August 4, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 423 Comments

Import Duty & VAT Threshold on Imported Goods

import-vat-tresholdToday’s article is about something quite simple, but still hugely important – import duty and VAT on goods bought from outside the EU.

I receive countless emails every week from people asking me about import taxes; how much they are, when do they apply, how to calculate them etc.

And although once you start importing it becomes second nature and incredibly simple, it is something that can be off-putting initially and as a result; some people continue ordering from local wholesalers at much higher prices than they could get importing directly from places like China or the US.

So today I’m going to go over import taxes and give you a guide to use when importing goods to the UK from outside the EU.

First things first; what taxes do you have to pay on imported goods?

In general, you need to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) and import duty.

VAT is a set amount (currently 20%) whereas import duty varies depending on the type of product, with many being duty-free.

Import duty is calculated as a percentage of the customs value of the goods you are importing, which means:

  • The price paid for the goods.
  • The shipping cost.
  • The insurance cost.

As mentioned above, the duty rate depends on the product type and many are actually duty free. I won’t list them all here but some popular duty free products include:

  • Books
  • Computer Software
  • Desktop PCs
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Mobile Phones
  • Video Game Consoles

So as you can see, a number of products actually have a ‘nil’ rate of duty, even when imported from outside the EU.

To find out the exact duty rate for a specific product, you need to know its HS (Harmonized System) Code, which is basically the universal code to categorise a product.

The simplest and easiest way to find the HS code for a product is by using this site:

http://www.dutycalculator.com/

And then VAT, which is currently a set 20%, is calculated as a percentage of the total customs value PLUS any duty paid.

But one other thing to bear in mind when importing are the minimum thresholds, below which duty/VAT is waived.

For business purchases, import duty is NOT charged if:

  • The total order is worth £135 or less.
  • The total amount of import duty due is less than £9.

And then for VAT – it is NOT charged for any import worth less than £15 with the exception of tobacco, alcohol and perfumes – for which VAT is always payable, regardless of the order amount.

So that’s it – those are the minimum thresholds for paying VAT and duty on orders from outside the EU – £135 for import duty and £15 for VAT.

Personal Purchases/Gifts

giftsBut this only applies to business imports. If you are receiving gifts from outside the EU, the minimum thresholds are slightly different:

  • For import duty for gifts, if the total value is less than £630, then a flat rate of 2.5% is paid.
  • Anything above that value is charged at the normal rate of duty.
  • For VAT for gifts, it is charged on anything above £36 in value.

Obviously we are really only concerned with business imports, but I just wanted to clarify the rules regarding gifts to make everything crystal clear.

And that brings me onto another important point…

Undervaluing Goods or Marking Them as Gifts

I’m sure you’ve all seen this 100s of times! In fact it’s so common that it has pretty much become regular practice for imports from China…

The order is either undervalued on the customs declarations form or it is marked as a gift (more common with small, personal orders on eBay etc.).

I hope you already know without me having to say that you should not do this under any circumstances, because:

It’s illegal!

This should be reason enough for everyone to avoid this practice – undervaluing goods in order to avoid VAT and import duty is ILLEGAL, as simple as that.

And no, the old claim of ‘I didn’t know it was being undervalued as my supplier did it without me asking’ is NOT a valid excuse! You, as the importer, are solely responsible for the items you are ordering and must ensure that all customs declaration forms are filled in correctly.

Another big problem with undervaluing imports is that it makes it impossible to properly book these orders and sales within your accounting.

When you’ve declared an order worth £130 when it was really worth £400, then what happens when you sell those items for £800? You’ve now created extra profit that doesn’t actual exist… ‘profit’ that you will then have to pay tax on… completely negating the benefit of undervaluing your order in the first place.

Basically; it will completely screw-up your accounts which WILL be a huge problem for you – particular as your business grows and you register as a Ltd company.

And that brings me onto the final reason for why you should never undervalue your orders –

It is the absolute WRONG mentality for creating a long-term, successful business.

If you’re relying on avoiding VAT and import duty to make some short-term profit, then your mentality is all wrong and, I’m sorry to say, you probably won’t create a successful business anyway.

If the product you’re looking at importing and selling isn’t profitable when you pay the correct taxes, then you should be looking for another product – not trying to figure out how to avoid paying those taxes!

Do things right from the beginning and you will continue that way!

I’m sorry if you feel I’m going on about this for too long, but it is so important that you don’t go down this route, particularly for new and first-time importers.

So please, always declare the correct amounts so that you can properly book your purchases and sales, and build a real business.

Now lastly for this guide, I want to do a quick example calculation for you so you can follow the same steps yourself.

Example calculation

For my example, let’s say I am ordering a set of high-end tennis rackets from the US, which I am importing to the UK.

Firstly, I need to calculate the customs value:

$1,000 (10x $100 rackets) + $150 (shipping cost) + $20 (insurance) =$1,170

IMPORTANT – I now need to convert this amount to GBP (British Pound) for tax purposes but this cannot just be estimated or taken from an online exchange site like xe.com, no – instead you are given the rate of exchange to use each month by HMRC, which you can find here: Exchange Rates 2014

So for my calculation, the $-£ exchange rate for August 2014 is 1.7042 which means my import is valued at £686.54 ($1,170/1.7042).

The third step is to calculate the import duty, which for tennis rackets from the US is 4.7%:

£686.54 x 4.7% = £32.27

Next is to calculate the VAT at 20%. And remember, this is paid on the total customs value (£686.64) PLUS the duty paid (£32.27), so:

£686.64 + £32.27 =

£718.91 x 20% = £143.78

That means all that’s left for me to do is add the import duty and VAT together to find out the total amount of import tax payable on this order, which is £176.05 – making my total landed cost for the 10 tennis rackets £862.59 (total product cost + all import taxes).

And that’s it! 5 simple steps to calculate the exact final cost for any import order.

And although it is important to understand how it works, you don’t actually have to worry about and calculate all the details yourself if you use a freight forwarder for your order (which is what I always recommend).

A freight forwarder takes care of EVERYTHING when you import, including shipping and customs so there’s really very little for you to do.

If you need a freight forwarder in the UK, my recommendation is Woodland Global – they have an impeccable reputation and cater equally to small and large businesses, with very reasonable pricing.

Also, if you’re sending small packages via courier companies – again, you don’t have to worry about this procedure as couriers will do the customs clearance procedure for you.

Still, its essential to learn how this process works so that you can calculate POTENTIAL taxes before you place any orders, so you know exactly how much goods will cost you when they’re delivered to you.

So that covers pretty much all I wanted to go over in this post – now all that’s left is for you to take action!

Use this guide along with my hugely popular posts on How to Import Products from China & How to Avoid Scammers and Find Trusted Suppliers on Alibaba to start your very own importing business.

I really have provided you with everything you need, so don’t procrastinate and make excuses, use what you’ve learnt and get started today!

I look forward to hearing your success stories soon!

All the best,
Andrew

423 Comments
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  1. Nicholas Christakis

    Great post, but have a quick question

    Lets say we import Toys from the USA to UK, we know we have a duty to pay, but for VAT purposes, if we resell the imported products as a business and going concern on ebay or amazon, we would be VAT taxed twice, can VAT be waived or reduced at the import and duty stage for the goods importaned from non EU origin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nicholas,

      Thanks for your email.

      You wouldn’t pay VAT twice, no. When you do your VAT return, you’ll take off the amount you paid to Customs, just like other expenses related VAT from the VAT you charge customers. So essentially you just pay VAT difference in what you charge in VAT minus VAT you pay on your expenses.

      Also, there’s an option to NOT pay VAT and import duty at the time of importing at all. More details here:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-101-deferring-duty-vat-and-other-charges?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageVAT_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000013&propertyType=document

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  2. Rushod Choudhury

    Hello Andrew thanks for lovely article, I’m a sold trader in UK I’ve 2 questions to you my question number 1. Do I need an import licence to import the goods ( clothes for men and women) into the UK ?

    2.
    Will I be able to obtain a reduced rate of duty if our supplier issues a GSP cert for the goods ?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you don’t need any special import licences to import clothing items.

      Not sure about GSP and reduced duty, this is something you have to find out @ customs.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Rushod Choudhury

        Thanks

  3. Hi Andrew,

    Great article. Thank you.

    I hope that you could help me to clarify my question. I order goods from a Non-EU country. The supplier offered their own forwarder which will take care of Tax duty and VAT but they are not able to provide any paperwork because my goods are in the bulk of other goods for different buyers like myself . The goods have arrived with no problem. I am not VAT registered but of cause I have to pay VAT on imported goods.
    I understand that everything have been paid as my goods have arrived. Or will I have a problem at a later date? Thanks

    Kind Regards
    Elena

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Elena,

      Thanks for your comment.

      That is quite interesting situation you’re in there – hmm, not sure what to even advise – as you buy products from a non-eu company but goods are delivered already cleared through customs, taxes paid for. Theoretically you should pay taxes and account for them but how to do it in your situation? I don’t know… I would call up HMRC and ask for advice there or at least speak with an accountant who can give you some more info on how to handle this situation.

      Andrew

  4. Hi Andrew, can you help me out. I work with a company registered in France and sell goods into a company in Ireland. Some of the items are manufactured in China that we re-sell to our Irish customer and we are thinking of delivering them directly from the factory in china to them to reduce transport/handling costs. My question is what vat is due by the customer in ireland, vat based on our selling price or based on the import price we have from china.

  5. L Subramanyam

    Very well explained. It cleared my doubts I have regarding a recent shipment I received from India for repair work and later to be sent back. I am charged by the Freight Forwarder ” Agility Logistics”in U.K. An amount of GBP 5982.00 towards custom Duty + Value. I was confused as in the invoice “Value” is shown as “value added Tax”.

    Now after reading above I could make out that custom duty is added to the value of the received goods for repair (appropriated)

  6. Hi Andrew. Hoping you can help. I am british, but have been a non resident for many years; currently i live in the Philippines.
    I recently returned to UK for a two week holiday. Before my trip, I ordered an expensive item of jewelery from America to be delivered to my family address in UK. VAT and import duty was due, which I paid via FedEx. I collected the jewelery during my trip, and took it back with me to the Philippines.
    Now back home in Manila, I am trying to reclaim the VAT and duty, using the C285 form. I have been asked to provide a certificate of export, which I don’t have; I removed the item from the UK by taking it in my luggage.
    Do I have a legitimate claim for a VAT and duty refund, and is there any other evidence I can show HMRC to prove I have removed the item from UK?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry Chris but I won’t be able to help with this us as I have never done this myself. Your best bet is to simply call/email HMRC and see what they can advise you.

  7. Hello andrew, i want know one thing, many time i brought goods from china, they send me goods invoice, but in uk i pay vat more then goods invoice or shipping charges, they never mention shipping cost in my invoice, i pay shipping money less, but custom take vat tax , very high value of freight, i want know next time need to mention shipping cost add in goods value invoice .. thank

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nitin,

      So, just very clearly ask supplier to next time have shipping cost shown separately on the invoice.

      You need to work with supplier directly to sort out things like these.

      Andrew

  8. Hello,

    Hoping to get some advice. I am living in Italy with my spouse who is US Military on orders in Italy. We are moving to Japan on US Military orders. While in Italy I have purchased a fair amount of luxury handbags. I have paid VAT here in Italy on all the bags I won. I have never claimed VAT on them because I lived here and wasn’t traveling back to the US anytime after the purchases. I am now gearing up to move again. I was planning on taking all of my bags with me in a carry on suit case. As our household goods are being packed up and sent to Japan by sea. I have just learned about all of these import duties. All of my purchases are well over 90 days old. But most within 2016/2017. Will I have to pay duties on these bags entering Japan? Should I risk having them packed away and sent by shipment from the movers instead? I don’t know anything about these duties. I was under assumption since I was living here legally in Italy and payed full EU price on them that I should be ok. But I honestly don’t have a clue. Any advice/guidance is greatly appreciated. TIA

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Doris,

      I’m sorry but I won’t be able to help you with this…

      I would recommend that you get in touch with the Japanese Customs (try email first) and ask them OR at least try contacting Customs in Italy and see if they can help you clarify rules on such goods movement.

      Andrew

  9. Hi Andrew
    Any idea about import tax on Jewellery bought out of EU and brought into UK for personal use .i read limit is 390£ worth of goods per person . If a family travels together can the allowance be shared .
    I understand it’s 2.5 % flat from 390 to up to 630£. How much duty in items more than 630£ And less than 800£ .

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      I’m sorry but with specific questions like these you should contact Customs and ask them for advice/info.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  10. I’d like to export Plastic Chair and Table (HTS code no: 94037000) directly from China to the USA. What are the import tax and VAT rate in the USA? Thank you.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gary,

      Use this online tool to calculate taxes on imports:

      https://www.dutycalculator.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  11. I’ve just bought $50 worth of ballet tights from China, they’re for my daughters who both attend dance college, I’ve just had a call from a company called linexsolutions claiming I need to pay £21.05 vat and duty, does this seem right to you?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that sounds about right – £10 or so in VAT and import duty and £10 or so for customs clearance service fee.

      1. Thank you

  12. Hi Andrew,

    Could you explain one thing. I am registered as not liable to pay VAT. I have a non-VAT EORI number. My turnover is way under the 85,000 GBP threshold. Am I correct in thinking that I’m therefore not liable for paying VAT on the goods that I import for resale in the UK? Thanks for the advice.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Asher,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sorry, what do you mean by this sentence: “I am registered as not liable to pay VAT”

      Can you please explain that?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        This is Nick, I happen to have the same question as Asher. Asher and I, are self-employed and our turnover is very low, therefore we don’t need to pay VAT to the HMRC (according to legislation).
        The question is, are we also exempt from paying VAT when we clear the customs?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Nick,

          No, you’re not.

          You’ll pay VAT when import goods from outside EU, even if you’re not VAT registered.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  13. Hi Andrew. Thanks for Info on your Website. Can you please direct me where to find out re VAT and Taxes/Duty applicable to bringing in Natural health Supplements to UK for PERSONAL use.
    Many countries (NZ, Australia) have a threshold value (NZ = $400, Aus = $1000) under which there is no GST (VAT) or duty, as it is uneconomic to collect it.
    Is that the case in UK? If not, where do I fing the applicable VAT and Duty rate if any.
    Many thanks
    Les

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Les,

      All the rates are available on this website:

      https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

      OR you can use this online calculator to get instant calculations:

      https://www.dutycalculator.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew. Thanks for answer… Can you advise if there is a threshold at which Govt doesnt collect? Thanks

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes there is and the information is in this article, lol

  14. Hi Andrew
    Great post, and one question for you. If I land goods from outside the EU into Switzerland, and pay the vat on landing there, would the goods then be classified as being in the EU (no tax/ vat owing) under EFTA
    Many Thanks

    GJ

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m not sure how this works in Switzerland to be honest – you’ll have to do your own research on this.

      Andrew

  15. Dear Andrew

    When i order goods online (particularly through Amazon and Ebay) usually I have absolutely no idea where it is being shipped from. Very often the Item is delivered with the final receipt showing no VAT and no duty. Only when i challenge the supplier for a VAT receipt do I then realise (usually from the poor grammar) that the goods came from outside of the EU. Am I to assume that these goods have entered in under the radar and am I potentially liable if any duty / VAT is owing?

