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Back to news... 25 July 2011 Importing Parcels From Europe

With the ordering of goods on the Internet now being commonplace, whereas once we probably never would have dreamed of ordering goods from abroad, many people and companies now do so on a regular basis.

So what to do you have to do with regards to HM Customs and Revenue?

Firstly, under International postal agreements the sender of the parcel must complete a customs declaration form CN22 or CN23, which in the majority of instances should be affixed to the outside of the parcel.

This simple declaration gives a description of the goods, their value and whether they are a personal gift or commercial goods. Any reputable parcel courier or local post office abroad will be able to advise on filling this form in.

It is the senders responsibility to ensure that this customs form is filled out correctly and not the recipient, therefore you should ensure that this form is filled out correctly, as if not it may delay your parcel delivery, or worst case result in your goods being seized.

The majority of parcels arriving into the United Kingdom will be liable for customs duty, excise duty and VAT at the prevailing rate. These fees will need to be paid if you buy the goods or get sent them as a gift. They will also need to be paid regardless as to whether they are new or used, and or for private use or re-selling.

Commercial parcel imports of under £18 or less are exempt from customs duty and VAT, however note the exceptions to this are alcohol, tobacco products and perfumes. (Note: This limit drops to £15 on 1st November 2011)

Personal gifts of under £40 are not liable for any fees, however a VAT charge will be made for goods over this amount. Customs duty also becomes payable if they are over £135 in value. The definitions of what is classed as a gift are quite strict and you should check the HM Customs and Revenue website for more details.

Very small quantities of tobacco and alcohol can be sent as gifts and not incur import duties or VAT, however the quantities that can be sent are very small such as 1 litre of spirits and 50 grammes of rolling tobacco, or 50 cigarettes. Any amount sent above this will incur the full duties and VAT.

These are the basic things that you have to take into account when sending a parcel to the United Kingdom from Europe, or importing into the United Kingdom from abroad.

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