Using a fast parcel operator to import and export

How to use a fast parcel operator and the rules they must follow when making customs declarations.


This guide helps exporters to understand the issues surrounding the use of fast parcel operators for imports and exports.

HMRC has approved several fast parcel operators for simplified export procedures using a memorandum of understanding. The guide explains what memorandums of understanding mean for fast parcel operators, and their duties and liabilities to you when making customs declarations on your behalf.

Customs duty reliefs and fast parcel operators

There are several schemes that offer traders relief of duty, suspension of duty, or repayment of duty.

Using third-party declarants

Fast parcel operators who complete customs entries on behalf of an importer, or deliver goods to the place where they will be temporarily used, processed or stored, cannot claim relief in their own name if they are not responsible for using, processing or storing the goods themselves, or are arranging for this to be carried out on their behalf.

If you use a fast parcel operator as a third party to complete entries on your behalf, and you want to claim any of the customs reliefs that may be available, you must ensure that you:

  • give clear written instructions for the goods to be entered to the particular relief concerned
  • are clearly identified as the person claiming relief
  • ask them to send you details of customs declarations made on your behalf so that you can check their accuracy

If the declaration is incorrect, you will be liable.

Third parties who declare goods for a relief without the authority of the person in whose name the declaration is made, will be liable for any customs debt incurred. Read Notice 199 for more information.

Fast parcel operators as a third-party declarant

As an exporter using a fast parcel operator to make declarations about your goods on your behalf, you should remember that under the provisions of Regulation 2454/93EEC (Article 199), you are responsible for:

  • the accuracy of the information given in the declaration
  • the authenticity of documents attached
  • following correct procedure when importing the goods

When a customs declaration is made in your name, and is not accurate, or the correct procedure is not followed, you will be liable for any customs debt that arises.

You should also bear in mind that the use of the codes PR or UNREG in Box 2 of the Single Administrative Document (SAD or C88) is restricted to the following:

  • PR – for private exports where there is no commercial purpose involved – eg household effects. VAT zero rating does not apply to PR goods.
  • UNREG – for traders who are not registered for VAT in the UK, which includes traders registered in other Member States.

In all other cases an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number must be quoted.

Authorised Economic Operators now need to include their EORI number, and any extra branch or division EORI codes. Read the guide on the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Scheme.

Import declarations

Goods imported using couriers are still subject to the requirement to lodge import declarations.

Where goods have an intrinsic value below a specified threshold, they may be declared by means of a partially completed SAD supported by a manifest. Invoices must be held by the trader to support the manifest.

More information – including the authorisation conditions and the CPCs to be used – can be found in paragraph 3.4.1A and Appendix E2 of Volume 3 of the UK Tariff.

Approved fast parcel operators exporting under a memorandum of understanding

HMRC has approved several operators to bulk export procedures using a memorandum of understanding.

The Express Industry Team must approve operators for Entry in Declarants’ Records.

Under the memorandum of understanding, non-restricted goods up to the value of £873 will be bulk-declared for Customs Export entry purposes and will have no official proof of export – except the shipper’s or fast parcel operator’s Exit Summary Declaration. In these circumstances, you can get commercial proof of export from the fast parcel operator.

For goods which are either over £873 in value, restricted or subject to licence (irrespective of the value), there must be a full customs entry, and in these circumstances there will be both official and commercial proof of export.

Track and Trace facilities can confirm the delivery of a consignment abroad for most fast parcel operators.

For more details, contact the Express Industry Team:

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

Telephone: 03000 532 318

Published 1 August 2012
Last updated 23 July 2019 
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