(FREE) Buying goods from abroad requires an understanding of how taxes and duties are charged and have to be paid
Tax and duty
Individuals or businesses may be contacted by a post office or the courier company (Fast Parcel Operator) if they need to pay any VAT, duty or delivery charges (‘handling fees’) to receive the goods.
They’ll send individuals or businesses a bill stating exactly which fees they need to pay.
They’ll normally hold a parcel for about 3 weeks. If the individual or business have not paid the bill by then, your parcel will be returned to the sender.
Individuals or businesses will normally not have to pay anything to the delivery company to receive goods worth less than €150 / £135 unless they’re gifts over €45 / £39 or excise goods (for example, alcohol and tobacco).
VAT is charged on all goods (except for gifts worth €45 / £39 or less) sent from:
outside the UK to Great Britain
outside the EU to the EU
outside the UK and the EU to Northern Ireland
VAT is not charged on goods that are gifts worth €45 / £39 or less.
You pay VAT when you buy the goods or to the delivery company before you receive them. If you have to pay VAT to the delivery company, it’s charged on the total package value, including:
the value of the goods
postage, packaging and insurance
any duty you owe
VAT is charged at the VAT rate that applies to your goods.
Goods worth €150 / £135 or less in total
If you bought the goods yourself and they are not excise goods, the seller will have included VAT in the total you paid.
You will need to pay VAT to the delivery company if the goods are:
gifts sent to you by someone else and worth more than €45 / £39
Goods worth more than €150 / £135 in total
You will have to pay VAT to the delivery company either before the goods are delivered or when you collect them.
You’ll be charged customs duty on all goods sent from outside the UK (e.g. the EU) or the EU (e.g. the UK) if they’re either:
worth more than €150 / £135
If you’re charged customs duty, you’ll need to pay it on both:
the price paid for the goods
postage, packaging and insurance
Type and value of goods
Gifts above € 150 £135 and up to € 650 / £630
2.5%, but rates are lower for some goods
Gifts above € 650 / £630 and other goods above € 150 / £135
The rate depends on the type of goods and where they came from
If you’re sent alcohol or tobacco from outside the UK, you’ll be charged Excise Duty at current rates.
If the goods are sent from the EU to Northern Ireland, check that the Excise Duty was included in the price. If it’s not, your goods may be seized.
It does not matter whether you buy the goods or they’re sent as a gift.
If you receive large amounts of alcohol or tobacco for your business, use the Trade Tariff to check duty rates.
Your goods can also be seized if they’re:
spirits over 35 centilitres without a UK duty stamp
cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco without UK health warnings or fiscal marks
If you’re charged too much or return your goods
Ask for a refund of VAT or Customs Duty if you:
return your goods
think you’ve been charged too much
Contact us to help you with this.
Essential, online Customs & Global Trade Support
get advice on our Information Hubs.
find out how to determine the relevant duty rates and commodity codes for your goods in our Classification Hub
Where to find even more help and support
For online support, join our educational live webinars, subscribe to insightful short Twitter updates and informative YouTube videos, and stop by at our expert blog page, updated weekly: https://www.customsmanager.org/customs-global-trade-blog
Join us on Linked In, too: www.linkedin.com/company/customs-manager-ltd
We also offer a resources hub that covers a lot of topics, videocasts and step by steps guidance: https://www.customsmanager.org/ -> Resources
There are regular customs and global trade update sessions to discuss what is coming up: https://www.customsmanager.org/customs-and-global-trade-update
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