Cold Chain Logistics, Customs Documentation, Life Science Shipping, Shipping & Logistics - General

Customs Documentation When Shipping to the UK

August 7, 2023
Shipping to the UK from US and Navigating Customs Regulations

Mastering International Shipping: Guide to Sending Goods to the UK from the US

Written By: Debbie Jung

Facilitating worldwide shipping or international shipments should be as effortless as printing a label, carefully packaging your goods, dropping them off at the nearest postal station, and patiently awaiting their safe delivery. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most international shipments. This blog will introduce shipping to the United Kingdom (UK) from the United States of America (US) and explore topics like UK customs regulations, EORI, and other documentations or regulations that must be prepped before initiating your international shipment.

Some shipments need more attention than others, especially when there is a strict deadline or timeframe. These packages may include samples that need to be kept at certain temperatures. Shipping samples overseas requires additional preparation, which includes arranging customs clearance for shipments to the UK, ensuring proper handling of dry ice during transportation, and utilizing replenishment services as necessary.

EORI Number

The Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number (EORI) is needed for companies that operate both in the UK and EU. The recipient usually provides this information. This code starts with a two-letter abbreviation for the country of destination, followed by 10 to 15 digits. 

For Great Britain, the two-letter abbreviation is “GB” and this is essential for moving packages to/from Great Britain. For Northern Island, the abbreviation is “XI” and you do not need an “XI” EORI number if you already have an EORI number from an EU Country. 

If your recipient cannot provide this information, you can apply for an EORI number on the official UK Government site.

As of March 1, 2023, the UK and EU require all shippers to provide this number for imported shipments, in conjunction with the Harmonized Code of the shipped commodities

Commodity Codes

UK Commodity codes, obtained from international Harmonized Codes, are used for products imported/exported to/from the UK. While the harmonized codes are universal, commodity codes are country specific. “Although many countries have signed up to the same classification system, only the first six digits are used worldwide and product-specific decisions are particular to each country.”* 

To find a commodity code for shipping to the UK, click here.

Customs Declarations

When shipping to the UK, you can either opt-out and hire someone to deal with customs or do it yourself. Ensure the people you hire are established with UK customs. Different types of people can help with this process: freight forwarders, customs agents or brokers, and fast parcel operators. Depending on what your company needs, you can choose who fits best. With any choice, you still will need to provide the following:

  • Your EORI number
  • Evidence of any goods you intend to import or export, for example:
  • Invoices
  • Contracts
  • A description of the goods you import or export
  • The appropriate licenses or certification for any goods which are restricted 

Restricted and Prohibited items

Certain items are restricted or prohibited from being shipped to the UK. Check the UK’s customs website or consult a shipping company to verify if you can legally send your items to the UK. You can check the International Trade Administration website or the UK Government website.

Packaging and Labeling

Properly package your items to withstand the journey and potential handling during customs inspections. Label the package clearly and accurately with the recipient's address, contact information, and a return address in case of any issues with delivery. 

For shipments with dry ice, if your goods are not classified as dangerous goods (DG), you will need :

  • Packaging materials
  • Regulated packaging for dry ice. Consider passive cold chain packaging; ex. Thermal shippers
  • A UN 1845 sticker
  • A Class 9 label
  • Net quantity of dry ice in your package. The quantity must be accurate, or customs will hold your package for further inspection. 

All documentations and labels are on the IATA website.

Tracking and Shipping Insurance

If possible, opt for shipping companies that provide tracking information and insurance coverage for your package. Tracking information will allow you to monitor the progress of your shipment. Taking out insurance will protect your items in case of loss or damage during transit. For any dry ice or cold chain shipments, opt for a shipping company that can track your shipment on your behalf, so they can replenish the dry ice to maintain the temperature when needed. 

Brexit Considerations

Shipping to the UK has become more complex since 2021 because of Brexit. The UK has recently established new customs procedures and regulations for importing goods. One significant change is the mandatory collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on shipments being sent to the UK.

A Trusted Shipping Partner

The above are just a few considerations when planning your shipment to the UK. Remember to contact a trusted shipping partner or a customs broker for specific and up-to-date information tailored to your shipment. They can guide you through the process and help ensure your package reaches its destination without any unnecessary delays or issues.

At Mercury, we dedicate our work to streamline the intricacies of international logistics. With our expertise in customs handling and industry-specific shipments, such as cold chain logistics, we are committed to guiding you through the process, ensuring seamless clearance of your packages. Our goal is to make shipping easier and relieve you of these burdens, allowing you to focus on your other important responsibilities and tasks. Trust Mercury to handle your shipping needs, and rest assured that your focus remains on what truly matters to your business.

Canadian CARM Release 2 Updates

Get a summary on Canada's Assessment Revenue Management (CARM) system updates, starting October 2023. 

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