How to Avoid Customs Charges from the USA to the UK

Customs Charges

When you are travelling from the USA to the United Kingdom, you are subject to paying customs charges. Custom charges are a certain type of tax that is collected by the customs authority of a country when you are importing goods into that country.

Before the arrival of your packages into the country you will have to pay the customs charges. The customs authority of the UK will charge a custom charge on a parcel depending upon the value of the parcel.

This article is helpful for people who are interested to know, how to avoid customs charges from the USA to the UK.

Here, in this article, we are going to discuss what customs charges are, what is the amount of custom charge from the USA to the UK, when they are due, and how you can avoid customs charges.

What is the customs charge?

In simple words, the custom tax also referred to as custom duty, import tax, import duty, or customs charge is a type of tax that applies to any good when these goods are sent from the USA to the UK. This charge will apply to any individual who is importing personal goods for personal use or any business’s goods for commercial use.

Sometimes, it seems to be complex to charge for goods for importing from the USA to the UK that has already been paid for. The money that is collected through these customs charges directly goes towards increasing government revenue. This is also an effective strategy to check, ban, and keep safe the UK industries. They check goods that are imported to the UK that might be banned, suspected, or illegal.

When personal and commercial goods are imported into the UK from the USA there are forms and paperwork required to fill up by the sender. Once completed, all the information is forwarded to the local customs office stating what the item is, if they can legally send it, and how much customs charges need to be applied to the item.

How much is the custom charge from the USA to the UK?

Every country has its own rules and regulations to set their customs charges or duty that you have to pay. So, this also includes when you are importing goods from the USA to the UK. But, most of the time it depends on an item’s global commodity code. Global commodity code is a special harmonized system code of a specific item. This code is used to charge the custom tax, shipment, and the overall value of the item.

But, there is a rule for importing goods from the USA to the UK that you only have to pay the customs tax for importing an item if the value of the item exceeds £135. Gift items values over £135 and up to £630 will be charged a customs tax of 2.5%.

For any gift item that exceeds £630 and any goods valued over £135, the exact percentage of the tax value depends on the specific commodity code and what the item is.

If the customs charges are due then the courier will contact you about the information and costs. They will ask you for VAT and excise duty if applicable. VAT will be charged on the goods at the standard rate of 20% whereas some goods will be charged at a reduced rate that is 5% or even 0%.

If you are importing any tobacco item such as cigarettes, cigars, or hand-rolling tobacco; then different rates will be applied to the goods.

Who has to pay the customs charges?

Any customs tax that is applicable on the goods including VAT and excise duty needs to be paid by the recipient after completing the inspection of the good by the custom. Also, the customs charge needs to be paid before they are delivered to the recipient.

How can you avoid paying customs tax from the USA to the UK?

There is no such real way to avoid customs tax from the USA to the UK if they are due. What will be the amount of the customs charge and what you have to pay that depends on the goods? That depends on whether their value comes above or below the threshold and what you intend to do with the goods.

But you might be able to pay a reduced customs tax or sometimes you don’t require to pay any for all the goods including:

  • Samples
  • Professional equipment
  • Exhibition or demo goods

You can be able to ask for relief for customs charges for particular goods including:

  • Cultural and educational goods
  • Goods put to the particular use
  • Printed or promotional goods

The full list of the goods items that will allow you reduced or none customs charges will be available on the UK govt. official website.

What are the risks associated with avoiding customs charges?

When it comes to the tax and customs charges, honesty is the best policy. You can fill up the customs form and paperwork properly. Then you must check for the relevant borders and customs information about the destination country.

Your customs will tick all the boxes of the required information, especially for the security, safety, and health purpose of the destination country. If it seems any information is incorrect, questionable, or enough suspicious then you can face larger fines. Also, you can face delay in shipment, and if they find the goods are hazardous for the country they can send it back to the sender or they can destroy it.


Do I have to pay customs charges for packaging from the USA to the UK?

Ans: If any item is imported from another country it must go through customs. The customs of the destination country will check if the item is banned, hazardous, or restricted in the country. They also check whether you have paid all the taxes or duties properly for importing that item. So, you will be charged the customs tax that applies to the item.

What happened if you don’t pay the customs tax to the custom in the UK?

Ans: If you don’t clear the customs tax applicable on imported goods, the custom of the UK will hold the item for 3 weeks. If you don’t clear the bill then, the item will return to the sender.


Importing goods from the USA to the UK can take place for both personal and commercial reasons. If you know all the details of customs tax before importing goods then it can help. You can realize exactly what the customs charges will be for your item.

Hope, through this guide, now you can understand how the customs charges from the USA to the UK can be avoided.

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