Confusion over receiving parcels from the UK and other non-EU countries persists for French residents and postal workers – despite having almost two years to get to grips with the post-EU rules. Brexit.
Readers continue to report being asked to pay taxes and postage to receive low value items, while the difference between VAT and delivery charges is not always clear.
Read more: Why have I been charged customs and VAT fees on an Amazon delivery in France?
Customs duty is only payable on orders over €150 and depends on the nature of the product – if you can prove the item was made in the UK, for example, it shouldn’t there may be customs charges.
However, VAT must be paid on all products imported into France from a country outside the EU, with the exception of gifts with a value of less than €45.
Until July 2021, VAT was only due on items over €22, but an EU-wide change, unrelated to Brexit, removed this exemption.
The standard rate of VAT is 20%, although reduced rates apply to certain products, such as books (5.5%).
Tax is calculated based on the value of the item, which includes customs duties, shipping, and insurance.
When ordering online it is important to check the terms and conditions to see if all VAT is included, or if you will have to pay when the item is delivered.
Finally, carriers often charge a handling fee for time spent dealing with customs.
Different rates from La Poste and Chronopost
La Poste charges 2 to 5 € for these management costs if the VAT is paid online in advance (at the laposte.fr), or €8 in the case of payment on delivery.
La Poste has confirmed to The Connection that this should only apply to shipments subject to customs duties or VAT, and therefore there is no need to pay for gifts of low value.
Other companies set their own prices. Chronopost, for example, charges €21, although it is part of the La Poste group.
Difficult to get a breakdown of charges
These charges apply to all parcels sent from non-EU countries, but Britain’s exit from the EU, as well as complications in applying the latest changes, has highlighted flaws in the system.
A complication that many readers have reported is that many postal workers refuse to issue a receipt for delivery charges, which means it is often difficult to understand what charges are applied.
Postal workers themselves are often just as perplexed about tariffs.
Readers left guessing the reason for the accusations
Victoria Camp was charged €20 to receive a pair of DVDs from eBay in the UK, which had cost £15 in total.
Another reader said his postman demanded €9 “customs fees” for a single package containing four sealed birthday cards.
This may be because the reader’s mother forgot to tick the “gift” box on the customs declaration, and so the appropriate exemption was not applied.
In both cases, recipients had no idea why they were charged, as no receipt was provided.
Ask for an explanation or a refund
For those looking for information on why they were asked to pay, it is possible to get a receipt online afterwards by entering the tracking number. here.
If you think you have been wrongly charged, it is possible to request a refund either by calling La Poste customer service on 3631 or by contacting them by e-mail. here.
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