Customs Declaration Service - what you need to do

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) document.

What is the cheapest way to have my goods shipped?

Containerised Sea Freight is normally the cheapest way to move goods between countries, other options include road, rail, and airfreight. If we understand what it is you are shipping and the time frame, we can usually find the option to you.

Could I do this myself without using Aerona?

Yes, it is possible to do it yourself instead of using the services of a professional freight agent. To do so though it is important that you are familiar with the process of booking, obtaining the correct HS Codes and know how to present yourself and your goods to customs should they need to speak to you about your imported and exported goods.

I’ve made an arrangement with another company who have let me down. Can you take over?

Maybe, but this will depend on where in the process your previous agent is up to.  If they’ve already arranged the customs clearance, we will be unable to take over, as the process will take too long and is too complicated to resolve. If they have already arranged the shipment, you will need to pay your previous agent for their services before they will release the cargo to another agent.

How do I know I can trust your company?

We have been in business for 14 years and have many repeat and loyal customers. Please visit our website to see customers’ testimonial comments.

Will I receive an invoice?

Of course, it is a legal requirement to provide our customers with invoices.

Can I get assistance in completing any forms I may be required to submit?

Yes, we offer a total service and we will always assist our customers to complete any forms that are required to process the shipment.

Can I pay you in cash?

We do not accept cash payments, only bank transfers, which offer more security for everyone involved.

Can I pay using Paypal?

We do not accept Paypal, only bank transfers.

Can I pay by Debit/Credit card?

We do not accept Debit/Credit Card payment, only bank transfers.

Could you provide me with credit so I can defer my payment to you?

Sorry, we do not offer credit facilities.

Will I need to pay anyone else besides your company?

That all depends on the level of service you require from us. In most cases we act on behalf of our customer as a full-service freight and customs clearing provider, which means all funds will be paid to us directly and we will act on your behalf dealing with all the various government and non-governmental agencies involved in the clearance and delivery of your shipment.  However, if you have asked us to manage only a certain aspect of your shipment then of course you will be responsible for paying other government and non-governmental agencies that are involved in getting your goods customs cleared and delivered to your premises.

When and how is a contract confirmed?

The contract will be confirmed electronically once you have completed and returned our Letter of Authorisation to act on your behalf regarding your shipment

Do I need to do anything else besides paying my bill?

No, apart from ensuring all the correct and necessary documentations are provided at the time of clearance.

Are there any extra costs that I should be aware of?

Yes, possibly. If your goods are not collected for delivery within the allotted time, which is 5-days for shipping lines and 24-hours for Airlines from their time of arrival, your goods will incur rent/storage charges. This may be the result of a delay by your haulier, shipping line haulage allocation, or any government agencies wanting to look at your import or export goods.

Will I have to deal with HMRC at any point? If so, why?

If we have arranged a full-service customs clearance, you will not have to deal with HMRC or any government or non-governmental agencies because we do that on your behalf. However, if you require our basic standard services, you will have to deal with HMRC or any government or non-governmental agencies.

Do you have an online tracking facility?

Currently, we do not have this facility.

Will you call me if there’s a problem?

Of course, our policy is to notify all customers immediately by email and/or telephone if any problems should occur.

Can I pay extra to ensure express transport for my goods?

Yes, you can.

Will my goods be safe?

Rest assured we take every precaution to ensure our customers’ goods remain safe whilst in our possession during transit. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when circumstances are beyond our control.  For example a container could fall into the sea during transit.

Do goods ever get stolen?

Yes, unfortunately theft can occur. Generally however, this usually relates to goods of high value such as precious metals, gemstones, jewellery, money, alcohol and tobacco etc.

What countries do you import and export to? Could I be sent a list?

Please visit our website for more information on this.

What happens if my goods are stuck in another country?

This could happen if customs officials at the port of origin examine your goods and find them to be miss-declared by your supplier, or maybe if they require an export licence or additional documentation. It could also happen if there is a disagreement with your customer with regards to payment.  Rest assured, if this happens Aerona will make every effort to support you and ensure the correct actions are taken on your behalf.

Are my goods automatically insured?

No, your goods are not insured unless you request in writing for us to arrange it. The insurance can only be from the country of origin to the country of destination.  It is possible though to insure goods from the destination port to your customers’ premises.

