Granny posts to Brussels

The UK may have left the EU but plenty of people are still using letter post to Europe, so many that the £1.70 postage stamps required are now out of stock in my local Kent Post Office – and all I wanted to do was post a birthday card to a grandson!

Post Office reports stamps for Europe out of stock

I had joined a socially distanced queue to pay for the postage. Whilst there, I tried to buy a stock of £1.70 stamps for family occasions for the rest of the year. It seems there are too many other customers with such needs for the present and demand has outrun supply.

With so much communication shifting online, it may seem surprising that so many still need the physical posting, presumably of anniversary cards or of legal documents, between the UK and Europe.

Customs forms for the EU

I googled further to get advance information on possible future post-Brexit complications for family post. It seems I have to fill out customs forms C22A or C22B (depending on the type of delivery required). They require both the weight and the value of the goods to be declared. There is no VAT or extra charge on a parcel valued at less than £10-22 until 1 July 2021 but, if more valuable than that, then the charges escalate and must be paid by the receiver. See the Royal Mail website.

An earlier article in Kent Bylines has given information about the complications of receiving parcels from Europe in 2021, but I now worry about the complications of sending parcels to Europe. 

Here is a list of typical family exchanges:

  1. Granny sends home-knitted goods for growing child
  2. Grandad’s sports fanclub scarf to send 
  3. Some old vinyls to send to a music lover – value ?? (there is now a growing market for them, especially if still in original covers)
  4. I may want to send a stamp collection album of stamps I collected as a child and I have no idea of the value
  5. Just made some biscuits to a new recipe and want to send them a sample

(food of course might infringe phyto-sanitary regulations especially if they have seeds in them)

  1. I have a small antique to post (costume jewellery from a grand aunt) and have no idea of the value. What should I write in the value box on Form C22A?
WordRidden, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Philafrenzy, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enough customs officers for post to Europe ?

I wonder if there are enough customs officers all busily checking these forms and querying the details of values.  If what really matters is trade, then they should (will?) concentrate their efforts on the movements of business goods, presumably usually of greater weight and value. Indeed, why bother at all with the details of this family post for private use?

Pre-loved items

In my view, it would be more cost-effective (better use of customs officers and post offices) if private goods were to be mostly waived through (unless they posed a phytosanitary risk) and enforcement to bite only for those who try trading under the guise of private parcels. So please just let Granny’s parcels go through freely to the loved ones. 

Or at least allow categories on those C22 forms for “sentimental value only” or “home-made” or “pre-loved”.