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Shipping advice, help and support

How does Brexit affect shipping and logistics?

The new shipping and logistic rules for businesses and citizens come into effect from 1 January 2021. International deliveries, especially those being sent into Europe, are going to become harder. Part of the problem is that the exact details are still being discussed and are constantly changing. The good news is that Swift are here to help: we advise you check the most up-to-date information on the Government's Brexit transition webpages, however, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Some points to consider are outlined on our checklist below, please call us on 0870 24 24 365 to discuss trading and shipping to Europe.

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Is your shipment a document?

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While this may sound simple, it is important to understand some of the key factors as to why documents and non-documents are treated differently. If a shipment is incorrectly declared, it will lead to costly delays. The following information should help:


  • Invoices or credit notes
  • Certificates
  • Printed matter
  • Bill of landing
  • Identity documents
  • Tickets
  • Letters
  • Magazines, booklets, newspapers, journals, medical / scientific
  • Brochures
  • Diplomatic material
  • Credit or Debit cards

Not Documents

  • Books
  • Education materials
  • Smart Cards
  • Calendars
  • Posters
  • Swatches

It is vital that you are clear with the description of the goods you are shipping. Vague or generic descriptions must also be avoided. Such descriptions may include; samples, labels, promotional material, stationery, company product numbers or descriptions that relate to your industry rather than the actual shipment classification.

The Government guidance on commodity codes can help to classify your goods

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Do you have an EORI number

You need an EORI number to move goods between the UK and non-EU countries. From the 1st of January 2021, you will need an EORI number to move goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Isle of Man, and the European Union. You may also need a separate EORI number if you move goods to or from Northern Ireland.

Customers who are VAT registered and exporting goods need an EORI number. An EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification number) is issued by HMRC.

Those customers who are not VAT registered simply need to use the following: "GB UNREG" or for private non-commercial exports you must insert "GB PR". Check to see if your VAT numbers has EORI status on the HMRC website.

Visit for more details.

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Do you have a commodity code?

To find the correct commodity codes for imports into or exports out of the UK or EU please use the government guidance and online tools as these will help you classify your goods and look up duty rates, reliefs and quotas.

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Have you completed a commercial or Pro-Forma Invoice?

A commercial invoice is required for most shipments. It contains the shipper’s information, logo, invoice information, the consignee’s information including tax ID or VAT number. It can also contain a phone number. Each shipped item will be listed with a corresponding code and value for customs.

A Pro-Forma Invoice applies to practices or documents that are done purely as a formality. Typically, the Pro-Forma invoice provides a listing of goods, along with other information required by the commercial invoice. Customs officials then know the items in the shipment are not for resale. There are no circumstances in which both types of invoice are used. You will require one type or the other.

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Wood packaging goods for import and export

Packages that include (or are shipped on) any solid wood must meet the requirements. This includes:

  • Packing cases
  • Boxes and crates
  • Drums and similar packing
  • Pallets, box pallets and pallet collars
  • Dunnage (loose wood used to protect goods and their packaging)
  • These rules do not apply to processed woods (plywood, raw wood etc.), wood that is less than 6mm thick, or cardboard or other packaging materials.

What you need to do depends on whether you are importing or exporting. If you do not follow the rules your packages could be rejected or destroyed. For the latest and full details visit the Government's website.

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