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HELP & ADVICE
Commodity Code Finder

Commodity codes, or tariff codes, are part of the Harmonized System (HS) for the classification of goods. They are used to assist with customs clearance and to calculate the correct duties and taxes for the items in your consignment.


You can use our Commodity Code Finder tool to search the UK government website for the code you need. If you find this difficult to navigate, try using the Google Search option instead. All you need to do is enter a simple descriptive keyword such as “books”, “socks” or “shoes”.


For personal effects, use 9905 00 00 (subject to change). For commodity code enquiries, please contact classification.enquiries@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Dangerous goods and prohibited items

The following restrictions apply to all services offered on our website. However, it is highly advisable to also check the policy of your chosen carrier as further restrictions may apply.


We also recommend that you check with customs at the destination country that you wish to send to as each country has different policies as to what will be accepted into the country. If you are in any doubt, please contact our customer services team.


If your parcel contains a prohibited item, it may be delayed or stopped.

Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Batteries (damaged) or defective
Batteries (loose of any type)
Cash
Foodstuffs to the EU
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Nail polish
Power Banks
Alcohol
Cigarettes, cigars and tobacco products
Electronic cigarettes and pipes, e-hookahs, e-cigars and vape pens
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Medicinal cannabis & illegal narcotics
Apple AirPods
More than 2 mobile phones, laptops and other small electronic items inc. Samsung Note 7 devices
flammable and corrosive substances, dry ice and biological substances
Firearms, ammunition and explosives
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Party poppers and Christmas crackers
Used car parts and engines
Animal trophies, animal parts and furs
Clinical testing kits
Clinical and/or biological samples
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Party poppers and Christmas crackers
Human remains or ashes
Live animals
Antiques, works of art and fine art
Commemorative coins and medals
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Aerosols, perfumes and aftershaves
Jewellery, costume jewellery, watches and objects constructed of precious metal and/or stones
Loose precious and semi-precious stones
Counterfeit goods
Illegal goods
Pornography
How to package your Items

Your parcel is precious! Package it with care. Proper packaging not only protects your own parcel, but helps to prevent damage to other customers’ goods in transit. Our carriers insist on proper packaging and may refuse to accept a parcel that is unsuitably packaged.


The Shipping Carton
The “shipping carton” is the box in which you place your goods.


Size - make sure the size of your box is appropriate to the content. Overloaded boxes may burst; under-filled boxes are likely to collapse.


Strength - be sure to choose boxes strong enough to hold the full weight of your consignment, made of corrugated cardboard and with good quality outer liners. Use heavy duty, double-layered cardboard for valuable items. Check the weight specification of the package, and do not exceed this limit.


Quality - always use high quality materials. If reusing old boxes, ensure they are in a good enough condition to withstand the journey and be sure to remove old labels.


REMEMBER!


Never use boxes that have hazard labels or symbols on them. This includes UN numbers. These parcels will be stopped by the courier and may incur fines, even if you have attempted to cover them up.


Please do not strap boxes together. Each box should have its own label. All contents must be packaged in some way, and

packaging made of fabric or plastic is not suitable.


Inside the Carton
Cushioning - Place fragile goods in the centre of your package, ensuring that they do not touch the sides. Use cardboard dividers when sending flat, fragile material such as vinyl records.


Positioning This includes UN numbers. These parcels will be stopped by the courier and may incur fines, even if you have attempted to cover them up.


REMEMBER You should fill all remaining space in the box with additional cushioning material to minimise the impact of transit on your items.


Sealing and Labelling
Seal your items with a quality adhesive parcel tape, not sellotape or other materials such as rope or ribbon. (For DHL Express, this must have at least 28mm width.)


Customs may need to inspect the contents of your package. Seal it securely.


Ensure that your shipping label (also termed air waybill) is securely attached to the flat topside of your parcel. The barcode and shipping address should be clearly visible and not obscured in any way.

Distinctive Items

Sharp items such as scissors should be fully protected at edges and points with securely fixed, heavy cardboard.


Small items should be packed into flyers (polythene courier/mailing bags).


Powders and fine grains should be placed in sturdy plastic bags, securely sealed and packed in a rigid fibreboard box.


