Shipping to Europe From The UK | Sherpr

10 Tips for Shipping to Europe from the UK and Back Again


Shipping between the UK and Europe like shipping to Finland from UK is a crucial element of international trade. It significantly impacts businesses and consumers. Post-Brexit changes have added complexity, making proper planning and preparation essential. To navigate these challenges, a thorough understanding of new regulations, customs procedures, and logistical requirements is vital.

Effective planning is key to managing the complexities of UK-Europe shipping. Staying informed about customs declarations, VAT implications, and required documentation helps prevent delays and unexpected costs. Selecting the right shipping provider and method is also critical for maintaining efficiency.

This post will outline essential tips and considerations for shipping from the UK to Europe. We will cover accurate customs documentation, VAT management strategies, and best practices for packaging to protect goods. Additionally, the importance of tracking shipments and clear communication will be emphasised. Following these guidelines will help streamline shipping operations, minimise risks, and ensure timely delivery.

Know Your Destinations

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While the continent offers diverse destinations, regulations can differ. Here’s a quick guide to popular spots:

Iceland & Cyprus: Shipping to Iceland from UK generally follows standard EU customs rules. The same goes for shipping to Cyprus from UK as well. Be mindful of potential restrictions on agricultural products.

Bulgaria (EU): Standard EU customs procedures apply. However, some electronics might require additional certifications.

Switzerland (non-EU): Has its own stricter customs regime, particularly for food items and certain medications.

Finland (EU): Enjoys streamlined customs. Oversized items or those exceeding a value limit might require additional documentation.

Ireland: Shipping to Ireland from UK or return shipping from Ireland to UK is comparatively less complicated as Ireland maintains an open border with the UK. This simplifies customs for most goods, though excise duties might apply for specific items like alcohol and tobacco. The rules are the same for shipping from Ireland to UK as well.

Italy & France (EU): Share standard EU customs regulations. Be aware of potential limitations on certain liquids and gels.

General Considerations

Customs Requirements: Always research the specific customs requirements for your destination country. This may involve detailed commercial invoices or import permits for certain items.

Shipping Restrictions: Some countries restrict or even ban specific goods. Double-check prohibited items before shipping.

Delivery Options: Delivery options and timelines can vary by destination and courier company. Consider factors like speed, cost, and tracking capabilities.

Remember, staying informed is key to a smooth cross-border shipment!

Research Shipping Options

Need to send something between the UK and Europe? Great news! You have options, but selecting the right one can be tricky.

Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate.

Courier Services: Think speed and convenience. Couriers like DHL shipping or FedEx offer fast delivery, often within days, and handle customs clearance with online tracking. However, the speed comes at a premium – they’re the most expensive option.

Freight Companies: Ideal for large or bulky items. These companies specialise in palletised goods, perfect for businesses shipping large quantities. While slower than couriers, they offer competitive rates, especially for heavier shipments.

Postal Services: Budget-friendly for smaller items. Both UK Royal Mail and European postal services offer international shipping, but delivery times can be longer (weeks) and tracking might be limited.

Choosing Your Perfect Ride

The best option depends on your priorities:

Speed: Couriers are the fastest, and postal services slowest.

Cost: Postal services are the cheapest, and couriers most expensive.

Reliability: Couriers usually offer the most reliable service with tracking.

Item Size/Weight: Couriers and postal services handle smaller items, and freight companies are for larger shipments.

By considering these factors, you can choose the shipping method that best fits your needs for sending goods or belongings from the UK to Europe. So choose wisely – speed, cost, or reliability, the choice is yours!

Pack and Label Items Properly

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So you’ve chosen your shipping method! Now comes the crucial step: ensuring your items arrive in one piece.

Here’s how to pack like a pro!

Box Clever: Choose sturdy cardboard boxes that fit your items snugly. Avoid flimsy boxes and excess empty space.

Wrap it Tight: Protect your belongings with cushioning materials like bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or crumpled paper. Fill any voids to prevent items from shifting during transit.

Double the Protection (Fragile Items): Consider double-boxing for extra security. Place the item in a snug inner box, then surround it with cushioning within a larger outer box.

