Sending Gifts to the EU from the UK

Now that the United Kingdom is no longer a part of the European Union, everybody must complete a customs declaration when sending gifts or goods internationally (except for items being sent from Northern Ireland to the EU due to the NI protocol bill).

girl surprising a man with a gift

The customs documents must accurately describe the complete contents of the shipment, the reason for exporting them and accurate values for each item.  Just writing “assorted gifts” is unfortunately not going to be acceptable.  When describing contents, the level of detail must be high too.  For example, “clothes” isn’t an acceptable item definition, instead you should be including extra information like the gender the clothes are designed for, what they are made of and their commonly used name e.g. “Men’s cotton socks”.

Gifts being sent into the EU will be assessed for import duty and local tax (equivalent to VAT) and these government levied fees (if due) will need to be paid for by the recipient prior to or just after delivery.  There is a relief on these extra fees for low value gifts under €45, however this value limit is a combination of the true value of the goods and the cost of shipping (plus any insurance cover charged), therefore for bulkier and heavier packages it’s a good idea to let the receiver know there will likely be something to pay to clear the goods.  If your gift exceeds the €45 amount but remains below €150 (including shipping costs and insurance) then you’ll receive a “negligible value relief” and will only need to pay the local tax (VAT) on the total value amount.

The delivering courier will sometimes add a “disbursement” or “clearance” fee for their part in handling the payments for these government levies and will contact the receiver for payment.  It’s therefore important that up to date contact information for the recipient is supplied, including a local phone number in the destination country.  It’s worth noting that gifts of alcohol, perfumes and tobacco are prohibited from being sent on most, if not all broker websites, they are never exempted from any VAT payments and may attract excise duty too.

Calculating the potential fees are unfortunately less straightforward as the rates of duty charged can vary with the type of goods being sent and the total values.  For the daring among you, visit the EU’s “Taric Codes” database for more information.

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