Following a transition period, from 1 July 2023, all commercial goods shipped by air to (or transiting through) EU countries, Northern Ireland, Norway and Switzerland must include an accurate description and a Harmonised System (HS) commodity code for each item. This is due to the EU strengthening security at customs.
Commercial suppliers should already be including these as part of the business to customer/e-commerce process. Failure to follow the new regulations could lead to your items being seized or extra charges being payable before items are released by local customs authorities. In some cases, parcels could be returned or destroyed.
However, there remains uncertainty over whether HS codes will be needed for private BFPO items posted over a UK Post Office counter – updates to follow.
In the interim, before visiting their local Post Office, private customers are encouraged to read guidance on how to identify HS codes which they may need to add to customs declarations.
Further information regarding HS codes can be found at GOV.UK – Trade Tariff: look up commodity codes, duty and VAT rates and BFPO customers can also view Royal Mail guidance on international mail customs declarations at Royal Mail: Help with customs and sending items abroad, which also includes a video guide on how to complete customs declaration forms.
NB: All BFPO mail must be clearly addressed, using a printed label or written in block capitals. It must show both sender name and address as well as recipient name and address. Small packets or parcels must always have a fully completed custom declaration attached. The regulations do not apply to documents.
These changes will apply to all UK business or private customers who send mail to EU destinations, but BFPO also anticipates that they will be introduced in other global regions in the future.
UPDATED ON 7 JUNE 2023