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From next month, internet shoppers in the United Kingdom will no longer have to pay customs duty on purchases made from non-European Union websites with a value of under £105.

Currently customs duties are payable on goods bought online from non-EU countries worth £18 or more. But from December 1, a new £105 (€150) limit will apply. VAT should still be charged on goods over £18, and is not affected by the changes.

Whether you’re looking to get your hands on the latest computer game, designer clothes or DVDs, it’s important you know the law on customs charges and VAT. You should be aware that some websites don’t make it clear that there is duty or VAT to pay, while others may misrepresent or undervalue the goods to try and avoid paying charges. If goods are found to be wrongly declared, they may be seized by Her Majesties Revenue and Customs and the customer fined.

Customs duty is charged on most goods imported into the EU. The rates are set out in European Community legislation and in the Customs Tariff, which classifies the goods and gives the rate of duty.

All non-EU goods imported into the UK are subject to import VAT charged at the appropriate rate which applies to identical goods sold in the UK.

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