Can I insure my goods?

All customers are advised to take additional insurance with their shipment.  We can arrange this for you, or you may wish to go through your own insurance broker.

What kind of overall information will you need from me?

For general goods, we will require Invoice Packing Lists, EORI number, Bill of Lading for sea freight and Airway Bills for airfreight shipment. We will also require, additional documentations such as Certificate of Origin and Generalised Systems of Preference if required.

Will I be given a reference number for my job?

It is our standard procedure to provide you with a reference and or container number, which should help you to track your shipment.

What if I weigh or measure my goods incorrectly?

All consignments are weighed by the airline, co-loader or shipping lines on their receipt. Any incorrect weight will result in the freight rates being re-rated and an additional invoice raised for the extra cost.

Can you weigh and measure my goods to make sure the measurements are correct?

Once your shipments are collected from your suppliers they are sent directly to the shipping or airline depot. They will then weigh and measure them to ensure the shipment matches the original quotation.

Do the physical dimensions of my goods affect the price significantly?

Yes, your freight price will be based on the weight or dimensions. Whichever is greater will be used to calculate your freight rate.

Does the overall weight of my goods significantly affect the price?

Yes, the bigger the dimensions and the greater the weight of your goods, the higher the freight rate you will be required to pay.

Are there any weight or size limits?

Whilst there is no weight limit, there are additional charges for bulky consignments. We will inform you if there are when we rate your freight shipment.

Do I need to do anything prior to collection?

Yes all consignments are to be securely packed and labelled with details of the shipper, receiver, weight, and the commodity being shipped before it is collected.

Where are you based?

We are based in Greater Manchester, United Kingdom and we have assembled a global network of trusted associates.

How long have you been doing this? Have you been in business long?

We have been in business since 2006 and our highly professional team has a combined experience that exceeds 50 years.

Will I be able speak to a manager at your company?

Yes, there are managers with many years’ freight experience working within the business on a daily basis. They can assist you with any advice you require or with any problems you may encounter.

Who should I speak to if there is a problem?

Please contact us explaining your issue. You will then be referred to one of our experienced administration staff who will help you resolve the matter. If you have previously been given a name, you can also request to be referred to a particular staff member.

How do I get hold of someone in an emergency?

Our office opening hours are 9am to 5pm, but someone is always there by 8.30am. Outside these hours you can also request the office mobile phone number in case there is an emergency with your shipment.

Can I request a call back by telephone?

For customers within the UK for whom we are currently working on their shipments, we will endeavour to call them back within a few minutes of receiving their call. For a prospective customer making an enquiry, we prefer to have the enquiry in the form of an email. This will help everyone to avoid any misunderstanding of the requirements later.

What’s the best number to call you on?

Calling from outside UK +44 161 652 3443; from within UK 0161 652 3443.

What is the best time to call you?

During office hours 9am - 5pm.

Who should I ask for when I call?

Anyone within our operation team will be able to assist you with your enquiry.

Can I use Facebook as a method of contact?

Yes, you can but please be aware that it is not regularly monitored.

Are you available to contact by mobile phone?

We can be reached by mobile phone outside working hours for a current shipment that may be held by the appropriate government authorities.

Do you have a mobile phone app?

We currently do not offer mobile app facilities, but it is something we hope to offer in future for our customers.

Do I need to come into an office?

Generally, we always welcome visitors to our office within working hours. Since the Covid-19 pandemic however, our office is closed to visitors until further notice.

If I want to can I come into your office?

Yes, as we stated we previously welcomed visitors to our office if they wished to meet us. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic we would prefer telephone contact or you can make appointments via our online calendar schedule for discussion by Zoom.

Where is your office?

Safestore House, 189 Manchester Road, Oldham OL8 4PS, United Kingdom.

What are your office opening hours?

9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

Are you open at weekends?

We do not open at weekends, except for emergencies, for example if we are shipping human remains, or for sensitive import & export clearance when a reduced staff will be available.

What happens over bank holidays?

Our offices are closed on bank holidays.

Could I have direct contact with one of your agents in any of the 84 countries?

All import and export freight arrangements would need to be originated from our Manchester office. We can however, link you with our associated agents who are working on our behalf and they will be willing to assist you with any advice needed. 

Are you owned by a parent company?