Liquids should be stored in leak-free containers, packed with a strong, lightweight internal material such as Styrofoam, and sealed with a plastic bag.


Semi-liquids or greasy and strong-smelling substances should be sealed with adhesive tape and wrapped in grease resistant paper.


Data, discs and audio tapes should be fully cushioned for extra protection.


CUSTOMS & SECURITY INFORMATION
What is customs clearance?

Customs clearance is the border check made by the government of all goods entering a country. Issues with customs can lead to delays, charges and additional paperwork, so you will need to be aware of your destination country’s rules and regulations when sending a parcel internationally.


Customs clearance is required for all international shipments, including shipments between the UK and the EU. Please see our Brexit page for more information.


This includes special and overseas territories linked to EU member states, such as the Channel Islands, Canary Islands, and Falkland Islands.


Courier and freight forwarding companies have absolutely no control over customs clearance. As the shipper, it is your responsibility to ensure that you abide by the customs rules of your destination country.


All shipments are subject to security screening, regardless of destination. Shipments will be X-rayed and their contents inspected to ensure that they are safe for transit.


What happens if my parcel or cargo is held by customs?

Your items may be held by customs if they are subject to customs duties and taxes, or if they are prohibited or restricted.


Import duties and taxes—including administrative fees—may be payable by the receiver depending on the commodity and value of the goods. In some (but not all) countries, personal effects are exempt from these charges.


Failure by the receiver to pay customs charges will result in the return or destruction of the shipment. Any charges applied as a result of this will be billed to Customer


What are my responsibilities as a shipper?

As the shipper, you must:


Ensure that you send no prohibited or restricted items:
For example, some governments restrict certain foodstuffs from entering their country. Please view our list of dangerous and hazardous items that are universally prohibited.


Ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation:
All international shipments require a Packing List, also known as a Customs Invoice, which details the contents of your consignment. We will generate one of these for you, or if you are a business you can use your own. See our Packing List guide. (Until 31st December 2020, a Packing List / Customs Invoice is not required for shipments between the UK and the EU.)

Certain countries may require additional documentation depending on what you are sending..


Explain to the receiver their liability for import duties, taxes and charges.


Where can I find information about customs?
WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS GUIDE
Weighing and measuring your parcel

Weigh your parcel once it is packaged and sealed. If possible, use digital scales for accuracy. You’ll also need to measure the length, width and height of your box.


For irregularly shaped objects, measure to the furthest point on each side.


It’s important that your parcel is weighed and measured as accurately as possible. Couriers will weigh and measure your parcel after collection. If your parcel is heavier or larger than stated, you will be billed for related costs.


Record your measurements
It's always a good idea to take a few photos of your sealed parcels, next to a tape measure and on the weighing scales. These may help in the rare event that the courier disputes your stated measurements.


Importing personal effects to the UK
Shippers are required to make an application to HMRC prior to importing household goods and personal effects to the UK as a Transfer of Residence (ToR), in order to claim VAT and duty relief for importing personal belongings.


The shipper must complete and sign the application form and provide any supporting documentation. The application must be made prior to shipping any consignments to the UK. If the applicant is successful in obtaining Transfer of Residence relief, the applicant will then be awarded unique declaration information in the form of an authorisation number, which can be included on the customs invoice (packing list).


Export preference
Exporters may be entitled to claim a preferential tariff on the import of certain goods. Please see the HMRC website for more information.


Export licenses for controlled goods For some controlled goods, an export license is required. This depends on the nature of the goods, the destination, and the end use - for example, military items or items that could be used for military purposes are likely to be controlled (if they aren’t prohibited by carriers anyway).


The license requirement may also depend on whether the origin of your shipment is Great Britain or Northern Ireland.


You can apply for different types of license using SPIRE, the UK government’s licensing system.


Licenses such as OGELs (general export licenses) are reusable licenses for exporters who regularly send certain types of item. Others, such as OIELs or SIELS (individual export licenses), are valid for fixed periods to named destinations.


Please refer to GOV.UK for more information, including a full list of license types.


Additional Information HMRC: Guide to importing and exporting

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Before booking make sure you have the shipper's and receivers details with the full address and telephone contact details.


