UK Buying USA Import VAT Customs Duty Parcel Force Fees

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UK BUYERS: Buying from abroad on the Internet - what to look out for

If you're buying online from abroad for your personal use it's important to check whether you'll have to pay any tax or duty on top of the advertised purchase price when you receive the goods in the UK. It's also best to check that the supplier will complete an accurate Customs Declaration.

  • MOST ITEMS FROM EBAY.COM (from the USA) DO NOT INCLUDE TAX OR DUTY IN THE PRICE; YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY IT BEFORE DELIVERY TO YOU.
  • MOST ITEMS CANNOT BE MARKED (EVEN IF YOU ARE BUYING FROM ABROAD AND SHIPPING TO A GIFT RECIPIENT; THIS IS CONSIDERED ILLEGAL (AND THE RECIPIENT MAY HAVE TO PAY FOR ANY APPLICABLE IMPORT VAT.)

Customs Duty and import VAT: basics

If you’re ordering goods online for your own personal use, it’s important to be aware that tax and duty may be charged on top of the purchase price at the point of delivery. What’s due depends on the type of goods and where they come from. 

If you buy goods online from outside the EU for delivery to the UK, you’ll have to pay Customs Duty (if over £120 value) and Import VAT (if over £18) on top of the purchase price (including duties), though Customs Duty is waived if the amount of the calculated duty payable is £7 or less. Please note there is also an £8 Parcel Force Fee for collecting the Import VAT. 

You can find out which types of goods you have to pay tax and/or duty on at link at the bottom (you can cut and paste). It depends on what the goods are, their value, and where they’re from.

Gifts bought online for someone else

Ordering and paying for goods over the Internet to be sent to someone other than to you doesn’t count as a gift to that recipient, and he or she may be liable to pay UK duties, if applicable, and taxes. By contrast, a gift - defined as something sent directly by one private individual to another - doesn’t attract import VAT if its value is £36 or below.

Tax on gifts and other goods ordered from or bought abroad - find out more

  1. Make sure the supplier completes an accurate Customs Declaration. Goods arriving in the UK from outside the EU by post or courier must have a Customs Declaration fixed to the package - completed by the sender.
    [FROM THE USA, THIS IS A CN22 CUSTOMS DECLARATION LABEL FOR MOST VALUES UNDER $400US.]

  2. The Value for Import VAT purposes is based on this CN22 declaration AND Postage and Pack Fees.
    [IF SHIPPING IS INCLUDED IN THE SALE PRICE -- i.e. free worldwide shipping -- , IN MAY BE WISE TO BACK OUT THE POSTAGE FEES (NOT THE PACKING FEES) FROM THE TOTAL SALE PRICE OR A CUSTOMS OFFICIAL MAY ADD THE DECLARED VALUE AND POSTAGE, EXCEEDING THE IMPORT VAT THRESHOLD.]

  3. The declaration should include:
  •     a description of the goods
  •     their value in USD
  •     whether they are gifts, commercial or personal items (eBay.com purchases are the latter two)

Some websites will offer to show a value on the Customs Declaration that’s much lower than the actual price paid so that you don’t have to pay duty and/or VAT when the goods enter the UK. This is wrong: if you’re ordering goods over the Internet, it is in your own interest to make sure that the sender abroad makes a complete and accurate declaration. If no declaration is made, or the information is inaccurate, the package may be delayed whilst the UK Border Agency (UKBA) makes further enquiries, or in some cases the package and its contents may be seized and as the importer of the goods you will be liable for any charges.

Find out more about customs procedures on goods posted to the UK

Who pays the tax and/or duty and when

Customs Duty

If you’re ordering goods from outside the EU, any Customs Duty must be paid by the recipient once the goods have arrived in the UK but before the goods are delivered.

Import VAT

If you’re ordering goods from outside the EU, any I mport VAT must be paid by the recipient once the goods have arrived in the UK but before the goods are delivered. In addition, there may also be a handling fee to pay to the carrier. [At the time of this guide, the Parcel Force fee is £8.)

Banned or restricted goods [THIS IS THE BUYER'S RESPONSIBILITY]

There are certain goods that you are not allowed to have sent to the UK under any circumstances, and some goods are restricted. This is to protect the UK from crime, pests and diseases. Find out more about what goods are banned or restricted

Getting more help and advice. If you need more information about buying goods from abroad on the Internet, you can contact the VAT, Customs and Excise Helpline on Tel 0845 010 9000. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday except bank holidays.

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INFORMATION ABOVE HAS BEEN TRUNCATED TO INCLUDE INFORMATION FOR UK BUYERS FROM THE USA. 
SEE  LINK FOR FULL TEXT.
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Source: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/post/internet.htm


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