CN22 vs CN23 Customs Declarations: What's the Difference?

December 6, 2023
6 min read

Guide to customs forms: CN22, CN23 and other important documents

When shipping parcels outside the EU to territories that use a different tax system than the EU, the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations are necessary.

These forms, which sellers attach to the outside of the shipping box, indicate the contents of the package. Carefully filling out these forms allows senders to avoid delays. In this article, we will explain in detail what the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations are, and we will guide you through filling them out. 

What are the CN22 and CN23 customs documents?

CN22 and CN23 forms, also known as 'customs declarations', are documents required for international shipping. They contain details about goods that the seller is sending abroad. This includes information about:

  • The type of goods 
  • The value of the goods
  • Who is the carrier 
  • Who is the receiver
  • The country the parcel is being shipped to.

CN22 and CN23 customs documents allow authorities to monitor which goods come in and out of their countries. They also serve to determine if any import duties must be paid.

Sellers must take care when filling out the forms because failure to complete them correctly can lead to fines. These forms have a standardised format and are recognised by authorities globally. 

When to use CN22 and CN23 customs declarations?

Whenever you ship merchandise outside the EU border to a country not subject to customs-free trade agreements, you must use the CN22 and CN23 declarations.

When shipping goods from one EU member state to another, there is no need to use CN22 and CN23 documents. 

However, there are exceptions:

  • Shipping of merchandise to an overseas region of an EU country which belongs to the country but not to the EU customs zone
  • Shipping of merchandise to countries which are part of the EU and Customs Union but have different VAT requirements.

Therefore, if you ship goods from an EU state to a non-EU state, you must attach a CN22 or CN23 form to your parcel. We will get to which one in particular later on. 

What is the difference between the CN22 and CN23 forms?

Deciding whether to use the CN22 or the CN23 form can be overwhelming when doing it for the first time. Nevertheless, the difference between the CN22 and CN23 forms is simple. Which one you should attach to your parcel depends on the weight and value of the package's content. The rules are:

  • If your package is under two kilograms and valued up to €425, you must include the CN22 customs form
  • If your package weighs between two and twenty kilograms and has a value of €425 or more, you must attach the CN23 form.

Depending on the destination, you might also have to include a commercial invoice in addition to the CN22/CN23 form. If you are not sure, you can include the invoice anyway. This way, you do not have to worry about any delays caused by having to provide the invoice once the parcel has started its journey to the buyer. 

What is the purpose of customs documentation?

Customs forms help governments keep track of which goods enter their respective countries. The monitoring of this information is used for reasons that include:

  • Overseeing trade volume between countries
  • Recording hazardous materials or items that could potentially pose a risk to public health and safety
  • Ensure error-free taxation.

As the CN22 or CN23 customs declarations are usually read with a scanner, they help modern sorting facilities read documents quickly and effectively. 

CN22 and CN23 forms after Brexit

Following the changes brought about by Brexit, eCommerce businesses must complete either a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration when shipping products to European countries.

On top of that, they have to include an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number on the forms. While there is an exception for shipping goods between Northern Ireland and the EU, the use of customs declarations may still be required for shipping between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK.

What if I do not enclose the right customs form?

Including CN22 and CN23 forms is a legal requirement in international shipping. If you fail to provide them or you inaccurately describe the content of the package, you could face the following:

  • Delays caused by longer inspections at customs
  • Confiscation or destruction of the parcel 
  • Return of the parcel at your own expense
  • Fines or criminal prosecution – depending on the severity of your non-compliance.

Therefore, the use of the correct customs forms is of utmost importance. It is your responsibility as the seller to ensure that your parcel meets all the requirements regarding customs documentation. 

How to fill out the CN22 form

The CN22 form can be printed out as a sticker and placed on the shipment parcel. It is worth pointing out that the CN22 form is noticeably easier to fill out than the CN23 as it requires fewer details. 

Step 1: Fill out the form using clear and legible BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS.

Step 2: Write your company's name and address in the first two sections.

Step 3: Tick the appropriate box related to your service in the "Contents" section. For example, if you are a retailer shipping a product to a buyer, choose the "Sale of goods" box.

Step 4: In the "Description of contents" section, accurately describe what is in the package and what material the product is made of. Additionally, make sure to indicate the quantity, weight and retail value.

Step 5: Enter the HS Code in the designated area for commercial shipments.

Step 6: Add your company's VAT number if you are registered in the UK or EU.

Step 7: Sign and date the CN22 form.

