A guide to: Understanding taxes and duties

Understanding Taxes and Duties for international delivery.

Most shipments crossing international borders are subject to the assessment of duties and taxes imposed by the importing country's government. Duties and taxes are imposed to generate revenue, protect local industries against foreign competition or both. The duties and taxes normally must be paid before the goods are released from customs. A shipment's duty and tax amount may be based on:

  • Product value
  • Trade agreements
  • Country of manufacture
  • Use of the product
  • The product's Harmonized System (HS) code

Customs officials assess duties and taxes based on information provided on the air waybill, the commercial invoice and other relevant documents.

Please note:

  • Duties and taxes on international shipments will be billed automatically to the recipient
  • As per the contract of carriage with ipostparcels, the shipper is ultimately liable for any duties and taxes assessed on the shipment. If the recipient refuses the package or the recipient refuses to pay for duties and taxes, the shipper will be billed for duties and taxes

Commodity descriptions and duties and taxes:
provide an accurate description of your shipment contents

Duties and taxes, and other customs fees may be assessed based on the contents of your shipment. Accurate descriptions of shipment contents are not only required for this purpose, but are essential for timely customs clearance. A consistent and detailed description of your shipment contents on all documents will help reduce customs delays.

Tariff tables are based primarily on three factors, so ensure that all three are clearly addressed in your commodity description:

  1. What is it?
  2. What is it made from?
  3. What is the intended use?

Be specific. "Metal parts for hydraulic valves" is better than "machine tools." Also, use generic names, in addition to trade names. Don’t just say "Parts", say something like "Two steel springs for woodworking machine".

Including the product's Harmonized System (HS) code will further help customs officials properly assess your shipment and move it through the customs clearance process more quickly.

Bear in mind that some countries charge fees for clearing personal effects], and in some cases charge duties on them - especially those which aren’t used – see our information on Traveller essentials – what you can send in the post and to where for more details, and on the country specific pages of the more popular destinations for sending personal effects to.

Tax and customs considerations for countries outside the EU

While sending goods from the UK to countries within the European Union is usually trouble-free, there are considerations to be made when sending to outside the EU.

For more information, please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website based on the country you’re sending to. We’ve included some of our most popular international destinations here for your convenience:

Australia tax and customs considerations

USA tax and customs considerations

New Zealand tax and customs considerations

China tax and customs considerations

Pakistan tax and customs considerations

Canada tax and customs considerations

South Africa tax and customs considerations

Nigeria tax and customs considerations

India tax and customs considerations

Thailand tax and customs considerations

Japan tax and customs considerations

Brazil tax and customs considerations

Sri Lanka tax and customs considerations

Hong Kong tax and customs considerations

South Korea tax and customs considerations

Ghana tax and customs considerations

Every country has different tax and customs requirements and regulations – some of which will need a fee or admin charge - usually to be paid by the recipient. This is important to consider so the signee (recipient) is prepared to pay for any charges that arise before their parcel can be delivered.

Related information:

International restricted and prohibited items
How to complete an international invoice
How to complete a commercial invoice
How to package parcels for international delivery
Traveller essentials – what you can send in the post and to where

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