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How to Use a Fast Parcel Operator

Besides transporting documents, freight, and parcels around the world, fast parcel operators (FPO) can also deal with customs declarations. This help guide explains the key rules to follow when using a fast parcel operator for importation and exportation to and from the United Kingdom.

Customs Duty Reliefs in the United Kingdom

UK traders can get customs duty reliefs through several schemes:

  • Relief of duty.
  • Suspension of duty.
  • Repayment of duty.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uses a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to approve some fast parcel operators.

Even so, they still have legal liabilities and obligations to meet when making customs declarations on behalf of an importer or exporter.

Using a Third-Party Declarant

Completing customs entries on behalf of an importer, or delivering goods to a place for temporary use, storage, or processing, means the fast parcel operator would not be able to claim relief in their own name if (either):

  • They will be arranging for this to be carried out on their behalf.
  • They are not responsible for using, processing, or storing the goods themselves.

Some traders will use a fast parcel operator as a third party declarant (e.g. to complete the entries for them). In this case, to claim customs duty reliefs the trader would need to:

  • Give accurate written instructions when entering the goods for the appropriate customs relief.
  • Be clearly identified as the person who is claiming the relief.
  • Get details of the customs declarations made for you (e.g. to check them for accuracy). You would be liable for any incorrect declaration.

As per ‘Notice 199’, any third party declaring goods for a relief would be liable for customs debts incurred unless they have authority from the person named in the declaration.

Fast Parcel Operators as Third-Party Declarants

When exporters are using fast parcel operators to make declarations on their behalf, the provisions of Regulation 2454/93 EEC (Article 199) would make them responsible for:

  • Accuracy of the information supplied in the customs declaration.
  • Authenticity and validity of any attached documentation.
  • Adhering to the correct procedure when importing the goods into the United Kingdom.

Note: The main section explains more about the rules and regulations for exporting goods and services in the United Kingdom.

Lodging Import Declarations

Using couriers to import goods into the United Kingdom is still subject to the legal requirement of having to lodge import declarations.

Even so, some goods will have an intrinsic value falling below the specified threshold. If so, declare them using a partially completed SAD supported by a manifest. The trader must hold the invoices to support the manifest.

Note: Check paragraph 3.4.1A and Appendix E2 of Volume 3 of the United Kingdom Tariff for extra details and information.

Making Customs Declarations in Your Name

After making a customs declaration in your own name, you would be liable for customs debts if it is not accurate or you failed to follow the correct procedure.

Furthermore, when using codes PR or UNREG in Box two (2) of the Single Administrative Document (i.e. SAD or C88), certain restrictions apply:

  • PR relates to private exports where no commercial purpose exists (e.g. household effects). There is no VAT zero rating for PR classified goods.
  • UNREG applies to traders not registered for VAT in the United Kingdom (including those registered in other Member States).

Important: Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) must include a valid EORI number – along with any relevant branch or division EORI codes.

Exporting under a Memorandum of Understanding

HMRC has approved some fast parcel operators to bulk export procedures. Hence, it allows them to move goods under a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The memorandum of understanding allows for the bulk-declaration of non-restricted goods (to a value of £900) for Customs Export entry purposes.

As such, there will be no official proof of export (apart from the fast parcel operator’s or shipper’s Exit Summary Declaration). Thus, fast parcel operators will be able to supply the commercial proof of export.

This part is important:

So, what if you are exporting products valued more than £900, subject to licence (i.e. irrespective of the value), or you are shipping restricted goods?

If this is the case, there needs to be a full customs entry. As a result, an official and a commercial proof of export will exist.

Most fast parcel operators would be able to use Track and Trace facilities to get a confirmation of the delivery of any consignments going overseas of the United Kingdom.

The Express Industry Unit (HMRC)
13th Floor South
Government Buildings
Ty Glas
CF14 5ZN

Telephone:03000 532 318
Email: [email protected]

Important: Fast parcel operators need to get approval from the Express Industry Team for Entry in Declarants’ Records.

Related Help Guides

Note: This short video explains some of the key differences between international delivery services (e.g. couriers, EMS, and freight forwarders).

UK Rules for Using a Fast Parcel Operator to Import or Export Goods