An Post begins EU customs information campaign for customers

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An Post, the national postal operator for the Republic of Ireland, has launched an information campaign to advise customers on the new EU customs rules for parcels originating from non-EU countries including the UK.

Having started on October 16, the company’s customer information advertisements will continue to run across newspapers, digital and social channels and radio over the coming weeks.

Since the new EU customs regulations for parcels posted from non-EU countries, including the UK, came into effect on July 1, 2021, senders have needed to provide electronic customs information for each parcel. However, many customers remain confused about the process and experience postal disappointments and unexpected customs charges as a result. The customers that run into the most problems are those that are sending their parcels via other postal services.

As the senders, typically small businesses or individual customers, are unaware of the new complex data and tax requirements, they are frequently experiencing delivery delays, non-delivery and concerns about fraudulent payment notices.

However, unlike parcels that are posted in bulk from large non-EU retailers, An Post has no simple way of advising the personal customers or small businesses posting parcels to Ireland from outside the EU. In addition to information campaigns at home and abroad, An Post has developed a range of technology and process solutions to facilitate parcels through customs and on to delivery and is working with Royal Mail and other postal services to help inform their customers while also developing ‘duty-paid’ solutions (i.e. pay all charges at the online check-out).

An Post has committed to helping its customers in Ireland to manage these new global changes through six key strategies. The first of which is working with Irish customs and international postal services, particularly Royal Mail, to help ease delivery delays for customers awaiting items purchased or posted by retailers, family or friends in non-EU countries. Secondly, An Post intends to advise consumers across multiple communications channels how to get the most from shopping online, how to avoid some of the pitfalls that can lead to delivery delays or non-delivery and to ensure that charges are paid securely. Thirdly, the company will deliver a ‘Guide to Online Shopping’ by postal mail to every address in the country (1.1 million addresses). Alongside this, customer information campaigns have been running across digital and social channels for throughout October 2021.

Another strategy currently running is the developing range of advice for smaller, specialist non-EU retailers. An Post is also making more information available to Irish customers to send on to their family, friends and favoured e-tailers in non-EU countries, including the uk, about how to post into Ireland in accordance with EU customs rules this Christmas. Additionally, the company plans to allay customer concerns about fraudulent payment notices by having our trusted, uniformed An Post delivery staff call to customers to deliver notifications of customs and VAT charges which may be paid securely online or at any post office. A text or email notification may also be sent. Finally, the company will extend its customer care team and service hours to assist personal customers and SMEs with queries and advice online, by email and by phone.

Overall, An Post advises customers receiving parcels (either online shopping or personal goods) from outside the EU to check with the sender that they are completing all the appropriate documentation in advance for every parcel they send to Ireland through the post. EU customs rules now restrict a range of goods and substances from being posted into the EU from non-EU countries and the rules dictate that these items must be returned to sender.

The company advises their customers to shop local wherever possible, in-store or online. They also advise customers to shop from EU retailers as they are not subject to any customs or VAT charges or from non-EU brands (including larger UK retailers) who enable shoppers to pay all customs or VAT charges upfront at the time of purchase.

Angus Laverty, public affairs manager for An Post, said, “An Post is committed to helping its customers to manage these new global changes and rising to the challenges posed by the new EU customs rules. We are making every effort to communicate directly with non-EU customers, trade organizations and SME representatives in order to get the message out, particularly in Britain. We have also developed a range of technology and process solutions to facilitate parcels through customs and on to delivery, and we are working closely with Royal Mail and other postal services to help inform their customers, and to develop ‘duty-paid’ solutions.”

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