Christmas shopping abroad – know your limits
Christmas is fast approaching, and as the Christmas shopping rush begins, HMRC has issued guidance on the limits to buying abroad. Whether you are jetting off to a non-EU country for a spot of shopping, or buying online from non-EU countries, there is a limit to how much you can buy before you have to pay import duty or VAT.
• Arriving in the UK by commercial sea or air transport from a non-EU country, you can bring in up to £390 worth of goods for personal use without paying customs duty or VAT (excluding tobacco and alcohol, which have separate allowances, and fuel). Arriving by other means, including by private plane or boat for pleasure purposes, you can bring in goods up to the value of £270. Above these allowances and up to £630, there is a duty flat rate of 2.5 per cent.
• Should you buy goods over the internet or by mail order from outside the EU, you will have to pay VAT if the value of the package is over £15.
• If the goods are over £135 in value, customs duty may also be due, although this will depend on what they are and where they have been sent from. Where, however, the actual amount of duty due is less than £9, this will not be charged.
• If someone sends you a gift from outside the EU, import VAT will only be due if the package is valued at over £40. To qualify as a gift, the item must be sent from one private individual to another, with no money changing hands.
Detailed information can be found here http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/arriving/arrivingnoneu.htm