Overview

The land of afternoon tea, rolling countryside and strict rules regarding the postage of Christmas crackers (they are classed as 'explosive and flammable substances'). The ecommerce industry has been driving much of the retail sales growth in the UK in recent years, with around 80% of the UK population buying online at least once every year. With varied consumer confidence levels, shoppers are increasingly looking outside of the EU for suppliers to fulfil their retail needs.

Shipping Rates to England

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Secureship provides safe and affordable shipping from Canada to England. Whether you are an everyday shopper or a business, you can easily save up to 50% on your international shipping costs by way of accessing our group buying power.
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Tracking Information

All shipments through Secureship come
with full tracking information

Fedex
Tracking #:780123123123
Tel: 1-800-463-3339
Signed By: Pikwalia @ Residence
Jun 19, 2019
8:49 am
Bath, GB
Delivered
Jun 18, 2019
7:18 am
Cambridge, GB
In transit
Jun 17, 2019
9:03 pm
Liverpool, GB
International Clearance
Jun 17, 2019
8:14 am
London, GB
In transit
Jun 17, 2019
12:17 am
Memphis, TN, US
In transit
Jun 16, 2019
4:30 pm
Ottawa, ON, CA
Pickup Scan

Disclaimer!

While we have made every effort to ensure that the information on this page is accurate, Customs laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult a licensed broker for this country before shipping any goods.

Types of Shipments

Not all types of shipments are created equal. Shipping a television will require different paperwork, duties, and taxes than shipping an accounting statement, for example.
documents only

Documents Only

Most documents can be shipped tax and duty free.

Some document types are restricted and should be indicated on the commercial invoice. Duties and taxes are payable if you exceed the restrictions.

Document Type Restriction
Business cards Up to 15
Cheques Must be personalised
Exam papers Up to 20 kg in weight
Greetings cards and invitations Must be personalised. Blanks are not permitted.
Passports The description on the package must clearly state "passports". Customs inspections and delays are likely.
Stationery Must be personalized
Visa applications Must be completed. Blank applications are not permitted

See here for a complete list of restrictions on documents.

Shipping Gifts

Shipping Gifts

Gifts that are valued at £39 or less (approximately $65 Canadian Dollars) are exempt from duties and taxes, provided the following conditions are met:

  • The words "Gift Shipment" or "Unsolicited Gift" are included on the commercial invoice (see sample)
  • A detailed description of each item is provided
  • A copy of the receiver’s passport is provided
  • Shipment must be destined to a residential address (no business)

NOTE: Shipping a gift to an individual to their work address will cause an issue - it'll be seen as a commercial shipment and will not be exempt from duties and taxes.

 

Sample Commercial Invoice for Gifts

Ship To Invoice
Smith Family in Bath
James Smith
1 Abbott Street
Bath, BA1 0AQ, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Personal Shipment / Gift Shipment

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Each Gift Shipment: LEGO Star Wars Rebel UWing Fighter, 659 piece set

CA $79.99
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Gifts
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $79.99
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge


Sending multiple gifts to the UK?

To avoid duties and taxes:

  • Individually wrap and tag each gift separately
  • Ensure the names on each tag are different and clearly marked on the commercial invoice

Sample Commercial Invoice for Gifts

Ship To Invoice
Smith Family in Portsmouth
James Smith
1 Abbott Street
Portsmouth, PO1 1HE, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Personal Shipment / Gift Shipment

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Each Gift - Roger: LEGO Star Wars Rebel UWing Fighter, 659 piece set

CA $39.99
1 Each Gift - Erica: Handwoven French Canadian Catalogne Blanket

CA $49.99
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Gifts
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $89.98
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Shipping personal effects/belongings

Shipping Personal Effects

Most goods can be shipped free from tax and duty if you have owned the items for longer than six months but you may be asked to prove possession.

There are a few documents that can be used to prove this but that’s beyond the scope of this article. Examples include: receipts, warranties, insurance documents etc.

Moving Temporarily

Students:

If you are a student travelling to the UK to study for at least twelve months you can ship your personal effects to the UK free of duties and taxes.

