Back to news... 07 June 2011 Advice For Importing Goods To The UK
Importing goods into the UK means that various duties becomes payable on entry into the country and this needs to be anticipated by the recipient. The recipient is responsible for the duty whether they have bought them or receives them as a gift, the customs and excise office have no differentiation in their system. The exception is that any goods can generally be received from the EU under the free trade agreement at no extra cost. Most parcel imports arriving into the UK from outside the EU are subject to any or all of the following taxes.
- Customs duties
- Excise duty
- Import VAT
Duty must be paid whether:
- You purchase the goods or receive them as a gift
- The goods are new or old
- The goods are for private use or for resale.
There are certain limits for which duty is foregone namely any commercial consignment of £18 or less is free from customs duty and import VAT but this does not include alcohol, tobacco and perfume products. This rule is changing on the 1st November 2011 when the rate is being reduced from £18 to £15.
Gifts are treated differently. Gifts worth £40 or less are duty free and import VAT free. Goods over £40 but under £135 are liable for import VAT and over £135 they are liable for both duties unless the amount due is less than £9. To qualify as a gift the customs declaration must be correctly completed, it must be sent from a private individual, there must be no commercial trade or the gift paid for in anyway and it is only of an occasional nature.
Tobacco and alcohol do qualify as being able to be free of customs duty and import VAT for small specific quantities given as gifts. This includes a tobacco allowance of 50 cigarettes or 10 cigars and an alcohol allowance of 1 litre for spirits. Perfumes can be sent to a weight of 50 grams and toilet waters at 0,25litres in volume.
The question is often asked about the sending of multiple gifts to the value of less than £40 and the answer is that they can be sent but the rules are strict and must be adhered too. Firstly they must be declared individually on the customs declaration form and individually wrapped and addressed to each of the final recipients and they must be within the proper allowance.