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 are required customs documents that must be attached to parcels shipped to destinations outside the EU. 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 do 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 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.

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 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.

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.

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 a 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.

Checklist for shipping commercial products to countries outside the EU

To make sure your items arrive to the customer safely and without damage, be sure to check out our complete checklist for problem-free international shipping!

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!

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