Inclusion of ‘free’ packaging for customer use on commercial invoice


You mentioned that the goods value must be correct and visible on the commercial invoice. What happens when you include packaging for the customer to use with your products eg branded bags for the importer to use with their customers. I do not charge for these usually, previously I listed ‘packaging materials’ in the commercial invoice with a zero value – which I think is incorrect based on what was said earlier? Thanks

This question was asked at our recent webinar Moving your exports forward – focus on transportation


Hi Olga,

Yes the value for goods must be correct and visible on the commercial invoice. As far as customs are concerned there is ‘no such thing as a gift’, as in, the branded bags must have some value, even if you do not want to charge your customer for it.

Really the right thing to do is to allocate them a value and state next to it ‘Value for Customs Purposes Only’. If it were me I would allocate a true value, say £10.00 for the bags on a separate line stating Value for ‘Customs Purposes Only’ and discount the sale to £0.01.

This way customs have a true value to work with (£10) and your customer doesn’t pay for the goods (£0.01). Customs will then use the figure of £10 to calculate a true figure for any VAT/duty they may be entitled to.

This will be more important if you are exporting goods outside of the EU, but if your goods are just moving around within the EU then the goods would presumably be in free circulation anyway and no VAT/duty would be charged on ‘importation’.

Kind regards,


Export Action Plan