New rules and extra charges in sending parcels between UK and France

As well as lorries transporting goods between the EU and UK, Brexit also affects postal services - from online orders to care parcels from family members. Here's what changes.

New rules and extra charges in sending parcels between UK and France
International parcel deliveries have new rules after Bexit. Photo: AFP

It’s not unusual for immigrants to get parcels from family containing a little taste of home – from homemade treats to products not in sale in Europe – but Brexit will change this.

All types of parcel – whether commercial or private – are affected by changes to postal rules that came into force when the UK left the EU.

There are three main changes; costs, customs declarations and rules on animal products.

Customs declarations

As well as having the appropriate postage, all items apart from documents sent from the UK to the EU need an extra customs declaration form attached.

This form asks for the sender and recipient’s details, whether the item is a gift or an item sent for sale (which affects the level of duty in some countries) and a detailed description of what is in it – so birthday or Christmas parcels slightly lose their element of surprise. The form is available to download here.

This rule does not apply to people sending parcels from Northern Ireland.

The same also applies to people sending parcels from the EU to the UK, the customs declaration must be completed before sending, either at the post office or in advance by downloading it from the postal service of the relevant country. All customs declarations being sent to the UK must be completed in English.

The French postal service La Poste is also warning that due to extra customs processes it is likely that parcels will take longer to arrive.

Some UK firms have stopped accepting online orders from customers based in the EU.


Exactly what changes in the price of sending a parcel from the UK to the EU is a bit confusing, because the Post Office says that it is still waiting for detailed information from the UK government.

In the meantime there are numerous reports of people in EU countries being charged extra customs duty when they pick up parcels, while some UK companies are applying big new delivery charges on orders placed online from the EU.

Animal products

Importing products derived from an animal into the EU from a Third Country (which is what the UK now is) is a complicated process and the rules apply to both businesses and individuals.

On the business side we have seen shortages of fresh food in the Paris branches of Marks & Spencer, which imports its sandwiches and ready meals from the UK, due to the complicated process of obtaining veterinary certificates on all meat, dairy, eggs and other animal-derived products.

The EU’s strict phyto-sanitary rules mean that all imports of animal derived products technically come under these rules, so sending a nice box of chocolates by post is now not allowed (due to the milk).

Known as Personal Imports (which also covers items that you bring back in your luggage after a trip to the UK) these have some exemptions including limited amounts of baby milk, food required for medial reasons or limited amounts of honey and certain fish products – find more information here.

Parcels that contain banned animal products can be seized and destroyed at the border.

Member comments

  1. I’m not sure why everyone is so surprised about animal products. Having travelled to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand none allow you to take in things like meat or cheese. So why should the EU countries be any different. This was one of the many advantages of being a member which we have decided as a nation to reject. So for all those who visit Europe for your holidays and can’t live without your English breakfast, maybe time to consider a “staycation” as there will be no british bacon on the Costas this year.

  2. Why are people surprised about the increased cost of goods? Probably because it was kept quiet and over shadowed by the ‘no tariffs’ deal. Those of us of a certain age can remember paying/collecting quite large sums for customs fees and VAT etc. As a postman it was always a pain in the neck that we had to take cash – no cheques – for the charges and had to face the abuse from the public who invariably didn’t have the cash to hand. The worst were the folks in big houses, with shiny new cars who then spent an hour scouring the house for the cash. Could be quite comical at times.
    So now us expats will be buying most of our stuff on EU websites where postage is often free. So who got the better deal?

  3. Yes same here, late delivery of clothes sent from Asda, (shows e global and a French site with payment in euros), and today they asked for 23 euro for each packet, x 2, €46, so I guess now all the other clothing sites will be the same, wallis, marks etc,

  4. I complained yesterday about a parcel which was sent from UK on the 21st Dec .Tracking was telling me it had left Uk on the 25th and then no further movement To my great delight it has now arrived in my home although tracking has not been updated.TrevorGibbon

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
Paywall free


Tell us: Why did you first move to France?

From romance to adventure, professional opportunities to financial factors there are all sorts of reasons why people move to France. We'd love to know yours.

Tell us: Why did you first move to France?

We want to hear from our readers on why they came to France and, once here, why they decided to stay.

Please share your stories in the form below.