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Royal Mail Customs Charge?

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Posted 11th Mar
I just checked the progress on my delivery from Ali Express to find that Royal Mail have hit me with an £11.04 customs charge. The charge consists of an £8 handling fee and £3.04 Import tax.

The item I bought was came to a total of $20.46 (USD). Is this correct? I've never bought anything this amount in the past so not sure if this is the norm.

Many thanks in advance to anyone who can help
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Safer to buy off eBay from one of the Chinese sellers that pretend they are from UK. Normally sell around the same price as Aliexpress but they can't sting you for customs duty if they are ' in the UK' :o) . If you did get a charge the seller would have to refund you are you could get a full refund.
Just buying a router from one now. Ordered Saturday and by Tuesday morning it had arrived at Yodel hub from China ( Manchester..lol) and is now out for delivery.
Edited by: "yorkie12" 11th Mar
24 Comments
Yep, it's the chance you take
£15 is the customs limit (about 19.40 USD) so your item is over that so the customs charge is correct.
NCIS11/03/2020 10:52

£15 is the customs limit (about 19.40 USD) so your item is over that so …£15 is the customs limit (about 19.40 USD) so your item is over that so the customs charge is correct.


Riiiiight! That makes sense, I seriously didn't know.

Ah well! Thanks for the reply
Safer to buy off eBay from one of the Chinese sellers that pretend they are from UK. Normally sell around the same price as Aliexpress but they can't sting you for customs duty if they are ' in the UK' :o) . If you did get a charge the seller would have to refund you are you could get a full refund.
Just buying a router from one now. Ordered Saturday and by Tuesday morning it had arrived at Yodel hub from China ( Manchester..lol) and is now out for delivery.
Edited by: "yorkie12" 11th Mar
yorkie1211/03/2020 11:08

Safer to buy off eBay from one of the Chinese sellers that pretend they …Safer to buy off eBay from one of the Chinese sellers that pretend they are from UK. Normally sell around the same price as Aliexpress but they can't sting you for customs duty if they are ' in the UK' :o) . If you did get a charge the seller would have to refund you are you could get a full refund.


Good to know! Thanks
NCIS11/03/2020 10:52

£15 is the customs limit (about 19.40 USD) so your item is over that so …£15 is the customs limit (about 19.40 USD) so your item is over that so the customs charge is correct.


What is charged is VAT. The problem is that if item value, including shipping, exceeds £15 even by the tiniest bit, 20% VAT is applicable on the entire amount. Customs duty kicks in only above £135, I think.
Thats crazy to pay so much fees for a £15 item
iv been hit a couple of times from Ali for Xiaomi phones and fees were about £15 inc handling fee.
Now i prefer to buy from ebay, gearbest, eglobal, banggood, geekbuying etc. they seem to have a special thing going where none of the items attract fees.

Anything of value... Vacuums, Mobiles i would never buy from aliexpress again, sure to be fees.
Shame most of the above chinese companies are banned, so we end up with loads of crappy aliexpress deals that doesnt represent the true price and usually not as cheap anyway.
Edited by: "Sandy1012" 11th Mar
I was only buying a few Jurassic Park iron on patches for a load of fancy dress outfits haha.

With the extra charges they still worked out cheaper than eBay and Amazon so I can't complain really
Sandy101211/03/2020 11:51

Thats crazy to pay so much fees for a £15 item


It costs the same amount to put an item through customs whatever it's value.
I think that that the charge ought to be increased. Doubling it, with at least half going to the exchequer, would seem like a sensible move to me.
Sandy101211/03/2020 11:51

Thats crazy to pay so much fees for a £15 itemiv been hit a couple of …Thats crazy to pay so much fees for a £15 itemiv been hit a couple of times from Ali for Xiaomi phones and fees were about £15 inc handling fee.Now i prefer to buy from ebay, gearbest, eglobal, banggood, geekbuying etc. they seem to have a special thing going where none of the items attract fees.Anything of value... Vacuums, Mobiles i would never buy from aliexpress again, sure to be fees.Shame most of the above chinese companies are banned, so we end up with loads of crappy aliexpress deals that doesnt represent the true price and usually not as cheap anyway.


handling fees arent bad value, the amount of effort needed to collect the fee, process it and repay the fee to the customs £8 is not a lot.
Yes, that is correct. I’ve paid it several times. Managed to avoid it twice, got really lucky £15 is the limit. So, if you purchase anything below that price, they don’t charge you for tax or handling fee.
eslick11/03/2020 12:34

handling fees arent bad value, the amount of effort needed to collect the …handling fees arent bad value, the amount of effort needed to collect the fee, process it and repay the fee to the customs £8 is not a lot.


