Postal imports

Produced by Tolley
Postal imports

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

  • Postal imports
  • Postal imports arriving from a non-EU country
  • Who is responsible for the information on the declaration?
  • Limits
  • Low value consignments
  • Commercial consignments
  • Small non-commercial consignments (gifts)
  • Alcohol, tobacco and perfume products
  • Channel Islands
  • SAD
  • More...

Businesses importing goods via the post, using Royal Mail or Parcelforce, from a non-EU country must declare the goods to HMRC. In most cases the sender will make the customs declaration by completing a form which is attached to the package. The relevant form will be a CN22 or a CN23, depending on the value. However, for certain imports it is necessary for the Single Administrative Document (SAD) to be completed. A SAD will need to be completed for:

  1. imports of goods with a value exceeding £873 (€1,000) declared to home use and free circulation

  2. imports of goods for which relief from customs duty and import VAT is being claimed, for example, inward processing relief, outward processing relief, temporary importation

  3. certain exports including all goods for export with a value exceeding £873 (€1,000)

De Voil Indirect Tax Service V3.302, V7.251; HMRC Notice 143; HMRC Notice 144

Details of how to complete a SAD are shown below.

Please see the Importing goods from outside the EU guidance note for more information on how the import charges are calculated and the Recovering import VAT guidance note for more information on how to recover import VAT incurred.

Import documents are required due to the fact that imports are potentially liable to import VAT and customs / excise duties. Import taxes may be due where:

  1. the importer purchases the goods

  2. goods are imported as gifts

  3. new or secondhand goods (including antiques) are imported

  4. goods are imported that are intended for both private and commercial use

There are some exceptions to these rules and are briefly outlined below.

Postal imports arriving from a non-EU country

The sender will have to declare the goods and must therefore complete a customs declaration CN22 or CN23 which in most cases will be affixed to the package. The declaration will need to include a description of the goods, their value and details of whether they are commercial items or gifts.

Goods arriving in the UK from a non-EU country may

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