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How to Avoid Customs Charges from the USA to the UK


If you are traveling from one country to another, you need to know certain rules and guidelines set by the countries upon traveling across the international border. Every country has its different sets of rules.

Some are binding upon the person, and some are to regulate the movement of certain legal goods. Imposing taxes like tariffs and customs duties helps regulate the export and import of goods across the country’s border.

Tariffs are taxes directly applied to the goods imported from a different country. At the same time, Duties are indirect taxes imposed on the person who carried the imported goods to another country. Export of goods legally permitted is a tax-free transaction. The customs charges are imposed only on the import of goods and, in some cases, when a specific good is exported.

What are the Customs charges?

Custom charges or customs duties are taxes linked with specific items imposed on the person who imports or exports the goods across the international borders. Different countries’ governments impose this tax to regulate the movement of goods into or across their country. In addition, this levied tax helps local and domestic industries grow and raise the demand for their goods.

The overall tax revenue of a country also rises due to the customs charges. Customs charges vary from country to country. It depends on the origin of the good and the material it is made up of. 

Customs duties are generally of 2 types

  1. Import duties
  2. Export duties

How much customs charges from UAS to the UK

When any goods are purchased beyond the European Union (EU) territory and brought to the UK, some import duties and taxes like VAT are needed to be paid to the customs department of the UK. Generally, these taxes vary on items transported and from where they have come.

The taxes on goods also depend on the treaties between the countries involved in the export and import transaction.

A freight agent can help determine the customs duties on your freight if communicated with necessary details about the goods. The type of goods shipped decides the amount of customs duty imposed. Regularities in determining the customs fees can cost you penalties and fines. 

While transporting any freight from the USA to the UK, to determine the tax payable for the goods, you must first know the goods and details relating to them to determine the tax on the specific goods. Therefore, the import-export policies of both countries are needed to be examined before determining the tax. 

When you export something from the United States of America, its constitution prohibits the USA’s customs department from imposing any export duty on the goods. But when you import something into the borders of the UK, it is your duty as an importer to use the customs harmonized tariff system code (HS code) correctly to calculate the percentage of duty payable.

To know the details of the import duty imposed on your goods, you can visit the UK’s government website and calculate the tariff on your goods by deciding which category of goods it falls into.
As the USA doesn’t come under the ambit of the EU, a reasonable amount of tax needs to be paid within three weeks of importing the freight.

Any goods under £135 (pound sterling) imported from the USA to the UK attracts no customs duty. Similarly, any gifts received from the USA with a value between £135-£630 cost 2.5% or a lower tax rate. However, any goods valued at more than £135 or gifts with a value of more than £630 are imposed with a certain amount of tax as per the HS codes. 

How to avoid Customs Charges

Custom duties are essential for a country to maintain import-export and secure their domestic businesses. So whenever your friend from the USA sends a parcel to you living in the UK, you need to pay the customs charges within 3 weeks to receive your parcel

Customs charges are generally the price of the goods with the insurance and shipping tax. The Royal mail will let you know the details of the payable tax and goods received after it imports successfully. 

Sometimes paying these taxes can cause unwanted issues to your wallet. You will never want an extra payable bill with the parcel received from your friend. Although you can’t avoid paying import duty legally, you can still regulate the tax cost in many ways. 

With the help of the rules and guidelines of the UK import system and with a good analysis of things, import taxes can be avoided to a certain extent.

Gifts are a good Option to Avoid Customs Charges

You certainly never want to pay some extra bucks for a gift received on your birthday or any special occasion. So if you are receiving a gift from the USA, it can cost you nearly zero import duties. This is because HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) considers only a concerned product can be declared a gift if the sender himself declares it. But remember, it will only be declared a gift if the transaction occurs between two different individuals, not groups or companies.

Gifts received from the USA with a value between £135-£630 cost 2.5% or a lower tax rate. Even some gifts cost you zero import tax. So next time you ask your friend to send something from the USA to you, ask him to send it as a gift.

Sample or resale

The purpose of importing a good decides the tax it will cost. If a good is imported only for a sample purpose and not be sold further, then relief on import duty can be secured. 

Products with a total commercial value above £15 are subject to VAT, and above £135 are subjected to import duty. However, VAT will be removed if your product stands duty-free by proving itself as a sample and not for selling purposes.

If you are importing any of these:- 

  • Books
  • Children’s toys
  • Antiques
  • Maps
  • Music

According to the UK’s import policy, the amount of tax on these items will be zero.

Look a lot

Staying updated with the VAT rate list before importing something to the UK is the most beneficial to avoid unnecessary tax. By reviewing the VAT list on the UK government website, you can determine what product stays low and what product stays high concerning the cost of tax. 

Keep it light

If you think sending a large number of goods would be more convenient, then think again. Shipping more items at a time can increase your shipping cost and, ultimately, your import duty. So send them individually. Try shipping lighter goods for more convenience. If your goods cost below 135 euros, they will not attract customs charges. So if goods are brought under 150 dollars from the USA, it will be easy to avoid the extra cost in import taxes.

Air or sea

Generally, shipping in the air medium is considered better because it consumes less time and arrives much faster than water medium. But when it comes to cost, air transport costs much higher than transport by a ship. So if you can wait a little longer for the goods to arrive, the water transport can bring you a large number of goods at a lower cost.


By knowing the right information, importing something from the USA to the UK can be more convenient and cost-efficient. The USA is one of the largest trading partners of the UK, and many items are shipped from the USA to the UK throughout the year. The annual transaction of goods between these two countries has reached 60 billion dollars.

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