Early Christmas shoppers have been warned against getting caught out by unexpected post-Brexit charges when buying gifts from the EU.
Changes introduced on January 1 mean some UK consumers buying presents for family and friends from EU businesses may need to pay customs charges when their goods are delivered.
Stocking fillers and other small items will not attract charges but HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warned that people buying excise goods – tobacco or alcohol – or ordering luxury items or presents in consignments worth more than £135 will be affected.
VAT will still apply on purchases made in consignments worth less than £135 but should be charged by the seller at the point of sale.
Anyone buying a more expensive product from abroad may need to pay import VAT, customs duty and excise duty when they receive their order.
The amount will depend on a range of factors and consumers should check with the seller beforehand to ensure they do not face any surprises, HMRC said.
A spokesman added: “With 100 days until Christmas, we want to remind shoppers of the changes introduced since January 1 so that their present-buying experience is as smooth as possible, and that online shoppers don’t inadvertently get caught out by any unexpected charges.”
Which? consumer rights spokesman Adam French said: “Which? research found that many shoppers experienced issues when ordering online from the EU after the end of the transition period – with some facing additional delivery or handling fees of up to £300.
“We have previously called on the Government to be more upfront about the new delivery charges people will face when shopping from the EU so we are pleased to see HMRC take this advice on board in time for the festive season. Businesses should also be clear about any extra charges so people can continue to shop across borders without any unnecessary complications.
“If you’re ordering presents from the EU or abroad this Christmas, make sure to check if you will be charged extra fees and read the fine print on the return policies.”
Gov.uk includes a guide to possible charges as well as information about how to dispute a charge, return unwanted goods and to get a refund on charges paid.
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