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14th November 2018

Tax and Customs Charges

Receiving goods or gifts from outside the EU. 

Tax and custom charges

When you order goods online or receive gifts from outside the EU (and some EU special territories) you may have to pay tax and custom charges. These charges can include customs duty, excise duty and import VAT. 

If these charges are payable, the postal operator – for example Royal Mail or Parcelforce – collects this fee on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) and the Border Force. 

Postal operator handling fee

An additional amount is charged by the postal operator which is called a handling or clearance fee. This fee is to cover the costs the operator incurs processing the item, notifying you of the charges and collecting this money on behalf of HRMC.
The postal operator handling the item will notify you, usually by delivering an advice card or letter, if any charges are payable and will tell you how to pay these along with its fee. 

Once you pay the custom charges and handling fee you will receive or will be able to collect the item at the postal operator’s depot. Handling fees may vary among the different postal operators. 

Incorrect fees and complaints process

Contact the Border Force if custom charges have been applied incorrectly
If you think the customs charges were incorrectly charged you should contact the Border Force and complete the relevant form.

Complain to the Border Force
If you are unhappy with the outcome and wish to pursue the matter, you can complain to the Border Force. Its complaint procedure can be found here.

Contact the Postal Operator if you have any queries about the handling / clearance fee.
If you have any queries about the handling fee you should contact the postal operator. The postal operator’s contact details should be provided on the advice card or notification letter. 

Complain to the Postal Operator. 
If you are unhappy with the service provided by the postal operator, make a complaint. See our guide to Making a Postal Complaint.

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