which will automatically make the electronic declaration and generate the correct documentation depending on the final destination and shipping method.

All that is required are three customs fields for each product:

  1. Customs Value (in GBP)
  2. HS Code
  3. Country of Origin

Providing these three bits of information are entered all of the customs declarations and documentation will be generated for you.

The Customs Value must by in GB Pounds Sterling. The rules are complex but it will generally by the sale price excluding VAT. If the product has been sent free of charge then a recent sale price excluding VAT should be used.

The HS Code is the Harmonised System Code from the World Customs Organization. Technically the HS Code is just the first six digits of the tariff code, with additional digits added by each country but we use the term to refer to the full tariff code.

European Union and UK HS Codes are six, eight or ten digits. EU codes should be used in Northern Ireland although there is currently almost no difference between the two systems.

You can lookup a UK HS Code at It is not always straightforward to find the tariff code, for example chicken is referred to as “Fowls of the species Gallus domesticus”. Please get in touch with your account manager if you need help finding the right code or would like us to fill the codes in for you.

The Country of Origin rules are complex but essentially it means where the product comes from originally or if the product comes from more than one country, it means where most of the value originates from.

As an example, if a product was made in China from Chinese materials and shipped to a customer from the UK, then the country of origin would be China.

The customs value, HS code and country of origin will determine what tariff is to be charged (if any).

HMRC also require the weight to be declared, however we require weight before we can ship a product anywhere so that field will already have been filled in.

Finally, the customs declaration must include the terms of sale. The International Chamber of Commerce has a standard set of terms known as Incoterms. We use only two of these:

  1. Delivery Duty Paid (DDP)
  2. Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU)

DDP means that you will be responsible for any duty and DDU means that your customer will be responsible, probably having to pay the duty online before the goods would be released for delivery.

Some of our carriers only offer one term, for example, DHL Parcel UK who are our main carrier only offer DDP.

The vast majority of our international shipments are to the EU where duty is generally not payable, so the terms of sale are not usually relevant.

It is not part of the customs declaration but some of our carriers require an EORI number for shipments into Europe. You can get your number at If we have your EORI number on our system it will be automatically used when required.

Note that Customs Declarations are not the only requirement for shipping goods outside the UK. Please contact us for help with exactly what is required for your products.