Document Checklist:

  • Commercial invoice must clearly indicate "Personal Effects" and include the Transfer of Residence (ToR) code written under General Description or Remarks section
  • Proof of Enrolment must be included with your shipment
Non-Students:

If you are not a student, and you are moving your residence to the UK for at least twelve months, you will need to apply for Transfer of Residence relief.

If you are moving your residence to the UK for less than 12 month, you will need to apply for Temporary Admission of Goods.

Document Checklist:

  • Commercial invoice must clearly indicate "Personal Effects" and include the ToR code written under General Description or Remarks section
  • Temporary Admission of Goods form must be include with your shipment if you are moving for less than 12 months, including the return date. This information must be written under General Description or Remarks section

Moving Permanently

If you are moving to the UK for 12 months or longer you will need to complete a Transfer of Residence (ToR) form before your move to claim exemption from duties and taxes.

Note: It is possible to apply for ToR relief within twelve months of your arrival in the UK. However, you will need to pay import duties and taxes on the items upon entry. If your ToR is successful, you may be able to claim the import duties and taxes back.

Document Checklist:

  • Clearly indicate "Personal Effects" and include the ToR code in the "General Description" or "Remarks" section on the commercial invoice
  • Include with your shipment your Transfer of Residence form

Sample Commercial Invoice for Personal Effects

Ship To Invoice
London Community Centre
James Smith
1 Abbott Street
London, E17 AE, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Personal effects being delivered to my new address. TOR #: NNNNNNN

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
5 Pairs Personal Effects: 5 pairs of various types of shoes

IN $40.00
1 Each Personal Effects: Arc'terix Winter Jacket

CA $478.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Personal Effects
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $678.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Shipping Food, Chocolate, Candies

Food, Chocolate, Candies

Most food, chocolate and candy products can be imported to the UK at a reduced or zero rated tax. There are a few regulations that are easy to meet but nonetheless very important. The maximum value allowed before duties and taxes are applied is £15 (about $25.75 CAD).

Regardless of who you are, when shipping food to the UK you must make sure that the:

  • Food must have a shelf life of six months or longer
  • Food must be in the original manufacturer’s packaging or wrapping
  • Food labels must list all ingredients including the expiry date
  • Packaging should be sealed and not show any signs of tampering

The Personal Import Rules Database provides detailed information about what can be sent. Generally you can send 1-2 kgs of food for personal consumption. Above that, you may be charged duties and taxes. The same rules apply for businesses.


Only businesses can send the following items:

  • Any meat or meat products
  • Any milk or dairy products
  • Potatoes

Note: Permits and licences may be required to export these food items to the UK.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides a checklist to help businesses export food internationally.

The UK Food Standards Agency also provides useful information for non-EU businesses exporting food to the UK. More information can be found here.

Document Checklist:

  • Ensure that your food products comply with the checklist above
  • Clearly indicate "Food" on the commercial invoice in the General Description or Remarks section
  • Check with your carrier that they will accept food shipments

Sample Commercial Invoice for Food, Chocolate, Candies

Ship To Invoice
Jamie Abbott
Jamie Abbott
35 Southend Avenue
Blackrock, NP7 5DS, ENGLAND

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Food Shipment - Assorted chocolate bars in their original manufacturer's packaging

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Box Nestle Chocolate Bars in original packaging expiring May 2021 (shelf life of 6 months or longer)

CA $20.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Permanent / Sold
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $20.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Shipping Promotional Material

Samples

In the UK, a commercial sample is an item that can only be used for demonstration purposes, with the aim of encouraging people to buy or to place orders. The benefit of having your goods clear as samples is that paying duties and taxes can be avoided if the receiver has a valid EORI number.

In order to qualify for duty free exemption, the following conditions must be met:

  • The Consignee (aka. recipient) is an established commercial entity within the UK
  • A government agency or department, or public institution or public establishment is recognised and approved by our National Import Relief Unit (NIRU)
  • The Consignee (aka. recipient) has a valid EORI number (details below)
  • The item shipped has tearing, perforation, slashing, defacing, or has permanent marking clearing indicating the item as "commercial sample"
  • The items are declared as "Commercial Sample" on the commercial invoice (example below)

HMRC may insist that you:

  • Limit the quantities of items (for example, single shoes, single sizes)
  • Limit the number of times the items are imported in a twelve month period
EORI Number

It is quite a quick process and you can have a valid EORI number within three working days of applying for one.

