Atlantic crossing for businesses #3

What a fascinating time we live in – nowadays, you can buy or sell almost everything on the internet. It has never been easier to do shopping! Along with that, the online stores appear and accelerate like never before – working with clients worldwide is very profitable.

(Picture Unsplash @andasta)

Yet why is this “almost” in the first sentence above? It actually does seem like you can buy literally everything online! Can you really sell everything you want though? Did you know that you need to have certifications for some goods? Or fill in declarations when shipping to one European country or another? Are you aware you will get charged for shipping a parcel to one country, while another state will not tariff you whatsoever? 

Carrying on the series of transatlantic business crossing, now you are about to get a real lot of fundamental, vital information that will be highly useful when doing online business. Prepare to dive into how the customs work – the authority you will 100% deal with when delivering goods from the US to abroad. 

The generalized aim of a country’s customs is to protect its residents from banned, hazardous items that may cause harm to them or their country. To do so, they check the goods by examining the declarations and other official papers going along with the parcel, and, at times, examine the commodity itself. The commodity not yet verified by the customs, held in the area called a bonded store.

You must probably realize some goods and commodities need to be shipped to another country under certain regulations and restrictions, and some commodities can’t be shipped whatsoever. As the selling party, you’re responsible for making sure the rules and regulations are followed. Not obeying the restrictions, in certain scenarios, lead to the commodity being seized and you being prosecuted

Such restrictions can take place even within one nation, like the US. For you to know, some fruits and seeds from the mainland US are not allowed to be taken or shipped to the state of Hawaii – local agricultural authorities ask for this to protect the local fauna. Such restrictions and reasons also apply in numerous European states. Many European states forbid or tightly control the shipping of:

  • Alcoholic beverages and spirits 
  • Chemicals including some medications (some states like Finland or Estonia have a prolonged list of prohibited or restricted chemicals and drugs –for example, they control melatonin-containing goods while other countries don’t)
  • Currency (obviously, sending a tremendous number of banknotes in a parcel will at least make customs ask the origin of the money and the purpose of the sending)
  • Firearms, offensive weapons (i.e., knives), and ammunitions (the UK is one of the few countries that doesn’t ban but just restrict these goods – you need a special license to bring them into the UK)
  • Plants and seeds (mainly those that don’t originate in Europe and/or can cause agricultural problems)
  • Tobacco and nicotine-containing goods (i.e., snus) (selling and buying snus, however, is legal in Sweden and Norway, unlike in other states)

Some states also ban or restrict the shipping of fur, cosmetics, dairy products, rough diamonds, and some objectionable, obscene publications and DVDs

Keep in mind that this list is for your overall information – every nation has its list of prohibited and restricted goods. You are highly advised that you check such lists and rules regularly as they may change frequently. The lists may be found on official customs websites. 

Whether you intend to ship restricted or unobstructed commodities, filling in customs forms is the crucial procedure of the whole delivery. Any package that will cross an international border needs a form that has been carefully filled out. This is a requirement for international shipping procedures. Remember that poorly filled customs papers and declarations lead to delays or unwanted hold at customs. Customs may be especially strict with goods shipped from anywhere outside the European Union. Always make sure the information about the value, classification of a commodity, a sender, and a receiver is accurate. For customs declarations in the EU and Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, the SAD (short for Single Administrative Document) is used as a basis.

Apart from that, another duty that customs carry is the taxation process. Every country has its regulations for VAT (short for Value-added Tax). Here you can see a table of some European states’ customs’ taxation rules. However, you have better check every state’s customs information yourself as the rules may change.


Cost of a parcel

Up to 22 EUR

22 – 150 EUR

From 150 EUR



No Taxes

7-19% VAT

VAT + Customs (up to 10%)

Czech Republic

21% VAT



22% VAT (even if already paid to the origin country sender)


10-24% VAT (depending on the goods shipped)

VAT + Customs (up to 25%)

Wow, it was much information for you – and yet, there is much more to learn, especially regarding customs and international shipping procedures. It is all that complicated because when you send a parcel to another country, it is to become subject to the law of both countries. When, for example, the needed forms and declarations are dealt with badly, your package may not get delivered. International eCommerce business does require a lot of up-to-date knowledge and skills from you. Every now and then, even experienced entrepreneurs use the help of special specialist services that especially focus on eCommerce. The best advice is to be aware of the costs upfront. For instance, it is possible to get a quick estimate by using online import duty and tax calculator, however, shipping brokers would be able to answer questions as well. The right shipping labels and commercial invoices need to be in place for processing smoothly through customs. Empower your customers to have the last word and make them use the courier and service that match their needs whether they want the parcel asap, cheap, insurance, shop-drop-off, or something else. The customers prefer to have a nice shopping experience rather than figure out all the numbers behind to receive the consumer goods. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the fact that the customer is in the driving seat and create trust based on a good infrastructure of shipping processes and activities. Together we can make a plan that suits the needs and wishes of your clients.

We from Viking Consulting can support you in entering the European market and find the optimal solution for your needs & wishes. This complies with our culture to build long-lasting beneficial relationships. 

We welcome you to book your free meeting now to discuss further. Hit the “Let’s talk” button so we can start our journey together. As well, stay up-to-date and connect with us on LinkedIn. Glory and honour await us! 

Friendly regards

Viking Consulting team

Who we are 

We are Viking Consulting. The specialists within the fields of 3rd party integration and eCommerce software solutions. With 20+ years of experience in eCommerce, 15+ years of experience in development and integration, and 5+ years as a 3PL provider. We are the only contact needed for implementing integration, development and consulting. 

The company is based in Scandinavia and the team extends to even embracing more countries. We serve companies worldwide. Our foundation is based on the values: Be Brave, Be Prepared, Be A Good Merchant, and Keep The Camp In Order. Therefore we see ourselves as business partners and friends of the clients, employees, companies, networks and the industry.