What Is a Customs Invoice and Why Do I Need One?

Import Export

Sending parcels domestically requires very little effort on your part, no customs invoice, no import taxes and no stringent regulations. Simply package your item, log into ParcelHero, fill out the information and choose the best courier for your needs. With international shipping, you are technically exporting goods. This is a more complex process and requires careful thought and planning.

Customs authorities exist to regulate the flow of goods across any given border. Each country has its own independent customs authority with its own processes and regulations. Customs clearance is mandatory for any parcel going to or from a non-EU country. While Britain remains in the EU, free movement between member states, means that sending a parcel to a country such as Portugal, will not require as stringent customs documentation.

In order for a parcel to clear customs, the sender must attach a customs invoice to the parcel, these are also known as commercial invoices and shipping invoices.

What is a Customs Invoice?

A customs invoice is a document that travels with your parcel, and contains information about the items inside your parcel. The customs invoice is required for customs clearance, and your shipment can’t leave the country without one. If you are sending a parcel to a country outside of the EU, you must fill out a customs invoice which specifically details every item you are exporting.

Most of us have flown into another country and had our bags searched as we pass through security at both the source and destination airports. With parcels, a similar procedure is carried out.

It is worth noting that documents are the only items that do not need a customs invoice when they are shipped to or from the EU. However, shipments weighing more than 2.5kg in weight will be cleared as goods and will require customs clearance, and a customs invoice to be created.

Import Procedure and Documentation

A customs invoice is vital, as without it your parcel will not be exported by any courier. We cover everything you need to know about filling out your customs invoice below. Before your package is even collected by the courier, all the data you entered on your invoice will be sent to the courier’s pre-clearance team who send the data on to the country you are shipping the goods to. Once the destination country has accepted the data, the courier can load the shipments on the flights and begin to export them.

This is called pre-clearance and is a necessary part of import procedure.

Once your parcel has been loaded into the plane (presuming it is being shipped via air), it will then make its way to the destination country you have chosen. Once it arrives to the port at the other side, all the cargo will be unloaded and will make its way to the customs authority for customs clearance.

Your courier has an agreement with the customs authority in the nation you are shipping to. This means that they are trusted to follow the customs procedures, and must adhere to the import rules and regulations. It is crucial that this kind of relationship exists between the courier and the customs authority as it speeds up what would otherwise be a lengthy process.

Make an Invoice

For your parcel to clear customs you will need to include specific information on your customs invoice. Having general or vague customs information on your invoice will result in your parcel being taken aside, closely inspected or hand searched and possibly held in customs.

What Needs to be Included in a Customs Invoice?

  1. Collection address
  2. Delivery address
  3. A Summarised Goods description
  4. Total Shipment Value
  5. Tax Status of the receiver
  6. The reason for export
  7. Country of manufacture
  8. Declaration statement
  9. Itemised goods description
  10. Itemised value for each item in the parcel

Before you begin the process of creating an invoice, make sure that you have access to all the above customs invoice requirements. Customs officials use the information you provide on the invoice to assess whether additional import documents are required for clearance, for example if your items are restricted or of a high value. They also use the information to decide whether your goods will attract import duty and tax and if so, how much the duty and tax will be.

At ParcelHero, we aim to make this whole process as easy as possible for you:

How to Create an Invoice

  • Enter your parcel details (origin, destination, quantity, weight, height, length and width)
  • List the contents of your parcel – be sure to include the materials that your goods are made from if you are sending textiles or apparel of any kind.
  • Enter how much the contents of your parcel are worth
  • Enter how much each individual item is worth
  • Enter why you are exporting your parcel (if it is a gift or an item for sale, for example)
  • Enter the country of manufacture
  • Enter your Declaration Statement

With ParcelHero’s booking wizard, we automatically create the customs invoice for you based on the information you provide during the booking process. Using this method makes the whole process easier and means that you do not have to keep searching for what information to include on your invoice template. Once you have completed each relevant section ParcelHero automatically generates the shipping labels and the customs invoice for you, based on the information you provided.

Once you have your customs invoice printed and ready, simply attach it to your parcel along with the shipping label. If you have booked your parcel delivery through ParcelHero, then all these documents will be on the same file and you can print them off at the same time.