To ship samples to the UK tax free, the receiver (individual or business) first needs to have an EORI number. If they don’t already have one, they can visit https://www.gov.uk/eori for details of how to get one.


Sample Commercial Invoice for Commercial Sample

Ship To Invoice
Blackrock Book Store
Jamie Abbott
35 Southend Avenue
Blackrock, NP7 5DS, ENGLAND

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Commercial Sample - Not for Resale

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Box Commercial Sample - Advanced reading copy of Dan Brown's novel.

CA $20.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Commercial Sample
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $20.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Repairs

Advertising Material

Advertising material includes items which are handed out to promote products or services. They can enter the UK duties and tax free providing that certain conditions are met:

In order to qualify for duty and tax free exemption:

  • The package must weigh less than 1kg
  • The commercial invoice clearly indicates "Promotional material" or "Advertising material" in the General Description or Remarks section (example below)
  • The shipper can only send advertising material to a single receiver. If they are sent to multiple receivers, duties and taxes will apply.

Sample Commercial Invoice for Promotional Material

Ship To Invoice
York Tradeshow
James Smith
1 Abbott St
York, Y016FA, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Promotional Material - Not for Resale

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Each Promotional Material: Not for Resale. Product pamphlets to hand out at trade show.

CA $163.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Promotional Material
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $163.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Repairs

Repairs

Shipping goods to the UK for repairs is a simple process as long as you follow the checklist below. It is important that the shipper and receiver indicate the correct information on the commercial invoice in order to avoid paying additional duties or VAT.

All you need to do is write the necessary information on the commercial invoice according to the document checklist below.

Document Checklist:

  • Commercial Invoice must clearly state under the General Description or Remarks section the following: "REPAIR & RETURN" and include the estimated time of return
  • Include repair contract with shipment
  • Serial or product number and the cost of repairs must be indicated under the Detailed Description of Goods section
  • Include the original shipping documentation or tracking number information from when the item was first exported from the UK to you

Note: If you don’t have the original tracking information or documentation then your shipment may be delayed by Customs, and taxes may be charged on the shipment.

Sample Commercial Invoice for Warranty Repair

Ship To Invoice
Liverpool Repair Shop
James Smith
1 Abbott St
Liverpool, L1 1DP, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Repair and Return - Watch being sent for repair

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 Each Fossil Watch being sent for repair - Model E5, serial # 789456FG7E2 - Repair Cost $76.00

UK $163.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Warranty Repair
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $163.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
Temporary Imports / Exports

Temporary Imports

If goods are to be temporarily imported for use in the UK, there are ways to avoid having to pay import duties or VAT, provided the goods will remain in the same condition as they were imported. Anything that isn’t prohibited can be temporarily imported into the UK. Temporary imports must be re-exported within two years.

In order to import your goods duty and tax free into England, you can pick from 1 of the 3 Temporary Import Methods listed below.

Each option has its pros and cons. Regardless, each of the following methods requires you to complete a Commercial Invoice (CI). More details below.


Option # Temporary Import Method Risk of paying Duties and taxes
1 Commercial Invoice Only (no other documentation is provided) High - if broker cannot clear goods temporarily
2 Commercial Invoice + Temporary Admission (TA) Very Low
3 Commercial Invoice + ATA Carnet Very Low


1. Complete a Commercial Invoice only


This is the simplest and quickest option. See example.

You should be aware that shipping using this method doesn’t guarantee that your items will be imported duty/tax free. Not all brokers will clear goods as temporary imports (ie. UPS, Fedex, DHL) nor is it a guarantee that customs won’t charge any duties and taxes.


2. Apply for a Temporary Admission (TA)


This option is great for one-time shipments such as a trade show booth or specialized equipment. For more information, please visit this link.

In addition to declaring your commercial invoice as a temporary import (see example below), you must also apply for temporary admission (TA). It is more time consuming than option 1 however, it should ensure that your shipment does not incur any duties and taxes.

Please keep in mind that not all brokers will clear goods as temporary imports so make sure you check with them prior to shipping.


3. Apply for an ATA Carnet

This option is great for items that frequently travel in and out of the country. It’s also great because once you have an ATA Carnet, it is accepted by 176 countries worldwide making the application process a one-time thing.

