Christmas bargains that have a tax price tag

If your hunt for Christmas gift bargains takes you abroad or to a non-EU website, you may not realise you could be hit with unexpected additional costs.

Peterborough Accountancy Firm, Stephenson Smart & Co passed on HMRC advice on how much you can buy before you have to pay import duty or VAT.

  • You can bring in up to £390 worth of goods from a non-EU country for personal use without paying customs duty or VAT (excluding tobacco and alcohol).
  • Should you buy goods over the internet or by mail order from outside the EU, you will have to pay VAT if the value of the package is over £15.
  • If the goods are over £135 in value, customs duty may also be due, although this will depend on what they are and where they have been sent from. If the actual amount of duty due is less than £9, this will not be charged.
  • If someone sends you a gift from outside the EU, import VAT will only be due if the package is valued at over £40. To qualify as a gift, the item must be sent from one private individual to another, with no money changing hands.
  • Excise duty is always due on all alcohol and tobacco products purchased online or by mail order.
  • There are not limits on the amounts of duty and tax paid spirits or tobacco products you can bring back personally from another EU country, as long as they are for your own use.

For more information visit Further guidance is also provided on HMRC website