Imports ― special rules for consignments of £135 or less

Produced by Tolley
Imports ― special rules for consignments of £135 or less

The following Value Added Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Imports ― special rules for consignments of £135 or less
  • Imports of goods sold directly to GB customers
  • What if goods are located in the Great Britain at the point of sale?
  • How is the value of a consignment determined?
  • Imports facilitated by an online marketplace
  • What if goods are located in the Great Britain at the point of sale?
  • What is an online marketplace for these purposes?
  • How is the value of a consignment determined?
  • Practical points ― imports of consignments of £135 or less

This guidance note looks at the special rules that apply to imports of consignments valued at £135 or less which are located outside the UK at the point of sale.

For importing goods from outside the UK generally, see the Imports ― overview (rules from 1 January 2021) guidance note. For movements of goods and Northern Ireland, see the Northern Ireland ― overview guidance note.

In-depth commentary on the legislation and case law can be found in De Voil Indirect Tax Service V3.305.

Imports of goods sold directly to GB customers

Where a consignment of £135 or less is sold directly to a customer in Great Britain and the goods are located outside the UK at the point of sale the place of supply for VAT purposes is deemed to be the UK. The effect of this is that overseas seller must normally register for UK VAT and account for VAT at the point of sale.

However, where the supply is business to business and the customer has a valid UK VAT registration number, then a ‘reverse charge’ applies. This means that the overseas seller is not required to account for the UK VAT and instead the customer ‘self-accounts’ for the VAT due. The customer effectively treats the goods as supplied both to and by itself. This is a very similar mechanism to the reverse charge which applies to services bought in from overseas, for which see the Reverse charge ― buying in services from outside the UK guidance note.

To ensure that the reverse charge is legitimately applied, the overseas seller should check the validity of the VAT number using the UK’s online service for checking VAT numbers. It should also add a reverse charge narrative to the invoice (for example, ‘reverse charge: customer to account for VAT’).

No import VAT

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