Paleonet: Posting specimens UK to EU

Kustatscher Evelyn Evelyn.Kustatscher at
Fri Oct 20 06:22:49 UTC 2023

My experience from sending packages for palynological analyses from Italy to UK and back:
- normal mail generally is held at customs because they do not contact you for customs clearance etc but just send it back. So we only use couriers anymore
- declaration of 0 value is considered not possible and send back or on hold; we do not use 1 Euro/Pound either, but about 5-10, I prefer to pay some custom money but get the samples.
- samples that may have an internal issue in one of the two countries are hold back: in Italy if you write fossil, you will never get the sample out of Italy, and a lot of declarations are needed.
- there are additional pieces of paper that DHL etc provide for customs in advance. Compiling them already and giving them over to the company that makes the transport helps a lot. You need to know the right codes for customs etc.
- dhl for example sends you a mail/sms for online payment of the customs, if you accept that (and thus your mobile number is on the paperwork moving with the sample) it helps tremendously

My worst was 3 month customs and then send back without us permitting to make clearance of customs because we never got our hands on the person that could provide clearance with Royal Mail, the best was 2 days (this month) with everything going through real smoothly. But we by now have found an agency (in Italy) that picks the samples up in our place, gives it over to dhl etc and gives me all the papers to be filed out before it starts and that has make my life much easier. The UK company sends the samples now always with dhl or whatever courier and we monitor constantly the tracking number to see what happens and eventually to act if there are issues.

And the issue is only a Brexit/customs issue, meaning for European countries it never happens when I send samples around.

Hope this helps,

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Paleonet < at> Im Auftrag von P Brewer
Gesendet: Freitag, 20. Oktober 2023 07:20
An: PaleoNet <paleonet at>
Betreff: Re: Paleonet: Posting specimens UK to EU

[Sie erhalten nicht häufig E-Mails von pipb666 at Weitere Informationen, warum dies wichtig ist, finden Sie unter ]

FYI, the example below was with a large institution with a long history and knowledge of exporting and importing specimens correctly, all the correct codes and documentation and things paid for. It happens.

-----Original Message-----
From: Paleonet < at> On Behalf Of P Brewer
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2023 11:19 AM
To: PaleoNet <paleonet at>
Subject: Re: Paleonet: Posting specimens UK to EU

I actually had a problem before Brexit. The customs agents weren't happy with the valuation. There is sometimes a misunderstanding that all fossils have significant monetary value, despite a formal letter explaining the nature of the samples. It happens from time to time with customs agents (and we used a courier as well).


-----Original Message-----
From: Paleonet < at> On Behalf Of Simon Schneider
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2023 10:27 AM
To: paleonet at
Subject: Re: Paleonet: Posting specimens UK to EU

Dear Lucy,

It is clearly a Brexit issue. I had similar experience with German customs, several times over the last couple of years, but never before.
Material, in some cases only a small padded envelope with rock samples for nannofossil analyses, was held back by customs, and the recipients were asked to pay for customs clearance - despite all being declared as scientific rock samples, no commercial value. In two cases, samples (fortunately only splits) got completely lost.

My personal conclusion is, I don't send non-replaceable samples any more. I haven't tried courier yet though, only Royal Mail.

All the best,

On 19/10/2023 08:45, Lucy Muir wrote:
> Dear all,
> This is mostly a question for UK-based paleonetters. I have just found
> out that a parcel of fossil specimens that I tried to send from the UK
> to Spain has been returned - for the second time. One of my colleagues
> has had a box of specimens rejected by Portuguese customs, so this is
> not just me. I assume that this is something to do with changes in
> customs after Brexit. Can anyone give any advice on sending specimens
> from the UK so that they will actually reach their destination?
> Additional information, in case it's useful: I filled in a customs
> form saying that the contents were "Geological specimens for study"
> and giving a value of £1. (I put this value in on the advice of Post
> Office staff - at the first attempt I had said that the value was £0.)
> I would like to go to Spain on holiday, but it seems a little
> ridiculous to have to do that in order to hand over some fossils...
> Best wishes,
> Lucy
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> Paleonet at
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Dr. Simon Schneider
CASP, West Building
Madingley Rise, Madingley Road
Cambridge CB3 0UD
United Kingdom

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