    If this is the case, what is the government doing about it. It must be having a substantial detrimental impact to our own UK retail economy.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karl,

      Thanks for your comment.

      This is a very huge topic with many angles – something I won’t be able to cover in this reply.

      If it went through customs without taxes, you don’t have to worry about it – no one will go after you and ask you pay those taxes. This happens millions of times each year.

      Andrew

  16. Thank you for the article. It’s definitely the most explanatory I’ve found.

    If it’s okay with you can I double check I’ve worked this out correctly? I recently bought a vintage dress online & the converted price including shipping (it’s coming from the us to uk) is £300.

    Am I correct in thinking I will have to pay £70-£80 in fees? Plus the £8 handling fee from Royal Mail. I had budgeted for £100 in fees anyway so if I’m correct I’m just relieved it’s less than that.

    Thank you. 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, you’r correct Maria.

      Usually you can simply use 25% as a ball park figure and it will be quite accurate.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  17. Hi Andrew

    I’ve read your guide to working out tax however i can’t get my head round it!

    I am hoping to purchase a designer bag from the USA to Uk using eBay.

    the bag is $260 and shipping is $67 and I am not sure about insurance cost, the courier will be UPS,. Could you kindly work out the total tax on this product for me?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Janine,

      Use this calculator to get exact taxes you’ll have to pay:

      http://www.dutycalculator.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  18. Hi,

    I have recently purchased 5 individual items, each below £15 in value from the USA. Each item had its own P&P included in the purchase, but as it was with the same seller (Ebay). They then sent the five items, individually packaged, inside one larger package. I was then charged VAT on the collection of items, whereas if they were sent individually as I paid for, I would have been able to avoid the VAT charges. Am i correct? and am I able to claim the charges back?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      yes, you’re correct.

      But for that shipment you can’t claim anything back as all the items were sent together – as one shipment.

  19. Hi Andrew, great thanks for the article, it has been more helpful than numerous sources I was digging through online

    I am a UK based seller importing the goods from outside the EU, which attracts quite high import taxes (15% duty + 20% VAT)

    If I find out I can’t sell the goods within the UK and decide to re-export them to Japan for example, can I get a refund on import VAT I paid to UK customs (and custom import duty) when initially imported?

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mila,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think you can, yes, but I’m not 100% sure as I have never done that. There are rules and time frames in place for this to go through so you better contact HMRC directly and ask them about these specific rules and procedures.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  20. I am a UK Based (VAT registered) service provider. The service I provide to my customers is storage, packaging, shipping and distribution (you can say that I am shipping company, but not a freight forwarder). My customers own the goods and I merely provide a service at their command. Recently a USA based company sent their goods to my UK site. My UK site did not purchase the imported goods, did not cause the import, nor are the imported goods going to be used in my business other than to store these imported goods at my UK site warehouse. My UK site acted as the Importer and paid the VAT. Is there a way to reclaim the VAT paid by my UK site, given that fact that we are not the owner and not going to use the imported goods for our business, nor did we purchase.

    Can my UK site reclaim VAT perhaps as an Input Tax?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry Carlos but I won’t have any advice on such specific situation.

      You should speak with your accountant or HMRC to resolve this.

      Andrew

  21. Hi Andrew
    I ordered some vitamins from USA value 99.99 USD. The parcel was shipped from the Netherlands. Received a grey card stating I needed to pay £24.20 customs charges before they would release the parcel , which I did as needed the vitamins..
    When it arrived the charge sticker stated VAT £16.20 + £8 handling fee.
    I question the VAT charge as it was shipped from a European country. Is this correct??
    Also can they legally withhold your mail?
    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, they can legally withhold the mail until you pay taxes/duty.

      The parcel probably came from the USA but it went through a HUB in Netherlands, hence the confusion.

      But this is very common situation really.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for that Andrew. Was hoping I could reclaim the money. It’s strange that I have had at least 6 deliveries from the same source but have never had this problem before?
        Many thanks
        M Furr

  22. Hi Andrew,
    I am importing a vehicle from singapore which is due to dock in 14 days, I know I have to pay tax and duty which I have worked out with the commodity code but I have no idea when and where I should pay the tax and duty, I have rang everywhere and get no where but I don’t really want to pay a company to sort that side out if it is quite a simple process of filling a few forms and showing my purchase documents at customs.
    Could you please shed and light?

    Kind regards

    Pete

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Pete,

      The shipping company/freight forwarder will contact you when your shipment arrives and then you can discuss with them who does the customs clearance procedure.

      Andrew

  23. Hey, great article as I needed to know how to calculate all the taxes etc…

    Only question I have to ask is that I am buying these three items and wanted to know if I will have to pay customs and duties tax or not:

    Boxing gloves for $99
    Mexican Hand Wraps for $9.99
    Plastic Speed Rope for $9.99

    I get 20% off so I am paying $99.97 and then $68.90 for shipping. In total it says it will come to $166.87. These items are for my own personal use and not for resale. I haven’t fully got my head around all of this hence my question. I hope you can help me 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Where are you based Aaron?

      1. I live in England. Shipping will come from the states and i’m not too sure how long it would take to get the package either.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’ll have to pay around £30 – £40 or so in taxes on this shipment.

          Andrew

  24. Hi Andrew,

    So far, I have benefited many times from your website. Therefore, I would like to send my special thanks first of all.

    And… Of course I would like to ask a question. I will be very pleased if you answer and give an advice.

    I have set up a new company which is not VAT registered, aiming to sell some products on Amazon. I import my items from non-eu countries, especially from Turkey. When the items arrive at the UK customs, I pay import duty and import VAT and then I can sell them in the UK. (Some products are free from import duty due to the Customs Union Aggreement btw Turkey & EU Countries. In that case, only the import VAT is payable for me.)

    In this classical trade, my supplier sends the goods with the invoice prepared to my company’s name and address. I sell those goods and dispach to my customers adding my profit on my costs. Hence, my selling price is naturally different from my buying price.

    In the case below:

    On Amazon, I would like to list some new products that are not exist in my inventory (like a dropshipper) and get them dispatched directly from my supplier in Turkey to my customer in the UK.

    In this example, I am the seller in the UK; my supplier in Turkey (non-eu country) is the sender of the product and my customer in the UK is the buyer. Items will be sent via carriers such as DHL, UPS, Fedex, TNT, etc.

    I do not want the items to be dispached as gift or as sample to my customers. But I do not want my customers to deal with customs transactions, either.

    My questions are;

    1- How can I pay my import VAT and import duty (if any) in such a case?

    2- How can I send the invoice to my customer? Because I will prepare the invoice for the items sold. The seller is me not my supplier (not like in a dropshiping).

    3- My supplier has to send a copy of the invoice with the product (customs need to see it to calculate the taxes) but that invoice should not go with the product to the customer. How can I arrange it?

    4- And of course, the invoice sent by my supplier should have been prepared to my company name (so I can re-sell it as the importer) not to the name of the customer. But on the other hand, the item should have been sent to the name and the address of the customer. (Who is the importer from the customs’ point of view?) What would you do if you were a customs officer with such a package (different buyer name and a delivery address on it and an invoice prepared for a different name and address)?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Kind Regards,

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Avni,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m sorry but I won’t be able to give advice on this as I haven’t personally done this scheme.

      You’ll probably want to consult a customs broker or courier company to find out ways you can set this up.

      Andrew

    2. Hi Avni, this can be done but you will need to provide the UK clearance agent with a manifest (in addition to the shipping invoice) showing a breakdown of each individual package, what it contains and who it is consigned to. The shipping invoice will need to show the Turkish supplier as the exporter and your company as the importer. The UK customers do not need to see this – it only need to be provided to the UK clearance agent. The individual packages themselves can have your own invoices attached to the boxes showing you as the seller/shipper and the UK consignee as the delivery address.

      For customs purposes you will still need to be declared as the importer and pay any VAT and Duty against the whole consignment. If you are VAT-registered then you can reclaim the VAT element on your C79 VAT return form, otherwise you cannot do so. I suggest however that you contact a customs broker to confirm the above as Andrew has suggested.

      Best Regards,
      Matt.

  25. Andrew

    Firstly, great article. It’s cleared some of the fog 🙂

    OK, so I’ve got my 10 tennis rackets and paid £862.59 for them including import and VAT.
    I then sell my 10 tennis rackets to Andy Murray for £1000. Do I then have to pay £200 VAT on the full sale of the goods or just on the £137.41 profit I’ve made as presumably I’ve already paid the VAT owing on the goods themselves.
    I’m new to this being recently VAT registered and its giving me brain ache 🙁

    Thanks
    AJ

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi AJ,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Mind asking – why did you register for VAT if you have just started selling now?

      In general, you pay government the difference you pay and get in VAT.

      For example – if you paid £100 in VAT when importing goods and got £200 in VAT when you sold your items, you would pay £100 to government in VAT.

      So it’s the difference on what you pay and what you get when sell goods. But it’s not related to profit in any way.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Andrew

        I’ve been selling about 8 months now and have just crossed the VAT threshold.
        As I’m now having to account for VAT, and have been struggling to get my head around the import side of things so I can record what I’ve paid and what I owe in VAT accurately, I was ready to give up on the whole idea of importing goods.

        This makes things much clearer

        Cheers
        AJ

  26. Thank you for this article, it’s very helpful.

    I have recently paid VAT on importing an item from China. However, I need to return the item for either an exchange or refund. How would you suggest I sort out the VAT in this instance?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Edward,

      Please contact HMRC and they will supply you with necessary forms for this procedure.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  27. how much tax or duty would have to be paid in the UK on a pair of designer boots for a 3 year old child , cost is in the region of £325 ( 375 euros ) to buy from a EU country , they are for personal use not for resale

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Henry,

      If you buy from a EU based seller, you won’t have to pay any extra taxes on this.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  28. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your wonderful posts. I import goods from China and sell on the UK market. I have had customers telling me that my UK competitors import bulk goods directly for them using customers own buyer business/personal details instead of the supplier details such that goods are delivered directly to buyers from China therefore UK supplier does not charge Vat to customers, making him 20% cheaper than other suppliers; is this legal? Please advise as customers are now going to this supplier as his goods are much cheaper since he imports directly for customers and ship directly to customers from abroad, hence he does not charge vat to them. Please advise

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joe,

      If the goods are under the threshold value, then yes – this is legit (as far as I know but maybe I’m wrong as this really depends on how the seller has created the legal/company structure to support such operation).

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew,

        Thanks for your response, the goods are from £5000 to £9000; is this within the threshold

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, of course not.

          That’s way too high value to not pay any taxes on such imports.

          Andrew

  29. I see this post is a few years old, but see if I get an answer.

    I sell on ebay, and have a customer in the UK. He sent me this message recently:

    “Hi Dan I have yet again to pay customs duty and handling charge for items amounting to nealy £20 if these are paid by you and added to postage it would be about $2 . I am not happy as this makes my purchase very expensive .”

    I have no idea what he is talking about. What does he mean I can add an amount to postage for $2.00? Can you shed some light maybe?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Not sure what he means Dan…

      It could be that customer is asking to put lower value on Customs declaration to avoid paying import duty/VAT?

      That is if you’re based OUTSIDE the EU and sell to customers in the UK.

      Andrew

  30. Cathy MacLeod

    Hi Andrew
    I’m struggling with the whole gift thing at the moment. My brother and his friends are artists. They have sent me some artwork they made as a gift. So they where never purchased. What is the best way forward if my brother or myself can not produce a receipt or prof of purchase for something we made that is not intended for sale and that was never sold in the first place?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cathy,

      I’m sorry but I don’t know the answer to this question.

      You should probably contact Customs directly and find out best way to do this.

      I haven’t done this myself so can’t offer any advice.

      Andrew

  31. Hi mate i want to import a trike axle kit from the USA total cost with shipping is about £2000 would i pay any taxes on that cheers

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tony,

      Yes, approximately £500 in VAT and import duty.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  32. I brought something from Amazon.com the American site that totaled to £35 it has been at Heathrow customs since the 2nd of November on the tracking system it says “consignee contacted for payment” does this mean that I won’t receive my parce and it won’t be delivered to my adress unless I pay? Please help

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tyra,

      Please call the shipping company and ask for status of your shipment.

      It could be that they don’t have your email/phone number and can’t contact you.

      Andrew

  33. Hello, I buy something from China for $1700, my package is being on held by customs from 1/11 and on 7/11 I finally received letter from FedEx asking me to pay duty & tax invoice but only £101.70, my seller marked my packed as only 500$ well good for me. I paid that same day calling FedEx and paid by my debit card at 4pm, but even now my package is still with customs and I still didn’t even see any new scan on tracking info.

    Is anybody know how long normaly takes to release your package from customs after you paid for duty & tax?

    Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi David,

      Usually it’s 1-2 days but sometimes there are delays.

      Your best bet is to simply call FedEx and find out the status of your shipment.

      Andrew

  34. Hi Andrew
    I bought some mats from China and paid $400 for them. These are quite heavy items. Seller invoiced it very low ($40)without informing me. Now TNT is asking me is this right value or should it be a higher value? I am really concerned what to do. My supplier has not replied me yet.
    Please advise.
    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Wab,

      You should tell courier that it’s not the real value.

      Send them invoice/payment proof so they can calculate taxes correctly on $400 amount.

      Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble here – Chinese sellers do this all the time:

      https://andrewminalto.com/shipment-without-customs/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  35. Linda Kriegbaum

    I bought a small leather doll purse on Etsy from France and paid under 25.00 including postage. Do I have to pay any additional custom/vat fees on this purchase?
    Linda

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Linda,

      No, of course not.

      There’s no VAT/import duty applied when goods are moved within EU countries.

      Andrew

  36. Hello I am looking to go abroad outside EU and buy £15000 in gold to bring back to sell, from what I understand from you is I would have to pay only 20% of £15000 and not the value I would get for selling it over here so it would be on the purchase price and no import duty, is that correct?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cara,

      Yes, you pay VAT and import duty on the PURCHASE price, not re-sale value.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew and do you pay the VAT at the country your leaving or the destination country, how does this work?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Destination country.

  37. Hi
    I imported some stuff from China through Air Cargo. I believe my agent is charging me a lot extra for custom and VAT. He has not provided any official document. Is there anyway i can check actual amount with HMRC?
    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nabs,

      VAT is 20%.

      Import duty varies based on product you import. Check out this guide for more info on how to calculate import taxes:

      https://andrewminalto.com/import-taxes/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  38. Hi Andrew,

    The HMRC guidelines on duty/VAT calculation state:

    “The following items may be left out of the customs value:

    (a) Delivery costs within the EC. If the seller’s or carrier’s charge covers delivery beyond the EC border you may deduct the additional charges for such delivery, providing they are shown separately from the price paid or payable for the goods. ”

    Therefore, if your FF can break down the quotation to show the delivery costs to your final delivery via UK haulage, then I believe this can be deducted from the customs value that will incur VAT and duty % fees.

