Before you plan to send a package to a country outside of the EU, it's good to know that there are certain documents required in order for your package to cross the border and arrive at its international destination. In this article we will run through the difference between the two types of customs documentation required by postal carriers and how to correctly fill them in and attach them to your package.
(02/03/2020 Beta) You can download your customs documents through your Sendcloud platform for even easier shipping - click here to see how to enable customs document printing in your account.
What are customs forms?
There are two types of customs declarations required for shipping a parcel outside of the EU; the CN22 form and the CN23 and CP71 forms. Customs forms are a mandatory requirement when shipping a package internationally with a postal carrier service such as PostNL in the Netherlands or Royal Mail in the United Kingdom.
The forms provide detailed information about the contents of the package which customs officials need in order to determine the correct import duty to apply when the products cross the border. While both forms are a type of customs document, depending on what you are shipping you will need either a CN22 or a CN23 + CP71. The two are not to be confused with each other.
When do I need one?
You need to complete a customs form and ship it with your package any time you ship to a country outside of the EU. After Brexit, this will also include the United Kingdom.
Pay special attention to regions within the EU zone but not part of the EU customs zones, so always double check the requirements if you are not sure.
Overall, only merchandise is subject to customs control, but letters, documents and photographs are not. However this can differ from one country to the next whether photographs are considered merchandise or documents, so be sure to double check depending on where you are shipping.
Which form should I use?
Whether you use a CN22 form or a CN23 depends on the weight and value of the package:
- Packages weighing up to 2 kilograms with a value of up to €425 require a CN22 customs declaration
- The CN23 is used for packages weighing from 2-20 kilograms with a value of €425 or more
What's the difference between a CN22 and a CN23?
A CN22 form is less detailed than a CN23 form, and can be printed in the form of a sticker to be attached to the address side of the package. We've provided an example below of a typical CN22 form. Although the exact format will differ between carriers, the information required remains the same.
1: Here you must place a mark to indicate the contents of the package. As an online retailer, in nearly all cases your choice will be "Sale of goods". In the event of shipping a test product or small sample, you can select "Commercial sample," but be aware that only one option can be chosen.
2: The main purpose of the CN22 form is to provide a description of the package contents. Always complete this in English to avoid delays at the border, or at the very least, complete this in the language of the destination country. Be sure to clearly and accurately describe the products, quantity, weight and value (excluding VAT) of each product you are shipping.
3: This is where you must state the HS code and country of origin for each product you are shipping. For more information, refer to the website of your national customs authority or visit www.tariffnumber.com or foreign-trade.com for a list of the HS codes.
4: Finally, don't forget to sign and date the form when you are ready to declare that the CN22 has been filled out accurately and to sign that no dangerous or banned items are contained in the package.
The CN23 is a more detailed version of the CN22, and unlike the CN22, it must be printed separately from the shipping label and enclosed in a documents wallet on the outside of the package on the same side as the shipping label.
Alongside the CN23 is the CP71 dispatch form - this should be used as an address card to be shown on the outside of the clear documents wallet. Unlike the CN23, the CP71 does not show the value of the individual items.
1: This sections should be completed with the address and telephone number of the sender and the recipient. The more address details you add, the more the likelihood that the package will be delivered successfully.
2: Here you can specify whether the address should be returned to you if it can't be delivered. Note: you could be liable to pay returns costs. By stating here that the package should not be returned in the event of no delivery or recipient refusal, you forfeit ownership of the package.
3: As with the CN22 form, this is where you should specify the contents of your package as clearly and accurately as possible. You can also indicate the incoice number and the number of any additional certificates, such as a CoC (Certificate of Conformity).
4: The same rules apply here as for the CN22 form - here you must provide the HS code for each product and state the country of origin in which the products were produced or assembled.
5: Here you can comment on the regulations related to your package contents if you are shipping products which require quarantine, sanitation or import restrictions. Be sure to consult the list of banned or dangerous products with your carrier before shipping prohibited items.
6: Sign and date the form to state that you have completed it to the best of your ability and that the package does not contain banned or dangerous items.
Downloading customs forms through Sendcloud
When you ship with Sendcloud, we automatically provide you with the customs documents you need to ship internationally through the Sendcloud Platform.
Step 1. International order creation
When a shipment to an international destination arrives in your Incoming Orders Overview, or when you create a manual shipment in the Sendcloud Platform using the Create a new shipment button, you will be prompted to enter product information necessary for the creation of the customs documents before creating the label.
Step 2. Enter the product details
For each individual type of product in the order, you can enter the description, quantity, weight, value, HS code and Origin country. Press Add item to add a new line for each type of product.
Step 3. Create the label
When you have correctly entered all the product data required for the shipment, press Create label to process the label for the shipment as usual.
Once created, the label will appear in your Created labels tab. Click the eye icon to enter the label details.
Step 4. Download your customs form
If you want to download the forms again, or at a later time, you can do so in the Created labels overview. In the Label details view, click the Actions button and select “Download customs declarations” from the dropdown menu.