No, we are an independent business.

Where can I check your company registration?

You’ll find details on our website and also at Company’s House.

Is there a period of grace if I should change my mind after making an arrangement?

Yes that’s not a problem, providing the consignment has not been collected and shipped. If you should change your mind after it has been collected, but before it is loaded in the container or on a flight, you must collect your consignment within 24-hours of changing your mind in order to avoid rent charges.  You will of course still be liable for any costs we have incurred, such as haulage and handling charges.

What exactly does customs clearing involve?

Customs clearance work involves the preparation and submission to customs of all documentations required for the import and export of goods. It also involves liaising with customs in regards to examinations, assessment of the goods, payment of taxes to government and arranging delivery together with all the correct documents after clearance.

What are my legal obligations?

Your obligations will differ depending on whether you are the shipper or the receiver. Generally, as the shipper you are obliged to correctly label the goods you are sending ensuring you identify the sender and receiver’s information on the items.

What am I really paying for?

For exporters, you will be paying for the collection of your goods, booking it with the shipping line and arranging the customs clearance along with the documentations provided by the shipper. For the importer, we have 3 different service levels.  Our full service, however, would involve presenting your goods to HMRC/UKBA import clearances; dealing with the shipping line and contacting UKBA/HMRC with examination issues if your consignment is selected for x-ray; it also involves paying taxes on your behalf and arranging delivery to the final destination.

Why do I have to pay so much? Or why is it so expensive?

Actually you will find that our prices are extremely competitive for the level of services we provide. We are happy for you to compare our prices.  However, please remember that the quality of service provided by different agents can vary enormously.

Can I save any money by doing anything myself?

Yes, you can follow the process yourself by completing form C88, but we would not recommend it, unless you know what you are doing.

Do you have your own transport facilities?

We have trusted third party colleagues who delivered for us at competitive rates.

Can you give me your website address?

Can I make all my arrangements online through your website?

Yes, you can make your arrangements through our Schedule Planner which you will find on our website.

Where can I get more information about Aerona?

You can get more information by contacting Company’s House, telephone number: 0303 123 4500. 

Does your company provide other services besides customs clearing?

We provide freight forwarding, warehousing, storage, pick ‘n’ pack and delivery. Please visit our website for full details.

Could you refer me to some of your previous customers as a reference?

Unfortunately, due to GDPR we are unable to provide customers’ details without their written permission to non-governmental personnel or to organisations. You will, however, find some testimonials on our website.

Do you have long-term customers and if so do they get prioritised?

All our customers are given equal priorities and exceptional services.

Will my pets/livestock be well looked after during transport?

We take exceptional care when transporting pets and livestock.

Are there certain animals that are illegal to transport?

Yes there are a number of animals that it is illegal to transport. For further details please visit:

Will the human remains of loved ones be treated with dignity?

Human remains are given absolute priority and we guarantee that they are treated with the utmost respect both by ourselves and also by the airlines involved.

Could there any specific issues with the country I wish to export to?

Each country’s customs have different import regulations. Any specific requirement will be based on the particular country’s rules and conditions for allowing the import of your consignments.

Who is allowed to open my packaging?

HMRC/UKBA or any other government agencies have the legal powers to open your packaging without your permission.

Could my goods be seized by the police?

Yes, the police can seize your goods if they believe they are illegal.

Could my goods by X-rayed?

Yes, your goods can be selected for X-ray by UKBA/HMRC.

Could my goods by photographed?

Yes, by any authorised agency or government department as part of the process of carrying out their legal duties.

What happens if my goods are damaged?

This is a possibility, which is why we strongly recommend you take out additional insurance as protection against damage to your goods in transit.

Are goods ever lost at sea?

Yes, sometimes containers can be lost overboard due to bad weather.  Again we always recommend that our customers should take out appropriate insurance.

Will my goods go by Sea or by Air? Do I have choice?

Please note that if there is a choice we will always explain your options before arranging transportation.

Can you transport firearms? Or ammunition?

Yes, but you must have the correct permits from the appropriate government authorities.

Can you transport medicines?

Yes, with the correct permits and product labelling.

Can you transport hazardous liquids or chemicals? For example - sulphuric acid, petrol, lithium etc?

Yes, we can arrange the transport of hazardous cargoes, but they must be properly and correctly labelled and include all the required documentation.

