Sending gifts to loved ones in the EU this Christmas? You could be breaking new Brexit rules…
By Mark Callaghan
By Mark Callaghan. Chief Executive Officer, British Corner Shop
Christmas spent apart is never easy. But for those with family living in the EU, sending gifts has become even trickier this Christmas thanks to new Brexit rules.
This year, for the first time, you’ll need to think carefully about what you’re sending and how you’re sending it, or you could be hit with unexpected fees and delays.
So, to help you get your gifts to loved ones in the EU this Christmas, Hannah Ward from British Corner Shop, the online supermarket for expats, explains the new rules to bear in mind…
Before Brexit, sending packages to the EU was fairly straightforward. However, since Brexit, all goods shipped abroad are treated the same as items sent from non-EU countries.
This means you’ll need to fill out and attach a customs declaration to any package you send to the EU, regardless of whether this is a gift or not. Failing to do so can mean your package is delayed or returned to you, which could be costly.
You’ll need to declare the full contents of the parcel, including a detailed description of what’s inside, the weight of the parcel and its value. You’ll also need to say it’s a gift.
You can get customs declaration forms (CN22 for items up to the value of £270, or CN23 for items with a value over £270) from your local Post Office branch.
If you’re sending a package with multiple gifts for different people, you’ll need to declare this on the customs declaration. Gifts should be individually wrapped, addressed to different people, and given individual values to ensure these meet regulations to avoid paying fees.
To avoid your loved ones being hit by a charge to receive your gift, you’ll need to plan ahead.
New restrictions mean there are limits on the weight and value of your gifts and exceeding these will result in tax fees or your package being returned to the UK.
Regulations for where the product was sourced also apply to any items leaving the UK. If any part of your gift originates from outside the EU, it’ll be subject to VAT and customs fees.
And unfortunately for friends and family abroad, it is always the recipient who pays.
The same is true for receiving parcels in the UK from the EU. Once the £39 threshold is exceeded, you’ll need to pay VAT to receive your gift. Many are not aware of these extra charges, with a journalist expressing her shock at having to pay £30 just to receive earrings sent from Greece.
Customs duties also become payable if the value of the goods exceeds £135, so if you’re planning on sending or receiving a pricier gift, you’ll need to account for additional costs and may want to transfer funds to the recipient to avoid them having to foot a hefty bill.
Sending loved ones a taste of home for Christmas is a popular gift, but new Brexit rules have made sending food and drink items more complicated.
The EU’s rules on food are highly complex, particularly for food with ingredients of animal origin, like meat, dairy, eggs and fish. For these types of products, even store cupboard essentials, you’re required to prove where and how those ingredients were processed. Items may even need to be physically inspected before they’re allowed in.
Restrictions vary across EU member states, such as the amount or type of product. For example, you can no longer send a box of chocolates to France thanks to the milk content. So, make sure to check before you buy a gift to send.
Most food sent in the mail will need to be in the original manufacturer’s packaging with all ingredients listed, while anything perishable is not permitted to be posted abroad, meaning home-baked goods will likely not be allowed to be sent.
And remember, sending alcoholic beverages containing more than 24% abroad, like gin, vodka or whisky, isn’t allowed. For anything under 24%, like beer or wine, there are size restrictions and packaging requirements.
If you’re looking to send a food parcel to the EU, save yourself the headache and order through an established online supermarket that stocks British goods.