Customs declarations – CN22 and CN23 customs declarations are essential for international shipping. The documents give important information about the contents of the package being shipped abroad. It is vital that all UK e-commerce retailers have a thorough understanding of how to fill out CN22 and CN23 forms properly. The forms help ensure your shipments clear customs quickly. To avoid delays with your international shipments, make sure to always fill out these documents as fully as possible.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations, including exactly how to use them.
Want to quickly create your own CN22 or CN23 form? We’ve also got you covered there with our free tool.
This article covers:
- Customs declarations CN22 and CN23: definition
- Customs declarations after Brexit
- The difference between the CN22 and CN23 custom declarations
- Customs forms: when do you need to use it?
- CN22 customs form
- CN23 customs form
- Create your own CN22/CN23 customs form
Before we start, make sure to download our International Shipping Checklist. In this document, you’ll find a complete walkthrough of everything you’ll need for smooth international shipping.
CN22 and CN23 custom declarations are required customs documents for international shipping. They help customs officials understand what is in the package so they can process them swiftly and compliantly.
Any shipment that is sent through Royal Mail that contains items with a commercial value requires a CN22 or CN23. This is because they will be subject to fees and taxes. You do not need a CN22 or CN23 when you ship using an international courier such as UPS or DPD. When you ship using an international courier you need to supply a commercial invoice.
Important note: when internationally shipping products that have a value up to £270 you must attach a signed and dated CN22. If the value is greater than £270 you must use a Customs Declaration CN23.
Parcels being shipped internationally are often read by a scanner. If your CN22 or CN23 customs declaration does not accurately describe the contents of your parcel, then you may be fined up to 100% of the actual value of the merchandise.
With the changes from Brexit, e-commerce retailers will need to complete either a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration form when shipping to Europe.
With your shipments to EU member states, you will also need to include your EORI number on your CN22 or CN23 forms. Don’t know what an EORI number is or how the Rules of Origin work? Then make sure to checkout our guides for more information.
Determining when to use a CN22 or a CN23 actually depends on the weight and value of the package. If the package you wish to send weighs up to 2KG and has a value of up to £270, then you will need to complete and attach a CN22. The CN22 is a simpler form than the CN23. It is generally a sticker that you can attach to the side of the parcel (alongside the shipping label).
You will therefore need a CN23 declaration form when the package weighs more than 2KG and/or has a value higher than £270. This form contains a lot more information, and generally it is attached to the outside of a package in a transparent wallet (along with a CP71 dispatch note). Again, it’s best to attach this wallet to the same side as your shipping label to help with a quick and easy passing through customs.
Important note – it is vital that the CP71 form is included as a supplement to the CN23. The CP71 dispatch form is used as an address card you should place it inside the transparent envelope containing your customs documents so that it is clearly visible. Unlike the CN23, the CP71 does not show the value of the individual items. The CP71 acts as an address card.
You might need to also include a commercial invoice as well as a CN22/CN23, but this depends on the carrier and destination. Generally, we recommend you include both forms as this means your package will be fully covered and you won’t be hit by any delays. It’s also wise to provide three copies of the commercial invoice: one for the country you are shipping from, one for the destination country and one for the recipient.
After the UK leaves the EU any mail being sent to EU states via the Royal Mail (or other postal services) will require a CN22/23. International couriers such as DHL Express or DPD do not require a CN22/23. In this instance you need to supply a Commercial Invoice.
Also, take note of any regions where exceptions may apply. There are regions that are within the EU but are not part of the EU customs zone. Shipments to these regions are subject to customs control, so you must always include a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration with them too.
In general, merchandise is subject to customs control, but documents are not. However, the rules may vary from one country to the next. In the Bahamas, for example, a photograph is considered a document (not subject to customs control), while in Argentina, photographs are considered merchandise and must pass through customs.
You must fill out a CN22 customs declaration if you are shipping a package that weighs less than two kilograms and has a value of less than £270. It is extremely important that you fill out the customs declaration correctly and as completely as possible.
The CN22 must be used if your goods are being transported outside of the UK, up to the value of £270*. The CN23 should be used if the value of your goods being transported outside of the EU have a value of over £270.
*Important note: When the UK leaves the European Union, any mail being sent to the EU from the UK will require a CN22/23 attachment when being sent with postal couriers.
Failure to do this might result in delays or confiscation at customs – or even a fine.
1: Place a cross or tick-mark to indicate the contents of the parcel. For online retailers who sell products internationally, the choice will usually be ‘Sale of goods’. You may select ‘Commercial sample’ if you are only shipping samples or testers of your product. You can only choose one option per parcel.
