the fiddly but necessary Postal thing

1) First of all: you need to register an account with the CTT. It’s free.

You use this account both for clearing items you receive through customs, *and* for pre-declaring anything you’re going to send outside the EU. The new rules mean that *any* non-EU parcel will need to be pre-declared (whether or not it’s also registered, which you can do at the same time). This account will basically permit you to receive *and* send mail abroad.

Go to the CTT website and click on the icon in the top right corner (see the screencap, the icon is ringed in pink).

The signing up page looks like this:


2) Then, when you have an account and are signed in, you go back to the main page and to the box at the bottom saying ‘Desalfandegar Encomendas’.

3) It will take you to the Customs page. You’ll need to choose ‘Start Process’.


4) To start the process you’ll need to have EITHER:
a) the tracking code for the parcel,
b) the Customs code assigned to it by Customs / the CTT and which they will have included in their letter or email to you.
If you don’t have either of these numbers, that’s a problem.

They are supposed to send out a letter for every parcel that gets stuck in customs, but they don’t! And when they do, the letters take a *long* time to arrive, and don’t leave much time to clear the parcel – so, if you know there’s a parcel coming to you, get the tracking number and clear it through customs ASAP, even before it’s in the country.


5a) After entering the number, the website should take you to the existing information page for that parcel, and at least some of the information should already be filled in, but be prepared to fill in what’s missing, and make corrections where needed.

Though bear in mind that at the end of the form, the total value you declare must match (or at least be no less than) whatever the sender wrote on the customs form. This means it may be necessary to ask the sender what they declared, and even for them to list whatever items (roughly) they put on the customs forms, and the totals to match. A single pack of tarot isn’t a big deal though.

Screencap 1 of 3 of the customs form :

Sender’s info;

Your info;

Then there’ll probably be a gap where the date should be. You’ll need to fill that in, even for gifts and non-commercial parcels. It needs a date. If you don’t have a date of when you bought the thing, the date the sender posted it (or any date before that) will do.

Underneath that will be a total declared value, in Euros – this figure can be adjusted below on that page (shown in the next screencapture), but as I said, the figure can’t be less than the declared value already on the parcel.

5b) (continued)
Screencap 2 of 3 of the customs form :

The ‘designation of goods’ and ‘HS code’ or Tariff number (the ‘Codigo Pauta’l) will probably be empty as well – and is also crucial. CTT won’t release the parcel from customs without this information.

It’s best not to bother trying to type a verbal description in the ‘designation of goods’ box, because it’s impossible to second-guess the *very* specific (but unintuitive) language they’ll use to describe a thing. (For example ‘chocolate’ might be described as ‘sugary comestible with cocoa’). So instead: use the HS code, it’s much simpler. When you enter the HS code the text box automatically updates itself, and you don’t need to type anything.

Every kind of item needs its specific HS code – but the good news is the codes are universal and don’t change. So for example the code for socks is the same for all socks, in every country around the world, forever.

And also it’s very easy to find out what the HS code for your item is online: a Google search finds scores of websites to tell you what the codes are for things.

‘Nature of Transaction’
This is where you choose if it’s commercial or non-commercial. If you didn’t actually buy it from a shop, choose non-commercial. You’ll still have to pay to clear it through customs, but at least you’ll have less paperwork to submit.

5c) (continued)
Screencap 3 of 3 of the customs form :

Your invoicing info: check this is correct.

If your parcel is ‘non-commercial’ then you don’t have to upload any supporting documents.
If it *is* commercial, then they usually ask for any 2 of the following 3 documents as proof:
1) A screencapture of the purchase from the website you bought the thing from;
2) The invoice from the company you purchased from;
3) A screencapture of your payment, whether it’s PayPal or someone else.


6) When you’re satisfied all the info is correct, you tick whatever boxes say you’ve read the terms and conditions, and yes all the info is accurate etc, then hit submit.
I think then it will ask you to choose a payment option.

7) Pay for the thing! You won’t get it ‘til you’ve paid for it.
It takes about an hour-ish for the CTT servers to register the payment, at which time they should email you to say the payment’s been received.

8) Over the next few days you can follow the parcel’s progress through customs on the website. To do this go back to the site and click again on the box at the bottom of the page saying ‘Desalfandegar Encomendas’.
This time however choose the option that says ‘Accompany Process’.
It will show you a green horizontal timeline for each parcel. Click on the arrow to the right of the timeline to scroll through and see all the different stages it has been / is going through. The stage on the farthest right is the most up-to-date. Alternatively click on ‘details’ under the timeline.
Ultimately what you want to see is ‘Conclusão com autorização de saída’ at which point you just wait for it to be delivered.


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