Buying goods from Europe? Now that the UK has left the EU you may well now be liable for VAT and customs duties. If your imports are returned or import taxes have been applied in error you can claim a refund. 

In a Post-Brexit Christmas shopping warning, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) explained that now the UK has left the EU, customers in Great Britain will face import duties and VAT when buying goods from the EU that are in excess of £135 or if they are categorised as excise goods.

If you return goods on which duties have been paid, or have been incorrectly charged VAT or customs duties a refund may be due:

  • A claim for a refund can be made by the customer (as a private individual or an importer), the freight forwarder or an agent.
  • Refunds claims must be made to HMRC.

The method of claiming repayment will depend on how the initial customs declaration was made:

Customs Handling of Import Excise Freight (CHIEF) online service

  • A repayment may be claimed online. You require a Government Gateway number and be registered for the service.
  • There is a CHIEF version of Form C285 (see below).

Customs Declaration Service (CDS)

  • A repayment claim is submitted using Form C285 (the CDS version).

What you need to apply:

  • The sales invoice.
  • The packing list.
  • The airway bill or bill of lading.
  • The amount of import taxes paid.
  • The amount that should have been paid.
  • Your contact details and address.
  • Your bank details if the refund is to be paid directly.

CHIEF claims

  • A claim through the CHIEF process also requires the E2 Entry Acceptance Form and Form C88 (main customs form).

CDS claims

  • A CDS claim will need the Movement Reference Number (MRN).

On these documents, you will find the following details for the freight forwarder if the duties were paid in advance by the courier upon entry into the UK.

  • VAT Registration Number.
  • Entry Processing Unit number (EPU).
  • Import Entry number.

How to claim

Form C285: by post

  • Choose which form depending on whether you are using the CHIEF or CDS route.
  • The form is completed online and then printed out.
  • There is no way to save the form so it must be completed in one go before printing.
  • The hard copy of the form and all the accompanying documents need to be sent to the address on the relevant form.

Useful guides on this topic

Post-Brexit Christmas shopping warning
HMRC issued a warning for Christmas shoppers to be aware of potential customs charges arising on certain goods purchased and imported from the EU due to changes that came into effect on 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ended.

Place of supply: Goods
The place of supply (POS) of goods determines whether the supply is within the scope of UK VAT and whether VAT is payable on that supply.

International goods
Special VAT rules apply to goods bought from and sold to non-UK businesses.

Importing goods into GB from 1 January 2021
The post Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. HMRC has issued guidance for importing goods

External link

How to apply for a repayment of import duty and VAT if you've overpaid (C285)

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