Labelling Like a Pro

Clear and accurate labelling is vital for a smooth delivery. Here’s what your package needs:

Destination Address: Write the recipient’s complete address in a large, clear font. Include the postcode, city, and country.

Return Address: Include your return address so the package can find its way back if undeliverable.

Handling Instructions: Mark fragile items with clear instructions like “Fragile” or “This Side Up.” This helps handlers take extra care during transportation.

Bonus Tip: Snap a photo of your labelled package before shipping for reference in case of any issues.

By following these packing and labelling tips, you can significantly increase the chances of your items arriving safely at their European destination. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way!

Consider Customs and Import Regulations

Shipping between the UK and Europe requires navigating customs since Brexit. Here’s a breakdown of key regulations and documentation:

Customs Requirements

Commercial Invoice: This detailed document is essential. It lists the shipment’s contents (quantity, value, HS code). HS codes are universally recognised product identifiers used by customs.

Customs Declaration: This form outlines your shipment (sender, receiver, contents, total value). Most courier companies can assist with completing it electronically.

Certificates of Origin: Depending on the type and value of your goods, you might need a certificate verifying their origin. Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), this can potentially qualify your goods for reduced customs duties.

Preparing Your Documents

Accuracy is Key: Ensure all information across documents is consistent and accurate. Mistakes can lead to delays or even confiscation.

Research HS Codes: Utilise online resources to identify the correct HS code for each item. Accurate classification helps customs process your shipment efficiently.

Keep Copies: Always make copies of your customs documents for your records.

Additional Considerations

Excise Duties: Be aware that specific goods like alcohol and tobacco might be subject to excise duties upon arrival.

Restricted or Prohibited Goods: Research any restrictions or prohibitions on specific items in your destination country (weapons, endangered species products, etc.).

By understanding these regulations and preparing accurate documentation, you can significantly reduce the risk of delays or complications for your UK-EU shipment. Remember, a little planning goes a long way!

Choose a Reliable Shipping Provider

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Choosing the right shipping provider is crucial for a stress-free journey of your package across the English Channel. Here’s why a reliable partner matters, along with tips for finding the perfect one.

Why a Reliable Shipper Matters

Peace of Mind: A reputable carrier offers clear communication, tracking options, and insurance, reducing anxiety and allowing you to focus on other aspects of your shipment.

Efficiency and Speed: Reliable carriers understand customs complexities, minimising delays and ensuring timely deliveries.

Expertise and Support: They offer a wealth of knowledge on packing regulations, documentation requirements, and potential restrictions for your destination country.

Finding Your Shipping Champion

Read Reviews and Testimonials: Online review platforms and the carrier’s website can provide valuable insights into customer experiences, reliability, communication style, and service quality.

Compare Rates and Services: Different carriers offer varying rates and packages. The research established couriers, freight companies, and postal services, considering factors like speed, cost, tracking capabilities, and any additional services offered (customs assistance).

Track Record is Key: Research the company’s history and reputation within the international shipping industry. A strong track record of on-time deliveries, efficient customs clearance, and excellent customer service indicates a reliable partner.

By investing time in choosing a reliable shipping provider, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free experience for your UK-to-Europe shipment. Remember, the right partner can make all the difference – a smooth delivery or a logistical headache.

Track Your Shipments

Shipping internationally like shipping to Switzerland from UK can feel like sending your package into the unknown. But fear not! Most providers offer robust tracking capabilities, allowing you to monitor your package’s progress every step of the way. Here’s why tracking is crucial and how to use it to your advantage.

Peace of Mind Through Visibility: Real-time tracking lets you see your package’s location, from pick-up to customs clearance and ultimately, arrival. This reduces anxiety and allows you to proactively manage expectations with the recipient.

Proactive Problem-Solving: Tracking can reveal any delays your shipment might encounter. With this knowledge, you can inform the recipient and potentially contact the shipping provider for further assistance in resolving any issues.

Proof of Delivery: Tracking records act as proof of delivery, providing a timestamp and location. This is valuable for both senders and receivers, especially for important documents or time-sensitive items.