    Regards
    Martin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martin,

      Yes, that’s correct.

      Andrew

  39. Hello Andrew, it was a great pleasure to read your web site(s) and see how much energy and helpfulness you have, thank you very much ! Please to help me with a question related to VAT Tax. I live between UK and The Middle East having properties in both locations and a Residence Visa in the Middle East, and a British Passport Holder. I recently made a purchase here in London of some new golf clubs that I wish to take with me out of the Country and leave my old set of clubs that I brought with me here in UK. However, I may decide to bring the new clubs back to UK after some years when the old ones I left here are needing replacing. So my question is to you, is this possible after claiming back VAT when I take them out of UK, and if so, how long must they ‘be out of the UK’ before I choose to bring them back to the UK ? Thank you Andrew.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Unfortunately I can’t help with such specific questions…

      Please contact Customs and ask them for advice.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  40. Sarah Whittaker

    Hi Andrew
    I recently purchased £2300 of goods from Taiwan, and dutifully paid VAT on them. The items turned out to be faulty and I had to send some back to Taiwan for testing – and the factory then agreed to refund me the £2300 I paid them. I am still largely out of pocket due to VAT and duty. I contacted the company I used to import and they say that HMRC have said I should claim the VAT back on my return, but I am not VAT registered. Is there a way I can get VAT or duty paid back on these useless items?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sarah,

      Not sure about import duty but I know that you can claim VAT back, yes (doesn’t matter if you’re not VAT registered).

      You need to contact HMRC and they will inform you on next steps.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  41. Hi Andrew.

    Thank you for the good read. I am a manufacturer and retailer (in charge of the entire value chain) and I will be going to the UK for a trade show. So I am bringing in the products myself, that I myself will be selling. What will the appropriate value be in my case? Do I factor the cost price of my product or do I factor the price I give to my retailers?

    example:

    My cost: 10 pounds

    Price to retailers: 20 pounds

    Price to end customer: 40 pounds

    Hope you are able to help xx

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Helen,

      Hmm, I’m not sure to be honest how it works in a situation like this.

      But I think it’s your cost/value you will have to declare (10 pounds).

      You may want to write an email to HMRC to be 100% sure on this.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  42. Hi thanks for the informative article, I have a question.

    I am looking to import watches from China to the UK ordering around 100 of each type. Each watch costs on average £1 but I intend to sell each item for £10. There is FREE shipping

    1. Say I order 100 watches at £1 each Will I be liable for import duty and VAT on the price I pay or the price that I can sell them for?

    2. Am I correct in thinking it would be 20% VAT + 4.5% Import Duty?

    3. Would it be therefore more beneficial for me to import £15 of watches per order (as shipping is free anyway) to avoid VAT and Duty?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      1) ON the price you pay, yes (NOT the re-sale value).

      2) Yes, correct.

      3) I don’t think thats technically legal, splitting your order in smaller sizes like this.

  43. Hi Andrew, I recently purchased some items from Aliexpress the total cost around £120, so expecting VAT import duty to pay on arrival. On arrival it was delivered via UK Royal Mail, with no customs form sticker on package as is usual when purchasing from Aliexpress. Also the return address on parcel is for an address in the UK. Everything on the parcel suggests it was sent from in the UK, is this something you have come across before? And does it mean I don’t need to worry about import charges in this scenario?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, thats very possible. Many Ali Express sellers use UK based warehouses now.

      Andrew

  44. michael lane

    Hi Andrew, I left my phone in Lanzarote at the check in (in Basket), on the way home, didn’t realise till was back in UK, it was handed into their lost property, I have paid UPS to collect and return to my sons place of work as he sorted it out for me. The phone has now been shipped back but Customs are asking for payment, (maybe because it was going to an business address?) the documentation states
    the phone is worth 200Euros. Will I have to pay as this is my personal phone which was on contract from Vodafone which I took on holiday with me??
    regards Mike

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      I don’t really know how situations like these are handled.

      You better call Customs and explain them in detail what happened and see what they say.

      Andrew

  45. Hi Andrew, what happens if you tell the Chinese seller to declare the correct customs value but they don’t? Can one pay the correct import tax afterwards? And what would you recommend to remedy this? Not saying this has happened to me but i am aware from some friends they regulary do this and its quite difficult to make them stop.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Michael,

      This happens quite often, yes.

      Personally I always (in case of expecting a courier shipment) inform courier company in advance that the shipment needs to go through Customs and send them REAL invoice before package arrives.

      But if it does slip through, there’s a special form you need to fill out from Customs to sort this out and pay taxes.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for your reply.

        What is this form called and where can i access?

        Do customs tend to frown on this and add extra charges in your experience?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I will do a more in depth post on this issue very soon on my blog.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Michael Oladipo

            okay thanks. Do you know what the name of the form is?

  46. Hey Andrew,

    As mentioned in your other blog. I was wondering if Brexit would affect the VAT & import duty at all?

    Thanks for the great posts!

    Best Regards,

    Matt

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      I will have a Brexit article on my blog tomorrow.

      As for VAT & import duty on imports from EU countries – it depends on what kind of agreement will be in place, we don’t really know any details on this right now.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  47. Hello.
    You said they ask for proof..
    I bought that guitar many years ago and i dont have any proof of the purchase i made probably 4 or 5 years ago? Means they don’t let me get it? What are other ways of proving the value?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m not sure Jack, I have never been faced with a situation like this.

      You should simply call Customs and ask for advice there.

      Andrew

  48. Hello i would really appreaciate if you could help me. Im receiving a used guitar that worths 5000 us dollar in uk. That means i have to pay 1000$ for cutoms? Anyway to lower the price?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jack,

      Yes, you’ll have to pay VAT & import duty on that purchase, even if it’s a used item.

      Customs will ask you for proof of purchase, proof of payment to confirm the value of the item.

      Andrew

  49. Andreea Rumsby

    Hey, i’ve been searching for answers for days now and still no luck. Will try my best to explain my situation…

    Basically I live in the uk , However I want to sell to the US for the moment and would like to dropship from china (would be mainly using aliexpress).

    Does the wavering of any vat and custom duty work out the same here…

    i.e as long as it’s under £15 for no vat charges and under £135 for no duty charge??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andreea,

      No, in this situation you have to look @ rules in the US, not UK.

      Here’s more info on taxes, thresholds on imports in the US:

      https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/internet-purchases

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  50. Hi Andrew,

    I have another question. We are trying to import goods from China to UK. The sales agent is based in a country other than China and UK. The sales agent was able to provide us good discounts but in return a % commission of the total value of the order. Do we have to pay duty and VAT on that commission as well?

    Thanking in advance,
    Raza

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Raza,

      No, you don’t have to as you’ll basically pay separately to them. It will be a service invoice.

      Andrew

  51. Hi Andrew,

    If the supplier from China is offering free shipment and mentioned on the invoice. Does customs would ask to declare shipment cost separately to calculate import duty and VAT? Either way the duty and VAT should remain the same. Or am I miss8my something?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Raza,

      I believe it can be free shipping, yes, as VAT stays same AND actually you’re paying more in import duty (as normally import duty would be calculated on product cost only, without shipping). So if you don’t declare shipping costs separately, you pay import duty on whole amount, including the shipping charge.

      So it’s always advisable to have shipping costs shown separately on your invoices.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for your reply. I actually got confused from the below text from this link https://www.gov.uk/goods-sent-from-abroad/tax-and-duty. It says that the value includes postage and packing.

        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, unless the duty comes to less than £7.

        The value includes:
        the price paid for the goods
        postage, packaging and insurance

        Thanks,
        Raza

  52. My apologies if already asked, there is a long trail below.
    I’d like to bring in goods on my person. Specifically gemstones, they are small and valuable and I feel better to keep them with me rather than courier them as the services in the areas I travel in are not reliable. These are customs exempt, but VAT is due. Value is usually 1-2K per trip.
    Unlike other countries where you just go to the customs desk at the airport (e.g. Switzerland) and pay, UK customs seem to have no sensible way to deal with this.
    On arrival, often there is often no one there at customs and if you call them on the red phone, they treat you as if you are insane to be declaring anything voluntarily.
    Is there any practical way to deal with this other than paying a broker several hundred pounds to meet me at the airport, which simply isn’t cost-effective at the level I am bringing stuff in?
    Many Thanks in advance.

  53. Hi Andrew,

    Great article! Maybe you could advise me on a related matter?

    I would like to start a marketplace for overseas retailers to advertise and sell their goods in the UK. I have seen that some couriers allow sellers to pay the UK custom and VAT charges which would be ideal as it would mean that buyers are not surprised with these extra costs once their purchases arrive in the country.

    So for example, if the seller wishes to sell a product for £150 (inc. delivery and insurance) with 2% customs duty, 20% VAT and £10 handling fee, the seller would have to add an additional £43.60 to the desired £150 retail price to cover these charges. The advertised retail price on the marketplace would therefore be £193.60.

    My question is can the seller still declare a goods value of £150 to customs despite selling for £193.60?

    If the seller is legally obliged to declare a value of £193.60, with the same charges they will pay more out (£53.37) and ultimately end up with less than the £150 that they desire.

    Hopefully you can shed some more light.

    Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment.

      This is quote specific situation so I don’t know really how this could be done, properly anyway.

      eBay & Amazon does this but they have special agreements in place with courier companies. I’m sure that sellers can and do declare the actual cost (£150 in your example) but I don’t really know how this is set-up from legal/law point of view.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew. Your comment about eBay led me to Pitney Bowes website and it appears they offer a global shipping solution to all online marketplaces. It could be expensive but certainly worth looking into.

        I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

        Chris

  54. Andrew,

    Thank you for your post.

    You are suggesting us not to register VAT if the sales under the threshold.

    Yes it is correct if the cost of the item is low.
    But what if the cost of the item is high? If we declare the cost high, the sales VAT will equals as the import VAT, or may lower than the import VAT. It is because the import VAT is mainly affected by the FOB price.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ken,

      It does not make difference – in terms that – you’ll be out of pocket more if you’re VAT registered. Yes, difference with small margins will be smaller but still – you’ll pay more in tax.

      And no, import VAT is NOT calculated on FOB price. It’s calculated on product price + shipping + import duty value.

      Andrew

  55. Hi,
    Really useful – thanks. Possibly a daft question, but I will ask anyway, but if VAT registered, is the VAT paid on import then be offset (deducted) in arriving at the amount due for quarterly VAT return (ie the usual OUTPUT tax less INPUT Tax) ?

    So I am in effect just paying some VAT in advance ?, and the final cost of goods does not really include the VAT element. Make sense ?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andy,

      Yes, correct.

      Andrew

  56. Hi Andrew. i am thinking of purchasing 16gb RAM from Ebay America for my Apple Macbook as it is quite a bit cheaper than here in the uk. The cost of the RAM is $60 + $11 postage. What extra taxes and duties will i have to pay in total. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      You’ll have to pay VAT @ 20%.

      Import duty for this product is 0%.

      So basically it’s just 20% + small customs clearance fee (usually £10-£20, depending on carrier).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  57. Hi, I would like to buy scarves from China, which are labelled ‘made in China’. I would like to either ask can. I ask them to add my label, or can I legally add my own brand label, and resell them I am hoping to ask the suppliers to only sell to m e these particular designs.
    The have bought samples, and they are good quality and are very reasonable. I want to add smart Packaging and additional labelling, is there anything else I need, or anything I need to be aware of. The average value of each order will be under £200.
    Very many thanks
    P.j

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course you can do that!

      Ideally ask supplier to add your own labels/tags as it will be cheaper to do in China.

      But if that’s not possible, you can do it on your own, it’s perfectly fine.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  58. Katherine B

    Hi Andrew

    Something just to check please as it is never stated online properly and I just want to be sure.

    I understand importing into the UK over £15 limit one gets taxed for the goods and postage.

    But what exactly makes up to the £15 limit? Is that goods alone, or goods and postage. I would just like to be clear as I’m about to start ordering world wide in small amounts.

    Many thanks
    Katherine

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Katherine,

      I think it’s goods + shipping, yes.

      Andrew

      1. Katherine B

        HI Andrew – you think….

        I need to find out exactly and it’s really hard to do so. I did once read that it was the value of the item under £15, then over £15 the value of the item plus the shipping. But everyone seems to be so vague and never defines things precisely

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Katherine.

          Why don’t you simply call HMRC and ask?

          Sorry, I just don’t deal with such small shipments and don’t know how they calculate this.

          Andrew

  59. You mention that books are exempt from import duties. Do you have an official source for this? I know that imported books are VAT exempt but I could not find anything official about the import duties.

    I plan to import about £1,000 worth of encyclopedias from Canada to UK. Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bob,

      Books are exempt from VAT & import duty.

      You can find this info on the HMRC website. More info here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/import-taxes/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  60. we want to ask you regarding some clearification of claim received from insurance co.

    we hae received material from Germany,Out of full consignment same material go damaged

    during transit.We have put claim on insurance co. They have arranged survey of the damaged material

    and agreed to settle our claim.While settling the same they have informed us that they will give claim on

    basic value and will not consider duties and taxes(custom duty excise and octroi ) paid by us to clear the

    material..Duties and taxes comes to about 30%of basic value.

    I feel what they say is not logical.

    PL GUIDE ME IN THIS MATTER

    1. Andrew Minalto

      This is really between you and the insurance company – what cover amount you have paid for, what are terms etc.

      Not much I can help with.

      Sorry,
      Andrew

  61. steve kelly

    Hi Andrew
    I am importing a kinetic log splitter from China for $1100
    I was quoted $160 to ship. Now I am expected to pay another $549

    Terminal Handling USD 96.00
    Documentation USD 101.00
    Port security fee USD 8.00
    Customs clearance fee USD100.00
    Delivery to door USD 220.00
    Roe Surcharge USD 24.00

    Total: 549 USD

    I guess ill be charged import duty and 20% VAt on $1649?

    Is this all above board what I have to pay?
    Thanks Steve

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, this is all correct.

      Chinese suppliers usually just give shipping price to your nearest port, without all these extra charges.

      That’s why I always recommend using a freight company who can give you Door to Door quote, which will cover EVERYTHING.

      The VAT won’t be on full amount though as VAT is payable on all costs/product price until it enters UK (so for example local delivery to your door will be exempt from this).

      Andrew

  62. […] have just read your article on VAT and import taxes when buying goods from China and have a couple of […]

  63. Hi I’m intending to purchase gold from an online respected site based in Dubai, I noticed in the last few months the prices of gold in this site has tripled I mentioned to them once if I will be charged tax & I think this had been added to their prices, Do you charge tax for buying gold for personal use from UAE? Please get in touch ASAP? Is there a minimum or maximum spend allowed? Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cathy,

      From what I know, there’s no import duty to be paid on imported gold (rate is 0%) BUT you’ll have to pay standard VAT rate @ 20%.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  64. Hi Andrew

    What a great post, really summed it all up very clearly! I am looking to import for the first time and have been reading around and your post was by far the most succinct and well-explained. Bravo!

