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5 Things to Consider When Shipping Into The EU

September 21, 2023 in Distance Sales, Ecommerce Tips, European VAT

5 Things to Consider When Shipping Into The EU

This is a guest blog post written by MHI, a leading global delivery specialist.

If you’ve found shipping to EU markets challenging since Brexit then you’re definitely not alone. The additional taxes, duties and bureaucracy have made it more difficult for businesses to both sell and deliver their goods into Europe, some even withdrawing altogether.

The good news is that there are solutions available for every business to re-engage effectively with our closest international trading partner. Whether you’re looking to boost your EU export sales or begin trading from ground zero, here are five things you have to consider:

Shipping directly from the UK versus holding stock in the EU

The first decision to make when selling into the EU as a whole, or even a single EU territory, is where to ship your orders from. There is a trade-off.

You could find a 3PL partner in Europe, freight palletised stock to their warehouse, register for VAT, and use the 3PL’s carrier contracts to do the final mile delivery when an order comes in.

Alternatively, you could register once for IOSS with SimplyVAT, centralise your stock in your UK warehouse, and use a cross-border partner to ship your international orders directly from the UK.

There are benefits of both models but oftentimes, if products are produced in the UK, then by shipping them to a European 3PL the merchant is paying two sets of transport costs. It also gives them less control, visibility and flexibility of their operation.

That’s why shipping directly from the UK to the EU is often the preferred strategy.

Make you sure you have the correct shipping data

It may sound boring, but it’s possibly the most important consideration. The data required to send a parcel to a UK address or an address in the EU is vastly different. For example, to ship internationally, you will need to know your Harmonisation Codes (HS Codes) – which denotes which product type you are sending. If you select the wrong HS code, then you may be liable to pay more tax and duty, or even have the product held up at customs. Nobody wants that. Here’s some other data to include:

Customs Procedure Code (CPC Code). This declares the reason for export and is a universally recognised indicator of why goods are entering the EU.

Commercial Invoice. These need to be available with a unique invoice number, matching the CN22 documentation and value declared within your data feed.

Customs Declaration Receipts. If you are looking to reclaim VAT then in addition to having an overseas registration you will need to prove when items were customs cleared into the EU.

VAT/EORI Numbers. Present these within your shipping data. If you are sending to a business then you may need to add the consignee’s VAT number as well.

Benefit from the full range of clearance options

A fully-optimised EU shipping strategy considers your product type, product value and sales channel(s). Thinking you can replicate your UK shipping success without planning can lead to complications further down the line. For example, clearance options include:

IOSS-Enabled. For items under 150 euros where you, if selling directly, or your marketplace partner has registered for IOSS.

Non-IOSS DDP. Mechanism to prepay tax and duty where either the sender is not registered and/or the items value exceeds 150 euros.

DDU. With this option, taxes and duties are paid by the customer upon delivery

IOSS-Enabled clearance is the industry standard into the EU, but having all options available through your carrier partner leads to optimum delivery and a better customer experience across EU territories.

Factor in the cost implications of the origin of your goods

Whether you’re procuring basic materials or producing your entire product overseas, it’s important to know the cost implications that come with shipping into the EU. For example, the EU has a levy on Chinese imports, so the seller could be charged more for Chinese produced materials entering the EU market.

Adopt an agile delivery strategy that will boost sales

The EU is a single market but not a single delivery network. By working with a single carrier, you lose the ability to be truly agile. Just like in the UK, you might want to choose your carrier based on delivery performance, a multi-carrier solution gives you delivery choice in overseas markets.

By working with a one-to-many carrier solution, you can hone your delivery piece and achieve the best transit and cost balance by utilising the most effective solution for each individual territory.

Shipping into the EU should not be seen as a necessary evil. By giving your customers more delivery options at check-out, you reduce your chances of cart abandonment and increase your chances of conversion.

MHI is a leading cross-border delivery specialist with three decades of experience in shipping ecommerce parcels worldwide. With our award-winning routing technology and relationships with 80+ carriers in over 200 countries, they provide the perfect combination of price and service. To get started with MHI email

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