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The CN22 and CN23 customs declarations are essential if you ship a parcel outside of the EU. These forms indicate the contents of the parcel and must be attached to the outside of the shipping box. To avoid delays, 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.

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What are the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations?

cn22 and cn23

CN22 and CN23 custom declarations and are required customs documents for international shipping. They contain information about the goods you are shipping. This includes which goods are packaged inside your parcel, what their value is, who the shipper and receiver are, and which parties are involved in the shipping.

They are required documents that customs authorities use to keep track of which goods are entering and exiting their countries. These documents are important for topics such as taxation, security, public health, and environmental protection. Along with commercial invoices, these forms enable customs authorities to determine whether import duties must be paid for the goods you are shipping.

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.

When are you required to use a customs form?

You must fill out a customs declaration any time you are shipping a package to a country outside the EU. If you’re shipping to a country within the EU, then no customs form is required.

Check the website of your national tax authority for an overview of all EU countries. 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.

What is the difference between the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations?

cn22 and cn23 customs declarations
Whether you use a CN22 form or a CN23 depends on the weight and value of the package. Packages weighing up to two kilograms with a value of up to €425 require a CN22 customs declaration.  The CN23 is used for packages weighing from two to 20 kilograms with a value of €425 or more.

The CN22 form is less detailed than the CN23 form. Often, it is attached to the address side of the parcel in the form of a sticker. The CN23 form contains more detail. It can be attached to the outside of the parcel in a transparent envelope along with a CP71 form*. If possible, attach this envelope on the same side as the shipping label.

* The CP71 form must be included as a supplement to the CN23. It serves as an address card. Make sure this document is enclosed in the transparent envelope and visibly attached to the parcel in cases where you do not wish for the carriers of the shipment to be able to see what the contents of the parcel are from the CN23 form.

Depending on the carrier and the destination of the shipment, you need to include a commercial invoice in addition to the CN22/CN23. To avoid delays, we recommend including both. Always 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.

How do you fill out a CN22 customs declaration?

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 €425. It is extremely important that you fill out the customs declaration correctly and as completely as possible.

If you don’t do this, there’s a risk that the package will be delayed in customs, or you may even be subject to a fine. Incorrectly filled documents may also result in the package being returned or confiscated.

A step-by-step guide to the CN22 form

cn22 form
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 or commodity code is a multi-digit code used by customs authorities around the world to categorise products. It contains ten digits, of which the first six are internationally standardised. So, always include at least a six-digit code and, if possible, also define the subcategory of your product. Depending on the country, different subcategories may be subject to different tax rates.

However, this is usually not the case, and 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.

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
  • Cigarettes
  • Products with a limited shelf life
  • Petrol or oil
  • Fingernail polish
  • Perfume
  • Poison
  • Lighters
  • 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. You can also use the UPS tool to find out import regulations that apply for each country or region.

TIP: Always fill out your customs forms in English. This helps prevent delays by ensuring that the documents are comprehensible for customs authorities in the destination country.

How do you fill out a CN23 customs declaration?

Use the CN23 customs form for packages weighing more than 2 kilograms and/or valued at more than €425. The CN23 form is similar to the CN22, but it contains more details.

A step-by-step guide to the CN23 form

CN23 form
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: Indicate whether you want to have the parcel returned to you (or not) if it cannot be delivered. In some cases, it may not be possible to successfully deliver the parcel. Perhaps the information on the shipping label was incorrect, or the customs documentation was inaccurate or incomplete. Or the receiver may even refuse to accept the parcel.

In instances like these, a return shipping fee may be charged. By stating on the customs form that you do not want to have the package returned, you avoid having to pay unexpected return shipping costs. Of course, you also forfeit ownership of the parcel.

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: Provide the product’s commodity code and 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 same rules apply here as for the CN22 form. You can use our handy tool to find the right HS Code for your products.

The HS or commodity code is a multi-digit code used by customs authorities around the world to categorise products. It contains ten digits, of which the first six are internationally standardised. So, always include at least a six-digit code and, if possible, also define the subcategory of your product. Depending on the country, different subcategories may be subject to different tax rates.

However, this is usually not the case, and 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 or special notice: In some cases, products may be subject to quarantine, health/sanitation restrictions or other import regulations. It is important that you state this on the customs declaration. This applies to items such as food, medicine or living organisms.

6: Always remember to write the date and sign the form. Without the date and signature, the customs form is not legally valid and there is a chance that the parcel will not be delivered. Sign the form to declare that the document has been filled out correctly and that the parcel does not contain any banned or dangerous items.

Tip: Don’t forget to always keep copies of all documentation for yourself. If there’s an error in the handling of your shipment, you or your customer may be overcharged by customs authorities. In cases like that, you can still submit a modified invoice to customs as long as you have your documentation on hand.

