Purpose: Learn how you can transfer your customs documentation electronically via Paperless Trade, and which shipping carriers support this feature.
What is paperless trade?
Paperless trade is the electronic process of transmitting your customs documents. International shipments (to destinations outside the EU) require customs documentation, so the contents can be checked by local tax authorities at the border of the destination country. Usually you need to print multiple copies of these documents and attach them to the box.
With paperless trade, your customs documentation will automatically be sent digitally to the shipping carrier and associated with the shipment. Please note that depending on the carrier and on the type of shipment, you might still need to manually add further documents or take additional steps in some situations. Always verify the shipping conditions of the carrier and the customs regulations before shipping to a destination that requires customs documents.
Q: What types of documents will be transmitted?
A: A commercial invoice is always required for all e-commerce shipments, and only parcels sent via postal services (such as PostNL in the Netherlands, or Royal Mail in the UK) need an additional CN22 or CN23 form. To avoid delays, we recommend that you always add both documents. Click here for more information about international shipping.
Which carriers use paperless trade?
See the table below for a list of carriers which support Paperless Trade. Not every destination country supports this feature, so be sure to check the corresponding list of supported destinations.
NL, BE, DE, ES, FR, IT, GB, AT
|Download the file|
|DHL Express**||NL, BE, DE, ES, FR, IT, GB, AT||Click here|
|Colissimo||FR||French islands overseas|
|FedEx||NL, BE, DE, ES, FR, IT, UK, AT||Click here (and scroll to the bottom)|
*UPS offers the option to use paperless trade. If you have your own direct contract with UPS, please keep in mind that you should enable paperless trade in order to use it. Click here to go to the UPS website and enable paperless trade.
** For DHL Express, please keep in mind: even if a country is on the list, there could be other factors that affect whether or not paperless trade is possible. Always check for the letters 'PLT' in the black area of the label.
How does this work in the Sendcloud panel?
When your order is imported into Sendcloud via your webshop integration, some of the information required to complete your customs forms may already have been retrieved. Any missing information can be filled in by editing the order in your incoming order overview. If information is missing, the order will most appear with errors (see below).
After the order is complete, Click on
Save and create the label from the overview as usual. Based on the information in the order, Sendcloud will automatically generate your customs documents. If the shipment supports paperless trade, the documents will transferred immediately.
You can check if the information has been sent correctly in the Created labels tab, by clicking the Eye icon next to your order. You should see the following notification:
Why use paperless trade?
There are multiple reasons for the use of paperless trade:
- Using paper documents is not environmentally friendly
- By not using as much paper you can save money on supplies
- You can save time, because you don't need to fold documents and attach them to your shipment
- It decreases the chance of delays, since possible queries can be resolved more quickly