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EU exit (no deal): Changes to the rules for reporting and paying UK import VAT that will impact sellers outside the UK

Article for Parcels stakeholders.

From 29 March 2019, if the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal, the UK import VAT rules will change for goods sold to UK buyers that are sent in parcels. The rules differ depending on the value of the goods in the parcel. Further information about how to work out the value of a parcel can be found on GOV.UK.

When the value for all goods in the parcel is £135 or less, sellers outside the UK must pay the UK import VAT for any parcels sent to UK buyers after 11pm GMT on 29 March. This applies even if the goods were sold before then. Sellers outside the UK include those in the EU, outside the EU, and the Channel Islands. This will include any goods worth £15 or less as they will no longer be eligible for the existing tax relief. When the value for all goods in the parcel is more than £135, UK buyers will need to pay the UK import VAT, customs and / or excise duty on these goods. The parcel operator will apply any necessary charges to the parcel and seek the payment direct from the UK buyer.

For excise goods - import VAT, Customs and Excise duty is due regardless of value, and will be collected directly from the UK buyer by the parcel operator.

If sellers outside the UK sell goods above and below the £135 threshold to UK buyers, the seller should only report and pay the UK import VAT on parcels containing goods worth £135 or less. There will be two ways for sellers outside the UK to pay the UK import VAT on parcels to the UK HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Sellers can register for the UK HMRC new online service and are encouraged to do so now so they are ready to use it if the changes are introduced on 29 March 2019. Alternatively, they can pay a parcel operator that offers a service to pay the UK import VAT to HMRC on the sellers’ behalf.

If sellers do not follow the new UK import VAT rules, parcels may be delayed or stopped from entering the UK. In addition, the UK buyer may have to pay extra tax and fees, and the seller may have to pay a penalty of £1,000. More information about these potential changes, or others in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal can be found on GOV.UK. 

BIFA has significant concerns about this proposal, because:- 

  • In effect we believe that the forwarder when acting on behalf of the overseas sender  will be forced into acting on behalf of the sender as an Indirect Representative, because under these proposals as they are currently written there is no possibility of acting on behalf of a party established in the UK
  • The proposals overlook the fundamental difference between Business to Business and Business to Consumer transactions

BIFA is lobbying Government on behalf of their Members in an effort to obtain a policy change which will be create a more sensible and balanced approach. The HM Government Parcels Communications Toolkit can be viewed at here and the FAQ’s here.



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