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  • Writer's pictureJess Lowe

FYI Beauty Quick Guide to Import Taxes

FYI Beauty Guide to Import Taxes

Okay, I have to agree taxes aren't the most thrilling subject to talk about. However, aren't they just the BIGGEST kill joy when you want to purchase that new must-have from the USA?

Thankfully, more companies are stocking American beauty brands due to demand.

Sites such as Beautylish and Sephora are already making our life much easier by calculating the fees for us and letting us pay at check-out.

Sometimes though there is a product that you just can't wait for and that's when it becomes necessary to have it shipped directly from the USA.

It can be quite hard to get your head around at first, but after I had a conversation with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) they managed to clear some things up.

I thought I would write this really quick and simple guide for you beauties so we can all enjoy what we love without worry and hassle.

FYI Beauty Guide to Import Taxes

Technicalities: This guide relates to purchases made from non-EU countries (e.g USA) and is shipped to an address in the United Kingdom.

The main fact you need to know is that there isn’t just customs duty to take into consideration there is also import VAT (value added tax) which is charged.

The Rules:

1. Do I have to pay taxes on goods sent to me?
Most goods arriving in the UK from outside the EU are liable to any or all of the taxes and must be paid whether:
  • You purchase the goods or receive them as a gift

  • The goods are new or used (including antiques)

  • The goods are for your private use or for resale

2. What are the limits for customs duty and import VAT?
  • Goods you have purchased, of £15 or less are free from Customs Duty and import VAT. Note: this does not include perfume.

  • Customs Duty becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £135.


Goods Value - £0.01 - £15.00 - no customs duty or import VAT due.

Goods Value - £15.01 - £135.00 - no customs duty but import VAT is due.

Goods Value - £135.01- greater - customs duty and import VAT are due.

3. Gifts/Samples declaration

Commercial items purchased online i.e from a makeup company are not able to be marked as gifts or samples on the declaration form.

4. Eh? So what can I spend?

Spend £15 or less to avoid any charges at all. If you don't mind paying import VAT but would like to avoid customs duty keep your haul under £135.

Happy Shopping! XO

FYI Beauty Guide to Import taxes

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