Selling overseas after Brexit – a step-by-step guide for Folksy sellers
We’ve heard from many Folksy sellers who still feel unsure about selling overseas following the Brexit agreement. We understand it can be confusing, so to help fill in the gaps we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to selling to the EU and overseas on Folksy.
We’ve tried to make it as easy to follow as possible, with links out to external sources for any additional information, forms and templates you may need. We hope you find it useful – if you have any questions please leave them as a comment and we will try our best to answer them.
Featured image: Suffolk Wrapping Paper by Rik Barwick Art & Design
To send an order overseas, follow this step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Get an EORI number
To sell overseas you need an EORI number. Find out what this is here https://www.gov.uk/eori
Apply for your EORI number here – https://www.gov.uk/eori/apply-for-eori
Step 2: Find the correct commodity code
In order to send a parcel overseas, it needs a commodity code (also known as a HS code, trade tariff, harmonised code or classification code). Different products require different codes. The commodity code tells you if any export restrictions apply, as well as any associated VAT and/or customs charges the buyer may be charged on receipt of their goods.*
- Use the Trade Tariff tool to find the correct code here – https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff
- Or search the A to Z index for common products.
- Learn more about Commodity Codes here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/finding-commodity-codes-for-imports-or-exports
* It will not tell you if any handling or courier fees will be charged to the buyer.
Step 3: Complete a customs form
You need to complete and attach a customs form to your parcel (unless you are sending goods from Northern Ireland to the EU).
- For items with a value up to £270 use customs declaration form CN22
- For items with a value over £270 use customs declaration form CN23 attached using a plastic wallet
How to fill in your CN22 form – https://www.postoffice.co.uk/mail/customs-forms/CN22-form-guide
If you are sending through Royal Mail, their online Click & Drop service guides you through the customs process. Register for Click & Drop here – https://www.royalmail.com/business/shipping/ways-pay/click-drop
If you are unable to Click & Drop, then your local post office can provide you with a customs form to fill out manually. See the different services offered by Royal Mail here https://send.royalmail.com
If you use a courier service rather than Royal Mail, they will offer a similar service but details will vary. Please check the individual courier’s advice.
Step 4: Create and attach a commercial invoice
NOTE: We have been unable to confirm whether this step is essential; some sellers have been told that including one invoice inside the parcel is adequate. However, Royal Mail says: “You are strongly advised to attach a copy of the commercial invoice to the outside of the package, using a plastic envelope, as this will help Customs clear your item”
To prevent your parcel becoming stuck in customs, you also need to attach a customs invoice. As you are sending goods that a customer has purchased from you (rather than a sample, return or a gift), this needs to be a commercial invoice. There is no official template for this invoice, although many couriers produce these for you automatically based on information you provide. You will need to attach three copies (typed, not hand-written) in a transparent envelope attached to the outside of the parcel.
Download a free commercial invoice template from the UK Customs Academy here >
The invoice needs to state:
- Sender details (including your contact name and telephone number)
- Recipient’s details
- Buyer’s details (if different)
- Date of invoice
- Country of origin
- EORI number
- Your VAT number or a declaration that you are not VAT registered
- Folksy’s IOSS number (on orders to the EU valued at €150 or under)
- Reason for export (eg sale/sample/repair etc)
- Description of goods – be as detailed as possible here, including size, materials used etc
- HS commodity code
- Total number of items
- Total weight
- Shipping cost and total declared value
- Terms of delivery (Incoterms)*
- Signed declaration that all information is correct
*Most Folksy sellers can use the ‘DAP‘ (Delivered At Place) Incoterm. DAP means you, the seller, pay the shipping costs, arrange insurance and prepare export documents. The recipient pays any import and customs costs.
Selling to and from Northern Ireland and Great Britain
There are temporary measures in place for moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sending-parcels-between-great-britain-and-northern-ireland.
As there is a lack or clarity here, we recommend you sign up to the Trader Support Service for further guidance – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service. This is a free service which guides you through the process.
Our understanding is that:
- If you are sending items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, they won’t be subject to tariffs and there will be no additional customs checks (unless they are on an exception list)
- If you are sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU, there are no tariffs, so you do not need to fill in a customs declaration.
- Sellers based in Great Britain can continue to send orders to customers in Northern Ireland as before (this will remain the case until 6 months after publication of new guidance). Most goods are currently unlikely to require a customs declaration.
However, please check the official guidance for up-to-date information about sending to and from Northern Ireland – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-goods-in-and-out-of-northern-ireland
New Folksy Returns and Shipping Policy
To help Folksy sellers selling overseas, we have amended our standard ‘Returns & Shipping Policy’ to make it clear that buyers from overseas may incur additional charges on purchases and you, the seller, are not responsible for these. The policy says:
“Please note that if your order is being posted outside mainland UK, you (or the recipient) may have to pay customs or VAT charges and a handling fee. The seller is not responsible for any charges or fees that may incur.”
This policy appears automatically on all items on Folksy where you have selected the standard or customs returns policy when listing your product. You do not need to do anything – although you may want to add a similar note in your ‘Buying From Me‘ section in your Folksy shop (you can find this under Shop Appearance on your seller dashboard).
If you don’t want to sell overseas
If you feel unsure about selling aboard, you can simply switch off overseas orders for the time being. Do this in the ‘Posting Information’ section of your listings. Choose the regions you would like to sell to and only add shipping costs for these regions. Leave the other regions empty.
Hi Folksy folk
Thanks so much for this . Does this mean I have to attach 3 copies of my invoice ( in a plastic envelope… ewww ) on the outside of my tiny parcel when posting abroad ? Even if it’s not of great value? Will one of the copies be taken at various points along the journey?
We’re not entirely clear if it’s a legal requirement to attach three copies of your invoice, but the guidance we’ve read (including Royal Mail) strongly advises you do to avoid the parcel getting stuck in customs. We believe one is for the country you are exporting from, one for the country you are shipping to and one for the recipient (this last one can possibly go inside the parcel). Hopefully there are plastic-free or recycled versions of the transparent envelopes available!
With regards to: For items with a value up to £270 use customs declaration form CN22
Please note that there are two different CN22 forms to use, if you are sending a package without tracking, then you need to use the CN22 label WITH a barcode on. If you’re sending a package with tracking, then you need to use the CN22 label WITHOUT a barcode on. Your post office can give you some labels to use for either. I always get a batch from them as I don’t send with tracking and use stamps (easier for me).
Thanks for the extra information, Natalie. That’s really useful to know.
Hi Folksy, Since Brexit has anything changed if you are shipping to America? Does the above changes only apply to EU countries and Ireland?
The advice above relates to sending overseas- both to Europe and America. Essentially, following Brexit, the rules that previously applied when shipping to non-EU countries (like the US) now apply when shipping to countries within European Union too.
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