Background information

Frequently asked questions

Brexit has been a fact since February 2020, but from 1 January 2021 it also has consequences for the shipment of goods to the United Kingdom (UK). There will be no free movement of goods between Belgium and the UK anymore. For shipments to the UK, the shipment conditions to countries outside the EU apply. Every shipment has to be declared to Customs. PostNL has prepared for a hard Brexit. And we ask our (business) customers to do the same.

The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU as of 31 January 2020. Until 1 January 2021 there is a transition period during which the UK and the EU still negotiate. What we already now: from 1 January 2021 shipments of goods to the UK must meet the shipment conditions for countries outside the EU. More general information about the status and consequences of Brexit is available on: 

Companies are able to prepare with the Brexit impact scan (not available in English): 

All customers shipping goods to the UK. Both consumers and business shippers. An envelope with a gadget or a pen also falls under the category of goods. The impact will be minimal for normal mail and documents.
All mail pieces that include goods.

Brexit applies to the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Isle of Man also falls outside the EU now, the special agreements with the EU will expire. Brexit does not apply to Ireland, which is still part of the EU. 

Gibraltar and the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey) already fall outside the EU in the trade agreements, in other words nothing changes here.

There is no free movement of goods between the UK and Belgium anymore. The conditions of a country outside the EU apply to the UK now: 

  • Goods need to be declared to Customs, in other words customs forms are obligatory. 
  • VAT, import duties and clearance charges may be payable. 
  • Businesses shippers must register with HM Revenue & Customs as they have to pay tax directly to them. 
  • Business shippers must apply for a special EORI number (customs number) to the UK government to declare taxes. 
  • Shipments need to be prepared/stamped online. 

Attention: other rules may apply to import certain goods, see

Countries outside the EU want to know what is coming into their country. This is laid down in international regulations and concerns security, an efficient customs clearance and on time delivery. This is why every shipment needs to be prepared online and have a shipping label with barcode. PostNL can then send all the information regarding the shipment directly to the UK. In this way we comply with all the international regulations and you prevent returns, delays or even destruction of the shipment. That is how strict they can be.
Due to the extra actions and customs declaration, the shipment may take at least 1 day longer.
We are preparing as well as possible to minimise the impact for our customers. We also try to inform our customers as well as possible about Brexit. To carry out our services efficiently, customers must take care of a number of things themselves.
We are preparing as well as possible for a hard Brexit on 31 December 2020. That implies we are changing all our logistic processes to process shipments from and to the United Kingdom in the same way as to countries outside the EU. We advise our customers to do the same.
Countries within the European Union have a trade agreement that simplifies business practices. One of the agreements is that between the EU countries there is no customs handling. Now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU, this trade agreement is no longer valid. Just like other countries outside the EU, customs forms and the related extra information are obligatory. More information is available on our customs forms webpage.

Depending on the type of shipment and content you must take into account (among others): 

  • product type 
  • product description 
  • number 
  • weight 
  • HS-code (only for business shipments)
  • country of origin (not compulsory) 
  • Commercial value of the goods and currency


Make sure you have the information close at hand. When online stamping your shipment via the Online shipping service, enter the requested data. Print out your shipping label and the customs forms at home and deliver everything to your PostNL point. 

Business shipper: 

Are you using My PostNL? Make sure the columns with the extra information in the document you are uploading (CSV, Excel) have been entered. The layout will be done automatically. Are you using the PostNL API, Zelfbouw or plug-ins? If so you must update your systems so that you can share the extra information with us. How do you do that? More information is available on our developers portal. Share it with the IT department, they know what to do.

By declaring goods, extra costs may be charged to business shippers by HM Revenue & Customs. These costs depend on the type of shipment. Consumers in Belgium sending a gift to the UK are exempted up to an amount of £39 (approximately EUR 43). For more expensive shipments the recipient pays the extra costs in the UK. 

The table below shows which costs must be paid by whom.

Registration HM Revenue & CustomsImport duties and VAT to the UKClearance charges to the UK
consumerNo goods (letter)Not applicableNoNo
consumerGift value < £39Not applicableNoNo
consumerGoods value > £39Not applicableYes recipient pays via payment request of delivery partner in the UK (Royal Mail)Yes recipient pays £8 to £12 via payment request of delivery partner in the UK (Royal Mail)
businessGoods value < £135CompulsoryImport duties: no VAT: yes Shipper pays directly to HM Revenue & CustomsNot applicable
businessGoods value > £135OptionalYes recipient pays via payment request of delivery partner in the UK (Royal Mail) or pick-up pointYes recipient pays £8 up to £12 via payment request of delivery partner in the UK (Royal Mail) or pick-up point
No, this only applies to business shippers sending goods to consumers in the UK (B2C). For companies sending goods to companies in the UK this does not apply.
For this you can contact the Tax and Customs Administration or the FPS Economy. In Belgium these bodies will inform companies about Brexit.