Christmas Gifts – 10 customs rules

Gifts – Get Customs clearance right to avoid a nasty surprise !

Christmas is coming, and the geese are getting fat but what will happen when you and your family or friends receive Christmas gifts from loved ones living outside of the EU? Did you know import duty and VAT is payable by the receiver on Christmas gifts?

To help avoid disappointment or embarrassment when unexpectedly the delivery driver asks for payment of Duty/VAT/Excise + a handling fee just to receive Christmas gift, here are 10 rules that must apply to avoid charges:

1) To qualify and receive duty & tax relief, the gift must be sent from a private individual outside the EU to a private individual in the UK.

2) The gift must be of an “occasional nature” such as birthday, anniversary or Christmas.

3) There should be no commercial or trade element involved.The gift can’t be paid for either directly or indirectly by anyone in the UK.

4) Buying from an online store to be sent directly to the recipient does not qualify for relief, it is viewed as a commercial transaction. Or “Company A” sends a gift to an individual – again this will not qualify – it is viewed as a commercial transaction.

5) Goods sent as a gift over £39 are liable to VAT. Customs Duty also becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £135.

6) Alcohol and Tobacco: Gifts of this type with a value not exceeding £39, qualify for relief from import duties and import VAT. Warning; quantity limits apply and Excise Duty is payable on all alcohol and tobacco products even if they are a gift.

7) Gifts of perfumes: Neither Customs Duty nor Excise Duty is chargeable on gifts of perfumes subject to limited quantities.

8) Where a parcel contains gifts that are clearly intended for several people, for example, members of the same family, the £39 VAT relief applies to each individual person provided the goods are:

a. individually wrapped.
b. specifically addressed to them.
c. declared separately on the customs declaration.
d. within the allowances specified.


9) Multiple items for one person: If a package contains a number of different types of goods intended for more than one person, provided these are separately described on the documentation and each given a value on the customs declaration, the waiver of Customs Duty will apply to each item.

10) Where a single gift is addressed to 2 people and the value exceeds £39 then no relief can be claimed.

Final piece of advice it to make sure your customs agent, courier or broker applies the rules correctly or the recipient may get charged.

For further guidance on any customs matters please contact or call 01283 553099

Further information on Gift allowances can be found on the following link:

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

No Brexit Renaissance in Florence

Theresa May has likely said enough in her Florence speech 22 September 2017 to move Brexit negotiations forward in Brussels next week. There were…
Clearlight Customs – UK Import Export Customs Advisors

David Davis In Tropical Teesport

Brexit Implementation phase speech David Davis today set out the next phase of Brexit negotiations in a keynote speech in Teesport , the “tropical”…
Clearlight Customs – UK Import Export Customs Advisors