HM Revenue and Customs
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New rules for Online shoppers

New rules for Online shoppers

HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS News Release (Ref:NAT 56/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 13 November 2008

From next month, internet shoppers will no longer have to pay customs duty on non-EU purchases worth up to £105.

Customs duty is currently payable on goods bought online from non-EU countries worth £18 or more. But from 1 December, the new £105 limit will apply. VAT will still be charged on goods over £18, and is not affected by the changes.

A new HMRC 'internet shopping' podcast, launched today, explains the changes in more detail. As well as duty and VAT, the podcast discusses handling fees, which mail carriers are entitled to charge and collect from you on delivery, where duty or VAT is payable. The podcast is available to download free from

HMRC's Director of Customs & International, Doug Tweddle, said:

"Whether you're looking to get your hands on the latest computer game, designer clothes or DVDs, it's important to be aware of the law on customs charges, especially as this is about to change.

"If you're thinking of doing a little web shopping from abroad, download our podcast or visit the HMRC website and get up-to-speed with all things online - it won't cost you a penny.

"If you're buying goods from countries outside the EU, it's in your interests to know what the rules are. For example, some websites don't always make clear there is duty or VAT to pay, while others may misrepresent or undervalue your goods to try and avoid paying charges. But if goods are found to be wrongly declared, they may be seized and the customer penalised."

On Monday 1 December, the limit for customs duty imported from non-EU countries will increase from 22 euros (£18) to 150 euros (£105). The limit for VAT is not changing and will stay at 22 euros (£18).

Examples           Price      Will I pay duty? Will I pay VAT?
      DVD              16 euros        No                  No
      Digital camera   140 euros       No                  Yes
      Designer shoes   450 euros       Yes                 Yes 

Notes for editors

1. The lower limit for Import VAT is not being raised and will still apply at the existing level of E22 (£18). Excise duties, where applicable, will also be unaffected.

2. Customs duty is charged on most goods imported into the EU. The rates are set out in European Community legislation and in the Customs Tariff, which classifies the goods and gives the rate of duty.

3. All non-EU goods imported into the UK are subject to import VAT. It is charged at the appropriate rate that applies to identical goods sold in the UK.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
Press enquiries only please contact:
Jan Marszewski
Tel: 020 7147 0798

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