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Xmas shopping abroad could cost more than you bargained on

Xmas shopping abroad could cost more than you bargained on

HMRC has warned online accountants not to get hit by unexpected charges if they’re doing their Christmas shopping abroad.

Angela Shephard, the head of customs policy at the Revenue, explained that a lot of people go abroad to buy Christmas presents, or shop online from countries outwith the European Union, believing that the goods are cheaper. However, the price you see may not be the final price you pay.  There is a limit to the amount you can purchase abroad before becoming liable for import duty or VAT.

People arriving in the UK by commercial air or sea transport, from a country that is not part of the EU, are allowed to bring in goods to the value of £390 duty and VAT free. Alcohol, tobacco and fuel are subject to separate allowances. Individuals arriving by other means are only allowed goods valued at up to £270.

If you purchase Christmas gifts over the Internet from a non-EU country, you will be liable for VAT if the package is valued at more than £15. Customs duty may also have to be paid if the goods are valued at more than £135.

If you receive a present from a non-EU country, you will be liable for import VAT if the value of the gift exceeds £40.

Individuals can bring back as many duty and tax paid goods as they like from another EU country providing they are for their own use. However, customs officials are within their rights to ask questions if you return from France with your vehicle weighed down with beer, cigarettes, wine and spirits.

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Image: christmas 2007 by paparutzi

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