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VAT and duty on shopping

Angela Shephard, Head of Customs Policy, HMRC is warning individuals not to get caught out by 'unexpected charges when you are shopping for Christmas bargains this year'.

'If you are going abroad to do Christmas shopping, or buying goods online from non-EU countries, you need to know how much you can buy before you have to pay import duty or VAT.'

'We know many people like to go abroad at this time to buy their Christmas gifts, or buy online from non-EU countries, and think that the 'cheaper' price they see is always the price they finally pay. HMRC is keen to remind the general public how much they can actually bring back from abroad or buy from an online overseas seller without having to pay import duty or VAT.'

'You don't want to be faced with unexpected extra charges, when you thought you had found a bargain.'

HMRC advise that:

  • Arriving in the UK by commercial sea or air transport from a non-EU country, you can bring in up to £390 worth of goods for personal use without paying customs duty or VAT (excluding tobacco and alcohol, which have separate allowances, and fuel). Detailed information on the non-EU limits can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/arriving/arrivingnoneu.htm
  • Should you buy goods over the internet or by mail order from outside the EU, you will have to pay VAT if the value of the package is over £15.
  • If the goods are over £135 in value, customs duty may also be due, although this will depend on what they are and where they have been sent from. Where, however, the actual amount of duty due is less than £9, this will not be charged.
  • If someone sends you a gift from outside the EU, import VAT will only be due if the package is valued at over £40. To qualify as a gift, the item must be sent from one private individual to another, with no money changing hands.
  • Please note that excise duty is always due on all alcohol and tobacco products purchased online or by mail order.
  • The spirits or tobacco products, there are no limits on the amounts of duty and tax paid goods you can bring back personally from another EU country, as long as they are for your own use.

Internet link: Press release



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