It’s the time of year when many shoppers take off on a duty free spree abroad, a booze cruise or even an online bargain hunt on websites based outside the EU but their purchases could turn out to be less of a good deal than they thought if they don’t know their limits.
Tax expert Tom Roseff of Harrogate-based chartered accountants Saffery Champness warned that HMRC has recently issued a reminder that online shoppers should pay VAT on all goods valued over £15 bought from countries based outside the EU and anything over £135 could be liable for customs duty too.
Holidaymakers can bring up to £390 worth of goods in from non EU countries, excluding tobacco and alcohol, without paying customs duty or VAT, although the limit is lower for travellers using privately owned transport he added.
Tom Roseff said:
Seasonal bargain hunters shopping outside the EU are caught out every year and can face significant charges if they don’t know the value of goods they’re allowed to buy to stay within the customs boundaries,” said Mr Roseff.
There are no limits for booze cruisers to Europe bringing in alcohol for personal use but those coming back from non EU countries may be surprised to learn that they can only bring back the equivalent of a litre of spirits or two litres of wine, but not both.
Anyone planning a trip to stock up their drinks cabinet before Christmas should check out the HMRC website and make sure they know their limits before they set off.