Online shoppers in the UK are being forced to pay more than £100 in post-Brexit import duties for items they’ve purchased from the EU.
According to The Guardian, international delivery companies are chasing UK shoppers for import duties, VAT and admin fees despite them often being promised free international delivery.
One buyer who had purchased £236 worth of premium jumpsuits from Norwegian retailer Onepiece.com, was chased by international delivery firm UPS to pay an extra £121.
This included £81.85 for “import VAT”, £28.32 in further duties and an additional £11.50 admin fee.
The shopper, who has now had the balance refunded by the retailer, said she had “no idea whether these sums are correct” but that her calculations suggest she had paid “34 per cent VAT”.
In response, an HMRC spokesperson said: “The value of the import VAT is calculated based on the value of the goods for customs purposes plus any customs duty, therefore it may appear to be higher than 20 per cent of the original sales price.”
A second buyer was also chased by UPS for £93 after purchasing £292 of bedlinen from a Berlin-based company, consisting of £61.32 in VAT, £19.81 in import duties and a further £11.50 collection fee.
This customer said they were unaware they were buying from a company outside of the UK, adding that they only realised after receiving “30 per cent duties” on top of their order price.
The unexpected bill for Kara’s bed linen order was made up of £19.81 in duty, £61.32 in VAT and an £11.50 collection fee levied by the courier firm.
“I had no idea that I was not ordering from a UK company,” she said. “Only when I received the duties demand did I realise that the site was based in Germany. I wouldn’t have done it if I’d known I would face 30 per cent duties on top.”
Retailers and shoppers on both sides of the channel are struggling to come to terms with the new complex import taxes brought in on January 1 as the UK officially left the EU customs union.
Under these new rules VAT is collected at the point of sale rather than the point of importation, meaning EU businesses exporting to the UK must register for UK VAT and account for it to the HMRC.
This essentially means that overseas retailers sending goods to the UK are expected to register for UK VAT and account for it to HMRC if the sale value is less than €150 (£135).