    One related question I have is I am wondering if it is any different if I am actually producing my own products in the country from which I import from (ie. I am not purchasing the products as made, but rather buying various materials, making the items, then importing them – all materials sourced and product build is in that same country). How would I calculate the unit price in this instance? Would I use the cost price? And if so, would I need to submit anything like the full list of materials used to specify how the cost price is derived?

    I was also wondering if say I decide to use some materials from various countries, which are then sent to the country that I import the final product from (where it is all put together). Would that affect the import duty fee or VAT if the materials come from various places?

    Cheers!
    Dave

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dave,

      Who would “build” these items for you? Your own company or supplier/manufacturer?

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for the quick reply Andrew.

        Initially I would use specialist tradesmen (so essentially another person/business) for the initial order/s, but provide them with all the materials to make the product. So the other business is only for the skilled labour/production.

        If sales were to go well I would then look to set up my own company there bring all of it within that same company, if it makes more financial sense to do so. The reason I do not intend to do this from the start is because I do not have many orders currently, but if it does come through then I would be happy to set up there.

        Is there any benefit/preferential to either of these (having company based there vs using other business for part/production)?

        Thanks!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Dave,

          To be honest I have never done anything like this, so don’t know for sure how this all works out tax wise…

          But it would only make sense that you provide all invoices for materials + invoice from last/final supplier who assembles units and pay import duty & VAT on that amount – final cost per item.

          With your own company in China, things get more complex and you should probably consult an accountant for best set–ups tax wise.

          Andrew

  65. Hi,
    I send back the goods to US after few days coz i wasn’t happy with the product but I receive letters and mails from dhl telling me to pay duty and tax because has already delivered
    Why I have to pay duty and tax for something I send it back already?
    Please tell me what to do
    Oliver

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oliver,

      You need to ask this DHL – maybe you can provide proof that you have sent these goods back and don’t have to pay taxes.

      Andrew

  66. Hi,
    I have some damaged items of a large value to return to China and will have to send them in an container. As they are faulty I would not of imagines i would have to pay customs charges in China as I already paid when they entered the UK. As they are returns should I have to pay?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lisa,

      No, you shouldn’t have to pay if all documentation is correct.

      Please consult with your shipping/freight company and ask them for correct procedure.

      Andrew

  67. Hi,

    I’m importing a computer into the UK from outside the EU. Its not a new computer but a used one (used by me). I am a full time student studying in the UK and will need it for study purposes however I will have to courier it to myself because of its size. Will I have to pay any tax/duty on import? Its approx 1000 pounds in value.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karan,

      Yes, from what I know you’ll have to pay VAT/import duty if you ship it via courier.

      Andrew

  68. Hi Andrew,

    Just wonder my friends posted me something from Hong Kong that value is higher that £15, however, no one ask me to pay for duty or VAT. Do I have to report it?

    Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you don’t! 🙂

  69. Hi Andrew I want to buy a batman Batmobile from hong kong the cost of it on ebay is 385 pounds and it is a large package. Will I’ll i be paying any duties and taxes if so how much do you think because I tried the duty calculator dint have exact matches for the Batmobile the duty calculator also says there is no taxes or duty to be paid if getting things from hong kong is that right.also will it be cheaper in taxes and duties if I get the same thing in from Malaysia because it is the same price there.
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rita,

      It will be roughly 25% in taxes on top of what you pay to supplier.

      There’s no difference between China and Malaysia – if you’re UK based, taxes are same for imports from outside EU.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks andrew

  70. Hi Andrew:
    Thank you for all your great info.
    We are starting to export USA made apparel/ goods to the UK and other EU countries. Our products would be higher priced and not under the value limit for free entry. I have a few questions:
    1. We would be selling to retailers in the UK/EU and in turn they will sell to their customers. If we use UPS as a shipper would we show our “Cost” price” or “Wholesale price as charged to retailer” for VAT and Duties calculation purposes?
    2. We are also thinking to possibly use a fulfillment center somewhere in the UK/EU. I don’t believe there is an Duty-fee/VAT-free area in the UK/EU (there is in the USA and the duty is charged only when the goods leave the fulfillment center). The VAT differs from country to county (about 19 to 22+%). If the fulfillment center is in an EU country with higher VAT then we would need to pay the VAT in advance for the fulfillment center to accept the goods and the VAT charged would be based on the location country of the fulfillment center. Once the VAT is paid, the goods can move within the EU, but it seems best to pay the lowest VAT? Does this make sense?
    3. Is there any suggestion regarding alternate location for a fulfillment center to not have to pre-pay the VAT (therefore the VAT would be paid directly by the purchasing retailer based on his country’s VAT rate) ? If we use one in Switzerland, which is not part of EU, would this be a possibility?
    Thank you in advance for your assistance!
    Nick

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      1) You would put your wholesale price on customs declaration – same as on customer’s invoice.

      2) Yes, that is correct. But you have to look @ FFH pricing and location as for example – if your main market will be UK, you would want to use a UK based FFH for quick/cheap delivery to customers. (Even if VAT rate is one or two percent higher than in other EU country).

      3) I can’t see any alternatives to this really. Unless you just keep stock in the US and send to customers from there.

      Andrew

  71. Mark Shelton

    Hi,

    I imported an astronomical telescope mount from the USA. I paid all import duty & taxes to UPS.

    Nearly one year later the mount had a manufacturing fault that required the mount to be shipped back to the USA. This was fixed free of charge by the manufacturer.

    On the outgoing documentation for the mount I filled out the customs declaration stating that this was a none chargeable warranty repair & I gave all details of the original consignment notes & paid invoice details for the duty & VAT. The return was handling by an agent who shipped the mount back via DHL.

    The manufacturer shipped the mount back to me by UPS & accidentally put a cost of $1000 US on there export documentation. I reluctantly paid the VAT & DUTY to UPS to get the mount released otherwise I would have had to have refused the shipment & landed in no mans land.

    £ weeks later I get an additional invoice for £1600.00 from UPS saying the the original shipment was undervalued. I refused to pay a third time for obvious reasons. UPS are now threatening legal action & despite going to my own solicitor I’m not convinced that he truly knows the position I’m in.

    Whilst I understand the onus is on the importer I feel I’ve not been negligent as I declared the full facts in my outgoing repair.

    Would you know where I stand with this-The issue is worrying me very much.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry Mark but I have no experience with situations like these so unfortunately can’t give you any advice….

      £1600 in taxes – that doesn’t sound right at all though! Where did they get the value, such high?

      And as you haven’t signed/approved this, I don’t think they can legally do anything about this?

      Andrew

  72. Hi,

    Thank you for all the information. I am starting a very small business…

    “VAT is not charged if:

    the FOB value, i.e. the value of the goods excluding shipping and insurance cost, does not exceed £15”

    If I sent goods in packages less than £15 at a time, but sent many packages, could I avoid the 20% VAT charge? And would it matter if I sent many packages in a year?

    Thanks again

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, if you send them in multiple, individual shipments, you could avoid paying VAT on such cheap, low value items.

      No, it doesn’t matter how many packages you send in a year.

      Andrew

  73. Hi Andrew

    Have a basic question regarding an online item i bought from PA USA
    The item cost £31 & shipping £41 (nearest exchange rates at the time)
    Note the item weighs 1800grams but the box is bulky (model airplane kit) although i had a scimilar item as a gift from my sister that only cost.£17.20 to ship???
    Ny parcel was held at customs for 5 working days so including PARCEL FORCE worldwide handling fee of £8…. total in fees 1£18.70….. Is £10.70 the correct amount on this item or am i missing sonetging here??

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hard to say how exactly they calculated it but it sounds about right, yes, if not less what it should actually be.

  74. Hi Andrew,

    I had a question about non-business gifts or shipping personal belongings. I had my parents in the US ship some items of mine to the UK where I am studying. Now the package was marked as gift from the postal office and my items included clothes and my laptop so they were expensive.

    I had to pay a large fee due to the UK VAT customs fee, though we were unaware I would have to do so. Is this valid? Would I be able to claim a refund somehow?

    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      yes, unfortunately that’s how it works…

      Even if they’re gifts or personal belongings, if the value is over certain limit, you have to pay taxes when send in such goods in the EU.

      Andrew

  75. Adrian Sherwood

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this helpful article.

    Could you please tell me, if I purchase a product from the US to get it shipped to the UK then whether I need to pay UK VAT or the US VAT or both UK and US VAT charges?

    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      ONLY UK VAT of course.

      Andrew

      1. Adrian Sherwood

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks a lot

        That was very helpful 🙂

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome! 🙂

  76. Hi,

    I’m hoping to have a fairly large and expensive unmade movie prop kit shipped from the USA to the UK, it is from a friend and is for my own use.

    I know I am going to have to pay VAT on the value of the item, the combined postage/insurance and any Duty incurred.

    I see by looking online if it is labelled correctly (i.e.as listed on an import website: The import duty rate for importing Movie Prop into United Kingdom is 0% , the import VAT is 5%, when classified under Antiques, Art & Collectibles → Collectibles → Collectible of historic / cultural interest with HS commodity code 9705.00.0090. Additional taxes apply: , , , , , , , , , . ) then the import duty may be 0% rated and the UK VAT rate reduced to 5%.

    Is that correct, if so how does one advise the USA sender to best label the package?

    Given the value of the item and shipping combined comes in just shy of $3,000 I’d like to get my % charges as low as possible!

    All advice appreciated in advance. – Andy.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andy,

      You should really call HMRC and ask for details on what you’ll need e.g. any documentation/proof they may be asking at customs for clearance.

      I haven’t imported such items so don’t know really what they may ask.

      Andrew

      1. Thank you for the response.

        Will contact HRMC.

        Kind Regards,

        Andy

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No worries, you’re welcome Andy!

  77. HI,

    I am planning to start an online for customers in UK & Ireland. If an item that I listed is sold I will ask my supplier who is based in HK to directly ship item to the buyer (drop-ship model), then who will be liable to pay VAT & Customs? Buyer or Me as a seller?

    What VAT thresholds needs to be considered here to register for VAT?

    If I cross VAT threshold, should I register for VAT? and how much VAT should I pay?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Your buyers will have to pay import duty & VAT.

      As for applying for VAT, thresholds, amounts to pay etc. – these are all questions you will need to ask your accountant as in your situation (sending goods directly from supplier to customers) “may” require registration for VAT immediately. But I’m not an accountant so can’t give you such detailed advice.

      Andrew

  78. Roy Gregory

    Dear Andrew,
    I will shortly be importing goods from Thailand using a UK limited company.

    I understand the principles of invoicing and paying vat and import duty but could you tell me how I will know when the goods reach the customs so that I can pay the taxes and get the goods released. Also can you please tell me how long it normally takes for Customs to release the goods when payment has been made?

    Our annual turnover is well below the threshhold required to register and pay vat so can we reclaim the vat paid on the goods and how do we go about doing that if we are not registered?
    Best Regards
    Roy Gregory

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Roy,

      Thanks for your email.

      The shipment holder (courier or freight forwarder) will inform you when goods arrive in the UK (if they have correct contact details for you).

      It just takes few days for customs to release your goods, often even less than that.

      You can’t claim VAT back you pay on imported goods if you’re NOT VAT registered business. Please check out this post for more details:

      https://andrewminalto.com/vat-registration/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  79. Hi Andrew i am interested in purchasing some items from a hong kong supplier of keys for cars he has quoted me a price for the goods of $1200 dollars the items will be delivered via dhl i would have to pay import into the uk what happens does the person i purchase from decalre the full amount to dhl and i pay for the duty look forward to hearing from you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tim,

      Yes, just ask supplier to declare full value and attach invoice to the package (outer part – in the document pocket/sleeve).

      Then DHL will do customs clearance and you simply need to pay all taxes/processing fee.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  80. Hi, I am starting an online business. I am importing some items from china to the US. I took a freight forwarder to handle everything.
    Im wondering, how would I know if they are charging me what the actual duties cost? They just sent me a bill with all my charges including duty fees, how do I know they didn’t add more than the actual charge. Is there a way to verify that?
    Also, I’m wondering, how do I figure out the actual cost of each item. I orderd items with different prices from this manufacturer. Then I paid taxes and shipping. So how do I figure out the actual cost of the product?
    Thanks
    Rachel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rachel,

      You should ask them to provide a break down of all fees/costs you have to pay them with VAT, import duty clearly displayed along with other charges.

      As for calculating shipping cost per item – well, you will have to do some manual work there. Use product’s price to calculate taxes (can use a ball park figure of 25%) and then add fraction of the shipping cost based on item’s weight or value.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  81. Hi Andrew

    I recently purchased a specialist weightlifting bench from the US. The bench cost 500 dollars to buy and I paid 300 dollars for shipping. I did my homework and was under the impression that once the bench entered the UK I would be contacted by customs and told how much I had to pay to have my item released. To my surprise the bench got delivered yesterday by the courier and I signed for it. I am not complaining that I have seemingly not been requested to pay any import tax or VAT on my purchase but I am a little baffled by it. Can you think of a reason why I have not been asked to pay any import tax or VAT? I am not a business. I am a private individual who just bought this item off the Internet because I couldn’t source it from within the UK?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gavin,

      Some couriers actually deliver shipment first and then send tax invoice via post. So it could well be the case this time.

      Very unlikely that such a large shipment slipped through customs without clearance.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew

        If the carrier invoices me, how do I know if I am being charged correctly? If HMRC invoice me directly then I’ll know but how do I know that the carrier is not overcharging me? I am happy to pay HMRC what they wish but I did not choose this carrier, the sender did. I do not feel that I have any duty to pay them anything as I have never knowingly entered into a contract with them.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          The money goes to HMRC anyway, it’s not the courier that takes it!!!

          In the invoice you’ll see a detailed break down of the costs – VAT, import duty, processing fee.

          If you want then, you can double check if numbers are correct.

          Andrew

          1. Ah ok, I get you now.

            I’ll just wait and see what comes.

            Thanks again.

  82. Hi Andrew,

    I buy and sell antique artwork to supplement my pension and some of the items are made in England but are now located in different countries – typically Australia and Canada, where there are many old English families. I can buy, for example, a vase from an English home and pay no VAT, yet the same vase located in Canada seems to incur VAT. This doesn’t seem fair.

    Is there any way around this?

    Thanks,
    Freya

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Freya,

      Unfortunately that’s how it works… if you import valuable goods from outside European Union, you have to pay taxes.

      There’s no way around it.

      Andrew

  83. Hi Andrew,

    thats a LOT of advice up there! So here are my questions which I think will be useful to others too.

    I am Hong Kong based company and I have garments I want to sell In UK. The stuff is coming from Hong Kong. I am trying to weigh up the pros of carrying with me as Merchandise In Baggage or just posting it to myself in the UK and then distribute.

    1.HMRC says MIB can NOT be part of baggage allowance. So does this mean I need to pack my merchandise separately and pay for it as a separate item of baggage?

    2. Is this just so customs can get VAT from the shipping cost portion of my merchandise?

    3. Arriving at the airport I wont need to fill in a C88 SAD if my merchandise total value is below GBP800. But I will pay import duty and VAT once they have agreed with my valuation right there at the airport red zone?

