15 questions
 for the keyword « Customs »
Why hasn't my international shipment been delivered?
If your shipment has the status "On the way to Belgium", it has not arrived in Belgium yet. The delivery periods of a foreign shipment to Belgium vary from country to country. You can find out how long it takes on average for your parcel to arrive in Belgium via Track & Trace. This period is based on previous shipments coming from this country. 

My parcel comes from inside the European Union
here is no default import procedure. If it wants to, customs can check shipments from inside the European Union.

My parcel comes from outside the European Union (+United Kingdom)
In this case an import procedure for your parcel will start upon its arrival in Belgium. The duration of this procedure depends on the following:
  • Whether or not you already paid VAT on your shipment via the online shop
  • The value of your shipment
If you did not pay any VAT in advance or your shipment is worth more than €150, bpost must first determine the import costs. To do this, the value of the contents of your shipment must be known (based on the invoice). If this is not provided, bpost will ask you to upload the invoice of your purchase online. You have 14 days to pay the import costs (VAT, import duties or any other customs fees and formalities). The sooner you do this, the sooner your shipment will be released. Most shipments are cleared within a week. In this phase, your goods are declared to Belgian customs. Customs has the right to check the content of your shipment. Please allow an additional 3 to 7 days for delivery in case of extra inspections. This period depends on any additional inspections by government agencies (e.g. for plants or food). If your shipment is not cleared, you will be notified (e.g. a permit is missing or the contents of your shipment are subject to import restrictions). The import procedure is completed once customs has released your shipment. Your shipment is then handed over to bpost, and you will receive it a few days later.
What if my parcel doesn't have the necessary information to perform clearance?
If the parcel is lacking some information, you will receive a letter from bpost within two days. You can also see this immediately in the My bpost app or on Track & Trace. You can upload the missing documents there. The quicker you do this, the faster your parcel can be cleared through customs. In that case, the handling period is extended until you send the additional information. If you do not answer this request for additional information, we will return your parcel to the sender after 14 days. Customs duties, VAT and any other fees (like anti-dumping duties and environmental duties) are calculated during clearance. As the recipient, you must pay these in advance via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. You will receive an email, text message or letter that requests payment.       
How does a delivery from outside the European Union work?
When a shipment from outside the European Union arrives in Belgium, the parcel is given to customs. The process is as follows: Security check
Customs performs a security check on all goods arriving in Belgium from outside the European Union. Customs checks whether the goods can be imported to Belgium. If not (e.g. counterfeit goods, weapons or medicine), customs blocks your parcel. Clearance of the parcel
Customs duties, VAT and any other fees (like anti-dumping duties and environmental duties) are calculated during clearance. As of July 1, 2021, this applies to all shipments, regardless of their value. More information about the new customs rules. As the recipient, you must pay these import costs in advance via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. The shipment will only be delivered after payment. Delivery of the parcel
As soon as customs releases the goods, bpost takes care of the delivery. Take into account that the entire process can take a few days. You can follow the status of your shipment with Track & Trace. You will be notified if you must fulfil more formalities.
Why do I have to pay 'fees for customs formalities'?
The ‘fees for customs formalities’ is an administrative fee that is charged for:
  • determining the contents and value of the parcel
  • if necessary, contacting the addressee when the contents, value and details of the parcel do not correspond or are incomplete
  • drawing up the required customs declaration
  • storage and custody fees for collecting and passing on the customs duties
These costs only apply to shipments from outside the European Union (+ United Kingdom). Since 1 July 2021, these costs apply to all shipments from outside the EU, even if the shipment is worth less than €22. If you order from a registered online shop (Import One-Stop Shop or IOSS) that charges VAT in advance, you will not have to pay additional taxes, customs duties and administrative fees to bpost. Please note: shipments with a value of €150 or more are always subject to customs duties and administrative processing fees.
When does a parcel pass through customs?
If your parcel comes from outside the European Union, it passes through customs by default. Customs is also authorised to check all shipments from inside the European Union. That usually involves suspect shipments from EU member states and shipments with excisable goods inside the European Community.
My parcel was ordered from a European webshop. Why does it have to pass through customs or do I have to pay extra fees?
In this case, your parcel comes from outside the EU, even if it was ordered from a European webshop. Some webshops send their products directly from the country of origin. If that country is outside the EU (e.g. the United Kingdom), you might be charged import costs. Always check the sender address of your parcel when ordering items online. If you receive a payment request for import costs, you can still refuse your parcel before making the payment. You can do this via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. In that case, your parcel will automatically be returned to sender. As of July 1, 2021, import fees apply to all shipments from outside the European Union and the exemption for shipments worth less than €22 has expired.
How can I recognise an IOSS registered webshop?
Non-European webshops can register with the EU to enable the payment of VAT and import costs in advance in their webshop. You can recognise such a webshop by the separate mention of VAT in your shopping cart at the time of payment. By ordering from these webshops, you can, from 01 July 2021, avoid to:
  • pay unwanted import costs and costs of customs formalities.
  • pay VAT on the costs of customs formalities.
  • wait longer to receive your shipment.
Note: for goods with a value of € 150 or more, you will still have to pay import costs.
How can I avoid paying import costs?
New customs rules apply as from 1 July 2021 and VAT must be paid on all shipments from outside the EU. This also applies to shipments purchased before this date that only arrive in Belgium after 1 July 2021. In other words, there is no longer an exemption from import costs for shipments worth less than €22. If no VAT is paid when purchasing from the online shop, additional import costs will be charged. In order to avoid additional import costs and an increase in VAT (you also pay VAT on the costs of customs formalities), we recommend you to :
  • place your order in an registered webshop outside the EU. They charge VAT on your purchase in advance, which means that you will not have to pay import costs and your shipment will go faster through the import procedure. More info on how to recognise an IOSS registered webshop.
  • order from a webshop shipping from within Belgium or Europe. Please bear in mind that the United Kingdom is not part of the European Union.
Please note: for goods with a value of €150 or more you will always have to pay customs formalities. In this case, you cannot pay the import costs via the online shop.
How are import costs calculated?
The costs to import goods from outside the EU consist of 3 parts:
  • VAT
    For all goods coming from outside the EU, a percentage of VAT on the value of the goods must be paid. This percentage varies between 6% (books) and 21% (electronic products). Please note: you also pay VAT on the services provided by bpost (administrative costs).
     
  • Custom duties
    For certain categories of goods you have to pay customs duties. These are also represented by a percentage. For some goods (e.g. jeans), you pay up to 12% duty. For other goods you do not pay duty (e.g. books).
     
  • Customs formalities or administrative fees bpost charges administrative fees for the costs incurred during the import procedure if:
    • the VAT was not paid in advance in a registered online shop (Import One-Stop Shop or IOSS)
    • the value of the goods is more than €150
    These costs include:
    • the calculation of import taxes
    • transferring the taxes to the government
    • requesting additional missing information (e.g. licenses or invoices)
    • storage costs
    From 1 July 2021, bpost will charge the following fees for customs formalities: 0 euro for private shipments with a value of up to €45. In this case, the sender has to prove that the shipment is a gift. (Please note: alcoholic products, perfume, toilet water, tobacco and tobacco products are subject to fees, even if they are gifts). 24 euros for customs formalities regarding non-exempted items with a maximum value of 150 euros. 32 euros for customs formalities regarding non-exempted items with a value over 150 euros. More information on the applicable tax rates and on how to calculate the import costs. .table-striped td{padding:10px !important;}
    Why do I have to pay for the import of a shipment?
