An Peters from Ghent sometimes buys products from web shops in the United Kingdom. She informs The Inspector that not all web shops are clear about what it costs to send a package to Belgium.
Inspector Sven Pichal immediately puts it to the test. He himself shops at a number of popular web shops. He immediately notices that it is unclear how much you as a Belgian consumer have to pay for goods that come from the UK.
Various messages on web shops
First determination. In a number of web shops Belgians are (for the time being) no longer welcome as European consumers. ‘Liz Earle’, a webshop that mainly sells cosmetic products, puts this announcement online: “Due to restrictions, we are unable to ship to addresses outside of the UK. ” Due to restrictions, the webshop no longer ships goods to addresses outside the UK.
Pichal also finds a lot of web shops where he can still order things. On the webshop of ‘Lakeland.co.uk’, there are items for cooking on offer. The Inspector buys baking tins for just under 30 pounds. But when he places the order, something strange happens. “Just before I want to pay, the price drops. Elsewhere on the site I read this message:”VAT is deducted at the point of ordering. Our charges cover export only – EU countries may charge customs duties. ‘ The UK VAT will be abolished for non-UK customers, the product will be about £ 5 cheaper, but you will be warned that VAT and possibly also taxes will be added in the recipient’s country. “
The Inspector also shops at ‘George.com’, a rather cheap clothing store. “I order pajamas there. I’m curious whether the price will suddenly drop there too. Not so, but I do get to read this:”The total amount you pay includes all applicable customs duties & taxes. We guarantee no additional charges on delivery. ‘ The webshop assures me that their price includes all taxes and VAT and therefore no additional costs are added. “
The two orders have now been ordered and paid for. “The two packages are now on their way to Belgium, I am curious what I will have to pay extra soon”, said Pichal.
UK equals US or China or Australia
The Inspector is not getting any wiser from the way the British web shops work. The companies use other ways of charging the additional costs.
Francis Adyns of the FPS Finance knows how it works. “The UK has been on a par with the US or China or Australia since 1 January. Anyone ordering something there that is more expensive than EUR 22 has to pay Belgian VAT on it. And on parcels worth more than EUR 150, import duties are also added. . “
Soon you will even have to pay additional costs with every purchase. “From the summer onwards, you will pay VAT on all products you order online, from 0 euros upwards. This applies not only to orders from the UK, but also from all other non-EU countries,” says Adyns.
When do you pay that VAT now?
As a consumer you must therefore pay VAT anyway if you make a purchase from 22 euros. And the Belgian VAT, which is often 21 percent, but sometimes also 0 or 6 percent, that depends on the product.
But when do you pay those costs? The Inspector should only pay the costs at one web shop when the goods are delivered to his home. The other webshop claims that all taxes are already included in the price.
According to Adyns there is only one right way. “The first webshop is doing it right. That VAT, for example, can only be determined upon delivery. Because the VAT must be calculated on the basis of the purchase price plus any import duties. The VAT is calculated on that sum.”
And to whom do I then have to pay that VAT or those import duties? “To the postman or the courier who will deliver the parcel. They give you a receipt for that. And they ensure that the money ends up at customs,” said Adyns.
What are customs charges?
There is also confusion about that word customs charges. A number of web shops now charge an extra, but that is not the amount that goes to the state via customs, but at their own expense to arrange all paperwork.
Adyns confirms that web shops are now indeed faced with additional costs. “They have to pass on all orders, fill in forms and they often charge extra costs for this. They call that ‘customs costs’, but that is not the amount that comes to us. We expect import duties (or customs duties) and therefore that VAT. and sometimes also excise duties. But we have nothing to do with such a surplus. ”
So don’t be alarmed that you will have to pay extra costs on your package to the postman or courier, even if the webshop claims that everything is included. In this video, the FPS Finance explains everything again clearly.
The inspector will talk about this subject on Radio 2 on Thursday 21 January 2021 at 08:00. Your experiences are welcome via firstname.lastname@example.org.