A key part of sending parcels internationally, especially outside of the European Union is making sure that the parcel is properly labelled and declared to ensure applicable tax and duty is applied.

Customs rules and restrictions are not set by parcel delivery companies but by local governments in each country so you are just as likely to have to pay no matter which company you use, so any claims you may hear that some companies have not charged people tax or duty are wrong, declaring items improperly can lead to fines or any other charges as well as your parcel being returned, costing you even more to send it properly next time.

All parcels going to countries sent outside of the EU will need a CN22 form completing and attaching to the parcel. This form states what the parcel is and how much its estimated value is, the import duty will vary depending on the value as well as what the item is. Excise duty also applies to certain items such as perfume, alcohol and cigarettes; this is charged by a certain percentage per kilo.

If the value is over £100 then your parcel will need VAT paying as well as the relevant paperwork (VAT Label 444). These can be obtained from Customs VAT Offices near to you or the Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise National Advice service.

People sending gifts to relatives and friends abroad can be exempt from these charges but again, there are restrictions on estimated values, this is set at £40 or less. This means as long as you are sending a gift of £40 in value or less then you and the recipient will not be charged Import Tax and VAT.

With gifts, customs duty is not required unless the gifts being sent are valued at over £135 but if the calculated customs duty is less than £9 then again this can be waived. There are plenty of places you can contact to get help with calculating how much your parcel will be liable for which could determine whether you can effectively send your parcel and how much it will likely cost.

For many people the cost may not be so much of an issue if they are sending a gift which will only require a one off payment, for people who are going to be sending parcels internationally frequently such as small businesses or eBay sellers these charges may mean that you might have to reconsider.