Brexit: Christmas shoppers warned over charges on gifts from EU countries

People walking through a shopping centre decorated with Christmas lights in London, in the final week of a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Christmas deliveries from the EU could set people back up to £300 in extra fees. Credit: PA

With 100 days to go until Christmas, shoppers are being warned not to be caught out by post-Brexit charges on gifts from the EU.

UK consumers buying presents for family and friends from businesses in the bloc may need to pay customs charges of up to £300 when their goods are delivered following changes introduced on January 1.

While stocking fillers and other small items will not attract charges, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warned people buying excise goods – tobacco or alcohol – or ordering luxury items or presents in consignments worth more than £135 may need to pay import VAT, customs duty and excise duty when they receive their order.

(HMRC/PA) Credit: HMRC/PA

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.

As the amount charged on more expensive goods will depend on several factors, consumers are being asked to check with the seller beforehand to ensure they do not face any surprises, HMRC said

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.”

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.”

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.