Send Christmas Presents Now to Avoid Brexit Charges and Red Tape


You might still be topping up your tan, but the international parcel comparison site ParcelHero recommends sending Christmas gifts to the European Union (EU) now. This will avoid the potential expense and bureaucracy of shipping gifts after a no-deal Brexit.

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: ‘Boris Johnson’s government is sending the firm message that it is determined to leave the EU on October 31st. If we do quit the EU without any kind of deal, that would likely mean we will be sending packages to the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. That means everyone sending a parcel to the EU must complete a Customs Invoice providing Proof of Origin, including a description of all the items being sent and their value. It also means that the receiver may well have to pay VAT and potentially import duties in order to receive the items if they are valued at over the gift threshold limit for the country; and that in turn means they will read the item’s description, spoiling the surprise.’

Says David: ‘Given the option of receiving presents a few months early or possibly having to pay VAT and tariffs on their own gifts, we think most EU residents would rather receive their parcels now!’

David says sending your gift after October could cost the lucky, or rather not-so-lucky, recipient a fortune. ‘If you are sending a present to France, for example, you will have to clearly state that the item you are sending is an unsolicited gift and has a value of less than €45, which is France’s gift threshold limit. Otherwise the receiver will have to pay French VAT at 20%. On top of this there will also be tariffs on all applicable goods. The rules vary between gifts and general shipments but will certainly apply if the item is worth over €150, in the case of France.

‘For example, let’s say you were feeling generous and sent your niece in France a €200 tee shirt for Christmas – and apparently designer tee shirts can cost a lot more than that! There would be €40 VAT to pay. And don’t forget Customs will include the cost of mailing and any insurance to that final VAT bill as well. Plus, if the full EU tariff were applicable, that would be 12% on tee shirts entering the EU, which would add a further €24 to the final reckoning.

‘Remember it’s your niece, in our example, that must stump up the extra €64-plus in Customs fees; unless you also pay for Customs clearance in advance: and there is an extra fee to pay on this service.’

Concludes David: ‘ I don’t want to be the grinch that ruins Christmas. If we do end up leaving the EU without any kind of agreement it will not be the end of the world, and our site will take you carefully through the steps and any potential extra costs involved. We’ll also be giving lots of advice and tips nearer the date, as the final shape of any Brexit deal becomes clear. But to avoid the worst potential consequences, you may well want to be even swifter than Rudolf with your Christmas parcels, and send them well before the October deadline, to ensure there are no extra costs and red tape to negotiate.’

For more details of the potential costs and challenges facing the UK post a no-deal Brexit see ParcelHero’s report: Revealed – the True Cost of Brexit: