Parcel must pass through customs

Are you expecting a parcel from outside the EU? Then your parcel must pass through customs first and you may have to pay extra fees like import duties, VAT or excise duties.

Discover how this process works.

1. Request to pay import costs

If the VAT was not paid to the webshop (How can I recognise an IOSS registered webshop?) in advance, bpost must collect the import costs for the shipment before your shipment can be presented to Belgian customs. These costs consist of:

  • VAT
  • customs duties
  • costs for customs formalities

The tables below show how much the customs formalities cost.

As the recipient, you must pay these costs in advance via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. You will receive an email, text message or letter with a payment invitation. bpost will transfer the customs duties and VAT to the Belgian government.

    2. Security check

    Customs performs a security check on all goods entering Belgium from outside the European Union. For all these goods, customs checks whether its introduction into Belgium is permitted. If not, (for example, in case of suspected counterfeit goods, weapons or medicines) customs will confiscate your parcel.

      3. Delivery of your 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 via the My bpost app or via Track & Trace. You will be notified if you must fulfil more formalities or must pay import costs.

        Since 1 July 2021, new rules and rates apply to all shipments arriving in Belgium.
        More info about the new customs rules.
        Type of shipment Value of the shipment Customs formalities VAT * Customs duties **
        Commercial Up to € 150 €15 *** Yes Yes
        Commercial From €150 €32 Yes Yes
        Gift Up to €45 No No No
        Gift From €45 to €150 €15 Yes No
        Gift From €150 €32 Yes Yes
        * Except alcoholic products, perfume, eau de toilette, tobacco and tobacco products.
        ** VAT and import duties differ depending on the type of goods.
        *** The customs formalities are € 0 when the VAT has been paid in advance to the webshop.

        Perhaps you still have one of these questions

        If the parcel is lacking some information, you will receive a letter from the customs clearance service of 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.       

        Customs clearance fees are administrative charges that are charged by the bpost customs clearance service for:

        • determining the contents and value of the parcel
        • poss with the addressee if the contents, value and details of the parcel do not correspond or are incomplete;
        • creating the required customs declaration;
        • storage and warehousing costs for the collection and remittance of customs duties.

        These charges apply to all shipments from outside the European Union (+ United Kingdom). You can, however, avoid additional taxes, customs duties and administrative costs by ordering from a registered online shop (Import One-Stop Shop or IOSS). You can easily recognise a recognised webshop: if your shopping basket states that VAT is included, you are safe! Most major webshops such as AliExpress, eBay and Wish are already registered.

        Ali ExpressEbayWish

        NB: shipments with a value above €150 are always subject to customs duties and administrative processing costs.

        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.

        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.

        This depends on where your parcel was sent.

        My parcel comes from inside the European Union

        Customs is 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. Your parcel doesn't usually experience extra delays.

        My parcel comes from outside the European Union

        These parcels undergo an import procedure by default. The handling period depends on the following two factors:

        • whether your parcel has enough information, such as the value and nature of the goods. (If that is not the case, you will receive a letter a few days later. In that case, the handling period is extended until you send the additional information). The customs clearance service of bpost checks whether VAT, customs fees or other duties have to be paid on your parcel. 
        • whether customs or other official authorities have to check your parcel. That is the case for medicine, plants and food, weapons, suspected counterfeit goods, etc. You can follow the status of your parcel online with Track & Trace and the My bpost app.