On 24th December 2020, the UK and the EU reached an agreement on how to trade (the Trade and Cooperation Agreement). It entered into force on 1st January 2021. As a result of the agreement, the UK is no longer part of the EU’s single market and customs union and new rules apply.
From 1st January, the UK has extended the rules which applied to non-EU postal items before. Similarly, the EU now treats postal items from the UK as it did non-EU items before. This means there may be changes to how you send and receive items from abroad.
Sending items abroad
When sending goods abroad, you now need to complete and attach a customs declaration (CN22 or CN23), available from the Post Office® or Royal Mail’s Click&Drop. This does not apply to customers sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU. Letters, postcards and documents are usually exempt.
The recipient may then have to pay customs or VAT charges and a handling fee in the receiving country before they can claim the parcel. These charges will depend on the country you are sending to, the value of the item and whether it is a gift or commercial goods.
The UK government has also issued a notice for international postal users on gov.uk – search for "notice 143: a guide for international post users".
When sending items to the EU, see guidance from the European Commission around VAT thresholds. The EU's Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) can also help you start, or continue, trading from Great Britain to the EU. For further details about IOSS and how Royal Mail can help, please visit our main Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) page.
For more information on exporting to other countries, please see our dedicated country guides.
Receiving items from abroad
When receiving goods from abroad, recipients may have to pay VAT and duties. The VAT and duties will be applied depending on the type and value of the goods. For gifts over £39 and goods over £135, Royal Mail may collect the VAT and customs duties on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). from the recipient prior to delivery. Letters, postcards and documents are usually exempt.
You can find out more about customs and receiving items from abroad for businesses and non-businesses here. The UK government has also published guidance on changes to the VAT treatment of overseas goods sold to customers from 1 January here.
Last updated on 21 July 2021