Using Tracking Effectively

Most providers offer tracking functionalities on their websites or mobile apps. Simply enter your unique tracking number to access detailed information about your shipment’s journey.

Additionally, some providers offer real-time alerts via email or SMS when your package reaches key milestones.

By utilising tracking effectively, you can transform international shipping from a guessing game into a transparent and stress-free experience.

Consider Shipping Insurance

Don’t let your prized possessions travel across the Channel unprotected! Shipping insurance safeguards valuables against loss or damage. It provides financial reimbursement, easing the sting of a lost heirloom or damaged electronics.

Choose coverage wisely. Consider the declared value of your items – higher value requires higher coverage limits. Additionally, some items might need specific protection based on their nature, like fragile items requiring special handling.

Review the insurance options offered by your courier or consider third-party insurance for broader coverage. Finally, read the fine print to understand what’s covered (loss, theft, damage) and any exclusions. By investing in the right insurance, you can ensure your valuables travel with peace of mind.

Plan for Return Shipments

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Returning something from Europe to the UK like shipping from Italy to UK requires some planning. Here’s how to ensure a smooth journey.

Coordinate Pickup: Contact your chosen courier and schedule a pickup for your return package. Some companies offer drop-off options, so check their website for details.

Double-Check Customs: Remember, customs regulations apply to both incoming and outgoing shipments. Research any specific requirements for returning items to the UK, like shipping from France to UK, especially for high-value goods.

Accurate Documentation: Ensure you have the necessary customs documents, often including a commercial invoice and a return declaration form. Consult your courier for assistance in completing these.

Track and Trace: Most major couriers offer tracking capabilities for both outbound and return shipments. Utilize these to monitor your package’s progress until it reaches its destination in the UK.

By planning and considering these additional steps, you can ensure your return shipment from Europe to the UK is a hassle-free experience.

Prepare for Delays and Complications

Even the best-laid shipping plans can encounter delays or complications. Don’t panic! Here’s how to navigate these situations effectively.

Stay Informed: Tracking your package religiously allows you to identify potential issues early on.

Proactive Communication: If delays arise, contact your shipping provider promptly. They can offer insights into the cause and potential solutions.

Prepare for Customs Questions: Ensure all your customs documentation is accurate and readily available in case of queries from customs authorities.

Mitigate Risks Upfront: Invest in proper packaging and choose a reliable shipping partner with a proven track record.

By staying informed, communicating proactively, and taking preventative measures, you can minimise the impact of delays and ensure a smoother overall shipping experience. Remember, a little preparation can go a long way in navigating unexpected bumps in the road.


Shipping between the UK and Europe after Brexit requires a bit more planning than before. Don’t worry, a smooth journey is still achievable! This guide has unpacked the key considerations to ensure your package arrives safely and on time.

Firstly, understand the new customs regulations. Since 2021, customs declarations are mandatory for all goods, regardless of value or purpose. This means having a commercial invoice detailing the contents, value, and HS codes (product identifiers) of your shipment. A customs declaration form outlining the sender, receiver, contents, and total value is also crucial.

Secondly, choosing the right shipping partner is essential for shipments within Europe like shipping to Bulgaria from UK. Reliable couriers offer peace of mind with clear communication, tracking options, and potential insurance coverage. Research online reviews, compare rates and services, and choose a carrier with a strong track record for a stress-free experience.

Thirdly, proper preparation goes a long way. Invest in sturdy packaging and accurate labelling with clear destination and return addresses, including any handling instructions for fragile items. Remember, taking a photo of the labelled package for reference can be helpful in case of issues.

Finally, be mindful of potential delays or complications. Tracking your package allows you to identify and address any problems early on. Proactive communication with your shipping provider and having accurate customs documentation at hand can help resolve these situations efficiently.

By following these tips and planning ahead, you can navigate the post-Brexit shipping landscape between the UK and Europe with confidence. So, whether you’re sending personal belongings or commercial goods, put these tips into practice and enjoy a smooth, hassle-free shipping experience!