    4. If I was were to post it to myself. I just fill in a CN22, pay my import duty and VAT when collecting from the post office? Meaning less hassle from customs going through all my luggage?

    Thanks v much
    Matt

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      I’m sorry but I really don’t have any experience in doing something like this so can’t provide any advice…

      Andrew

  84. Hi Andrew,

    I work for an online homeware company, unfortunately a few items we ship to our customers arrive damaged, to which we dispatch replacement orders at no additional cost to the customer.

    Should duty be applied to these replacement orders? Do I need to complete paperwork to avoid further charges?

    Thanks
    Sarah

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sarah,

      Do you ship from UK to UK based customers?

      If so, I can’t see really how import duty relates to this as you pay import duty when you import goods in first place.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        No we export internationally, mainly US and Australia.

        Thanks
        sarah

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Then yes, people will have to pay import taxes on products you send out as replacements….

          Andrew

  85. Hi Andrew,
    Great article but I have a question, how about clothing I live in Spain and I ordered a pair of shoes from China and they cost €100, how much will I be paying for my order?
    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bilal,

      You’ll pay +/- 25% on top of that in taxes (VAT and import duty).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  86. James sherwood

    I’ve just returned from Chicago after visiting my sister, I left my wedding ring at hers and have had her post it back via usps international (insurance $1000) but now I’ve received a customs bill of £135 but I brought this item in the UK over 4 years ago so do I still have to pay all these customs charges. If not does anyone have a contact I can use.

    Regards

    James

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      Your best bet is to call HMRC and ask for advice. Chances are that if you can prove that you imported this item in UK 4 years ago, you don’t have to pay taxes again. I’m not sure how this works really, haven’t been in a situation like this.

      Andrew

  87. Hi Andrew,

    Great article but I have a few questions that I would really appreciate if you could help answer…

    1) The threshold limit for which no VAT is charged you mentioned was £15, is this meant to be for the total value of the goods only or the total value of the goods plus the cost of postage? E.g. Product value £10 + Postage cost £5 = £15

    2) You also mentioned that import duty is not charged if the total order is worth £135 or less. Does this figure include the cost of postage e.g. Product value £100 + Postage cost £35 = £135 or is it for the total value of the goods only?

    3) I am thinking of placing an order for several plastic model kits from Japan for which the total cost without postage comes to a total of £500. These plastic model kits are for personal use rather than for resale and I was wondering what would be the best method (cheapest) to import into the UK, should I send this as a single package and incur import duty, VAT and Parcelforce’s clearance fee or should I divide my orders up into packages that are less than £135 each and incur just the VAT and Parcelforce’s clearance fee? Or would it perhaps be better to send this as a single package via Fedex?

    Your opinion and assistance would be most welcomed. Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      1) As far as I know, it’s on total value of the goods, yes, excluding shipping costs.

      2) Same thing.

      3) Import duty is usually not that high (3-5%) so it’s simply not worth doing multiple shipments to avoid it. You’ll pay much more in additional shipping charges, additional customs clearance fees than you would make any savings.

      So just send them all in one go via cheapest courier your supplier can organise for you.

      Andrew

  88. I purchased some cream for medical use from usa total came to £44.00 incl delivery as it was a free delivery but dhl courier say I need to pay £16 for duty and vat I think that is a bit too harsh amount on so small money that I spent

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Well, unfortunately that’s how it works…

      You have to pay courier a custom clearance/processing fee – that’s why you get a rather high cost associated with low cost imports.

      Andrew

  89. Hi wondering if you can help. I ordered 5 hats from us as sample to check quality. Total price was £30 . On top of that I paid £14.78 shipping cost. When package arrived in UK I had to them pay another 13-17 pounds customs if I remember correctly. I now want to order in bulk but I am scared the customs vat and shipping cost is going to be through the roof. They are saying 8$ a hat and I am ordering 225 hats. What sought of shipping vat and duty costs will I be looking at? Will costs come down the more I order. Would o be best getting 500 hats in the same order instead of 225 every few months.
    Lastly if they was to drop the value of the goods to say 5$ a hat on the invoice will that lower or increase shipping, duty and vat costs for me. Will I be better off or is it better to increase the price really.
    Thank you in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ely,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The reason why you had to pay that much (£13-£17) in taxes on your sample shippment is because there’s a fixed clearance fee, charged by courier company. When your order size increases, this fee stays the same and you only pay VAT @ 20% and import duty.

      So yes, with your next order, the charges will be smaller – percentage wise. As a ball park figure, you can use 25% for VAT and import duty. So if your order is worth say £1000, you should expect to pay around £250 in taxes.

      You can’t ask your supplier to lower invoice’s value – that’s tax evasion and illegal.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  90. Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for the detailed guide, exactly what I was looking for.

    I am located in USA, and trying to sell an item in EU (UK to be exact) to a vendor/distributor for the first time.

    I currently sell an item that has 0% duties

    I will be importing a product from China to United Kingdom to another vendor, and will be doing so on DDP Icoterms.

    This is my first time importing to UK, from my understanding:
    – Duties on this import shipment will be 0
    – VAT, I will have to pay 20% for the total sale price of the order

    Questions:
    1. Is the details I outlined above correct?

    2. Do I need a VAT registration number or anything? I just am selling to another vendor, so that will be the limit of my business in UK/EU.

    3. If the person you are selling to is VAT-Registered Business, they will be collecting VAT from their customers. Does that mean, I, the supplier then have to pay any VAT? It sounds like the responsibility of paying/collecting VAT is transferred to my vendor.

    4. I buy from my supplier for $X, and selling it to my vendor/distributor for $Y. Do I pay VAT on how much I get the goods from my supplier, or how much I am selling it to my vendor in UK, when importing? (These goods directly go from China to UK)

    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      1) Yes, if you say that import duty is 0%, only VAT @ 20% is payable (on goods value + shipping costs).

      2) No, you don’t need a VAT number.

      3) No, you – based in the USA – don’t deal with VAT etc. Your UK customer will deal with all of that.

      4) As I said, you don’t pay VAT in this case. Your customer in UK will pay it.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for the reply Andrew.

        It seems like a very difficult and expensive task to get VAT registered if you are a new business (and outside of UK).

        Would the vendor/distributor then need to be the Importer of Record for the shipment?

        In this case, DDP terms are pretty much not possible correct? We would probably have to go DAP?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I don’t know really as I haven’t been in a situation like this.

          But yes, it would be much simpler if the vendor/distributor would be the importer and one that handles all the paper work and taxes.

          Andrew

  91. Scott Larsen

    Hello,

    Great site!

    I’m in the U.S. I purchase custom shirts from India that were the wrong size. Instead of paying a ridiculous amount at FedEx to return them, I used the USPS. The returned box is sitting in customs with the response of

    “invoice of the items is required for assessment of duty if applicable.please quote the local parcel no given by the postal office”

    Do I have to pay on returned goods ?

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Scott,

      Not sure what this means really so you’ll have to contact USPS to find out more on what exactly you need to do.

      Andrew

  92. I have a small online store business that recently received a request for shipping to the UK. Normally we include shipping in our pricing inside the U.S., but due to the cost to UK ($45USD) we were going to charge our customer $25 which is the difference of what we normally cover. My question is this: since the VAT is based on purchase + shipping, should we back down the price of the purchase and just charge purchase + flat shipping? I’m worried that she will get charged a VAT rate based on the full shipping rate ( am I making any sense?)

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Deanna,

      Yes, VAT will be charged on shipping too.

      I can’t give you any advice on tax evasion though.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. I’m not trying to evade paying taxes. I was trying to explain that we include shipping in the price of a customer’s purchase. At least in the U.S. We don’t charge additionally for shipping. It’s included! So for Int’l we would as well, but my concern is that how will the customs view that? Is there a way for them to see that the shipping is included in the purchase price? Or do we have to breakdown the price for them?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You should show up shipping separately on the invoice because while VAT is calculated on goods value + shipping, IMPORT DUTY is calculated on goods value alone. So if you include shipping price in goods value, customer will have to pay higher import duty.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Deanna

            Okay, thank you!

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Deanna! 🙂

  93. Eirian Jones

    Hi Andrew,

    I was wondering if you can help.

    I’ve purchased a bag from Macy’s USA to ship to the UK, boarderfree is there appointed international shipping agent. At checkout it wasn’t clear I could pre-pay the estimated duty & taxes cost – therefore will need to pay upon delivery – How does this work?

    I have used the estimated duty calculator and its saying it will be around £30 (£140 for the bag and £16 for delivery) reading through boardefree articles it says the duty and tax payable can vary, I’m now worried I will get stung for a much larger bill than expected. How does this work and is it likely?

    Lastly DHL are the courier, I don’t understand how they can charge a fee when I’ve already paid the delivery cost?

    I hope you can help! Many thanks Eirian

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Eirian,

      It should be roughly £40 in taxes, including clearance fee. It shouldn’t be much bigger than that.

      DHL will clear the goods through customs for you and simply invoice you for VAT and import duty payment + clearance fee.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  94. tony gabrille

    Hello Andrew , really great article. i have couple of questions would really appreciate if you could help.

    1. We are a new start up (gift retailer) looking to order items (aprons and wallets) from U.S. I placed an order now with the supplier in U.S. they will be delivered soon. Now What do i do now ? should i just wait for the parcel to come , go to postoffice , pay the Vat/customs and collect it? take them to store and sell them?
    is that that simple?
    or AM I MISSING something here: as in when they say ‘DECLARE to CUSTOMS’ Do i have to fill in any other forms???

    Do i need EROI number to order /collect the above items?

    2. normally when i order from suppliers they send it through fedex/DHL etc. Do i need freight forwarder? what does freight forwarder actually do.. do the Fedex/DHL take care of customs etc???

    i would really appreciate if you could kindly clarify .

    best
    tony

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) yes, you just wait for the package to arrive. If it’s sent via courier, they will contact you about tax payments prior delivery. You don’t have to do anything extra – courier companies will clear the goods through customs, you just pay the invoice. You don’t need EORI number unless they ask you for it.

      2) No, you don’t need to use a freight forwarder when using courier companies like Fedex, DHL etc.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  95. Andrew

    Really pleased to have found your site. Travelled to Singapore and due back in the UK in about a weeks time. I forgot to pack my laptop which was essential for my visit. I bought a Apple MacBook Pro using my personal Visa with the intention of putting it through as a business expense. The cost was roughly $3,500 SG, which is roughly 2:1 against pound sterling. At Singapore airport I can claim back GST( Singapores VAT equivalent) which is 7% on purchases. When I declare it at Heathrow will it be the gross amount or minus the 7% GST. I’m VAT registered am I right in thinking there’s just Vat on this item to pay or will there be duty also? Cheers Matt

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      Yes, it should be NET amount (purchase price – 7%) as that’s the actual sum the item cost you to purchase.

      And yes – import duty on laptops is 0% so you’ll only need to pay VAT.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks for clarifying things!

  96. Wendy Livesey

    Hi Andrew, I wonder if you can help? We are a UK company who purchases many goods from the EU, one of our suppliers has offered us a container shipment direct from China, will we have to pay duty when it is delivered? Our purchase invoice and payment will be with our supplier in Germany and they will ship the order from China to the UK.

    Many thanks

    Wendy

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Wendy,

      Yes, you’ll have to clear the goods yourself and pay taxes in a case like this.

      So you have to decide whatever it’s worth your time/hassle/extra cost.

      Andrew

      1. Wendy Livesey

        Thanks Andrew, impressed with your prompt reply!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          you’re welcome Wendy! 🙂

  97. Hi Andrew. First of all i want to say what an informative site this is and to congratulate you on good advice.
    I have recently become a limited company and have imported goods for China for the first time, I received a text call today to pay my taxes today of £51 which really confused me and i paid on line, however I ordered £5k of goods, I have e-mailed my supplier and asked what price they valued the goods and they have told me they valued them at £350, im not sure why they have done this, should I contact DHL and explain what has happened, i really do not want to mess my new business up, Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sue,

      This is very typical of Chinese suppliers to under-value shipments…

      But yes, you just want to call DHL asap and inform them about this situation – there won’t be any penalties to you. Just provide them with real invoice for real amount so they can re-calculate your tax bill.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  98. Hi
    Had an old pair of maui jim glasses repaired in hong kong for £25.00 uk money ( i live between thailand and uk ) Hong kong at the time only repairer near thailand, but since postage better to uk asked to send there care of my daughter.
    My daughter gets a bill letter for £186 duty,vat and clearance ( crazy ) i call they said they stated on customs dec, 9000hkd ( crazy )
    Any way, you guessed it no way paying that, not even if they are sentimental.

    So my question is is it better to send to me in thailand or back to uk with correct repair cost of £25.00. ( by the way Maui Jim do insist they marked it correctly but i will never know as they will not show me the dec done )

    Please any answers would be great.
    This is my own old glasses sent for repair to plastic nose bridge.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kevin,

      I really have no experience on importing such repaired items, so don’t know what to suggest to you…

      Probably yes, just send it back and re-send to UK with correct value of repair service.

      Andrew

  99. Hi Andrew,
    Im new to the US and I recently ordered some clothes from a UK site, not realising the whole customs situation. Now they’ve smacked me with an 80 dollar customs bill which I genuinely cannot afford to pay! If I don’t pay will they return the package to the sender (so that I can tell the site its a return and they just refund me)? Do Customs charge me anything at all in this case? Eg Handling or processing fees or the cost of the return postage?

    Thanks, Orla

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Orla,

      Usually that is the case, yes, but I don’t really know how US customs work, so you should ask them directly what happens if you refuse to accept the package.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  100. Hello Andrew, wow, that’s it!? ‘I’ll probably need a more specific description’ ? Thanks!

    And you are manifestly incorrect to state that i will be unable to clear the goods myself, it is perfectly possible for an individual to do this and i have done so myself, several times, at both Felixstowe and Southampton. It can be complex, especially the first time but you are misleading your readers when you say that only a qualified customs broker can clear a shipment and put together a customs declaration.

    Very disappointing.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Naka,

      How do you do it on your own? I have always believed that you can’t do it on your own….

