Requirements when sending international items

Electronic customs data is now required when sending items abroad

Requirements when sending international items

Electronic customs data is now required when sending items abroad

Electronic customs data is now mandatory when you send items/goods abroad* (excluding personal correspondence). You are required to provide customs data to us electronically in addition to the physical customs declaration (CN22 or CN23). Failure to comply is likely to result in delays, having items returned or even destroyed.

*Except when sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU, where no customs declarations are required for sending goods.

How to make it easy

Depending on how you are posting your items internationally, this will dictate how you provide electronic customs data.

One of the ways to provide the required data is to use a shipping platform which meets the compliance requirements.

Royal Mail has shipping platforms such as *Click & Drop and *Pro Shipping or you can integrate you system with API Shipping. These platforms capture and generate customs data files plus automatically create the required labels to send items abroad.

*Other competitor shipping systems also available

For Online postage, please ensure you complete the electronic customs form fully and completely. This will pre-advise customs data to the receiving overseas postal authority and generate a physical customs form to attach to your item.

Franking customers must include a self-adhesive S10 barcode on all untracked items (International Standard & International Economy) containing goods plus a clearly completed customs form (CN22/CN23). Barcodes are available from For tracked items an additional barcode is not required but clear and legible customs declarations must be completed. See more on our International Services on account and franking page.

If you are sending gifts/goods via a Post Office fully complete the relevant customs form (CN22 or CN23) clearly and legibly and attach it to your item. If unsure the Post Office will advise you of the correct customs form and barcode to apply to your item prior to sending and will electronically capture the CN22/23 data on your behalf. Royal Mail will take care of customs pre-advice to the overseas postal authority.


HS Codes

The World Customs Organisation (WCO), an independent intergovernmental body that serves as the voice of the customs community implement and manage the Harmonised System.

For a full-list of updates please visit GOV.UK or visit HMRC Trade Tariff tool for more information in order to minimise delays through customs or items being returned to sender.

Please check our International Incident Bulletin Page for the latest service updates and advice when sending items.


Discover solutions that can be used to provide electronic customs data

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Why should you provide this data?

With the international trading landscape changing significantly in recent times, providing the correct customs data is more important than ever. Customers currently providing electronic customs data experience fewer delays, fewer returned or destroyed items, and fewer recipient complaints as a result.


Making sure you’ve provided the correct information

You need to provide:

  1. Either a CN22 or CN23 form printed and attached to the item, completed fully and correctly.

The type of form you need to fill out depends on the value of the items you are sending. Please make sure you use the correct one:

  1. UPU compliant S10 barcode (unique Royal Mail 13-digit item identifier) attached to the item.
  2. Tracked export goods will also need a 2D Tracked barcode.

In addition, the information on the CN22 or CN23 form will now need to be provided electronically in the pre-advice you send us.

Filling out your CN22 (pdf, 394.05 KB)

Filling out your CN23 (pdf, 227.98 KB)


Business Help Centre

Franked items (excluding correspondence) that do not have a S10 barcode attached may be delayed, or even returned to the sender. We want to ensure that this does not happen to you and that franked items meet international mail standards for goods being sent abroad. We will provide you with the barcodes, and you can order more labels from our shop.

If you need further information please visit:

When you send mail from the UK abroad electronic customs data is now mandatory except when sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU. This is to satisfy existing and future legal, security and customs requirements in destination countries and is essential for accurate and timely delivery.

Some countries are now applying penalties and delaying or returning items that are sent without the required electronic data and physical S10 barcode attached.

More information on electronic customs data

The EU's Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) can help you begin to or continue trading from GB into the EU.  You can either register via an intermediary and file your own tax returns or we can assist you with this process. If you are dispatching goods from Northern Ireland to the EU you can make use of the One Stop Shop (‘OSS’) which is another EU VAT scheme that allows you to declare and pay VAT on all sales into the EU by submitting a single quarterly EU VAT return.

For further details about IOSS, OSS and how Royal Mail can help, please visit our main Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) page.

Some key country requirements

The US Senate recently passed the STOP Act (‘Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act of 2018’), to help stop dangerous and illegal goods being posted through US borders. This new legislation will make sure that items sent to the USA from overseas will receive consistent and effective screening before clearing customs. The reform requires the United States Postal Service (USPS) to receive ‘Advanced Electronic Data’ (AED), from senders, on the contents of international items before they reach the US.

This legislation will bring the requirements currently enforced on private shipping companies to the US Postal Service. For example, private shippers like UPS are already required to provide AED on every item they import into America. The bill will eventually require USPS to supply AED to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on all international items, with USPS liable to refuse shipments or face civil penalties themselves.

As well as delivery implications, the bill will eventually establish a new fee on items being mailed to the United States from overseas, to cover the cost of additional processing.

Brazilian customs are prioritising postal items with electronic customs data over those without, as a result of a large increase in imports. They have also stated that recipients may be charged additional costs in the absence of electronic customs data. Customers have reported severe delays due to customs clearance taking longer, and more recently we have seen parcels being returned when they weren’t carrying a S10 barcode.

As with Brazil, the Federal Customs Service of Russia are prioritising postal items with electronic customs data over items without it. Additionally, Russia have said that items may be returned if they are missing the electronic customs data.

China Post have informed UPU members that complete electronic customs data is required for all postal items. This is to control the flow of inbound and outbound postal items and improve the efficiency of customs clearance on the mainland.

Inbound mail items will be delayed if they lack proper customs formalities, including electronic customs data. China Post will attempt to retrieve this data before items are delivered to the recipient, to comply with local customs authority procedures. Items will eventually be returned if this data cannot be obtained prior to delivery, if the recipient refuses the item(s), or if the items are not claimed within the time frame specified by Chinese Customs. If the item cannot be returned, it will be disposed of in accordance with the relevant provisions in the Customs Law of the People’s Republic of China.

Turkey have now informed the UPU that items received without the mandatory S10 barcode identifier attached may be returned.

Kyrgyzstan have now informed the UPU that items received without the mandatory S10 barcode identifier attached may be returned.

For further support

Please contact your Royal Mail Account Manager

If you don't have an Account Manager

contact us

For shipping platform specifications

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