How to fill out the Customs declaration

What is a Customs declaration

Anything posted or couriered to another country goes through Customs to check if it isn’t banned or restricted and the importer pays the right tax and ‘duty’ (Customs charges) on it.

This includes anything new or used that the recipient:

  • buys online;
  • buys abroad and sends back to their country;
  • receives as a gift.

Customs declaration (form CN22 or CN23) is an official Customs document that helps Customs officers to check the package. Normally, Customs declaration and accompanying documents are put into an adhesive transparent envelope attached to the outside of the package.

Here at Parcl we provide you with both CN22 and CN23 printable forms. However, you will need to check which form should be attached to the package in your case. Usually it depends on the destination country and the declared Customs value of the goods.

Who should fill out the Customs declaration

Under Customs law, importer is legally responsible for the information on the declaration; therefore it is in their interest to ensure, wherever possible, that the sender abroad completes the declaration accurately and in full.

Most often the sender fills out the Customs declaration and attaches it to the package. However, the importer (shopper) can choose to go through Customs clearance procedures on their own if they wish. If the shopper wants to do this, they will need to ensure the sender clearly marks the Customs declaration form (CN22 or CN23) 'goods to be Customs cleared by the importer'. If the Customs declaration form (CN22 or CN23) is not marked in this way by the sender, the goods will be cleared by Customs in the regular way. Once goods have been Customs cleared, one cannot then retrospectively apply to self clear them.

For items that have been marked for clearance by the importer, a full declaration will be sent to the importer to complete and return to the appropriate Customs office. They will then calculate any import charges and inform the recipient about further steps.

Once the importer provides the Customs declaration and pays any duties that may be required, the goods will be released for delivery.

However, this manual procedure may lead to a significant delay in the delivery of the package.

What language should the declaration be filled out in?

To prevent Customs clearance delays, complete the declaration in English, French or in a language accepted in the destination country.

How to correctly declare package contents

To clear the package, the Customs in the destination country must know exactly what the contents are. Therefore, the declaration must be completed fully and legibly, or there may be a delay and inconvenience for the addressee. If false or misleading info is provided on the declaration, the recipient may get fined or package contents may be seized.

The following instructions may help you ensure fast Customs clearance:

  1. Item description. Give a detailed description of the items in your package, e.g. “men’s cotton shirts”. General descriptions, such as “spare parts”, “samples” or “food products” are not permitted. Similar items may be grouped into categories, such as "Children’s toys" or "Women's clothes".

  2. Quantity. Specify the quantity for each article.

  3. Weight. Give the net weight of each article (in kg) and the total gross weight of the parcel including packaging, which is the weight used to calculate the postage.

  4. Value. List the value of each article and the total, indicating the currency used (e.g. USD for American dollar). You need to be very careful when specifying the items’ Customs value, because Customs taxes and fees are calculated based on it. Be sure to check Сustoms value limits applicable to the country of destination.

    Below you will find examples of Customs duty-free values for the most popular destinations:

    United Kingdom: Customs Duty becomes payable if the total value of all goods in a package is over £135.

    United States: If the declared value does not exceed $800, no Customs duty is applied.

    European Union: No Customs Duty needs to be paid if the contents value does not exceed €150.

  5. Category. Correctly specify the package contents category. Usually there are several options to choose from: gifts, documents, commercial goods, returned goods, other. The sender needs to check the regulations applicable to each category and discuss them with the recipient, since choosing an incorrect category may result in extra Customs fees.

    For instance in the UK, if the value of the gifts without shipping and insurance costs does not exceed £34 and the Customs declaration is correct, duty and VAT will not be paid on the gifts.

  6. Address. When filling out the Customs declaration, you should pay attention to every detail and make sure you enter the address correctly. An incorrect address may lead to the package getting delayed or stuck. If you use Parcl to print out the declaration, the sender’s and the recipient’s addresses will be taken from the order information (forwarder’s and shopper’s addresses).

  7. Additional information. Be sure to mention if the contents are subject to quarantine or other restrictions. If the item is accompanied by a licence or a certificate, tick the appropriate box and specify the number. An invoice should be attached for all commercial items.

What to do when the declaration is filled out

If you use Parcl to fill out the Customs declaration, you may download and print out the completed CN22 and CN23 forms. Please make sure that the information is correct, tick the boxes that are empty as needed and sign the declaration. The printed forms must be attached to the outside of the package.


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