2. Tax and duty

You’ll be contacted by Royal Mail, Parcelforce or the courier company explaining how to pay any VAT, duty and fees for dealing with customs.

They’ll normally hold your parcel for about 3 weeks. If you haven’t paid the fee by then, it’ll be sent back.

VAT

You pay VAT on goods sent from non-European Union (EU) countries and EU special territories (eg the Canary Islands) if they’re:

  • gifts worth more than £39
  • other goods worth more than £15
  • alcohol, tobacco products and fragrances (eg perfume, eau de toilette and cologne) of any value

You have to pay VAT on all goods sent by mail order from the Channel Islands no matter what their value.

You’ll be charged at the VAT rate that applies to your goods. VAT is charged on the total value, including:

  • the price paid for the goods
  • postage, packaging and insurance
  • any duty you owe

Customs Duty

You’ll be charged Customs Duty on gifts and other goods sent from outside the EU if they’re above a certain value.

The value includes:

  • the price paid for the goods
  • postage, packaging and insurance
Type and value of goods Customs Duty
Anything under £135 No charge
Gifts worth £135-£630 2.5%, but rates are lower for some goods - call the helpline
Gifts above £630 and other goods above £135 The rate depends on the type of goods and where they came from - call the helpline

Excise Duty

If you’re sent alcohol or tobacco from outside the EU, you’ll be charged Excise Duty at current rates.

If it’s sent from the EU, check that the Excise Duty was included in the price. If it’s not, your goods may be seized.

It doesn’t matter whether you buy the goods or they’re sent as a gift.

If you receive large amounts of alcohol or tobacco for your business, use the Trade Tariff to check duty rates.

Your goods can also be seized if they’re:

  • spirits over 35 centilitres without a UK duty stamp
  • cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco without UK health warnings or fiscal marks

If you’re charged too much or return your goods

Ask for a refund of VAT or Customs Duty if you:

  • return your goods
  • think you’ve been charged too much

Download and fill in:

  • form BOR 286 if Royal Mail or Parcelforce delivered the goods
  • form C285 if a courier or freight company delivered the goods