Filling out a customs declaration


Anything being sent overseas needs a correct customs declaration. Here’s how to avoid the most common causes of customs delays.

  • only call it “documents” if it is — a box of brochures is not a document and should be described as brochures or printed matter
  • any shipment over 2kg needs a customs declaration regardless of the contents
  • commercial invoices need to be typed, not handwritten
  • contents need to be described accurately
  • value of contents needs to be realistic

When you send something overseas, you need to say if it’s a document or non-document. It costs more to send a non-document because there’s a bigger customs process involved. You might also have to pay import duties. So no wonder people are keen to say they’re sending “documents”. But a book or box of brochures is not a document.

Customs declarations need to be typed. Our booking system will make you a complete and correct shipper’s declaration with one click, saving you work and preventing mistakes. Once you’ve printed it, don’t write on it except to sign it.

The value of the goods that you put on the declaration needs to be reasonably accurate. People often think they should write a low value because they hope to minimise the duties payable. This doesn’t work. Customs has a fair idea of what the contents are worth and we routinely see shipments delayed because the value is inaccurate.

This applies even to second-hand goods or items being returned for warranty service. You’re not going to be able to value a laptop at $100 just because it’s out of its box or currently has a broken screen.

If the item is a gift, temporary import for warranty service, exhibition freight, or transfer between two offices of the same company, state that on the proforma invoice as the reason for export. You need to attach a proforma invoice for all of the above activities.

Print and attach two copies of the customs declaration. Our booking software will automatically print two for you.