If you still have questions about the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations, then let us know in the comments below!

Free Tool: Create your own customs declaration form

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 or a Commercial Invoice.

Check it out now!

21 Comments

  • Susan Cairns says:

    Thanks for info. But what’s the license number and certificate number on CN23 form?

    • Iris Dings says:

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks a lot for your reply.

      The licence number is only applicable if your buyer or destination country requires you to provide a licence for the product(s). These are often special requests for certain countries. You could double check with the carrier you ship with if that’s necessary, but often it isn’t the case.
      Next to that the certificate number is only applicable when you need a Certificate of Origin for your product. Same here, it’s not a standard request. A Certificate of Origin is often required when the country of origin needs to be known for economic, political or environmental reasons, like if there are import quotas, a boycott or anti-dumping measures in place.

      Hopefully this helps!

      Best,

      Iris from Sendcloud

  • Mateusz says:

    Hi,
    I have w few questions that I struggle to find the information for.
    Do you know what would I have to do in a situation where the parcel from the UK to Poland contains items like: my own clothes (shipped ahead of arrival instead of taking a luggage on a plane), second hand items (for example clothes to give away) and gifts (to how many people can I send gifts? and is the tax free amount £39 per gift for each person?).
    Also, some couriers allow to send a parcel up to 30kg (that’s what I used to send prior to brexit). However ,the document CN23 states – up to 20kg. Does that mean I can’t send a parcel heavier than 20kg?
    Another question is about dry food products like tea, bicsuits, instant chocolate. Is that not allowed in the parcel anymore?
    Thanks in advance!
    Mateusz

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Thanks for reaching out to us. We as a company help e-commerce retailers with shipping their products to their customers. Therefore, personal shipments aren’t really our area of expertise. However, I will try my best to share with you what I know. To answer your question regarding sending food, you can find a list of prohibited items to ship on the Royal Mail website. With the new Brexit rules, I’d also advise looking specifically into what food can be shipped into EU states as food items can have special rules, even for personal use.

      In regards to sending packages heavier than 20kg and your other queries, I would advise seeking support directly from the courier you wish to ship with. If you contact their support team, they should be able to advise you on what personal items and gifts you are able to ship, the customs forms you need to complete, and which taxes you may be liable for.

    • Adam says:

      Hi Mateusz,
      Have you found any reasonable answers to your questions?
      Like yourself, I was previously sending my own cloths ahead of arrival (instead of luggage on a plane).
      Sadly, I haven’t found any solution to it yet.

  • Beverly says:

    What do you do when you made something by hand and it’s a gift? How do I attribute value to that?

    • Iris Dings says:

      Hi Beverly,

      Thanks for your reply! You can state on the commercial invoice that it’s a gift. So there’s no commercial value. FedEx created a nice example for a gift: http://www.fedex.com/downloads/mo/shipdocuments/gift_invoice.pdf.

      For the value you could sum up the materials you’ve used to create the gift.

      If you’re not sure it would always be good to contact the carrier that you want to ship the gift with. In that case you’re sure that it won’t cause any delays at customs.

      Hope this helps!


      Iris from Sendcloud

  • Dan says:

    Hey, I haw sent a small bubble mailer containing a gift and birthday card for a friend. The weight of it was 124 grams and postal clerk never asked me to fill out any declaration forms. Will there be any problems with my friend receiving the gift?

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Dan, this really depends on where you were sending from, and where you sent the package to. There are different customs requirements for different locations, and as you have not mentioned where you are located, or the country you sent the package to, unfortunately I can’t determine if any declaration forms were needed. If the postal clerk didn’t request you to fill out a declarations form, then hopefully we can assure that it wasn’t needed. However, some advice for the future is to do the following: always put a return address on any package or letter you send internationally (it might be returned to you if undelivered), and ask directly if any customs forms are needed, even if the postal clerk doesn’t bring them up. You can tell them what the package contains, its value and whether it is a commercial or personal shipment. That should give them all the info to know what documents you might need.

  • edi says:

    Hi,
    I am an Irish seller selling on Amazon UK FBA. I make product myself in Ireland at home and this is the only product I sell on Amazon platform. After 2021 I sent three parcels via irish post from Republic of Ireland to Amazon UK warehouse without any problems ( I had to fill in customs declaration C23 and that was it) but this time this is the message I have on UK courier tracking website ” Your parcel is currently with the customs authorities and is being assessed for import duties and local taxes. These will be notified to the addressee and usually need to be paid prior to the parcel being delivered.
    What does it mean in practice with Amazon? Would you know what should I do or is there anything I should do? This is first time my parcel is held at customs. No one contacted me and I dont know how long it may take and this is all frustrating. Please guys help me :pray: and give me some idea what is happening and is there anything I can do about it?

