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All You Need To Know About International Parcel Delivery

The UK is one of Europe’s biggest exporters. Most shipments within Europe go to Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and Belgium, whereas the main international destinations from the UK are the US, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong.

You’ve done your homework ahead of time and know which of your products you want to sell abroad. Congrats, you’ve already made the most important decision!

It’s now our job to be by your side as your products make their way across the globe.

As soon as you send a parcel across country borders, you are considered an exporter. Since Brexit has come into effect at the beginning of 2021, the same applies to shipments to a member state of the European Union. If you need more information regarding shipping to the EU post-Brexit, you can take a look at our page explaining shipping post-Brexit or our page dedicated to European parcel delivery.

Take a look at some sample rates below to get you started, or quote your parcel delivery.

  • Extra Small parcel to the US

    • Delivery within 4 business days before end of day
    • Pick-up and door-delivery included
    • Basic protection included

    From £24.65

  • Extra Small parcel to EU Group 1

    • Delivery within 3 - 4 business days before end of day
    • Drop off and collection at a UPS Access Point location
    • Basic protection included

    From £10.99

  • Extra Small parcel to China

    • Delivery within 3 business days before end of day
    • Pick-up and door-delivery included
    • Basic protection included

    From £23.37

  • Extra Small parcel to Switzerland

    • Delivery within 3 - 4 business days before end of day
    • Drop off and collection at a UPS Access Point location
    • Basic protection included

    From £21.99

Preparing your international shipment

For any international shipment, you need to identify the commodity (also known as a tariff code) for your product(s).

1. Preparing your products for shipment

If you are shipping outside of the EU, you need to identify the commodity (also known as a tariff code) for your product(s).

A complete commodity code is no less than six digits and can be up to 10. The more digits are in a tariff code string, the more specific the product it identifies.
All products are classified under a commodity code and documented in the Harmonised System (HS). A commodity code ensures uniformity of product classification worldwide and it is required on official shipping documents in order to be able to assess applicable taxes.

During this step also think about certificates you might be required to provide when shipping certain types of products like seafood, dairy, medicine, cosmetics, or alcohol among others.

Important note: this needs to be done regardless of whether you are shipping within the European Union or outside. It is worth checking authorized institutions, such as the the HM Revenue and Customs,which can give more information about which documents you need for the specific products you are exporting.

Also, confirm your product’s value which is required on many customs documents and it will help you to estimate your duties and taxes.


Providing a commodity tariff code on shipping documents will make it easier for your customer when receiving the parcel. As we know you are busy and we are looking to simplify the complicated. When shipping on this website, we will guide you through choosing the right tariff code for your product.

2. Understanding regulations and customs processes

Check with the Chamber of Commerce about trade agreements the UK has with the importing country. Trade agreements determine tariffs and duties that countries impose on imports and exports. The EU Trade Helpdesk is your guide to import rules and taxes in European markets and the EU Commission has put together a useful Access2Markets toolkit designed to help you tackle any obstacles related to importing into the EU.

Trade agreements also impact customs processes, so it’s a good idea to check Incoterms. Incoterms are a set of rules defining the responsibilities of sellers and buyers when delivering goods and cover rules around delivery, risks and costs. By including those in your invoice, you make sure your customer is not confronted with additional delivery payment by surprise.


Targeting the de minimis threshold in the country you are shipping to will ensure you can optimise the shipping duration and clear customs faster (as no duties and taxes are collected by the Customs authorities). Check our FAQ section for more information on customs duties and charges, and de minimis.

3. The commercial invoice

A commercial invoice is used as a customs declaration. It’s provided by the person or business shipping items across international borders and describes the goods and their value to help determine the customs duties to be paid. To make filling out a customs invoice a little easier, we have prepared a commercial invoice guide explaining each section of the document.

Note that since 1st January 2021, you also need a commercial invoice for shipments to the European Union.

Download your copy of the commercial invoice guide.

4. Shipments to the European Union

If you ship to a member state of the European Union, you need to have an EORI number (Economic Operator’s Registration and Identification number). This is a unique identification assigned to each importer and exporter to monitor the movement of goods between EU and non-EU countries. You can identify this number easily as it begins with the letters GB. While some businesses have automatically been assigned a UK EORI number, other businesses must apply for it.

Download your copy of the EORI guide

You also need to be aware that from 1 July 2021, there are significant changes to the European Union’s Value Added Tax rules applying to the shipment of goods into the EU. While these reforms primarily target B2C e-commerce imports, impacting both businesses and online shoppers, they may also impact B2B imports.

Whether and how the new EU VAT reform impacts your business depends on the value of the goods you sell, whether you sell to businesses or consumers and whether you use online marketplaces. You can refer to our EU VAT Reform Guide for detailed information.

Download your copy of the EU VAT Reform Guide.

Quote your international shipment

International Service Options

You prepared your shipment and have crossed everything off your exporting checklist. Now you need to decide how quickly your products need to reach your customers.

Whether you need to ship something across borders urgently or you are looking for a more economical way to send your parcel abroad – you can choose from a variety of international parcel delivery services that will meet your requirements.

If you are looking to send a time-sensitive parcel, the morning delivery service is your best option. A parcel is delivered in one to three business days before 2PM from the UK to another European country, one to two business days before 10.30AM to the US, and in 2-4 business days before 2PM to major worldwide destinations.

As a more economical option, delivery is guaranteed within one to three business days by the end of the day from the UK to virtually all business areas in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Delivery to the US is guaranteed within 1-2 business days, and to other worldwide destinations in 2-4 business days by the end of the day.

For shipments that are not urgent, choose our standard economy solution that’s based on distance and takes up to six business days.

Flexibility for you and your customers

If you value convenience over speed and want to save on shipping costs, choose UPS collection and drop-off points, known as UPS Access PointTM locations.

These are local shops across your neighbourhood such as corner shops and grocers where you can drop off or collect parcels. When you select the UPS Access Point to UPS Access Point delivery, you drop-off your parcel at a convenient location of your choosing, at a time that suits you. Your customer can also collect their parcel when convenient for them. These shops usually offer extended working hours, which means more flexibility for you and your customers. 

If you don’t have the time to leave your office – don’t worry, you can still arrange a collection. Simply opt for a collection and we will collect the parcels from you during your desired timeframe.


This convenient solution is also available for select shipments in Europe, so you can make your customers in the France just as happy as your customers in the UK. Search for UPS Access Point locations near to your customers here.

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Frequently asked questions about international parcel delivery