      What’s the procedure? how do you create customs declaration?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  101. Hi Andrew. I was recently in the US on a very long road trip with some US friends which consisted mainly of clothes shopping at vintage stores, yard sales and flea markets across the US and amassing a van full of the stuff. I did this safe (i thought) in the knowledge that one of my US friends is an experienced shipper of similar goods worldwide and had said he would take care of this for me, which to a certain extent he has. So i now have approx 350kg of used vintage clothing and accessories of hugely varying ages, types and fabric content underway to the UK by seafrieght, (i’m assuming as part of a mixed container). However, he just emailed me a copy of the shipping documents and he has given an extremely simplified description of the goods: x number of ‘mixed used clothing’ etc etc. After looking at the customs duty calculator and the myriad codes and descriptions, fabric contents, woven/unwoven etc i am very concerned that such a simple description of the goods may well create a nightmare of problems on arrival. Can you shed any light on what i can expect? I had originally planned on trying to clear this shipment myself but i just don’t know where to start given this huge unknown. Many thanks, Naka.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Naka,

      Yes, you’ll probably need a more specific description of goods. But anyway, you can’t clear the goods by yourself! You need a qualified customs broker to do this for you – put together customs declaration. They will also advice you on documentation needed etc.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  102. Hi Andrew. You provide a very valuable service. How would you advise us to ship a replacement cell phone from the U.S. to our daughter who is in Paris, France on a college internship?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi George,

      I probably shouldn’t advise this but you should send it via USPS, mark on customs forms as GIFT worth $10 and she won’t have to pay any taxes or import duty.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  103. I’ve just encountered an interesting dilemma. Yesterday I lost an old friend to cancer and on the same day discovered that a group of ’boutique’ guitar effects builders in the USA hold an annual auction of effects pedals with ALL proceeds going to a cancer charity. Seems like a good idea – a kids cancer charity gets money, I feel like I’ve done something and also have something to remember my friend by. Of course, this kind of thing means that you are buying the item at considerably OVER the standard price … as a result of which you end up paying well over the odds in VAT (and possibly duty). So, if I try to support someone’s charitable efforts … I pay tax on it. Yes, it’s complicated because I do receive something with some value … but it doesn’t seem quite right.

    Probably easiest just to make a charitable donation over here, but a shame not to support a great charitable initiative.

  104. hi andrew
    thinking of buying ice cream machine from ali express china
    cost 1900 US Dollars free shipping
    please could you work out import charges RRRRRRRR

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Liam,

      It will be roughly 25% so $500 or so for VAT and import duty.

      To get more precise figure, use this calculator:

      http://www.dutycalculator.com

      Andrew

  105. Imogen Kennedy

    Hi Andrew
    Thanks for your very helpful article.
    I am in India currently, hand choosing products for my new business in the UK.
    Therefore I will be personally overseeing the sending a consignment, probably around 200kg using an agent in Delhi. He says he uses Fedex.
    Then I will be flying back to UK to receive the goods.

    You advise using a freight forwarder. Could you share with me how to proceed in the above scenario?
    Is Fedex a freight forwarder who will get the goods to my door or do I require another agent on the UK side?
    Sorry I’m a bit confused!

    Many thanks,
    Imogen

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Imogen,

      No, if you’re using a courier service, such as Fedex, you don’t need any extra services or separate freight forwarder. Fedex will clear goods through Customs and deliver goods to your address in UK.

      Only with air freight and sea freight we use freight forwarders to simplify the whole process. Not with courier deliveries.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  106. Thank you Andrew. At least I feel confident I’m not missing anything on this subject. Thanks again

    1. Andrew Minalto

      no worries, you’re welcome Bremar!

  107. Hello Andrew,
    I have been reading these questions and am impressed with your knowledgeable answers.
    I have an offshore registered company in Hong Kong. I buy products from China and sell in the uk and Europe to private individuals through eBay and amazon. Because it’s an offshore company I must pay vat immediately on every sale as there is no VAT threshold applicable to offshore companies selling in uk.
    I buy goods for £X and sell at £Y. VAT, which as we all know stands for value added tax is then payable on the actual sale price of the goods ie £Y. I am therefore paying VAT on the whole price of the goods because I don’t think I can claim any element back because there is no vat in china.
    Q. Do you know of any element of my costs eg the original purchase price that I can set off against the VAT I must pay.
    I know in theory I must charge a price plus VAT and that’s how it is on the invoice but in reality To remain competitive I have to absorb most of the VAT myself so the total charge to the private individual isn’t too high . Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bremar,

      Are you living in China?

      1. No not now. I am English but went out to china to work where I have been for 4 years but a few months ago (beginning 2015) I moved to America where I am now working under a visa. This other business started small but is now growing. Products are sent to a small company in the uk where they are posted worldwide. I sell through amazon and eBay. Because the products are sent out from the uk. I pay uk VAT from day 1 of any sale, but there seems no way of recouping any of the costs except the import VAT. I had always thought vat was about a tax on the increased value of the product. As in value added tax.
        Thank you for any advise.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, in that situation I’m afraid you can’t get more VAT back, apart from what you have paid at time of import.

          Andrew

  108. Hi Andrew,
    Great article, I run a UK based limited company (non VAT registered), I just received my first shipment from China, via Fedex courier.
    I naively accepted the package without checking the commercial invoice first. It turned out that the invoice is completely wrong, it declared 150USD instead of 650USD, HS code is wrong, items are wrong and even the Consignee is wrong as it’s under my personal name (with a typo) instead of the limited.
    What do you suggest to do? and moreover how can I be dead sure this doesn’t happen again in the future?
    I explicitly asked the supplier to put my company name (and I naively assumed they were to declare the right value).
    I guess I’ll have to wait some days for the Fedex bill on the stated amount. And then how should I proceed?

    Thanks a lot,
    Mario

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mario,

      You should contact Fedex as soon as possible and explain the situation. Then send them requested documents (invoice, proof of payment) so they can correct this.

      There are no fool proof ways to avoid such situations in future as Chinese suppliers tend to under-value orders all the time.

      What I personally do is when I see that package arrives in UK (by online tracking number), I contact courier company straight away and send them correct invoice so they can do customs clearance procedure properly.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks a lot Andrew! Just contacted Fedex they’ll amend the entry as soon as I send the revised invoice (hoping the supplier send me one)

        Thanks again,
        Mario

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Mario! 🙂

  109. Correction *Main selling platform being this WEBSITE that I’m having made.

    Thanks.

    Imran

  110. Hi Andrew. Thumbs up for the wonderful service!

    A non UK/EU based company wants to charge me VAT for designing and developing a website for a new start-up I intend to launch here in UK. Question is, can they do that? The beneficiary address is Hong Kong. They will buy a.co.uk domain for me and provide webhosting facilities also.

    Can you please guide me Andrew.

    Thank you.

    Imran

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Imran,

      IF they’re register as VAT payer in UK, the MUST charge you VAT, yes. Also, non-EU based companies selling digital services to EU customers such as web hosting, must register for a VAT number in EU since beginning of this year and charge VAT on all sales, yes.

      You should ask them their VAT number and verify whatever they’re registered or not.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew. I just sent them an email now waiting for their response.

        I will be importing mobile phone and computer accessories and other general consumer electronics items like travel adapters etc. from China through Alibaba predominantly. The details on your website are truly amazing regarding what to watch out for and how to go about dealing with potential suppliers. Hats off!

        I will mostly be selling these on to wholesalers and retailers and possibly entertain those looking for a one off item through this website. Main selling platform being this platform.

        In quoting my prices to potential buyers, should I incorporate VAT on these items? How do I go about this please guide.

        Thanks again!

        Imran

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Imran,

          It depends whatever you’re VAT registered or not. If you’re, you have to show VAT on all invoices. If not, you’re not allowed to show VAT. As simple as that. If you plan dealing mostly with VAT registered businesses, you should register for VAT too.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Hi. Some businesses purchasing from me might be VAT registered even though my business may stay well below the £82,000 annual threshold. Do I still register or no need until I go beyond the threshold?

            Thanks!

            Imran

          2. Andrew Minalto

            If it’s just some customers, then no, you don’t want to register for VAT until you reach the threshold.

            Andrew

  111. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  112. Thank you for Reply. well i was checking dutycalculator for my Product HS code import duty price but there is no result shown. Can you just give rough idea of Cosmetic products or Hair Care products Import Duty Rates. it will be very helpful for me to prepare my Import goods in Uk. Thank you Once again.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Simply call HMRC and ask them exact rate!

      It could be anything from 0 to 15%.

      usually though it’s below 5%.

  113. Hi Andrew .. I am Aditya. well first of all i am very Thankful to you for sharing your Experience and Knowledge with all of us.

    My question is If i buy some goods from china or USA and i paid them from my home Country India and give my Shipping Address of UK. Then what would be Invoice Value of Goods bcz as i am citizenship of UK but paid all Amount from In India. Can You please help me to solve this puzzle. waiting for your reply. Thank you.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I haven’t been in a situation like this so not sure but most likely, Customs in UK will need to see real invoice which will be in USD most likely and then proof of payment (from your bank). Then they probably do calculations to see if it’s correct amount or not.

      Andrew

  114. Hello Andrew, I regularly order from the US and have been for the past few years, I have always made sure that my orders have at least £5 clearance of the £135 threshold. Recently even though my orders are below this I have been having Import Duty added on aswell as the VAT, when I telephoned them they said it was to do with the weight bracket? Has something changed??
    Many thanks 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      NOT as far as I’m aware!

      Weight shouldn’t be taken into account when doing import duty & VAT calculations.

      Andrew

      1. Thankyou Andrew 🙂
        I have just phoned about the most recent order and the lady has told me that my order came to £133.60, they then added on the VAT adjustment fee of £6.25 which has taken me over the limit which is why I have been charged Import Duty aswell, as I mentioned I always managed to order without hitting the £135 limit before, the same way I do now, is the VAT adjustment payment new??!!

        Thanks again 😀

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hmmm, that’s weird… VAT payment shouldn’t be taken into account when calculating import duty AS import duty is paid solely on goods value.

          And then VAT is paid on goods value + shipping + import duty.

  115. Hi Andrew,
    Please can you advise me on one point , tax is a pain but is there any way of paying for the import costs and not pay the post office or ant other company for there handling fees. The post office charge of £8.00
    Thank you for the advise and help on your site.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      Sorry, no – there’s no way around that.

      Post office’s charge of £8 is actually very small fee – couriers charge more and customs brokers even more than that.

      So you simply have to take this £8 fee into account when doing your calculations.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  116. Hi Andrew,
    I am so glad I came across your website – and this has been great information that you’ve provided. I am looking for something similar but am not able to find the correct answers – maybe you can guide me in the right direction. I have a small business in USA where I import products from India. My sister is handling the business in USA, now whilst I am currently temporarily staying in France. So, I would like to sell our products here in Europe. If I import products from India directly here to be distributed to the various shops – do they pay the VAT and duty? And how much is the VAT and duty in Europe? Is there any way I pay these extra VAT/duty – so it is no trouble to the shop owners? And Who should I use as the logistic company – since these would be several small 10-20 kg shipments – and I don’t want to end up paying a whole lot just for shipping. Also, I don’t want to disclose where I get my products from to the shop owners – but the AWB bill always has the sender’s info.

    I would appreciate your feedback and advice.

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sonu,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, if you import these products from India into EU (France), you’ll have to pay VAT and import duty. VAT in France currently is 20%. Import duty varies from product to product but is usually below 5%. So in total, as a ball park figure you can use 25% for VAT and import duty (exact import duty rate you’ll find out on first shipment).

      If you send goods directly to shops, they will be billed these taxes so if you want to avoid it, it would be best to ship to you first and then you ship to shop owners. This way you also won’t reveal your supplier contact info.

      As for best shipping method from India -you want to ask your supplier as they will know best which shipping company to use for such 10-20 kg shipments.

      Hope this helps Sonu & Good Luck!

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for your response and advice. Sorry I wasn’t clear in my last question that I am staying in France only temporarily and therefore am looking for ways on how I can import and distribute our products directly to various shops in Europe with the constraints that 1. I don’t want to disclose the suppliers to the shops and 2. I didn’t want the shop owners to be troubled by all the custom clearance fees and formalities. Do you have a solution for this except for finding someone in the middle 🙁 ?

        Thank you
        Sonu

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I don’t think there’s a way around this, sorry.

          You will have to use some sort of company that can clear these imported goods and then deliver them to shops.

          1. Hi Andrew,
            Can you give me an example of such companies?! I didn’t know that there were companies doing this. I thought I would have to get someone I knew to be doing this for me.

            Thanks
            Sonu

          2. Andrew Minalto

            No, sorry, I don’t know any such companies, especially in France.

            But I guess you could find a freight forwarder or distribution or warehouse/storage company who can do this for you.

            Andrew

  117. Hi Andrew, I have loooked all over the internet and cannot find any clear asnwers hence the following. I recently bought come clothing from a US brand online. It was delivered to my London address with DHL. I paid VAT and duty through their website. I had to return one of the dresses that did not fit and would like to be refunded my VAT and duty charges. The US brand have given me a refund document and have told me to contact my local customs office while DHL says that they have to sort it out on their side in the US.
    What is the quickest way for me to be refunded? I am not VAT registered. HELP.
    Also I cannot seem to figure out where my local customs office is….

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mary,

      This should be done via HMRC so contact them and ask for the correct procedure of getting VAT back on items you returned.

      Andrew

  118. Hi guys, I am planning on drop shipping items from china to the UK and FedEx is my shipper. I worked out all of the costs using the duty calculator but I don’t want my customers to have to pay the Taxes (there isn’t any duty to pay) when they receive the item, how do I pay this before they are billed for it, who do I pay, when do I have to pay and by what payment method (e.g. PayPal, Direct Debit etc.) Thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ciaran,

      By default, your customers will face VAT & clearance charges in a scheme like this. As receiver is one that pays these fees, not exporter.

      If you want to cover these fees on your own, you’ll have to send packages to you first and then forward them to customers once you have paid VAT & clearance fee to courier.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  119. Hi there andrew i am importing some make up boxes from china and have just received the samples and they have arrived damaged, the supplier says he cant refund what i paid as it was sent via dhl and express shipping, i am now worried that if i give a large order then alit may arrive damaged as the supplier has said he wont be able to replace them, do you know if the supplier is supposed to replace the items, am new to this and not sure what to do as i can be out alot of money. Any advice will be appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Samaira,

      Supplier can basically do what they want – you have no control over how they treat situations like these. A good supplier would be more understanding and give a refund or send replacement but then on the other hand, they may be thinking that you’re trying to scam them out. Who knows.

      Anyway, if packages are sent via courier, shipments should be insured. So before you’re accepting courier delivery, you should open boxes and check if items are ok. If not, you can then claim and insurance claim for damaged goods. But before sending fragile items, you need to find out what procedures courier have in place for insurance to be valid as they may require some specific packaging for fragile items, labels on outside of box saying FRAGILE etc.

      Andrew

  120. Hi there – I am a sole trader selling mostly zero rated goods (baby clothing). When I purchase from Suppliers in Spain they charge me tax on the goods (as baby goods are not zero rated in Spain). If I were VAT registered would they still charge me the tax?
    I know it’s not normally recommended to register for vat if you don’t need to, but as I don’t have to charge vat on nearly all of my sales, I could claim back vat on my purchases of packing supplies, advertising etc, this would mean I would probably get a vat refund every quarter, rather than me paying them, they would be paying me? Is this right or am I totally barking up the wrong tree??
    Any help with this would be great
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Carla,

      Yes, in your situation you would be better off by being VAT registered. That is if your supplier in Spain is also VAT registered.

      Then they won’t charge you VAT on purchases at all.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks so much – it seemed too good to be true

        regards

  121. Hello
    Thank you very much for the article, I am planning to sell few items on ebay (small scale). i am going to ask my sister to buy stuff from india and send it to me. I suppose my initial purchases will be below 135£, so i will be exempted from import duty. what about VAT? she will be using indian postal services and i suppose they will charge VAT?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, you will still need to pay VAT.

      If packages will come via Royal Mail, they will do clearance for you and charge you VAT + processing fee.