In addition to declaring your commercial invoice as a temporary import, you can get an ATA Carnet for the items that are of temporary nature.

ATA Carnets are beyond the scope of the article. You can however contact your local chamber of commerce and will be able to guide you along.


In addition to 1 of the 3 items above, the following conditions must also be met in order to qualify for duty free exemption:

  • The goods must be exported within 2 years
  • The goods may NOT be sold, mortgaged, hired, disposed of, loaned or altered in any fashion without permission of the authorities
  • The words "Temporary Import/Not for Resale" are stated on the commercial invoice under General Description.
  • The words "Temporary Import" and the anticipated return date are stated on the commercial invoice under the Detail Description of Goods (for all applicable items)
  • Ensure the Customs Broker selected can clear goods of temporary nature (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. typically cannot)
  • include the original tracking number and the import date if the product is returning

 

Sample Commercial Invoice for Temporary Imports

Ship To Invoice
Cambridge Tradeshow
Jamie Abbott
35 Southend Avenue
Cambridge, CB1 0AW, England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Temporary Imports - Trade show booth and display equipment returning Jan 2020

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
1 box Temporary Imports - Trade show booth and display equipment

CA $1032.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Temporary Imports
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $1032.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge
permanent goods / sold to

Permanent/Sold Goods

Exporting sold goods to the UK is a straightforward process. However, we recommend you consult a licensed UK customs broker if you are considering exporting goods on a regular basis.

The UK government requires CE (Conformité Européene) markings on certain products upon entry - Generally for Electronic equipment or Medical equipment. For the full list of products which need CE Marking see here.

Do I need a CE marking in addition to my commercial invoice and other standard export documents?





Accredited UK based brokers can be found here.

Support is also available from The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

Sample Commercial Invoice for Permanent/Sold Goods

Ship To Invoice
Lachlan Macquarie
35 Auburn St.
Bristol, BS1 1DL
England

Phone: 613-555-1234
Carrier tracking number: 736534736
General Description:
Permanent/Sold: Parts and accessories for Canon B78n camera

Invoice number: 123456MGEP4916926
Customs Broker: UPS
Date: 16 Jun 2019
QTY Description of Goods C/O SubTotal
15 Each Camera Lenses: Canon EF 50mm, Canon EF 85mm & wide-angle lenses.

CA $132.00
Terms of Sale: None
Total number of packages: 1
Reason for export: Permanent/Sold
Contact Name: James Smith
Total Invoice Amount: $1980.00
Total Weight: 10.0 lbs
Declaration Statement: I hereby certify that information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge


Required Documents

Shipping packages internationally requires a lot of documentation. This process alone can be confusing and time consuming. So we’ve narrowed down what documents you might need and ranked them based on likeliness of being needed.

Document Type When? Details
Shipping Label / Bill of Lading Always required This is a label provided by the carrier (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.). Always required because the carrier needs to know the parcel’s destination.
Commercial Invoice Required for all non-document shipments
For all non-document shipments, you will require 3 copies of the commercial invoice (to be included with your shipping labels - These are for customs purposes and need to be included inside a document pouch outside of the box.

When creating a shipment through the Secureship website, the system will help you create this document automatically.

B13a Required if value exceeds $2,000 per shipment or is a controlled good
A B13a is required if your shipment exceeds $2000 CAD or is a controlled good

Learn more about the B13a form here.
Certificate of Origin (COO) Infrequently required

Allows a reduced or zero-rated import duty.
Canada has a preferential trade agreement with England. A COO proves that an item has been produced, manufactured or processed in Canada.

When an item with a COO is imported into England, it will incur a reduced or zero-rated import duty.
Certificate of Insurance (COI) Infrequently required

Shows that the shipment has been insured.
Banks may request a certificate of insurance when providing letters of credit for the goods. Otherwise, it is generally your choice whether to purchase insurance for the shipment.
ATA Carnet Infrequently required

Used to avoid duties and taxes on shipments of temporary nature.
If you ship goods of temporary nature to and from a country, you can obtain an ATA Carnet to expedite the customs clearance process and ensure that anything of temporary nature is not charged duties and taxes.

