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EU tightens rules on custom declarations

March 15, 2023


Postal Service employees should be prepared to provide tools to customers sending packages in order to meet new European Union requirements to provide more detail about their contents on customs forms.

Customers should be reminded that broad descriptions of the contents are not acceptable. For example, “men’s cotton dress shirts” is acceptable; “shirts” is not. “Children’s toy doll” would be acceptable; “gift” or “toy” would not.

The specific descriptions are necessary to assign the package’s contents a Harmonized System (HS) tariff code, which is a number used by the receiving customs authorities to assess import duties and taxes. Customers may also choose to research and assign the HS code using an online Census Bureau tool.

The rule applies to packages being sent to all 27 countries of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

It also applies to Norway and Switzerland.

For retail customers visiting an RSS site and users of USPS Click-N-Ship, the online platform requires them to answer questions about what they’re sending and automatically assigns an HS code to the shipping label.

Signs are now up at Post Offices around the country explaining the change.

More information can be found at

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