Boost for duty-free shoppers
Holidaymakers and online shoppers will now be able to buy more from stores in non-EU countries before being hit with duty charges.
New rules introduced on 1 January, mean the value of goods people can personally bring into the UK from a non-EU country, or receive through the post without needing to pay customs duty, has increased.
Items bought online or by mail order from outside the EU will be charged customs duty if the value is above £135, up from the previous threshold of £120.
Meanwhile, people arriving in the UK by commercial flights or sea travel from a non-EU country can now bring in up to £390 worth of goods for personal use without having to pay customs duty or VAT. This is up from £340, but does not include tobacco, alcohol or fuel.
People arriving by private plane or boat can bring in goods up to the value of £270. The previous limit was £240.
The new rules also mean smokers can bring in as many cigarettes as they like for personal use from Bulgaria, Romania. Lithuania and Estonia.
Import VAT is, however, still due on packages valued at over £18.
Duty-free limits for imports of alcohol and tobacco products from outside the EU have not changed. These are as follows:
1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% volume
|2 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry), sparkling wine or any other alcoholic drink that's less than 22% volume|
|Plus:||16 litres of beer|
|4 litres of still wine|
You can combine the first two allowances; for example, if you bring in one litre of fortified wine, you can also bring in half a litre of spirits.
|One of the following:||200 cigarettes|
|250g of tobacco|
Again, these allowances can be combined. For example, if you bring in 100 cigarettes, you can also bring in 25 cigars.
Invented by a Frenchman in 1954 and ironically introduced in the UK on 1 April 1973, VAT is an indirect tax levied on the value added in the production of goods and services, from primary production to final consumption and is paid by the buyer. Its levying is complex, with a number of exemptions and exclusions. For example, in the UK, VAT is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes and the non-VAT status of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes was challenged in a UK court case to determine whether Jaffa Cake was a cake or a biscuit. The judge ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake, McVitie’s won the case and VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes in the UK.