Tuesday 10 December 2013

A pre-Christmas rant… Important for those sending parcels to the UK

I will try not to turn this post into a total rant but I am pretty ticked off so it might end up that way, you have been warned!

The end of November I sent parcels back home, I always fill in the customs form (CN22) and put down what is in the parcel plus it's value (or there abouts, I tend to round it up). Anyway, I got a message from my best mate Di saying that she was being charged £25 for the pleasure of receiving my parcel. TWENTY FIVE QUID!!!!

This is what she got through

Di was equally pissed off and made an enquiry, of course they reckon she still has to pay, here is some more general info that she received…

So I did some digging and looked up notice 143, click HERE for the full information about the notice. Looking through I have picked out what I think is the most important parts for those sending international mail, especially if you are outside the EU…
Do I have to pay import duties and/or import VAT on goods sent to me?

Most goods arriving in the UK from outside the EU are liable to any or all of the following taxes:
  • customs duty
  • excise duty
  • import VAT
and must be paid whether:
  • you purchase the goods or receive them as a gift
  • the goods are new or used (including antiques)
  • the goods are for your private use or for re-sale

I was most annoyed about it all because they are gift and not commercial, the postal system already charges a small fortune for the postage rates, I am disgusted that they charge for gifts!
2.4 Gifts
Goods sent as a gift that are over £40* in value are liable to import VAT Customs duty also becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £135 but is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than £9.
*Please note this limit will reduce to £36 with effect from 1 January 2013.
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(s) in this country
  • there is no commercial or trade element and the gift has not been paid for either directly or indirectly by anyone in the UK
  • the gift is of an occasional nature only, for example, for a birthday or anniversary
Note: if you purchase something from outside the EU to give as a gift to a relative or friend, whether or not addressed to that person, it is treated as a ‘commercial consignment’ for which the import VAT relief threshold in paragraph 2.3 applies.

Now, there might be a way around this, as of writing I'm not sure if Di has paid the TWENTY FIVE QUID yet or not, I will update you if there is more info from her end. BUT, if there are multiple gifts in one package there might be hope for us…
2.7 Do multi-gift packages containing more than one gift qualify for the £40 customs duty waiver and import VAT relief?

Where a package contains gifts that are clearly intended for several people, for example, members of the same family, the £40* VAT relief applies to each individual person provided the goods are:
  • individually wrapped, and
  • specifically addressed to them, and
  • declared separately on the customs declaration
  • within the allowances specified
If more than one individual package is addressed to a particular person the value of the goods will be added together. If the total value exceeds £40* import VAT will be charged, and if the value exceeds £135 customs duty may also be due.
If a package contains a number of different types of goods intended for more than one person, and these are separately described and given a value on the customs declaration, the waiver of customs duty will apply to each item. For import VAT, only as many items that add up to the value of the import VAT threshold (£40*) will be granted relief; for example, if a package contains six items each with a value of £8, only five items will be entitled to relief (5 × £8 = £40*) with charges payable on the sixth item.
When one item is sent to two people and its value exceeds £40*, it is not possible to aggregate each person's gift relief, and the value of an individual item itself cannot be divided; for example one item with a value of £50 sent to two individuals cannot benefit from the gift relief.
Please share this post with anyone who might be sending packages to the UK this year, at no stage was I told about these charges but now I do know I am going to do my hardest to let others know so they don't have to pay too. Cheeky &%$#ing #%&$`&%$ !!!


  1. Something similar happened to me with a German friend sending me a gift to Canada. Except the problem was that she filled out what the gift was in German with slightly bad handwriting so I got charged for a "Knife Set" when she really sent me a latch-hooking set! I didn't bother disputing it because it was too much effort but I thought that was pretty ridiculous since someone would've had to inspect my package to slap the "knife set" info on it, they could've opened it up to see it wasn't actually knives!

  2. I have been caught out twice by this stupid system. Friends in Chicago did me a big favor by sending my fabric purchases home to me but I had to pay the tax before i could redeem them. It hardly seems worth sending hand made goodies and gifts to family and friends now when it costs them a fortune for the gift. If you dont put the full value of the gift on the customs form, if it does go astray it makes the insurance worthless. A no-win situation. Bah humbug!!!!

    1. so annoying isn't it? I am still in a grump about it!

  3. Just a couple of days back someone asked for some books to be mailed, and I was going to simply send them over but now I'd better review my plans to ensure they don't get charged. Thanks a lot!

  4. This is the first year that I have had to pay any charges. I lived in Australia for 14 years and regularly sent parcels for bitrthdays and Christmas that never attracted any any extra fee. This year both parcels sent to my daughter were charged. One from NZwas a jewellry set worth about £40 which I was charged £13.50 duty and £12.00 parcelforce harding fee. the second from Australia was some art supplies worth about £50 which I was charged £2.87 duty and £8.00 handling fee. I have written the rant to parcelforce and will be writing to Customs too. Both were one-off gifts, non-commercial and of low value and there was no consistence to the charges. I will refuse to be grumpy at Christmas but it's a shame that the gifts have now become expensive for what they are and I could have bought both here and donated the difference to someone who needed it more that Parcelforce and Customs. Merry Christmas everyone.

    1. yes, it's the first time I have sent anything and had charges, they must be stepping up their game, the buggers!

  5. I had the same case last year, Xmas presents to parents back in UK that they had the pay for in order to get! Same - value over 40 pounds. Big shock. Ridiculous limit if you ask me. What can I buy in Japan as a Xmas gift for under 4 000 yen that would be worth sending all the way to UK? Now I just shop on amazon uk site and have it sent to them from within the country. I can easily see the post services going bankrupt in the near future, as no one will be using their services...


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