Country-Specific Cross-Border Shipping Requirements

Keeping track of the country-specific shipping requirements when sending packages internationally can be a real challenge. This article will assist you with ensuring that you meet the cross-border shipping requirements for several of the most commonly shipped to countries. Meeting these requirements will help ensure that your packages are delivered in a timely manner and that you incur no additional surcharges or fees.

This is not a comprehensive guide for all countries. We will update this article as new regulations and requirements are introduced.

Brazil

All shipments sent to Brazil must include the recipient's Tax ID number on labels and customs documents. Any shipment missing this information will be subject to either return or disposal by the Brazilian customs authorities.

When accepting an order from a customer in Brazil, be sure to collect either their CPF or CNPJ. Please check with your selling channels for the best methods of collecting this information from your customers.

  • CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, or Natural Persons Register), or Individual Tax ID.

    A CPF is 11 digits long. It is comprised of 9 base digits with 2 digits at the end. Format: 123.456.789-10

  • CNPJ (Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas), or Business Tax ID.

    A CNPJ is a 14-digit number with 12 base digits and 2 digits at the end. Format: 123.456.789/0000-00

Add the Tax ID to Labels and Forms

To add a tax ID to labels and forms:

  • Individual Tax ID Format: For a CPF (Individual Tax ID number) include CPF before the number. The number format should be 3 groups of 3 numbers separated by a period then a dash followed by the final 2 numbers.

    Here's an example: CPF 123.456.789-10

  • Company Tax ID Format: For a CNPJ (Business Tax ID number), enter the Business Tax ID, followed by a dash, followed by their business name.

    Here's an example: 123.456.789/1011-12 - Business Name

European Union

The Stamps.com process for shipping internationally to EU member countries is much the same as shipping any international package. However, as of March 1, 2023, the European Union has implemented new requirements for shipments entering their member countries.

  • Harmonized System Codes (HS Codes): All shipments now require Harmonized System Codes (HS Codes) for all items in a shipment.

  • Accurate Item Descriptions: All items in a shipment must have accurate item descriptions. You can no longer use general categories like "electronics" or "clothing" as item descriptions. They must be specific. The table below provides some examples of acceptable descriptions you can use.

    Unacceptable Red X mark. Unsupported feature. No.

    Acceptable Green checkmark. Supported feature. Yes.

    Clothes

    Men's Cotton Shirt, Women's Silk Dress

    Appliances

    Samsung Microwave Oven, Kitchen Aid Blender

    Artwork

    Oil Painting, Screenprint on Paper, 12" Bronze Statue

    Gifts

    Small scented candle, Plush Toy, Cashmere Scarf

    Health Products

    Laundry Detergent, Wireless Electric Toothbrush, Cotton Towel Set

These changes are part of the EU's ICS2 reform and apply to all shipments, no matter which carrier you ship with. While Stamps.com will not prevent you from creating your label without entering an HS Code or more detailed item descriptions, failure to comply with these requirements could result in delays to your shipment as well as fines or penalty fees.

Helpful Resources

Germany

All manufacturers and retailers that sell or ship packaged goods to consumers in Germany must adhere to Germany's VerpackG (Packaging Act), which relates to the collection and recycling of packaging materials.

Packages not sent through commercial activity, such as gifts or donations, do not need to follow the Packaging Act guidelines.

When sending packages to Germany as an online retailer:

  1. Complete the LUCID Packaging Register to receive your identification number. Stamps.com recommends appointing an authorized representative to act on your behalf when you register with the LUCID Packaging Register since it lifts the responsibility off your business.

    If you choose not to use a representative, you will register as a Producer.

    If there is no registration, packaged goods can no longer ship to Germany. This distribution ban also applies to downstream distributors. A producer failing to register may be subject to a fine of up to €100,000.

  2. Update your buyers on returns and recycling options. The Packaging Act requires sellers to provide this information to German buyers. You can communicate it in your packing slip messages or store's terms and conditions.

  3. Add your LUCID identification number to your Etsy and eBay stores. If you sell on other marketplaces, please contact their customer support to get more information.

What do I need to do in Stamps.com?