Click on BOOK ONLINE and choose sea booking depending on your type of shipment. Please fill in the form with all required details and click submit.


One of our Freight advisors will contact you to process your booking

AIR FREIGHT BOOKING
Q. I want to make a booking for an air shipment, what do I need to do?

A. Please use our Air cargo quotation service where you will find a number of services and rates. Once you’re happy click on the send offer where one of our customer representative will contact you to book your shipment.

Q. What am I not allowed to send for air freight shipments?

A. There are many restricted items you cannot send, such as batteries, flammables, perfumes, aerosols failure to declare these could result in penalty charge. Please view our dangerous goods section for further information.

Q. I cannot bring my shipment to your warehouse can you collect my cargo?

A. We can collect your shipment at an additional cost. Prices vary from area to area.

Q. Do you provide wrapping and boxes?

A. We can provide wrapping and boxes, but please note there is an additional charge for these materials. To find out more please call our office on 0161 88 20666.

Q. How long does it usually take for a shipment to arrive after collection from the UK to destination?

A. If the collection point is out of Manchester, then it usually takes 2 days to arrive to our warehouse. After arrival we book on the same day and deliver. Air freight takes usually 4-7 days to arrive at international destinations. Europe takes 1-3 days.

Q. How do I collect my shipment when it arrives at destination?

A. When you book your shipment a Master Airway Bill is produced. If you want the original you can pick up from our office, but it is not essential to have an original. For your convenience we scan the original and send by email, so you can print to collect your goods.

Q. If I am unable to collect the shipment can a member of family or a friend collect the shipment for me?

A. Yes. You can have a member of family or friend as the consignee on your airway bill.

Q. Is there a custom clearance charge when my shipment arrives at the airport?

A. Yes there is. Every country has its different customs rates and regulations, please contact your

SEA FREIGHT BOOKING
Q. What is a 20FT and a 40FT Container?

A. A 20FT container is 6 meters in length and is the standard container for shipping by sea. The 40FT is twice the size at 12M in length and is usually used for commercial shipments or personal effects.

Q. I want to book a container, what do I do?

A. Please fill our sea freight contact form with all the required information and one of our team will contact you shortly.

Q. After I make a booking what happens next?

A. After your booking is confirmed we will inform you by phone or email. Depending on your shipment you should prepare the site for the truck that has the container on the loading site. Please be advised that all containers are on the truck and they are not put on the ground. On the point of arrival of the truck on the site you have 3 hours to load the container. After that there is a penalty for the truck over staying, which customer is liable to pay.

Q. I have loaded the container what happens next?

A. Once you load your container please email Express Cargo with the container and seal number with clear instructions on who will be the shipper and the consignee. These details must include the full address and telephone details and email. Once we receive that we will provide you with a draft bill of lading, which is the legal document for your shipment that will be used to clear container to destination. Please be advised that any changes after printing will incur extra charges. Please view our Bill of Approval guide lines. Once you approve the bill of lading you can have telex release, which is a paperless bill of lading that is printed for you to take.

Q. When I send a container is the custom clearance included?

A. We only provide port to port service and please see our customs clearance guide page for more details.

PARCEL BOOKING
Q. How do I get a parcel delivery quote?

A. You can get a free, no-obligation quote through our website. Simply enter your destination country, along with the weight and dimensions of your parcel. Be sure to include accurate postcodes in the quote for a preview of any relevant surcharges.

Q. Do I need weight and dimensions to get a quote?

A. To obtain an accurate quote, we require both the weight and dimensions of each item of your consignment. You can still use our easy quote tool to get an estimate based on rough weight and dimensions, but please note that the price may not be accurate unless you provide the exact details. For information on how to accurately weigh and measure your parcels, please see our weighing and measuring guide.

Q. Which service/carrier should I use?

A. Which carrier or service you should use will depend on your needs. Our quote results will automatically display the cheapest options first, but you can view further information by hovering over the service name. Carriers’ services may be worldwide, Europe only, or UK domestic. Carriers usually offer express services with speedy (sometimes next day) delivery and economical services that are cheaper and slower.

Q. Why is it necessary to specify if I’m sending a document or a parcel?

A. There are extra services for documents only, which are usually cheaper than their non-document counterparts.


Also, documents do not require customs invoices (also known as packing lists) for shipments to countries outside of the EU.