See temporary import section
Packaging List Infrequently required Required if value exceeds $2,000 per shipment or is a controlled good


How To Package

When sending packages to England, a very important factor to consider is the packaging. Improper packaging can lead to damaged goods, delays in delivery time, and risk your shipment being rejected by Customs authorities.

Your packaging needs to meet ISTA 3A Standards (International Safe Transit Association 3A Standard) to be eligible for an insurance claim should the shipment become damaged.

If you’re looking for the best way to package your product, it might be worth trying the the UPS Packaging Advisor. There you will find recommendations based on the size, weight, and contents of your package.

Minimum packaging standard for shipments to England

You can reduce the risk of damage by:

  • Packing the container with at least 2” of padding between the product and the wall of the container
  • Using at least 2” of padding between each product
  • Using adequate cushioning material
  • Using a double corrugated cardboard box


For more information on proper packaging, check out our guide Shipping 102: Your Packaging Responsibilities.

Prohibited & Restricted Imports

The list of restricted and prohibited items changes often, so it's always best to check the official customs page prior to sending your packages.


Prohibited items include:

  • Controlled drugs
  • Offensive weapons
  • Self defence sprays
  • Indecent and obscene material

Your carrier will refuse to accept your parcel if any of these items are in it. Any prohibited items will be seized and you could be prosecuted.


Restricted items include:

  • Endangered animals and plants
  • Live animals
  • Firearms, explosives and ammunition
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Food and plants

Shipments may be inspected by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) prior to export and UK Customs.

Duty & Taxes

Import duty and taxes are calculated based on the sum of the Customs Value, Insurance Amount, and Freight costs (shipping costs). This is known as CIF. In the UK, an additional 20% VAT is added to the CIF.
CIF Value = Customs Value + Insurance Amount + Freight Costs

Tax is payable on shipments with a value over £15 and duty is payable on shipments with a value of £135 or more. However, certain goods attract other taxes which will be payable before the package can be delivered.

The UK provides detailed guidance on how to value imports for customs duty here.


Thresholds

Some countries provide a Duty & Tax Threshold (i.e. de minimus) which means that below a certain amount, no Duties or no Taxes are charged on the import of that shipment.

Currency Pound Sterling (£/GBP)
TAX (VAT / GST) 20%
Duty Exemption
(De minimus Value)
£135 *
Tax Exemption
(De minimus Value)
£15 *
Threshold Method CIF
Tax & Duty Calc Method CIF
* excluding Alcohol & Tobacco
Duties on Imports
  • Mobiles 0%
  • Tablets 7.2%
  • Computers & Laptops 0%
  • Cameras 0-15%
  • Beauty Products & Cosmetics 3.7%
  • Shirts & Pants 12%
  • Coats 12%
  • Watches 11-23%
  • Jewelry 0-4%
  • Home Appliances 0-3%
  • Toys 0%
  • Sports Equipment1-15%
  • Documents 0%
  • Spirits and Wines 50%
  • Accessories for Electronics 0-2.7%
  • Video Games & Consoles 0%
  • Books 0%
  • Chocolate 8-10%
  • Candy 9%
  • Tobacco 50%


NOTE: The numbers above are based on the item’s Country of Origin (manufacture) being a part of the Most-Favored Nation (MFN). If the Country of Origin is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), then it is part of the MFN and hence gets the above Duty rates. Please also note that there is an additional 20% VAT payable on the aggregate total on all imports.

Please keep in mind that we do make an effort to keep the numbers above updated but if exact numbers are needed, please contact a customs broker at the destination company.

Shipping Insurance

You can purchase insurance through Secureship and it is provided by the carrier that will be transporting your shipment.

Each carrier will charge a different amount per $100 of declared insurance. If you indicate that you need insurance for your shipment our system will automatically include the insurance costs for your shipment.

Insurance is great to have in case your package is accidentally lost or damaged by the carrier. But be careful, not everything you ship is insurable. Worse - even if your package contains items that are insurable, if it doesn’t meet the ISTA 3A packaging standard, the insurance purchased through the carrier would not be available to you.

Here are some items that cannot be insured by the carrier:

  • Personal belongings
  • Antiques
  • Artwork
  • Liquids (including alcohol)
  • Television
  • Jewellery in excess of $500
  • Perishable goods
  • Glass or Ceramic
  • And many more items

For more information, please see the carrier's terms and conditions.

Additional Resources