2: Specify what’s inside the parcel. If you are shipping retail merchandise, commercial samples or return items, you must provide a detailed description of the contents. Always write the description in English or in the language of the destination country. The more clearly you describe the contents, the better your chances that the parcel will pass smoothly through customs. Always specify the product/product group:
- What type of product is it?
- What is the quantity?
- How much does it weigh?
- What is the retail value in euros (excluding VAT)?
3: Provide the international commodity code and the product’s country of origin. State the country in which the merchandise was produced or assembled and include the Harmonised System (HS) code for your product(s).
- The HS code is a multi-digit code used by customs authorities around the world to categorise products.
- HS codes contain ten digits, of which the first six are internationally standardised.
- Always include at least a six-digit code. If possible, also define the subcategory of your product.
- Depending on the country, different subcategories may be subject to different tax rates.
Remember: The way EU VAT is processed has now changed due to Brexit. Make sure you are familiar with the new process.
4: Write the date of the shipment and sign the form. By signing the form, you declare that the document has been filled out correctly and that the parcel does not contain any banned or dangerous items. If the form is not signed, the shipment may be delayed or returned.
The items listed below are often not allowed to be shipped internationally:
- Aerosol sprays.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Products with a limited shelf life.
- Petrol or oil.
- Fingernail polish.
- Fire extinguishers.
- Gas masks.
- Lottery tickets.
- Rough diamonds.
- Damaged batteries.
Check the website of your national postal service for a general overview of goods and materials that are banned from international shipping. Your postal service should also be able to provide you with a list of items that are banned for shipment to each specific country.
Always use the CN23 for packages that weigh more than 2 kilograms and/or are valued at more than £270. The CN23 form is similar to the CN22, but you will need to supply more information.
1: Fill in the address information of the sender and receiver. To increase your chances of successful delivery, be sure to provide all the address details you know. Also include the customer’s telephone number, because, in some cases, it may be necessary to call them.
2: If a customs document or label isn’t completed correctly, you risk your package not being delivered, or the receiver refusing to take the package. Clearly state whether you want the package returned to you to avoid a loss. However, do note that there will likely be a return shipping cost. If the return costs aren’t worth it, then make sure to clearly state you don’t wish for the package to be returned.
3: Specify what’s inside the parcel. Choose between commercial sample, return shipping or other. Also fill out the light blue shaded sections. Always describe the contents of the parcel as precisely as possible.
4: Supplying the HS, or commodity code.
The HS or commodity code is a multi-digit code used by customs authorities around the world to categorise products. It is important to supply the correct HS code. Here are a few important steps to help you get it right.
- Firstly, state the country in which the merchandise was produced or assembled and include the Harmonised System (HS) code for your product(s). The same rules apply here as for the CN22 form. You can use our handy tool to find the right HS Code for your products.
- Make sure your code contains the correct six digits. These are the figures that are internationally standardised.
- If possible, you should also define the subcategory of your product. Depending on the country, different subcategories may be subject to different tax rates.
If you can’t find the subcategory, don’t worry. The six-digit HS code is generally all you need to include. 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.
5: Comments: In some cases, your products may need to be quarantined, or ensue health/sanitation restrictions or other import regulations depending on what you sell. This mostly includes food, medicine or living organisms.To make sure your products arrive on time and in good condition, make sure you provide this information on all relevant customs declarations.
6: It sounds obvious, but don’t forget to write the date and sign the form. Fail to do this and the form is not legally valid. And this means your package is likely to be delayed or even stopped being delivered altogether. By signing and dating the form you are stating that the documents have been filled out correctly and that the parcel does not contain any banned or dangerous items.
Top tip: Keep copies of your documentations. If there’s a problem with customs, you can easily refer back to your records to check. This helps you or your customers avoid being overcharged by customs authorities.
If you still have questions about the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations, then let us know in the comments below!
We love to make things easier for you. So we have developed a tool to help you easily generate the correct customs forms, which are ready-to-print and can be included with your international shipments. The tool will automatically complete all the required fields and determine whether you need to complete a CN22, CN23, commercial invoice or check the incoterms.
Check it out now!
If you’re looking for a tool to ship abroad and take care of your customs declarations try Sendcloud. for free!
Need help shipping to a particular country?
Check out the following guides for more specific advice on shipping to a particular nation:
If you’re a growing business looking to start shipping across Europe, download our International shipping made easy eBook below!