When you choose to purchase goods that are sold outside of the EU, you will have to pay duty and tax to the UK Customs department, you can use the import duty calculator to find out how much you will need to pay, or phone the number 0843 178 4335 to speak to them about the charges you’ll incur.
UK Import Duty
The customs charges can include anything that is new or used and falls within the parameters that you’ve bought it online, bought it abroad and are having it sent back to the UK, and items you have received as a gift too.
UK customs will check items that are sent to ensure that they’re not on the banned or restricted list.
You do not have to pay customs or VAT on items that are sent back to you, for this you will have to describe the items as ‘personal belongings’ on the customs declaration.
When you have items sent to you from outside of the EU, you will be contacted by Royal Mail, Parcelforce or another courier company, they will explain how to pay your fee and where you can pick your item up from. They’ll also state how long they will typically keep your item before it is returned to the sender.
Paying your Import Duty
You will need to pay the Fee that is stated on the Royal Mail card within 21 days because if you don’t, the item will be returned to the sender.
You can pay the charge in cash or on a card and collect the item from the address that is listed on the card that is delivered to your home. You can also pay online on the Royal Mail website, then once you have paid the fee the item will be delivered to your home.
Import Duty Calculator
There are various import duty calculators that you can use online to get an idea of how much of a few you will have to pay for your specific items. These are typically free for the first few checks, then you will have to pay to have further items checked.
Import Duty from USA
The import duty from USA is a required payment and is dependent on the declared value of the goods, as well as the type of product that is being imported from the USA. The rate is a percentage that takes into account the total purchase value, rather than the quality, weight or size of the items.
You will typically need to pay 20% of the cost you paid for the goods, as well as the UK Duty and the shipping cost and insurance.
Import Duty from China
When importing items from China there will be an import duty that you need to pay on all items, and this is typically charged at a percentage rate, which is defined by the amount you spent on the items in question.
When importing any items into the UK you will need to provide a detailed description and ensure that you take the time to describe them within the correct tariff heading. If you don’t get this right, you can expect fines and penalties which can be relatively expensive.
Items received from EU countries
When it comes to items received from EU countries you typically will not incur a customs charge as you’ll normally account for the VAT through your VAT return.
Whilst these items will not have to go through customs, The Border Force has the right to carry out selective checks on packages to ensure that no prohibited goods like drugs or weapons are brought into the UK from other EU countries.
Sending items abroad
If you are sending items to the outside of the European Union or to the Channel Islands, you will need to fill out a customs declaration form. This will either be a CN22 or CN23, which will need to be fixed to the item.
When filling out the form you will need to give an accurate description of what is included, the total value and state whether they are being given as gifts or commercial items.
Gifts bought online for someone else
If you make an order and pay for the item on the internet to be sent to someone other than yourself, this doesn’t count as a gift, and in most instances, they will have to pay UK duties and taxes. However, if you buy a gift and then send it directly to that person, you won’t have to pay import VAT as long as the item is £36 or below.
Excise Duty is the fee that is applied to alcohol and tobacco products and is charged as well as the Customs Duty. When applied to alcohol products like wine and spirits, the cost will be attributed to the content and volume of the products. When applied to wine and cider, the cost can differentiate between sparkling and still too.
Excise duty on cigarettes is calculated on a percentage of the retail selling price, as well as a flat rate that is charged per 1,000 cigarettes. For other tobacco products, the fee will be charged at a flat rate which is charged for each kilogram.