Mail and Parcels Post Brexit

Important changes affecting mail and parcels from 1st January 2021

At the end of December 2020 the current transition arrangements, which governed the UK’s relationship with the EU since Brexit, came to an end. Despite the last minute deal which was agreed on Christmas Eve, new rules for international trade with the EU now apply from 1st January 2021.


Coming into effect at the same time, although unrelated to Brexit, is a significant change in postal regulations relating to customs declarations.

Both developments will have potential implications for the items you despatch, including those sent using Spatial Global services. In this email I outline the changes that are coming, how they are likely to affect you and the steps you should take to prepare for them.



We expect very few implications for the despatch of magazine mailings as a result of Brexit. Magazines (subscription or controlled circulation) fall outside formal customs requirements and their movement should continue exactly as today. Customs declarations are not required for individual magazines sent by post.


One notable exception will be magazines carrying a product on the cover or as an insert, even if the product is a free gift. In this case the item will become a shipment of goods and a customs declaration will be required. Please see the section below headed ‘Electronic customs data for postal shipments of goods’.

Deliveries of larger consignments to the EU may attract local taxes in the country of destination, as they do currently when sent to non-EU countries. A commercial or pro forma invoice will be required for all such consignments. This will affect customers sending bulk quantities of magazines to events or exhibitions in the EU, even if they are for free distribution.

Lastly, from 1st January 2021 our delivery charges to EU countries will no longer be subject to VAT.


Taxes and duties

At present goods can be delivered freely from the UK to the EU without taxes and duties being applied at destination. From 1st January 2021 shipments to EU countries will be subject to taxes and duties (depending on the contents). By default, the consignee will be liable for these charges and will be asked by the delivery agent to pay them before the consignment can be delivered. This is the same arrangement you may be accustomed to when shipping to non-EU countries.


Until July 2021, import VAT and duty in the EU will be applied as follows based on the value of the consignment:

Consignment value



€0 - €22



€22 - €150

At local domestic rate



At local domestic rate

Depending on commodity


The local domestic rate for VAT varies between EU member countries and is generally between 16% and 25%.

The €22 threshold for VAT is due to be removed from July 2021, after which VAT will be payable on consignments of all values.


The delivering agent will make contact with the consignee if any taxes and duties are payable against the consignment. For this reason, it is essential that a contact phone number and email address are provided for every shipment to avoid the risk of delivery failure. Packet and parcel service providers will be adding charges to administer their customs clearance processes. We are seeing indications that these costs will be in the region of £4 or £5 per consignment.

We offer a DDP service if you would prefer to pay destination import taxes and duties (if applicable) to prevent the costs falling on the consignee. This is a more expensive solution than the normal DAP terms but it may be of interest in some situations.


EORI number

You will need an EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification) number to ship goods to the EU from January. Many businesses have been issued with an EORI number automatically by the UK government. If you have not yet received or applied for one, you should register free of charge at as soon as possible so you are ready for 1st January. We will advise you if we need this information to despatch consignments on your behalf.


Brexit surcharges and clearance fees

We are receiving notice from many of our agents of their intention to introduce Brexit surcharges and/or clearance fees from 1st January 2021. We regret that we will have to pass on any such fees in our own charges. Full details will be included in our 2021 tariffs which are to be issued over the coming weeks.


Electronic customs data for postal shipments of goods

From 1st January 2021 electronic customs data (Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI) for mail and parcels must be submitted by the sender before the item can begin moving through the postal network. Previously a physical CN22 or CN23 customs declaration attached to the item was sufficient. These documents are still required but must now be supplemented by an electronic declaration of the contents. This declaration must state the HS (Harmonised System) codes and values, the country of origin and details of the shipper and the consignee.

A service for looking up HS codes (also known as commodity codes) can be found at


Spatial Global’s services are compliant with the new requirements and we offer a shipping platform allowing the necessary declarations to be submitted and a compliant shipping label generated. Any consignment of goods travelling without a valid declaration is at risk of being delayed, returned, surcharged or even destroyed by the international postal authorities.

The new rules are not expected to be applied to publishing traffic and the majority of our customers posting magazines internationally should therefore not be significantly affected. Any customer sending goods (including commercial shipments of high value print items) will need to supply the necessary information to allow a declaration to be prepared.

We are ready to provide assistance and will contact you separately if there is anything you need to do in order to get ready for this change.



We have seen a rush of activity in recent weeks as delivery agents and postal authorities make last minute arrangements for implementing the above changes. Spatial Global is ready to ensure that deliveries will continue in the new year in line with the new customs rules and following the end of the Brexit transition period. We will be on hand to advise you so please feel free to contact us at any time if you need any help preparing for these changes.


Kind regards,

Andy Berry

Commercial Manager (Mail)

Spatial Global

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