Nothing! Germany's Central Agency Packaging Register has internal systems that match outbound packages with your LUCID identification number without you having to enter it when purchasing your label.

Additional Resources

Mexico

The Stamps.com process for shipping internationally to Mexico is much the same as shipping any international package. However, in January 2023, the Mexican Tax Authority adopted the Carta Porte requirements, which mandate that all shipments to and within Mexico include a Package Description field that accurately describes the contents of the shipment. This description is in addition to the customs forms item descriptions and applies no matter which carrier you are shipping with.

Important Dates

  • March 20th, 2023: UPS began requiring the Package Description field for all shipments to Mexico. If the Package Description field is not filled in when shipping with UPS to Mexico, you will receive an error and will not be able to create the label.

  • August 1st, 2023: The Mexican Tax Authority began enforcing the Carta Porte requirements. Shipments that do not comply with these requirements will be subject to delays as well as penalties from the Mexican Government.

To ensure your shipments to Mexico meet these requirements, Stamps.com has added a Package Description field that will only be present when configuring customs information for shipments destined for Mexico. If the customs Item Description is fewer than 35 characters, you can import the item description by checking the Same as Item Description(s) checkbox.

When adding a description of the goods, keep the following in mind:

  • The description can be a maximum of 35 characters.

  • The description should be a summary of all the contents of the parcel.

Saudi Arabia

New regulations require that all shipments to Saudi Arabia from any other country and shipments originating from within the Kingdom require the recipient's Short Address code/National Address. This requirement is already in effect and in the future, a National Address will become mandatory for all residents, citizens, and companies operating inside Saudi Arabia.

A short address consists of four letters and four numbers representing the Region Code, Branch Code, Division Code, and Building Number. Learn more about the Short Address code/National Address.

When shipping to Saudi Arabia:

  • Contact the recipient and request their Short Address code/National Address.

  • Add the recipient's address code to Address Line 2 of the Ship To/Delivery address in Stamps.com.

The United Kingdom

All goods shipped to the UK are subject to VAT regardless of the price of the goods in the shipment. Prior to January 2021, the threshold was only goods over £15 were subjected to a 20% VAT.

These changes are meant to address UK business competitiveness and will primarily affect merchants and shippers in the US, Canada and Australia since the UK tends to import products from sellers in these markets.

VAT requirements differ depending on the exact method of how your goods arrive in the UK. Here are three scenarios that may affect merchants that ship through Stamps.com:

  • For e-commerce marketplace sales, the marketplace is responsible for collecting and remitting the VAT to the proper UK customs authority. 

  • Register an EORI Number to Ship to The UK: If a product is sold and exported in an ecommerce environment outside of a marketplace sale, the overseas seller might be required to register directly with the HMRC (the UK Customs Authority).

  • If an overseas seller already has products in the UK (as in, with a provider in market), then the seller will be responsible for accounting for the VAT on goods already in market and will have to account for it with the HMRC as well.

To be sure you understand the needs of your specific scenario and whether you need to register with the UK Customs Authority and apply for an EORI number, we recommend you discuss these changes with your preferred international carrier and the marketplaces on which you sell. Additionally, you may wish to consult a tax software and compliance company such as Avalara.

Review this UK.gov Import and Export Process help page to learn more about any requirements you may need to follow.

Do I need to register for an EORI number to ship to the UK?

Most merchants shipping to the UK are not required to have an EORI number, though in some cases it may be beneficial, depending on your selling scenario or shipping methods.

  • Marketplace merchants

    If you only do marketplace sales, then you do not need an EORI number, since collecting VAT is the marketplace's responsibility.

  • Brands shipping direct to consumer (not via a marketplace)

    If you ship DDP (Delivery Duty Paid), you do not need an EORI number. Your carrier will bill you for the tax on a per shipment basis. Contact your carrier to discuss how this will be billed to your account. You may still need to collect the fees from your consumer upon checkout.

    If you ship DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid), it is recommended you set up an EORI number so you can proactively pay the tax to HMRC. This has the added benefit of helping you keep shipping costs low.

Here are a few useful resources for merchants who wish to apply for EORI:

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