Parcel senders must face up to their Christmas duties

The international parcel delivery comparison site  ParcelHero is warning that there are hidden costs on Christmas gifts sent and received from outside the European Union (EU). It’s revealed its top Customs hacks that will stop Brits and their overseas friends and relations having to pay unexpected duties and tariffs on presents this year.

Last year 12% of all gifts shipped beyond the EU missed arriving in time for Christmas, and over 30% were held up: and often the cause is having to pay unexpected customs fees before the parcels can be released.

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Public Relations, David Jinks MILT: ‘‘The first time many parcel senders will experience dealing with Customs is at Christmas. They need to know about possible delays, and tax exemption limits on gifts. It’s also vitally important that they know the final mailing dates including Customs clearance. This is why ParcelHero has launched a new stress-busting Christmas overseas mailing page to help people avoid pointless delays by being aware of final shipping dates and exemption limits on gifts for different countries.’

Adds David: ‘As a nation we spend a lot of money on the presents we send abroad: the average value for a gift parcel delivered through ParcelHero overseas last Christmas was £112. That shows how much we care about loved ones overseas. But that does mean we ought to put a little bit of that care into ensuring that the presents arrive on time and without our friends and families having to pay extra duties on them.’

David says: ‘Shipping beyond the EU, senders must be made aware that receivers may have to pay import duty and tax on their parcel, even on gifts. Different countries decide their own levels of import duties and taxes. The good news is that there are many countries that have quite generous exemption levels on gifts or have quite a high value threshold before duties and taxes are imposed.  Australia won’t charge duties or taxes on any gifts below $1000 Australian Dollars – around £550, and India only imposes tariffs on any gift over Rs.10,000, around £110; gifts valued less than this imported by post are exempt from India’s Basic and Additional Customs duties. Senders must ensure they declare their parcel contains a gift under the value of these thresholds to ensure the receiver doesn’t end up paying unnecessary taxes on their presents.

‘Other nations are not as generous. The US will impose charges on gifts above $100 US Dollars, that’s around £78 (a De Minimis threshold was also recently introduced which increased the duty threshold to $800 for merchandise shipped into the USA); and South Africa above 1,400 Rand, around £77. And a number of other countries, such as Mexico, have certainly not got into the Christmas spirit and make no duty exceptions for gifts at all. Customers need to know these facts and make sure their Customs Invoice declares an amount under the threshold.’

Adds David: ‘It’s also important our industry makes senders aware that not only will any extra duties to be paid will have to be by the receiver, it also means they will be told what the item is when paying the tax, spoiling the surprise. Paying all duties in advance might be the safest choice; an option that is available through companies such as ParcelHero.’

And lucky Brits receiving an expensive present from overseas may not think themselves so lucky when they discover unexpected tariffs on presents arriving from outside the EU. Explains David: ‘If you have gifts worth over £135 coming into the UK from outside the EU from friends and family, you could be on the end of an unexpected extra duties bill, typically in the order of 2.5% of the value of the gifts. Ensure everyone sending you a pressie from overseas knows to keep the declared value under £135. You may still have to pay import VAT on gifts over £39.’

Explains David: ‘For people who send gifts outside the EU perhaps just once a year, sending parcels abroad shouldn’t be a minefield. There are three simple steps to ensuring successful deliveries:

  • Check the item you are sending is allowed into the country – for example some countries have strict alcohol regulations
  • Check you can send the gift via a courier – for example most couriers have rules surrounding perishable food shipments
  • Look up the value threshold of gifts

David concludes: ‘That’s why we have launched our new Christmas page with last mailing dates and gift duty exemption guides for sending gifts to a non-EU country. Our Christmas page even includes last order dates for Christmas from retail stores, from Argos to Zara.” 

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