The value of goods that travellers can personally bring into the UK from a non-EU country, or receive through the post without needing to pay customs duty, has increased.
Travellers arriving in the UK by commercial sea or air transport from a non-EU country can now bring in up to £390 worth of goods for personal use (excluding tobacco and alcohol, which have separate allowances, and fuel) without paying customs duty or VAT. Those arriving by other means, including by private plane or boat for pleasure purposes, can bring in goods up to the value of £270.
Individuals who buy goods over the internet or by mail order from outside the EU 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.
Although the duty limits have changed, import VAT is still due on packages valued at over £18. However, if a package is received as a 'gift', VAT will only now be charged if its value exceeds £40.
With regard to excise duty on tobacco products, the remaining quantitative restrictions on personal imports of cigarettes from Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and Estonia (and smoking tobacco from Estonia) have now been lifted. This means that since 1 January 2010 private individuals travelling from these Member States can now bring back unlimited amounts of these goods for own use, thereby enjoying the same benefits as those travelling back from other Member States.