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Online shopping receives tax boost

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Shoppers in the UK who buy goods on the internet from countries outside the EU can now spend more without being liable to customs duty.

Under changes which came into effect on 1 January, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that anyone buying goods online or by mail order from non-EU countries will now only be charged customs duty if the value of the package is above £135, and the actual amount of duty due is over £9.

The previous exemption threshold was £120.

However, HMRC added that, although the duty limits have changed, import VAT is still due on packages valued at over £18. But if a package is received as a ‘gift’, VAT will only now be charged should its value exceeds £40.

There are changes also to the value of goods people can bring into the UK from non-EU countries before tax applies.

Those who travel by commercial air or sea transport can return with up to £390 worth of goods from non-EU states if they are intended for personal use. The limit used to be £340.

The new regime for travellers does not include alcohol, tobacco or fuel which have separate allowances.