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 declarations (forms CN22, CN23, or others) are 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.
Who should fill out the Customs declaration?
Under international customs law, the importer is legally responsible for the package and its contents. It's therefore your responsibility to ensure the declaration is filled out 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 / CN23) 'goods to be customs cleared by the importer'. If the customs declaration form 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, or in a way that your country's officials prefer to run the process. 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. 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:
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".
Quantity. Specify the quantity for each article.
Weight. Give the net weight of each article and the total gross weight of the parcel including packaging, which is the weight used to calculate the postage.
Value. List the value of each article and the total value. 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 customs value limits applicable to the country of destination.
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.
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.
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.
Please do not hesitate to write if you have any questions.