HMRC issues post-Brexit warning as Britons may face ‘hidden’ buying charges

Rip Off Britain expert discusses hidden import fees on goods

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HM Revenue and Customs as it is formally known, is taking the time to warn shoppers about unexpected charges which could dampen their experience. While Black Friday has now passed, millions of pounds will be spent between now and Christmas. However, Britons could find themselves caught out if they fail to pay attention to specific post-Brexit rules on item purchases, especially online.

Changes first introduced on January 1, 2021 mean that consumers may need to pay charges when buying goods from the EU.

This is potentially the same as what Britons had to confront when making a purchase from non-EU sellers.

It could mean items end up being more expensive, sometimes significantly, than a person first planned.

As a result, it will be important to think about the price carefully, as well as the rules, before taking action.

Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, Directors General, Borders and Trade, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), commented on the matter.

They said: “With Christmas rapidly approaching, we don’t want shoppers to be caught out by unexpected charges which will take the fun out of their Christmas shopping experience.

“There are now a number of factors that people will need to consider when purchasing goods from the EU.

“Shoppers are being advised to check guidance to ensure they know what they will owe.”

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It is worth noting those shoppers who are based in Northern Ireland will not be impacted by the rule change due to the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

However, people who are based in Great Britain should be aware of the charges which could be levied against them.

HMRC has also issued other “top tips” in the effort to help Britons identify charges and therefore avoid them if possible. 

Firstly, people should check if their order contains goods subject to excise duties, which can include alcohol or perfume, for example.

When it comes to excise goods such as these, there will be charges due no matter the value or origin of the item.

However, shoppers will also need to pay import VAT and excise duty, and potentially customs duty, so this could add up quite quickly.

Those buying items worth less than £135, aside from excise goods, should not have to worry about additional charges.

This is because UK VAT is collected by the seller on behalf of HMRC at the point of sale.

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Expensive products, those more than £135, will need to pay import VAT and might also need to pay customs duty.

It is difficult to say how much this amount will be as it is dependent on numerous factors, including shipping and insurance.

As a result, HMRC urges people to speak to the seller of the product to find out the details and costs.

Those required to pay customs charges will usually be contacted by the courier. 

The seller may also arrange to pay any charges up front on a person’s behalf, but this should not be presumed.

HMRC states if customs duty is due, the rate for each item can also be cross-referenced with the online trade tariff tool. 

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