Does sting a bit on a low value item though when you've only just slightly gone over the chargeable value. Often like the op people simply don't realise the first time.
myusernamehasgone23411/03/2020 13:06

Does sting a bit on a low value item though when you've only just slightly …Does sting a bit on a low value item though when you've only just slightly gone over the chargeable value. Often like the op people simply don't realise the first time.



agree but thats education, bring anything into the country that hits the limits and you will most probably be charged, but its the risk you take trying to get something cheaper than you can in this country. Anyone who buys from within the country has already paid the custom charges and VAT and a version of handling charges which is one of the reasons the items are higher in cost here. Buy from China and you get subsidised delivery, something you would never get buying from here.
myusernamehasgone23411/03/2020 13:06

Does sting a bit on a low value item though when you've only just slightly …Does sting a bit on a low value item though when you've only just slightly gone over the chargeable value. Often like the op people simply don't realise the first time.


I got stung last year, I worked it out and I was either 7p or 14p over the limit (i cant remember now) Its the £8 RM handeling charge for a purple sticker that annoys the most.
freakstyler11/03/2020 13:23

I got stung last year, I worked it out and I was either 7p or 14p over the …I got stung last year, I worked it out and I was either 7p or 14p over the limit (i cant remember now) Its the £8 RM handeling charge for a purple sticker that annoys the most.


So frustrating
'handling fee' aka a chance for them to add to their profits.

I got sent a gift from my sister, I told her to put a lower value on the customs form but she's not the sharpest knife in the block. So they whacked me a fee that was almost as much as the item itself.
Erudite11/03/2020 12:20

I think that that the charge ought to be increased. Doubling it, with at …I think that that the charge ought to be increased. Doubling it, with at least half going to the exchequer, would seem like a sensible move to me.


Who's side are you on
Yes, it's correct. I got a similarly priced $20 (on the customs declaration) item a few weeks ago.

Maybe you could message the seller before dispatch and ask them to state $15 on the form in future, but I didn't tell you that.
Bigfootpete11/03/2020 13:32

'handling fee' aka a chance for them to add to their profits.I got sent a …'handling fee' aka a chance for them to add to their profits.I got sent a gift from my sister, I told her to put a lower value on the customs form but she's not the sharpest knife in the block. So they whacked me a fee that was almost as much as the item itself.


Profits? Someone has to process this, track the payment and organise delivery. There is a cost to do this. And it is a flat fee.
bozo00711/03/2020 17:20

Profits? Someone has to process this, track the payment and organise …Profits? Someone has to process this, track the payment and organise delivery. There is a cost to do this. And it is a flat fee.


That's what they do, that's what the postage is for, they don't do anything special except whack a fee on based on the paid price the the sender puts on the customs declaration.

What extra processing do you think they do?
Bigfootpete11/03/2020 17:40

That's what they do, that's what the postage is for, they don't do …That's what they do, that's what the postage is for, they don't do anything special except whack a fee on based on the paid price the the sender puts on the customs declaration. What extra processing do you think they do?


Postage is collected by the exporting country and covers normal delivery, not additional tasks of collecting the VAT, remitting it to HMRC, etc. If the addressee refuses delivery, then there is the cost of returning the item or binning it. Plus the VAT is already paid.
I think you’ll find a lot of sellers will put a reduced ‘value’ on the customs declaration to avoid this, yours doesn’t seem to have.
bozo00711/03/2020 19:13

Postage is collected by the exporting country and covers normal delivery, …Postage is collected by the exporting country and covers normal delivery, not additional tasks of collecting the VAT, remitting it to HMRC, etc. If the addressee refuses delivery, then there is the cost of returning the item or binning it. Plus the VAT is already paid.


Yes there will be some additional costs, but £8!

  • Most of the additional processing will be computerised.
  • If the item has to be returned that would be probably be charged to the seller.
  • I'm inclined to think that any VAT paid in advance could be reclaimed.

Sounds to me like the old £25, returned item, fee that banks used to charge. It's not that it costs that much, it's just what they can get away with charging for the service.
Edited by: "fablanta" 12th Mar
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