Brits with EU-based family and friends should mail Christmas presents well before the end of October to avoid potential no-deal taxes and paperwork.
That’s the view of international parcels firm ParcelHero, which recommends sending Christmas gifts to the European Union (EU) as soon as possible. This will avoid the potential expense and bureaucracy of shipping gifts after a no-deal Brexit.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, said: “Boris Johnson’s government is sending the firm message that it is determined to leave the EU on 31 October. If we do quit the EU without any kind of deal, that would likely mean we will be sending packages to the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
“That means everyone sending a parcel to the EU must complete a Customs Invoice providing Proof of Origin, including a description of all the items being sent and their value. It also means that the receiver may well have to pay VAT and potentially import duties in order to receive the items if they are valued at over the gift threshold limit for the country; and that in turn means they will read the item’s description, spoiling the surprise.”
He added: “Given the option of receiving presents a few months early or possibly having to pay VAT and tariffs on their own gifts, we think most EU residents would rather receive their parcels now!”
Sending your gift after October could cost the lucky, or rather not-so-lucky, recipient a fortune. Jinks said: “If you are sending a present to France, for example, you will have to clearly state that the item you are sending is an unsolicited gift and has a value of less than €45, which is France’s gift threshold limit. Otherwise the receiver will have to pay French VAT at 20%. On top of this there will also be tariffs on all applicable goods. The rules vary between gifts and general shipments but will certainly apply if the item is worth over €150, in the case of France.
“For example, let’s say you were feeling generous and sent your niece in France a €200 t-shirt for Christmas. There would be €40 VAT to pay. Don’t forget Customs will include the cost of mailing and any insurance to that final VAT bill as well. Plus, if the full EU tariff were applicable, that would be 12% on t-shirts entering the EU, which would add a further €24 to the final reckoning.
“Remember, it’s your niece, in our example, that must stump up the extra €64-plus in Customs fees; unless you also pay for Customs clearance in advance: and there is an extra fee to pay on this service.”