Help and advice

What are customs charges?

When an item is received from outside of the EU, it is automatically inspected by Border Force on behalf of HMRC. Border Force are the customs authority team who operate inside our International hub, and they examine postal packages arriving in the UK for prohibited or restricted goods. They also check the customs declaration to determine if customs duty, excise duty and import VAT is chargeable.

If customs duty, excise duty and or import VAT is chargeable we will pay any charges on your behalf directly to HMRC. We will then send you a letter to confirm how to make your payment in order the goods may be delivered. The letter will include a 17 digit reference number which you can use to make the payment. We will deliver your parcel once the charges have been paid. See how to pay a customs charge for more information.

Most goods posted to you from abroad from outside the EU via the postal system are liable to any or all of the following taxes: customs duty, excise duty, import VAT. All such items will be assessed by Border Force and may incur customs charges. These must be paid whether:

You purchase the goods or receive them as a gift

The goods are new or used (including antiques)

The goods are for your private use or for re-sale

Any packages marked merchandise over the value of £15 sterling are subject to import VAT at 20% on the value of the goods plus shipping costs.

Any packages marked gift over the value of £39 sterling are subject to import VAT at 20% on the value of the declared item only.

All items over the value of £135 sterling are also subject to Customs Duty dependant on the commodity code declared by the sender.

It is the values on the CN22 or CN23 as completed by the sender that UK Border Force will use to assess any charges. Staff on the Customs Helpline or Border Force DO NOT have the ability to amend a declaration. If the sender has used an incorrect or over-declared the value the recipient will need to pay the charge directly to Parcelforce and then reclaim from Border Force using the BOR286 form. 

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