    My shipment is coming from within the EU Some regions of the EU are also subject to customs duties and VAT because they are not part of the EU customs territory, even if they belong to the geographical territory of the EU (e.g. the Canary Islands). My shipment is coming from outside the EU According to Belgian customs and VAT legislation, you have to pay taxes (customs duties, VAT, excise duties and administrative handling fees) for shipments from outside the EU with a commercial value of € 22 or more. In order to be delivered, you need to pay these costs within 7 days after receiving the payment invitation.  Once the import costs have been paid, your shipment will be presented to customs. From 1 July 2021, there will no longer be any exemption from import costs for shipments under €22. If you order from a registered online shop (Import One-Stop Shop or IOSS) that charges VAT in advance, you will not have to pay additional taxes, customs duties and administrative fees to bpost. Please note: shipments with a value of €150 or more are always subject to customs duties and administrative processing fees.
    Why are there customs checks on my parcel?
    All shipments from outside the EU go through an import procedure. This allows Belgian customs to check the contents of shipments on arrival in Belgium. Most shipments are released immediately, but inspections are also carried out:
    • to check if the contents are prohibited from being sent to the EU (e.g. medication)
    • if the import of the contents requires an agreement from other government agencies (e.g. food or plants)
    • if documentation or permits are required for the importation of the contents
    • to combat counterfeit goods
    If your shipment is subject to inspection, please allow for an additional 3 to 7 days.
    Do I have to pay import costs on gifts from family or friends?
    On gifts from family or friends from outside the EU, customs charges import costs as from 1 July 2021. You can dispute these costs and apply for an exemption as long as the value of the contents does not exceed €45. How to apply for an exemption As soon as the parcel arrives in Belgium, customs tries to determine the value based on the documents that must be present on the parcel. The customs documents are not present If these documents are missing, you will receive a letter asking you to provide proof of value. The instructions for how to do this are in the letter. If your shipment is a gift, ask the sender to send you an email confirming:
    • the contents of the shipment
    • the value (in €) of the shipment
    • that your shipment is a gift
    You can then upload this email as proof via the online form. The customs documents are present If customs can determine the value, you will receive an email, text message or letter inviting you to pay the import costs. You can dispute these costs or apply for an exemption as long as the value of the contents does not exceed €45. You can do this via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. Ask the sender to send you an email that confirms:
    • the contents of the shipment
    • the value (in €) of the shipment
    • that your shipment is a gift
    You can then upload this email as proof via the online form.
    Can I pay my import fees using another method than online?
    You can only pay import costs on shipments from outside the EU online via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. If you have no experience with online payments, have someone close to you help you. If you have not paid after 14 days, your shipment will be returned to sender.
    Do I have to pay import costs on my purchase via a European online shop?
    If you purchase something within Europe, you do not have to pay any import costs on it. However, for some regions within the EU that are not part of the EU customs territory (e.g. the Canary Islands) you will have to pay import costs. Discover the areas in Europe that are an exception. Also keep in mind that some online shop ship their products directly from the country of origin. An online shop address that ends with an EU country code, such as .be, .nl or .fr, does not necessarily ship its goods from the EU. If the shipping address is outside the EU (e.g. the United Kingdom), you will have to pay import costs. Always check the sender address of your parcel when ordering items online.
    Why do I have to pay import costs for a barcode number I do not know?
    In most cases an online shop or sender will let you know which barcode you can use to follow your shipment online. In some cases, items are shipped without tracking. Examples include small items that fit in an envelope (a small cable, accessories, etc.) If this shipment comes from outside the EU, it will go through the import procedure upon arrival in Belgium. This shipment without tracing receives a barcode that starts with the letter 'U'. This allows you to pay the import costs via the My bpost app or Track & Trace. Once the import procedure has been completed, the status of this barcode (which starts with 'U') will no longer change. It will become a shipment without tracking once again, until it is delivered to you. Please remain alert for suspicious messages. Are you expecting a shipment? Could the text message or email you received be phishing? To be sure, check the barcode in the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. You can also find photos of your shipment there. If a payment is requested there as well, you can be sure that the shipment is destined for you.