Step 8: Go through the form to ensure all boxes are filled correctly. Then hand the parcel with the CN22 form over to the carrier.

How to fill out the CN23 form

Compared to the CN22 form, the CN23 form is significantly more detailed, and therefore more attention is required when filling it out. Below is a step-by-step guide to completing it:

Step 1: Write the address information for your company and the recipient in the designated areas.

Step 2: Write the recipient's VAT number (if applicable) and contact details, including their telephone number.

Step 3: Provide a detailed description of the products you are sending. 

Step 4: Indicate the weight, quantity and value of each item inside the package.

Step 5: Provide the HS Code and country of origin for each item.

Step 6: Include the amount you paid for the parcel's postage.

Step 7: Add the post office location from which you sent the parcel and the posting date.

Step 8: In the comments section, declare any information that could be relevant. If unsure, visit the customs website of the country you are shipping to or seek advice from an expert

Step 9: Enter the reference numbers of any additional certificates or special licences required for your items.

Step 10: Sign and date the CN23 form.

Step 11: Attach the CN23 form to the parcel and hand it to the carrier.

Work with Bezos to simplify the customs process

Filling out the CN22 and CN23 customs declarations requires meticulous attention and can be tedious for businesses shipping internationally, especially if they lack familiarity with customs documents. 

As you scale your business operations and expand the customer base across borders, you will have no choice but to manage customs-related procedures. 

If you do it alone, you are prone to make mistakes, and the process can easily get overwhelming. Unfortunately, this could lead to parcel delays and even returns. To mitigate this risk, you should seek the services of a full-service fulfilment provider like Bezos.

At Bezos, we offer in-house expertise and experience handling customs documents and procedures. We have a network of 63 fulfilment centres worldwide.

Depending on the order's destination country, we will assess whether CN22 or CN23 customs documents are needed. If so, we will complete the relevant form and attach it to the parcel. International shipments are what we specialise in, so you can be sure that your custom documents are filled out and attached correctly.

Thanks to our help, you do not have to worry about the customs declarations being missing or not being filled correctly. And, the great thing is that, if you work with us, your international orders will be shipped from a fulfilment centre located closest to the buyer. Offering fast international shipping is a great way to improve customer satisfaction. 

By partnering with a third-party fulfilment company like ours, you can relieve the stress of complex customs regulations. We are happy to handle all elements of shipping products internationally on your behalf. This includes warehousing, picking, packing and shipping. 

And the great thing is that you do not need a large budget to use our help. Our prices are made for small and medium-sized businesses. You would need to pay only two fees: a monthly subscription fee starting at £149 and a fulfilment fee starting at £3.18 for standard delivery. 

Get a free quote and make international shipping easy with Bezos!


Due to frequent international shipments as an eCommerce retailer, you might have to handle many customs declarations. Keeping all the customs documents in order is necessary to ensure on-time deliveries. 

As a seller, you are responsible for ensuring that shipment documentation complies with the destination country's requirements. For this reason, knowing the difference between the CN22 and CN23 forms and how to complete them is paramount. 

Doing research beforehand and being acquainted with customs clearance procedures are beneficial. However, to make your international shipping as efficient as possible, you should work with a third-party fulfilment company like Bezos. They can help you take care of the CN22 and CN23 forms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the HS code in the CN22 form?

The HS code is a ten-digit code (of which the first six are internationally standardised) used by customs authorities globally to categorise products. You should always include at least the six-digit code.

Still, it would be best if you also tried to add the subcategory of the product, as different subcategories may be subject to different tax rates in the country in question.

What items cannot be shipped internationally?

Here is a list of items that are generally not allowed to be shipped internationally:

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Petrol or oil
  • Poison
  • Lighters
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Gas masks
  • Cigarettes
  • Products with limited expiration dates
  • Nail polish
  • Lottery tickets
  • Rough diamonds
  • Damaged batteries.

You might face prosecution or fines if you attempt to ship any of the above. For more information, you should visit your national postal service website. There you will find a general overview of goods and materials prohibited from international shipments.

What is the difference between a CN22 and a CN23 form?

CN22 and CN23 are customs documents used when shipping products internationally to countries outside the EU customs zone. The main difference between a CN22 and a CN23 form is the value of the shipped goods. 

Sellers must fill out a CN22 customs declaration if they are shipping a package that weighs less than two kilograms and has a value of less than €425. The CN23 form, on the other hand, must be used when a package weighs between two and twenty kilograms and has a value of €425 or more.

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