Once the UK has left the EU, it is likely that you will need to provide additional information when shipping to Europe. This information is used by customs officials at the destination country. Once political clarity is available, our shipping systems will be updated to allow you to enter additional information when placing an international booking.

In this guide, we outline the changes you may see following Brexit and how you can start to gather information straight away to ensure you are prepared.

Brexit Timeline


The Political Situation


A Brexit deal, which includes a new solution to the Irish border, was agreed in principle with the EU. However, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, failed to get agreement from British MPs before 31 October 2019. The EU Council has therefore agreed on a flextension until 31 January 2020. 

There are two possible outcomes: 


No Deal

If the withdrawal agreement is agreed by MPs before 31 January 2020, we will enter into a transition period until 31 December 2020 in order to prepare for Brexit. The transition period will allow time for the UK and EU to negotiate trade deals, while businesses prepare for the planned changes.

In this scenario, we won’t see any major changes for another year.

The UK could still leave with No Deal if the withdrawal agreement is not approved by 31 January 2020, or at the end of a transition period. In this scenario, the UK will leave the Customs Union and start to trade on the World Trade Organisation terms. 

Changes will take effect immediately and there will be no transition period. EU shipments will be handled in a similar way to the rest of the world. 

Following recent events, other outcomes may be presented including a further extension to the period for negotiating the deal. 

What changes will you see?


In the event of a No-deal Brexit, it will still be quick and easy to book shipments to Europe on ipostparcels. The biggest change you will see when sending parcels to Europe, is that you will need to fill in a commercial or pro-forma invoice.

This is a customs declaration which allows your parcel to pass through borders between countries. A commercial invoice is needed when your parcel contains items which have a commercial value, whereas a pro-forma invoice is needed when sending gifts or personal belongings.

If you currently ship items outside of Europe, you will already be familiar with this process. However, if commercial or pro forma invoices are new to you – don’t worry, it is quick and easy to do on ipostparcels.

Simply fill in the ipostparcels International booking form and we’ll use the information you provide to generate either a commercial or pro-forma invoice (depending on the items you are sending). You then just need to print the invoice and shipping label and affix both securely to your parcel.


How to fill in the booking form 


The commercial or pro-forma invoice is used by customs officials in Europe so it is important that you complete the booking form accurately in order to avoid delays.

To help you to do this, we provide more information on each section below: 


1. Sender contact details 

Please provide your name, address and telephone number - this will allow us to contact you should there be an issue with your shipment. 


2. Recipient contact details

You will need to provide the recipient's address, email address and telephone number when sending items to the EU. 


3. VAT status 

Complete your VAT status and if you are VAT registered, give your VAT number. 


4. Reason for export 

Select a reason why you are sending the parcel from the drop-down list provided. 


5. Country of origin 

This is the country where the item was originally manufactured, produced or grown. If you are unsure, this information can usually be found on the label of clothes and food products or the base of toys and electrical equipment. If multiple items are in your shipment, you will need to provide a country of origin for each item. 


6. Number of units

List the items in your shipment and the number of each, for example, 3 dresses, 2 t-shirts and 1 pair of socks. 


7. Unit value

Give an approximate value for each item you are sending in GBP. This will be used to calculate duty. 


8. Product description

Your product description should be as detailed as possible to avoid the parcel being held by customs. You will need to include: the type of product, material used to make it, production method and what it will be used for.

We give some examples of acceptable and unacceptable product descriptions below:


 Bad product descriptions

 Good product descriptions

  •  Clothing
  •  Men's knitted jumper, 70% cotton, 30% polyester
  •  Laptop
  •  HP Pavilion 14-ce1509sa 14" Intel Core i3 Laptop
  •  Footwear
  •  Ladies leather shoe


Possible additional fields

Following Brexit, you may need to provide additional information about your shipment, including an EORI number and Commodity Codes. Once we have political clarity, the booking form will be updated in order to allow you to enter this additional information. 


EORI number (business senders only)

EORI stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification. An EORI number is currently needed to import or export items outside of the EU so this field already exists within our International booking form, under 'VAT status'. After Brexit, it is likely that UK businesses will also need an EORI number for shipments to and from the EU.

We recommend that all business senders register for an EORI number as soon as possible to be prepared for the event of a No-deal Brexit. It is quick and simple to register and is completely free. Visit the HMRC website: gov.uk/eori – and fill in a VAT registered form or a Non VAT registered form depending on your VAT status.

Note, this will be an optional field as it only needs to be filled in by our business senders. If you are a personal sender then you should leave this field blank.


Commodity codes

Commodity codes (also known as HS codes) are used to classify products. This information is used by officials at customs clearance points across the world. By using a number to describe what is in a shipment, it removes issues associated with vague descriptions and language barriers.

If you are a business, you can start to classify your product catalogue with commodity codes now by following the instructions below:

a. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

b. Enter the search term. Note, the item may not be listed by name, it may come under what it is used for or made from.

c. You will be given a number of suggested sections.

d. The heading in each chapter describes a product. Only select a sub-heading if your item is accurately described.

e. If your item is not accurately described, check further down the list. If none of the sub-headings match your item use the ‘other’ heading.


What does this mean for business senders?

Make sure your business is ready for these potential changes by following the below steps:

1. Register with HMRC for your EORI number

2. Classify each of your products with a commodity code

3. Ensure product descriptions are detailed and relate to a commodity code

4. Ensure you have accurate addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers for all recipients


What does this mean for personal senders?

In the event of a No-deal Brexit, you will still be able to ship items to the EU. You will just need to provide a bit more information about your shipment when booking.

The biggest potential change for personal senders is the addition of a commodity Codes field to the international booking form. If this comes into effect, you will need to visit: gov.uk/trade-tariff to find out the code for the item you are sending.


Any questions?

If you should require any further assistance, please get in touch with our Customer Service team.

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