I bought a backpack from the Wardow online market as a gift for my husband. It came to £217 and I was surprised to be told the package was being held by customs and I had to pay a release charge of £55.29.
I was unaware that the goods would be shipped from Germany as all prices were in sterling. Parcelforce’s £55.29 invoice is £10.88 customs duty, £32.41 import VAT and £12 customs clearance costs.
Wardow said there shouldn’t have been a charge as they are VAT registered in the UK. The £217 total included £36.17 tax.
He advised me to pay the fee and collect it from HMRC by completing a BOR286 form. He also gave a 10% refund as a goodwill gesture.
I paid the charge and submitted the form but HMRC says as the value of my purchase was over £135 the charge was correct. Who is right?
Prior to Brexit, UK consumers were free to buy items from anywhere in the EU without incurring import duties and other charges. Now, for online orders worth £135 or less, VAT is included in the price by the retailer and then paid to HMRC.
Beyond that, no VAT should be charged by the trader. You should expect pay the delivery company which will include customs duties as well as its administrative costs.
The information provided to you by Wardow was not accurate given the value of your order. Its website states that “all orders with UK shipping are shipped taxed without exception” and that there may be “additional customs charges”. He did not respond to a request for comment.
You got a refund from the company, but you wouldn’t have made the purchase had you realized the extra costs.
HMRC urges buyers to ‘check the tips to ensure they fully understand when and how charges are incurred.
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