    • Iris Dings says:

      Hi Edi,

      We’re so sorry to hear that you’re experiencing some issues with shipping at the moment. Brexit has led to quite some struggles when it comes to shipping and we try to help as much as possible. Looking at your struggle it might be helpful to download our Brexit checklist, as the issue might have something to do with recent changes: https://www.sendcloud.com/whitepapers/brexit-checklist/. You could follow all of the described stages for your next shipments.

      Looking at your current question, it might have something to do with the chosen Incoterm as well. Have you, next to the CN23, also used a Commercial Invoice? In there you can describe the chosen Incoterms and when chosing DAP or DPU then the receiver=buyer will pay for import duties and taxes. Hope that clarifies a bit already? In case the DAP or DPU Incoterm is chosen, I think you don’t need to worry and have to wait until these are paid. But it would be good to also check with the Irish post and in case the parcels need to get to Amazon, to get in touch with them as well.

      Hope this helps a bit. Good luck!


      Iris from Sendcloud

  • Nathan Morris says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I need to return a high value item for repair from the UK to Jersey. Using the CN23 form, section 3, do I refer to this as “returned goods”?

    Nathan

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Nathan,

      Yes, I would say this is appropriate. But if you’re still unsure, you could contact the customer service of the store or repair facility in which you are returning the product to and ask them for guidance on how to complete the CN23. Hope this helps!

  • Danielle Ah Hing says:

    Hi I received a notification from the South African Post Office for an international parcel (CN23) to be collected. There is no source indicated and I cannot track the parcel with the track and trace number provided. How do I know whether this is a valid notification?

    • Senna Cobben says:

      Hi Danielle,

      Thank you for your message! Maybe it’s best to try and contact South African Post Office to figure out if the package is really yours? Unfortunately, I also don’t dare to say what else you can do since the track and trace doesn’t work and you don’t know where the shipment came from. I hope they can help you finding out if the package is yours! Have a nice day for now.

      Unfortunately, I also don’t dare say what else you can do since the track and trace doesn’t work and you don’t know where the shipment came from.


      Senna

  • Eliana Molina says:

    Hi, can I use the CN23 form to import goods from outside the EU with a weight of around 40 kg? or for this I need a different form? Thank you

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Eliana, Thanks for your comment. Hmm this is an interesting question. As we’re a shipping software tool that specialises in helping e-commerce retailers ship their products to their customers, importing goods into the EU isn’t really our specialty. As your comment gives little context into what you’re importing, where from and its use, I can’t really give you much advice. All I can inform is that a CN23 form is used to ship goods through a postal company internationally, when shipping goods that weigh over 2kg OR are valued over 270 GBP. What I advise is contacting the courier or carrier service you intend to import these goods with and ask them what customs information and documentation is required for the import. Or, seek the guidance of a customs agent to assist you.

  • Hello, I run a small business that sends collectibles mainly coins and banknotes from the Falkland Islands to overseas customers worldwide. Mail is carried by the RAF flights heading to Brize Norton airbase. The regular twice weekly flight carries mail up to a weight limit of 2kg. I understand the need to fill out the form CN22 for customs purposes, but cannot find the value requirements for goods entering the UK. Are these items also subject to VAT ? Many Thanks Phil

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Phil, this is quite a specific question and I am unfamiliar with the rules for these specific items that you sell, and how they can be sold between the Falkland Islands and the UK. What I advise doing is to contact HRMC directly to discuss which import tax (VAT) needs to be collected for these particular goods of sale, if they are subject to VAT. They should be able to give you the correct information. You can find the contact info here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/customs-international-trade-and-excise-enquiries

      I am also unsure what you mean by the value requirements for goods entering the UK? If you mean the value required on to input onto your CN22 for the items being sold, you will then need to state the amount you sold the item for, as that is the commercial value and what the taxes/duties will be calculated off. If you’re referring to the value requirements for the CN22 form itself, then CN22s are used for goods being shipped that are under £270 and below 2KG. If your products are more than either of those things, then you will require a CN23.

  • Hi, now that we have left EU does this statement from above still hold true ? Or do I now need to fill in a Customs form now for EU also ?

    You must fill out a customs declaration any time you are shipping a package to a country outside the EU. If you’re shipping to a country within the EU, then no customs form is required.

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Juliet,

      Due to Brexit, if you are shipping from the UK to an EU country, then you will need to complete the relevant customs documents for your shipment. When shipping with a postal courier (like Royal Mail) you will need to complete a CN22 or CN23 for the shipment. If you ship with an international carrier like DHL Express or UPS, you will need a commercial invoice.

      I hope this helps. If you’re based in the UK, I advise heading over to our blog on Sendcloud.co.uk – we have many guides there that are specifically tailored for UK merchants, and we’ve covered a lot of topics on international shipping, especially in relation to Brexit.

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