PN 1882 - Ordering Goods for Personal Use over the Internet or from Mail Order Catalogues

1. Introduction

This notice is intended to provide basic information about various charges, such as Customs Duty, that may apply where goods are ordered for personal use over the Internet or from mail order catalogues.

The obligations for people ordering goods from outside the European Union (EU) differ from those who order goods from EU Member States and these are dealt with below.

The twenty-eight Members States of the EU are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain [1], Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom [1], Republic of Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

[1] Although Gibraltar, the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands are part of the EU they are subject to special provisions which are outlined in Section 5 of this Notice.

2. General points to note about shopping over the Internet or from mail order catalogues

There are some general points which anyone contemplating a purchase over the Internet or from a mail order catalogue should bear in mind, as follows:

  1. you need to be aware of the potential full price of the goods involved since some websites do not make allowance for charges such as Customs Duty, Excise Duty or VAT;
  2. some websites state that they can misdeclare or undervalue the goods as a way of avoiding charges. Clearly, this is illegal and purchasers should bear in mind that they, as the importer of the goods, have legal responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of information provided on the declaration by the seller and ensuring that the correct payments are made; and
  3. in all cases involving purchases over the Internet or from a mail order catalogue, the carrier imposes a handling charge for processing the goods through Customs. Although this handling charge is collected with the Duties payable it is not a Customs charge. As these handling charges may vary, intending purchasers should establish in advance what the precise amount will be – for example, by asking the seller what rates are charged by various carriers.

3. Goods purchased for Personal Use over the Internet or from mail order catalogues from a country outside the EU

A. Liability to charges at Import

Import charges [Customs Duty, (Excise Duty, Anti-dumping Duty and Countervailing Duty where applicable) and VAT] are payable on goods ordered over the Internet or from mail order catalogues and imported into Ireland from outside the EU.

B. Basis on which charges are calculated

Customs Duty

The value for the purposes of charging Customs Duty is calculated on the price paid or payable for the goods plus the cost of transport (including postage), insurance and any loading or handling charges associated with the delivery of the goods into the EU. The rate of Customs Duty applicable can vary and depends on the nature of the goods being imported. Further information on rates of duty can be obtained by accessing the Taric External link, which is an EU online Customs tariff database.

Excise Duty

Excise Duty is payable on alcohol and tobacco products and is in addition to the Customs Duty payable. Different rates of Excise Duty apply to each category of excisable product. Information on the current rates of Excise Duty chargeable on excisable products. Excise Duty must be paid before the goods arrive in Ireland.

Anti-dumping Duty and Countervailing Duty

These are charges, which may be applied to certain products from time to time to prevent cheap imports from countries with lower material and labour costs, in particular the Far East and Eastern Europe, from damaging EU industry.

Value-Added Tax

Imported goods are liable to VAT at the same rate as applies to the sale within Ireland of similar goods. The value of the goods for the purpose of VAT is their value for customs purposes, described above, increased by the amount of any duty or other tax (but not including VAT) payable and any other transport, handling or insurance costs between entry into the EU and delivery to their final destination.

C. Consignments of Negligible Value

Consignments not exceeding an intrinsic value of €150 may be imported from outside the EU without payment of Customs Duty. Intrinsic value is the value of the goods alone and does not include insurance and freight). Consignments not exceeding a total customs value of €22 may be imported without payment of VAT. (Customs value is the value of the goods plus insurance and freight (which includes postage costs (CIF value). However, there is no relief (from Customs Duty, Excise Duty, other duties or VAT) under this negligible value provision for importations of tobacco, tobacco products, alcohol products, perfumes or toilet waters irrespective of their value.

Where the Customs Duty on a consignment of goods amounts to less than €10 it will not be collected. Similarly, VAT liability amounting to less than or equal to €6 will not be collected. No similar rule applies in the case of Excise Duty which will always be collected on products liable to it.

D. Procedure at Importation

On importation from outside the EU, the goods must be presented to Revenue and the appropriate formalities completed, including payment of all duties / taxes. As indicated earlier, a handling fee may also be payable to the carrier.

For information on importing goods through the post you may consult the pdfRevenue Guide to Importing Goods through the Post (PDF, 601KB)

E. Goods which are Prohibited or Restricted

Certain goods are prohibited from being brought into Ireland under any circumstances. In addition, certain other goods are restricted i.e. they may only be brought in under an import licence issued by the appropriate authorities here and, in some cases, goods being imported under licence may be subject to a quota limitation. The principal items subject to prohibition / restriction are firearms, ammunition, explosives, dangerous drugs, indecent or obscene publications and meat or meat products. A full list of prohibited or restricted items may be found in: Prohibitions, Restrictions

4. Goods purchased for Personal Use over the Internet or from mail order catalogues from a country within the EU

Goods ordered by a private individual, over the Internet or from a mail order catalogue, from EU Member States are not liable to Customs Duty. However, they are normally liable to VAT at the rate chargeable in that country and this amount is included in the purchase price of the goods.

Excise Duty is payable on excisable products such as alcohol and tobacco ordered for personal use from EU Member States over the Internet or from mail order catalogues - it must be paid before the goods arrive in Ireland.

The following Public Notice contains additional information:
Public Notice No 1879 - Unaccompanied Import of Excisable Products from EU Member States for Personal Use

5. Goods purchased for Personal Use over the Internet or from mail order catalogues from Gibraltar, the Canary Islands or the Channel Islands

Goods ordered by a private individual, over the Internet or from a mail order catalogue, from Gibraltar, the Canary Islands or the Channel Islands are not liable to Customs Duty, irrespective of value. However, such goods are liable to VAT at importation at the same rate as applies to the sale within Ireland of similar goods if their value exceeds €22.00.

Excise Duty is payable on alcohol and tobacco products and must be paid before the goods arrive in Ireland.

6. Commercial Purchases

Information on commercial purchases from outside the EU is available from the following Public Notice:
pdfA Guide to Customs Import Procedures (PDF, 342KB)

Customs Duty is not charged on commercial purchases from another Member State of the EU. VAT registered traders can acquire goods from other Member States of the EU at the "zero-rate" of VAT and account for VAT subsequently under the "postponed accounting" system at the rate appropriate to the supply of the goods in Ireland.

Further information on commercial purchases from within the EU involving excisable products is available from:
pdfPublic Notice No. 1880 - Import of Excisable Products from EU Member States for Commercial Purposes (PDF, 344KB)

In the case of commercial purchases from Gibraltar, the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands no customs duty is payable but VAT is payable at the point of import.

Customs Division.
Notice No. 1882
July 2013 Edition

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