Christmas shoppers looking for bargains overseas have been warned not to get hit by unexpected charges, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) cautioned today.

Travellers going abroad to do Christmas shopping, or shoppers buying goods online from non-EU countries, are advised to check how much they can buy before customs duty or import VAT are due.

HMRC Head of Customs Policy, Angela Shephard, said:

“We know many people like to go abroad at this time to buy their Christmas gifts, or buy online from non-EU countries, and think that the ‘cheaper’ price they see is always the price they finally pay. This is a reminder to everyone about how much they can actually bring back from abroad or buy from an online overseas seller without having to pay customs duty or import VAT.

“Shoppers must always be cautious with websites that say they will undervalue your goods so you won’t pay VAT or offer famous ‘brand’ names at very low prices. HMRC knows about these sites and people may end up paying more or having goods seized when they think they have found a bargain.”