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Thread: UK Customs Charges - A Quick Guide

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default UK Customs Charges - A Quick Guide


    I recently had the need to question a recent import of very low value which DHL charged almost 50% of the price for in "Customs, VAT and Handling Charges".

    This was the reply sent by HMRC which I think explains the import position very well, so I thought it might be useful to copy it here.

    The email is the same as was originally received except from the removal of personal names marked with "........" and the addition of some bold typeface on important points to make location easier (although the text should be read in full) (done by highlighting then clicking "B", no actual text alteration made).

    Needless to say, I copy it here without liability. ie you use it at your own risk and it's up to you to ensure that the information contained in it is both accurate and up-to-date.

    I accept no liability for any inaccuracy contained within it, or the consequences of any reliance on this post whatsoever. The onus is totally on you to check it out for accuracy etc before relying on the information and if you fail to do so, or fail to notice / discover an inaccuracy, an unintended alteration or out of date information, then you accept all liability yourself for your failings in that regard.

    Thank you for your email enquiry ......regarding the postal fees and Customs charges and VAT you have incurred on receipt of your postal item.

    I can only advise on why Customs fees and charges are made on postal items.

    Most goods arriving in the UK from outside the European Union are liable to Customs Duty and import VAT. This applies whether the goods are new or second hand, imported by a company, or a private person.

    Customs duty becomes payable if the goods are over 135 in value and is usually charged as a percentage of the value of the goods. The amount of customs duty charged will depend on the type of goods and their country of origin. Duty is charged on the price paid for the goods including any local sales taxes plus postage, packing and insurance costs. Customs duty is waived if the amount calculated is less than 9.

    Import VAT is charged at the same rate that applies to similar goods sold in the UK and applies to commercial goods over 18 in value, and on gifts that are over 40 (as from 1 January 2013 it will be 36) in value. The value of the goods for import VAT is based on the:

    - basic value of goods, plus

    - postage, packing and insurance, plus

    - any import (Customs or Excise) duties charged.

    If the value of the goods exceeds the relief limits, you must pay duty and/or tax on the full value, not just the value above the allowance.

    To qualify as a gift:

    the customs declaration must be completed correctly

    the gift must be sent from a private person outside the EU to a private person in this country

    there is no commercial or trade element and the gift has not been paid for either directly or indirectly

    the gift is of an occasional nature only, for example, for a birthday or anniversary.

    If customs charges are payable upon importation, a handling fee is charged by the carrier to cover the costs for carrying out customs procedures, paying any customs duties or VAT due and collecting it from you. As the handling fees are completely separate from any customs charges, any queries regarding the handling fees should be raised with the carrier directly.

    If on receipt of the gift charges have been made, you feel, incorrectly or you would like a more detailed breakdown of the charges applied, you should write to the UK Border Force at the postal depot shown on the charge label. If you write to the UK Border Force you should include as much detail as you can, including the customs charge label, the customs declaration and the part of the wrapper with your address on it.

    Customs charges on imported postal items are now the responsibility of the UKBF. You should direct your enquiry to the address below. Unfortunately they do not have an email facility.

    The Correspondence Team

    UK Border Force Tel: 0845 600 4781

    Coventry International Hub

    Siskin Parkway West


    CV3 4HX

    Further information can be found in Notice 143 ‘A Guide for International Post Users’ which can be obtained by accessing our website. > Quick Links – Library, Official Statistics > Publications > Notices, Information Sheets and other reference materials > Import, export and international trade > Public Notices > Yes to open site > Scroll to notice required if necessary. Notices are listed in number order.

    Notice 143 (April 2012)

    A guide for international post users

    This notice explains what happens when you import or export goods by post through Royal Mail or Parcelforce Worldwide.

    If you have any questions about a particular customs charge you should contact the Border Force at the postal depot shown on the charge label as soon as possible using form BOR286 . When you write to the Border Force you should include as much detail as you can, including the customs charge label, the customs declaration and the part of the wrapper with your address on it. If your claim is about overcharged tax because the declared value of the goods was incorrect you will need to supply evidence, for example, an invoice, receipt of purchase etc, to support your claim.

    If the goods are sent by one of the international courier services, such as DHL or FedEx, they will clear your goods for you, deliver the goods to your door and bill you for the customs charges plus their clearance fee.

    Imported goods presented to Customs are normally cleared within 2-3 days, and if anything is required from the importer then they are advised by first class mail the same day.

    I hope this is of assistance.

    I must emphasise that the advice given is based on the information you supplied. If the nature of the transaction changes in technical detail, or the relevant details provided were incomplete or incorrect, we will not be bound by this ruling.

    Yours sincerely


    HM Revenue & Customs

    Customs, International Trade & Excise


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016


    Thanks for sharing this, mate.
    It's surely something to take into consideration.
    Canada imports consultants
    Last edited by MariusTitulescu; 08-12-2019 at 23:55.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2017


    I also worked with W2C Customs Brokers a couple of weeks ago and they do indeed live up to their reputation.

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