What is the size of a standard pallet or container?

Euro Pallet: 1200mm x 800mm x 144mm:

Standard Pallet: 1200mm x 800mm x 800mm

20ft Container:  L6.10m x W2.44m x H2.59m / Weight 30480KG

40ft: Container: L12.19m x W2.44m x H2.59m / Weight 30480KG

Can I send barrels and what are the costs?

Yes, you can send your goods by barrel and costs will depend on the destination.

Is it possible my goods may be repacked?

If it the consignment is not packed correctly, it will be repacked at an additional cost, but only with your permission. Otherwise shipping will not be permitted.

How do I identify my goods if they are repacked?

HMRC/UKBA will stamp your goods with their label if it has been opened and repacked by them.

Can I send someone to collect my goods from the docks?

Yes, you can send someone to collect your goods, providing the instruction is in writing and both the owner of the goods and their representative provide a government issued ID.The original ID must be presented to the warehouse manager before the cargo can be released to the person collecting the goods.

How do I calculate chargeable weight for airfreight shipment?

You must measure the box or pallets you are planning to send (L x W x H) in centimetres and then divide this figure by 6000 (Please note that some airlines may use 5000) in order to calculate the chargeable weight for your goods. This is the freight price you will be charged. 

Example: 1

You have a box or pallet weighing 100kgs with the following dimensions: L200 x W80 x H120cm. You must then multiply these figures, which equals 1,920,000.  When you divide this number by 6000, it comes to 320kgs, which is the chargeable weight for the pallet or box you want to ship by airfreight. Note that the chargeable weight is greater than the actual gross weight of the box or pallet, which was originally weighted at 100kg.

Example: 2

You have a box or pallet weighing 320kgs with the following dimensions: L100 x W100 x H100.

You must then multiply these figures, which equals 1,000,000.  When you divide this number by 6000, it comes to 166kgs. You will notice that the original weight was 320kgs, which is greater than the chargeable weight. Your airfreight price will be charged at 320kgs because this is the higher amount.

Can you deliver the goods to a specific location?

Yes, provided the delivery address is confirmed in writing.

Can you arrange transport locally within the same country? For example -Leeds to Southampton or Madrid to Barcelona?

Yes, we can offer transportation across the UK, from the UK to Europe and within European countries through our network of European based associates.

Could someone from your company personally check my goods on arrival?

We cannot physically check your goods for damages, but we can instruct the airline or seaport sheds to check if there are obvious signs of damages to your goods on the outside.

What is an IPR (Inward Processing Relief) and OPR (Outward Processing Relief)?

IPR is a customs regime system that offers the opportunity for companies to import goods from outside the UK. An IPR offers the opportunity for both customs duty and import VAT relief for the goods imported for processing into manufactured products prior to re-exportation to non-EU destinations. An IPR can also be used for goods being sent to the UK for repair or replacement, provided authorisation has been received from HMRC.

OPR allows for the temporary export of UK goods to be processed in a third country. On re-entry to free circulation in the UK, the customs duty is only payable on the value added in the non-EU country.  This is considered a partial relief of the customs duty.  OPR will also allow for faulty goods to be returned to non-EU country for repair or replacement with equivalent goods under the standard exchange system (SES).  OPR cannot be used however, if the goods are only subject to import VAT.

What do I need to do if I am exporting or Importing Gold & Jewellery?

If you intend to use Outward Processing (OP) for exporting and re-importing gold & jewellery, you will require an authorisation for OP.  In order to obtain this you should send the gold or jewellery to an Assay office prior to export in order to identify the carat and quality of gold being exported.

What is the difference between a House Bill of Lading and a Master Bill of Lading?

House Bill of Lading (HBL) is a document created in-house by the freight forwarders or non-vessel operating company (NVOCC).  This is issued to the supplier of the cargo from the country of origin once payment has been received by the freight forwarder or NVOCC.  The HBL will include the names of the actual owner (the consignee) and the shipper (the exporter) of the goods on the documentation. The notifier can be either the importer or the local agent nominated by the customer.

Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is issued by the carrier (shipping line or operator).  This represents a contract between the person shipping and booking the freight directly and the carrier.  Only they will receive an MBL directly.

What are the secrets of good customs clearing?

Click here to discover the secrets