      Andrew

      1. Thank Andrew for the reply

        so i don’t have to worry about it and Royal mail will do it automatically?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yep, exactly.

  122. Hi Andrew, since last year I’ve imported several items from abroad (Blu-rays from Asia/US mostly) and I’ve seen the websites in question allow the buyer to falsify the package (put an incorrect item value to avoid customs). At the time I had no idea what made me think this was a good idea. So I’ve received the items and their were no customs/VAT charges as they were undervalued.

    The Blu-rays are for home use only and are not illegal imports or anything like that, I’ve purchased roughly six of these from said companies on eBay and whatnot. I don’t sell for profit as I don’t run a business.

    Should I somehow pay these fees back as I plan never to order from these companies again as I now know these practises are wrong. Roughly it’s probably around £70 worth or less of VAT plus Royal Mail handling fees I was not charged. I was thinking of just donating £100 to a charity or something as I feel a bit guilty for doing it, even though at the time I didn’t think I was doing any wrong. I don’t like to do the wrong thing, I have since looked up HMRC’s website and there doesn’t seem to be any general enquiries email and their Twitter account is not currently being utilised.

    Apologies for rambling on. Why I thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Thanks for the informative article I appreciate it. Any advice on this? Thank you.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      From legal perspective you shouldn’t really worry about this if it was just few items over couple of years. Millions of under-valued packages enters UK each year, so….

      But if you feel bad about it, yes, donating that amount to charity sounds like a good idea to me! 🙂

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for the reply Andrew!

        It was around six or so items over the past few years. I’ll donate the sum to charity. 🙂

  123. if you have to pay vat where do you pay it? do you have to send the money to the supplier? I bought something from alibaba. but for myself not to sell it and i think i was scamed. they tell me i have to pay vat taxes for 7 items they send not 1 that i ordered and they want me to pay 700$ in their account to clear vat. is that even legal? where can i call to see if i have anything at the border in my name? help me please

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dalia,

      Unfortunately you have been scammed, yes. This is a typical scam you can read more about here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/

      You don’t pay VAT to supplier!!!! You pay it to courier, post office but never supplier.

      Andrew

  124. Hi Andrew,
    Is it legal to have an agreement with a chinese company whereby they charge less for the product than normal, keeping down duty and vat but get a share of your profits when the items are sold at a later date?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Yes, it is illegal I think.

      Tanks,
      Andrew

  125. Daniel Bailey

    Thanks Andrew, thought so but best to check. You mentioned mobile phones/tablets are duty free. We are importing mobile phone accessories. Mainly cases and mounts. We were charged duty on these last time when using the buyers dhl number. I assume these arent therefore duty free. I did look on the calculator and think i came to the conclusion that this was the case but wondered if you new of the top of your head?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      Accessories are not duty free no, so you’re correct in your assumptions.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew, very helpful indeed 🙂

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Daniel! 🙂

  126. HI Andrew,

    When you pay the VAT on the purchase can you claim it back through your usual VAT return or is it not the same as a purchase in the UK and it can’t be claimed back?

    Thanks,
    Daniel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      You mean VAT you pay when import goods from outside EU?

      1. Hi Andrew,

        yes sorry, we bought some items from USA and we received an invoice for duty and VAT.

        Thanks,
        Daniel.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, of course – if you’re VAT registered you can claim this VAT back via VAT return just like any UK purchase.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. sudarsan

            Andrew, really helpful stuff you got in there.A BIG THANK YOU.

            i am right in thinking that we can claim vat back on purchases only from Non eu countries or even EU countries ??

            we are a new business , don’t think we make big sales to register for VAT, cold i still register for VAT and get the advantage of claiming VAT back from purchases?

            thank
            kanumilli

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Please see this post regarding registration for VAT at early stages:

            https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-mistake/

            With EU orders it works differently – if/when you’re VAT registered, you simply provide your VAT number to your EU based, VAT registered supplier and they WON’T charge you VAT at all, on your order. But you still have to add it when re-selling goods to consumers of course.

            Thanks,
            Andrew

  127. Hi I have just ordered ladies clothing from USA . the total amount 230.00usd for items, and shipping and handling fee was 110.71 usd with insurance 5.15 usd DHL will be delivering the items so have i understood right they will send me invoice or ask me to pay on delivery import and vat taxes ? or do I have to let hmrc know . Also if I buy from Germany does import taxes and vat still apply as I have already paid 19% vat before the items left Germany sorry for asking 2 questions at once HELP

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Geraldine,

      Yes, that’s correct – DHL will take care of customs clearance procedure so you don’t have to contact HMRC.

      No, when you buy from Germany, you won’t have to pay any extra taxes. Same applies to any country within European Union.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  128. Hello,
    I’m a self-employed and I’m planning to import outside the EU, mainly from China.
    None of the order will be over £135 – does it mean I don’t have to pay duty even if I do this on business purposes buy-sell. What if the order is below £15 – I don’t have to pay VAT either?

    Regards
    Shem

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, if it’s below £15, you won’t have to pay VAT either.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you Andrew for a quick reply.
        Are there any restrictions of how many orders I can bring like that?
        Do I have to declare my imports to HMRC?
        Is the invoice with me name, address, price and supplier details enough for my accounts?
        Let’s say I bring 10pcs for £1.50 each so £15 in total, no vat, no duty
        if I sell for £6.50 each, my profit is £50 and I need to pay tax on this profit
        Am I right or am I missing something?
        I’m trying to plan ahead and have all the angles covered.
        I want to buy-sell legally without avoid paying any necessary taxes, duties, vat
        Many thanks for your help
        Shem

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, there are no restrictions – its all based on “per shipment/order” values.

          You don’t have to do any special “declarations”, no. Yes, your name, price, supplier details – standard invoice information is enough.

          Yes, you’ll pay tax on your profit (final sale price minus product cost, eBay fees, shipping fees etc.)

          Andrew

          1. Thank you Andrew, That’s clear now

      2. Andrew, one more thing, I couldn’t find on the gov.uk anything about minimum thresholds for paying VAT and duty on orders from outside the EU
        It says that all goods imported must be declared.

        Regards
        Shem

          1. Dear Andrew

            I was there before and couldn’t find anything about minimum thresholds and anything that you don’t have to declare the imported goods if the are under some value

            Regards
            Shem

  129. Hey Andrew
    I’m looking at tablet pc from aliexpress with a price tag of 800 usd, They offer almost like free DHL delivery. M y point here is ,as I read on some questions, how do I pay tax here ? Do they deliver item and I pay tax on collection or they send me tax which has to be paid.
    Also i calculated that ill have to pay 117.20 gbp VAT and as i seen its duty free ( I’ve used http://www.dutycalculator.com/)

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ingus,

      Courier company will contact you and give you invoice for taxes you have to pay. Some companies ask for this money right on delivery, some – before delivery and some send it via mail after item has been delivered. Either way you don’t have to worry about this as courier will take care of customs clearance procedure and simply invoice you for charges.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  130. Hi Andrew.
    I’d like to buy a phone -cost 280 australian dollars- from Australia of course:-) ,,,I live in UK. Do I have to pay any tax and duty? and how much if yes? Thank you and sorry for my english:-)

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Diana,

      Yes, you’ll have to pay VAT + import duty on your order.

      Apron. it will be 25% on top of what you pay for item and shipping.

      Andrew

      1. ,,,thank you very much for your quick response :-),,,appreciate this!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Diana! 🙂

  131. I am usman, an importer of consumer electronics and accessories etc. I found this thread very helpful. Bundle of thanks for sharing knowledge and giving me guidence. May I ask couple of following questions?
    1) is there any free website as a substitute to duty calculator? As duty calculator doesn’t allow more than three items to check for free.
    2) how much vat, duty and other expenses related to imports of mobile phone spare parts like LCD from non EU countries?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Usman,

      You can find tariff codes and import duty rates for everything directly on HMRC website, if you don’t want to buy credits on duty calculator website.

      Andrew

  132. Les Philpott

    Hi Andrew.

    I run a company called L P Clearance in Heathrow who specialise in customs clearance. I have read through some of the questions and answers on this site but when asked for a cost on customs clearance entries you have answered with the cost of £10-£20 but this is not correct as there are many factors to account for like how many tariff headings are used as these are charged for each one and some clearing agents charge up to £105 for the customs entry and £7.50/ tariff heading, this includes one of the big handling agents on Heathrow airport. if you need proof of this I can send this over to you but I am not allowed to disclose on open sites for legal reasons.
    I also have not seen anything advising any one that if they do pay duty or vat on shipments they will need to pay 99% of the customs agents a charge up to 10% for the use of a deferment or Fas account on top of the duty and Vat. I`m not having a dig I just thought this would be helpful for other people looking to import.

    Kind Regards,

    Les Philpott

    L.P.Clearance & Couriers UK Ltd

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Les,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Yes, I know that cost depends on number tariff headings (when I started out many years ago I made a stupid mistake of importing 20 different items, vey cheap items and ended up paying something like £200 for customs declaration).

      The £10-£20 is what most couriers and royal mail charge, that’s why I use it as a general figure.

      Anyway, Thanks for your comment!

      Andrew

  133. Hi Andrew
    great info here on this page. I am looking to buy some items from China, if the products are not all the same do I have to calculate the duty on each separate item as they will have different codes? how does it work if the delivery contains various different items? Do i pay VAT on only items that are more than £36 as a single item or a group of items? How will customs know whether it is a gift or for business?

    thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bella,

      Yes, you have to calculate import duty on each item you have, if they’re different, as tariffs will be different.

      VAT is not affected though as you pay it on TOTAL value of your order, for all items.

      Customs will know it by looking at attached customs declarations form and/or invoice.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you Andrew. But how will customs know whether the products are gifts or for a business? if I only buy a few items and it is under 630 then will they classify as gifts or for business

        1. Andrew Minalto

          It’s stated on the customs form – if it’s a gift or commercial shippment.

  134. Hi
    I’m planning to purchase a camera that casts £2650 from Hong Kong for my own use,
    Do I need to pay any tax?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course.

      You’ll pay roughly 25% in taxes when camera arrives in the UK.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  135. Hi Andrew, I am a young clothing designer and I would like to know your views on drop-shipping direct from manufacturer to the customer, as opposed to shipping over a large quantity of stock to then deliver to customers worldwide. The reason I ask is because one of my manufacturers brought this to my attention as one of the services they provide. I was wondering if you could help me to analyse the pro’s and con’s. I am based in the UK and about 60% of my customers are in the US. The manufacturer is in China. It is cheaper to deliver from China to the US than from the UK. My only concern at the moment i would not want my customer to bear any import/duty cost as I would like to pay for that. This is a big decision and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Lia

    1. I was reading the comments regarding DHL, and was wondering if theres any way that DHL can send the invoice to the sender (me) and not the receiver (customer).

      1. Andrew Minalto

        I’m not sure how exactly it works but I think they do offer a service where sender pre-pays taxes. But you will have to contact them to find out how this works as I have personally never done that.

        Andrew

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lia,

      Downsides are obviously longer deliver times + as you say, customers will have to pay import duty & VAT.

      Also, if you don’t get the stock first, you have no control over quality of products being sent out, something which could be very important in your niche.

      So I personally wouldn’t do this, no.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew,
        Your right quality assurance is the most important, i’m not convinced by this drop-shipping idea. I will be shipping everything to the UK, maybe to save costs in the future I will consider freight shipping rather than by air.

  136. Cool, I was always wondering why anything I ordered from China on Amazon was marked as a “gift.”

  137. Hi Andrew:
    I have a product in the US, and occasionally ship to the UK:
    I include an Invoice on my parcel. Is it illegal to declare the package value as what my cost was in producing the item (as to avoid huge fees for the recipient). If so, are there any ways to lower my customer’s VAT? my last customer had to pay 38 euros for a item sold at 180 USD (shipping included), 25 euro for VAT and another 13 for clearance fee… any suggestions for me as to help out my customer? Thanks in advanced, Tal

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tal,

      No, I don’t think you can declare your cost price IF you send directly to your customer. If you have lots of such orders, it would be best for you to send some stock over to UK first (declare cost price) and then simply send to UK/EU customers from your Uk location. Then your customers in EU won’t have to pay any extra taxes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  138. Hi Andrew,

    I recently received jewellery goods from China with a total value of $153.40 (£104.01) which is under the threshold of £135 but was still charged

    £24.54 Vat
    £11.00 Brokerage Surcharges

    After reading the info and comments on this page, I understand that I should NOT have been charged VAT at all?

    Please advise.

    Thanks
    Jo

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jo,

      No, it’s all correct. VAT should be charged in your case but not import duty (threshold for import duty is £135).

      So it’s all correct.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  139. Hi, can you help…if I order something from Australia that costs £14 (under vat threshold) but the delivery cost takes it to £20 would I pay vat?
    Thanks, Beth

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Beth,

      Most likely for such small valued order you won’t have to pay any taxes, no.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  140. Hi Andrew

    I’m thinking of buying a second hand Sonos playbar speaker in Canada. It retails new in the UK for UK£599, but I can get a second hand one in Canada for CDN600 (roughly UK338 @ 1.7764 CDN to GBP). This speaker is for me and will NOT be sold on. Do second hand goods fall under the same import rules etc, and would I pay duty and VAT on the price I paid for the unit, or the Canadian retail price?

    Cheers Alan

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alan,

      Yes, second hand items fall under same rules I’m afraid.

      But no, you won’t have to pay taxes on full retail price – just ask seller to include invoice to package you paid and taxes will be based on that.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  141. Bryan Fortnum

    Hello everyone

    Bryan here, i have question, i want to start selling a product from alibaba, it will cost me around $100
    shipping is around £65 as i being adviced by the supplier

    do i need to ask for the insurer and name of the delivery company? (ups, dhl etc.)

    since the product is very cheap, single peace costing around $4
    do i have to pay for tax duty and this sales tax?

    this is from a supplier from china to the united kingdom
    product is very light and made mostly of cardboard , can be classed as a toy. (foldable cardboard kit)

    will be sold in the uk for £10 to £15 in hope for profit

    i am new at this but i need to make it happend, thank you in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bryan,

      Yes, you will have top pay taxes on this order as total order value is important here and not price of each individual item.

      But you have to ask supplier to show full value on customs forms/invoice – otherwise such small order can just slip through the customs without you getting charged any taxes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  142. Hi, when I buy from a supplier, I also have to pay a paypal fee, or bank transfer fee on top of the cost of the goods. Should that fee be included with the duty and VAT calculation?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      if the fee is shown on the supplier invoice (like with PayPal when often suppliers add it to total cost), then yes, you have to pay for full amount you have sent. But if you sent money from bank account, no – no one will ask you for proof of fees you have paid for that transfer.