Q. Do I need to enter weight and dimensions for documents?

A. Yes, you will need to enter weight and dimensions for documents. Please refer to our weighing and measuring FAQ.

CUSTOMS DUTIES & TAXES
Q. What is a Customs Invoice?

A. A Customs Invoice is used to assist with customs clearance. It is also referred to as a packing list, pro forma invoice or commercial invoice.


A Customs Invoice should detail your consignment as accurately as possible to avoid any clearance delays. It is a mandatory requirement for shipping goods outside of the EU.


From 1st January 2021, all shipments between the UK and the EU will require a customs invoice / packing list. Please refer to our Customs Information.

Q. Do I need a Customs Invoice when sending to EU countries?

A. From 1st January 2021, all shipments between the UK and the EU will require a customs invoice / packing list.

Q. Will I need to pay customs duties and taxes?

A. For deliveries outside of the EU, the recipient may be required to pay customs duties, taxes or fees. We are generally not involved in this process (with some exceptions—please see specific service info), and as such customs fees will not be included in your quote. The carrier will be in touch with the recipient directly and the relevant Customs office will retain your items until the fees are paid.


Sometimes the carrier will pay duties and taxes on behalf of the receiver and recover the costs on delivery (sometimes referred to as “cash on delivery”). When this happens, the invoice to the receiver will be from the carrier, not customs.


You will need to check the customs regulations for your destination country to see if you are likely to have to pay customs charges, which may depend on the nature or size of your consignment.

Q. Why is it necessary to specify if I’m sending a document or a parcel?

A. There are extra services for documents only, which are usually cheaper than their non-document counterparts.


Also, documents do not require customs invoices (also known as packing lists) for shipments to countries outside of the EU.

Q. Do I need to enter weight and dimensions for documents?

A. Yes, you will need to enter weight and dimensions for documents. Please refer to our weighing and measuring FAQ.

SHIPPING LABELS
Q. What labels and documentation will I need?

A. The documentation required varies from service to service. For door-to-door courier services, we will automatically generate your documentation for you when you make your booking. After you have made your booking, we will email you instructions regarding the documents required.

For air and sea freight services, we will manually generate your documentation and email it to you.

Q. My labels are not on my account / have not been emailed to me – what do I do?

A. Your documents should be generated and emailed to you within an hour of booking. If you have not received your documents, or if they are not accessible via your account, please contact us.

Q. Can the driver provide me with a label?

A. While the drivers may carry manual shipping labels, we must insist that our pre-printed labels are used in order to avoid billing complications.

DANGEROUS, HAZARDOUS, & RESTRICTED ITEMS
Q. Are there any country-specific restrictions?

A. Each destination country will have its own set of regulations and requirements that you will need to be aware of before attempting to send your goods there.

Q. Why can’t I send perfume by air cargo, when I can take it on the aeroplane?

A. Perfume is considered a dangerous and hazardous item because it is flammable due to its alcohol content. In the high pressure of an aeroplane’s cargo hold (as opposed to the aircraft cabin where the passengers sit), this is very unsafe.


The decision not to allow the international shipment of perfume is one made by Civil Aviation Authorities and enforced by all carriers.

Q. Can I send mobile phones?

A. There are restrictions on sending devices that use lithium ion batteries. However, you can usually send mobile phones if the battery is transported inside the device. Restrictions may vary depending on carrier and destination country. We advise that you contact us before proceeding with your booking.

PACKAGING WEIGHING, & MEASURING
Q. What is volumetric weight, and how do I measure it?

A. “Volumetric weight” refers to the amount of space that a package occupies. It’s usually relevant when an item is of a large size but weighs relatively little. Your shipment will be charged based on either actual weight or volumetric weight depending on which is largest.

Q. What if my consignment is fragile / must be kept upright?

A. All carriers handle parcels with the same standardised level of care. Parcels may be stacked and are processed through automated sortation centres using conveyors and chutes. As such, FRAGILE or orientation (“this way up”) labels may be ignored. You will need to package your items securely - as a general rule, your parcel should be able to withstand a drop from waist height onto a solid floor.