      Andrew

  143. Hi Andrew
    Firstly- great site! Very helpful.
    I recently bought 2 dresses from Australia at $379AUD and paid tax upon arrival of £71 requested thropugh the courier DHL.
    I want to return both dresses as they do not fit.
    Can I expect a refund on the tax I paid? Or have I just lost £71? If I am entitled to the tax refund, do you know how I would go about getting it?
    Many thanks!
    Sam

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you can get a refund back from HMRC following these steps:

      http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/sectors/consumers/goods-imported.htm#8

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Most helpful- appreciate the advice!
        Best,
        Sam

  144. Hello Andrew,
    I want to start importing womens clothinkg (knitwear) from Hong Kong and have spent some time trying to understand the whole shipping/VAT/duty jungle….
    Few questions:
    -Freight Forwarder told me I have to VAT register and get an EORI number, even if my turnover will stay well below the VAT treshold. Is that correct?
    -In case I am VAT registered, can I then claim back the VAT on each sale (ie if I buy a sweater for landed cost £10 and sell it to end customer for £30 (equals £24 ex VAT), can I claim back the £6 per item?
    -when you say shipping cost (to calculate the correct VAT) do you mean ALL costs (shipping, custom clearance fees, airline handling fees, delivery to door)?
    Thank you so much for your help!
    Nina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nina,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) Who told you that? It’s absolutely NOT true! You don’t have to register for VAT to import such goods. You can get EORI number without being VAT registered. Do NOT register for VAT!

      2) As I said, just don’t do it. At the end, if you’re VAT registered, you’ll pay more in taxes. More details here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-mistake/

      3) Shipping costs that you paid to get goods delivered to the UK. usually this is covered in invoice you received from supplier.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks
      Andrew

      1. Thanks! But I am still confused….
        You are saying I don’t need to be VAT registered if I stay under the annual treshold of 81K. So I can become a clothing retailer (online and offline) without a VAT registration?

        However I need to pay 20% VAT on importing the goods+ import duty, correct?

        How about VAT registration of you are importing from another European country?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, exactly. If your sales are below the threshold, you don’t have to register for VAT.

          But yes, you’ll pay VAT + import duty on imported goods.

          Nothing changes with EU based suppliers – they will simply add VAT to their invoices. (no customs procedure when you buy from EU based suppliers).

          1. Hi Andrew- one more thing…
            Why are you so against VAT registration? I understand it can inflate the prices for your end customer, but at least I can claim the VAT back, correct?
            If my margin is high enough can I not simply set my retail price ex VAT a bit lower, so that the customer is charged a price incl VAT that I think is still the correct/competitive retail?
            Thanks for your advise

          2. Andrew Minalto

            lol, I’m not against VAT registration – when you reach threshold, you register for it.

            But doing it voluntary is simply stupid because you will pay more in taxes at the end of the day, even taking account that you can claim back VAT on purchases, as explained in my guide here:

            https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-mistake/

  145. Hi There

    Im glad I found this advice so Ive now added it to my Bookmarks : )
    Im a designer and I am having my designs made up as lovely products in Nepal. The company have provided me with quite a few free samples and seem to be very helpful so far. The parcels have come to my door within approx 5 days so all seems well so far, and with no charges as the samples are marked as No Value samples only. Im told by the company in Nepal that they are duty free as Europe gave them permission as a developing country. Now Im wondering if I will still occur VAT once they arrive here in the UK as larger orders. I am taking my products to a trade show so my orders can be small to larger? Have you any advice on shipping and charges from Nepal? The items are hand made felt slippers for children and small bags also felt, this is a tradition in Nepal. So I expect these are considered to be wool items no other materials added and are natural dyes used. What do you suggest I need to do. Thankyou Nina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nina,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you’ll have to pay VAT, unless these products are 0% VAT rated. You can check exact fees/VAT rates using this online calculator:

      http://www.dutycalculator.com

      As for the shipping – depends on how large your orders are. If they’re full palettes, then you will want to use sea freight. If it’s just 20 or 30kg boxes, then you want to stick with courier companies.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  146. Hi. can i ask the merchant in china to mark my airsoft gun as a free gift, and send it to me. its is not for business, but for personal use.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You can do that yes, but technically it’s against law.

      Plus if it’s a big item, like airsoft gun, most likely customs will stop it anyway and ask you for proof of purchase.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks.

  147. Christina Akinuli

    Andrew

    Where the amount inported is over £15 duty is payable. The amount is £16.91 what I object to is the thieving £8 handling fee charged by the Post Office and the cheeky bastards make you go to the Post Office they insist on cash as they are too backward to take card payments. As the amount is so low is there a chance that this sum will escape the fee as I know customs do not check every item.

    Thanks for the explanation above.

    Christina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      yes, unfortunately that’s how it works… 🙁

  148. hi just a quick question ,I have just purchased something from china for about £90 ,the curriors SCS have billed me for import duty before they would send it to the uk, is this legal ,I have always paid when its arrived in the UK not before,im going to be really pissed ,excuse my French if im charged here as well,they stated in the invoice I would not be charged in the UK

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      You sure you haven’t been scammed????

      As you never pay import duty/VAT to China, ONLY when goods arrive in the UK.

      From the sound of it, sounds to me that supplier scammed you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  149. Hi Andrew,

    I live in Florida and I am thinking of buying my sister a laptop and shipping it to her in the UK. The cost of the laptop is approximately $410 and shipping will be about another $160 but I would like to know is my sister going to have to pay VAT or Import Duty when it arrives?

    Stuart

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Stuart,

      Yes, she will have to pay VAT + import duty which is approx. 25% together as value of laptop is above gift limit.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for the info. Can you tell me what the limit is? And I understand it is on the full amount not the amount over.

        Stuart

        1. Andrew Minalto

          The limit on Gifts when you don’t have to pay VAT is only £36.

          So your item is def. way above the limit.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  150. Hi Andrew,
    I hope you can help me. I received a package from USA last week which I had to pay customs for. After opening the package I found the goods were damaged. I contacted the company and they have said they will of course send a replacement for the items. Now will I have to pay customs again? (It was lipsticks I bought and 2 were completely broken). I hope you can answer my q as I cannot anything online regarding this situation.

    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nazma,

      Yes, unfortunately you will have to pay customs again if 2nd order is being sent. Unless you can ask the seller to send it as a free gift (show on customs declaration that it is a free gift).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the reply. I was dreading this, it’s very unfair as it’s not my fault the goods were damaged. I have contacted the company and asked if they could mark it as a gift otherwise it really isn’t worth it if I have to fork out for customs again. Thanks again

        1. Andrew Minalto

          no worries, you’re welcome.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  151. Raj Bharath

    Hi Andrew,

    I appreciate your great support. Actually, I am a student in France and I would like to import electronic kits and I hope you can clear my doubts regarding French customs also. I have gone through the French customs site (http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10751-envois-postaux-sans-caractere-commercial-franchises-douanieres-et-fiscales) and I have few questions.

    Question 1:
    If I buy from a non-EU website through UPS shipping, for a package less than 150 euros (for example MP3 – € 75, electronic chip -25€ , soldering kit -15 €, Shipping – € 20, Insurance -. 0€ , weight – 700gm, 1 pack), I need to pay 20% VAT but no customs duties as per the above link. Although the invoice on the package clearly states the details of the above items,will the French customs charge customs clearance fees from the courier? If possible, can you please let me the rate of the fee.

    Question 2:
    If I buy electronic items (less than 100 euros, including shipping) from ebay.fr or amazon.fr, but if the origin of the product is from China / Hong Kong, will I need to pay VAT charges? Also, if the product’s origin is from the UK, will I need paying VAT charges?

    Thank you,
    Raj Bharath

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Raj,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) Yes, courier company will charge you customs clearance fee. Not sure how it is in France but in UK it’s usually £10-£20 depending on which courier company you use. You can call couriers and ask them what is their customs clearance charge as usually it’s a fixed fee.

      2) Yes, it doesn’t matter WHERE you buy items from, as long as they’re shipped from outside EU, you’ll have to pay taxes. If item is shipped from UK, then no – you won’t have to pay any extra charges as UK is a part of EU.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Raj Bharath

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks a lot for your clear explanation.

        Does only the private courier services like DHL, UPS charge the customs clearance fee for importing and not the government postal services?

        Thanks,
        Raj Bharath

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’ll have to find out this at your local post office as in some countries it’s free service, in others – paid.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Raj Bharath

            Thanks a lot for the details.

            Raj Bharath

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Raj! 🙂

  152. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this article! It has really helped me make sense of VAT and import duty.

    I would just like to know at what point would you need to pay the VAT and import duty on the items you are importing and who does it need to be paid to?

    Is it paid directly to a courier on top of shipping or can it be paid via a freight forwarding company?

    Thanks

    Kez

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kez,

      The amounts are listed in the article.

      If your order comes via courier company, you’ll pay them (taxes).

      Andrew

    2. Also, If it is paid directly to a courier are you given the VAT and import duty price along with the shipping quote or do you need to work this out yourself?

      Thanks

      Kez

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Shipping you will pay before the order or with order (if supplier arranges shipping).

        Taxes you’ll pay when goods arrive in the UK. They will calculate exact amounts for you.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  153. Hi,

    I just wanted to clarity with regards to stamp duty and vat in Uk so if the item is worth (purchase price) below £15 we are not eligible to pay it, so if we place an order for 100 units of goods as long as each item is below that threshold no tax is paid?

    I am thinking of trading in watches on eBay just wanted to see if i can avoid taxes and just bear the shipping costs from china to uk

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nitin,

      No, it won’t work. Threshold is calculated for whole shipment and not individual value of each item in your order.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. HI

        What if each shipment was seperate?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Then it’s all good.

          As each shipment is valued separately.

          Andrew

          1. Mike Matthews

            Hi Andrew

            Are you sure HMRC will be okay with this, to me it sounds like a great idea if the value of your items are very cheap, i.e 1 pound, and you send a maximum of 14 of them each time, to go below the import level.

            But if you did this 2 or 3 times a week, wouldn’t they start to get a bit upset or they don’t really care as your technically not breaking any laws.

            Do you know anybody who has actually use this technique?

            Thanks

            Mike

          2. Andrew Minalto

            I can’t see it being a problem really as long as each shipment is TRULY below the threshold value.

            I haven’t done this personally though as I can’t see the practicality in doing something like this.

  154. Hi, I am new to importing goods from China. I am having 600 earmuffs imported to me in the UK (cost – USD 650), being sent to me via DHL. Anything I need to do on my end to receive this shipment? My Chinese supplier (from Alibaba) tells me that there is nothing I need to do, and my UK accountant tells me that as long as the goods are under £3000, I don’t need to worry about anything.
    Thanks!
    Tim
    London

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, if shipment is via DHL, you don’t have to do anything extra. DHL will contact you and send invoice for VAT and import duty once goods arrive in the UK. They take care of customs clearance procedure so you just have to pay the invoice.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  155. Hi Andrew,

    I found this page in an attempt to solve certain issues. I have received a few imports with under-declared values hence my having to pay reduced duty and tax. This happened despite my telling the seller/shipper not to reduce the value. I even lied and told one of them i was having an audit shortly. Instead of declaring the real value, he simply included an invoice to match the low declaration. I would like to correct this error but worried if I contact HMRC, it will put me or the seller/shipper in trouble. How do i do this without getting myself or the seller/shipper into trouble.

    is there a way to correct this on my account such that the money inevitably goes back to HMRC? I’ve been to ”Duty Calculator” and now know the correct fee to pay and was thinking i should simply add the difference to the income column of my accounts to make up and include the printout from ”Duty Calculator” in my documentation incase i get audited in the future?

    I simply want to do the right thing and not cause further complication. Looking forward to your response. Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sammie,

      You simply need to contact HMRC and inform that goods where under-valued.

      They have special forms/procedure for this which allows you to pay extra tax you owe.

      This won’t put you or supplier in any trouble as long as you do this BEFORE HMRC finds it out in a audit.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  156. Hi Andrew,
    I have just recently started selling mobile replacement parts on Ebay, when I first listed the product , I sold couple of them quickly but after that it’s all gone quiet. I have re-listed my items with the option of automatcially relisting when the listing expires. Any advice or guidance will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Gazala

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gazala,

      Take a look at this guide first:

      https://andrewminalto.com/top-search-position-on-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  157. Hi Andrew,

    I am new to this, but your site has already provided me with some great tips. thankyou 🙂

    This has probably been answered before, but having scoured HMRC website, can’t seem to find an answer to my questions.

    I have recently received several parcels from China, for future commercial resale (total value £641). How do I go about declaring these to HMRC and pay the VAT and import taxes?
    And are these taxes payable on receipt of goods, or can it be deferred until I submit end of year tax returns forms?

    Additionally, obviously they will still need to be declared, but will i need to pay VAT+taxes on items that arrived damaged and will be returned to supplier? If so, can this be reclaimed?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      When yo import goods from China, you have to pay VAT and import duty on goods value BUT not resell value. So you pay taxes on amount you paid to your supplier, not theoretical resell value.

      IF your supplier under declared parcels and you didn’t have to pay anything when receiving them, you have to contact HMRC and inform them about this fact so you can pay off related fees (VAT & import duty).

      For goods that go back to supplier – I think you can re-export them using special forms and get those taxes back but I have personally never done this myself so can’t really comment on the procedure. But I think it can be done, yes.

      Hope this helps Mike!

      Andrew

  158. Hi Andrew

    I cannot agree with you about Woodland Global as I used them door to door and they lost one of the parcels from China and have ignored my claim and do not return my emails. I used them on your recommendation!

    Regards
    Martin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martin,

      Sorry to hear about that…. This is first time I hear bad things about WG but I guess no one is perfect and even they do make mistakes.

      Was your shipment insured?

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Yes it was insured with Woodlands and a Stuart Clark who works there is ignoring me. Not a professional way to run a business especially when you are putting your name to them.

        Regards
        Martin

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re right Martin.

          I will try to find out what’s going on there.

          Andrew

        2. Darren Brundell

          Dear Martin,

          This is Darren from Woodland.

          I am very sorry that you do not feel happy about the service received from us relating to your missing carton. We pride ourselves on extremely high levels of customer service so I am keen to investigate.

          If you could kindly drop me over an email with a brief summary relating to the missing carton/claim I will find out more and have someone get back to you straight away.

          Darren.brundell@woodlandglobal.com

          Kind regards,
          Darren.

  159. I thought import duty was calculated ONLY on the items cost. so isn’t it ($1000 x 1.7042) x 4.7%?, not $1170? Or have I got this wrong…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      no, shipping & insurance should also be included in amount import duty is paid on.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Aha. I’m learning 😀

        1. Andrew Minalto

          In this business, learning never ends, lol

      2. Peter Skeet

        my Australian internet girlfriend sent me a digeridoo – for obvious reasons – and I am not about to pay 60 pouds tax and extra charge for it. This is tyranny and I am about to rebel. I am not an importer but one who goes what the fuck is that tube…. oh oh I know I get it.

        So what is the Fascist state going to do about it if I dont pay?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Peter,

          You can simply refuse to accept that package and let them send it back, as simple as that.

          Andrew

          1. If an item gets sent back who pays for the postage? Will the sender/exporter get billed again (+ handling fee if there is one)?

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Sent back like when you don’t collect package at all, refuse delivery?

          3. Yes, if I refuse to pay the import tax and the package gets sent back

          4. Andrew Minalto

            you won’t pay any extra fees in that case.

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