Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Internet shoppers get duty break

Designer shoes may remain above the threshold

Internet shoppers will not have to pay customs duty on items they have bought for less than 105 from outside the EU.

The change, which comes into force on 1 December, extends the duty-free limit for goods bought online from 18, HM Revenue and Customs says.

The move will benefit thousands of consumers who buy items such as DVD players from the US, which have a 14% duty rate.

VAT will still be charged on most items that cost more than 18.

"Whether you are looking to get your hands on the latest computer game, designer clothes or DVDs, it is important to be aware of the law on customs charges, especially as this is about to change," said Doug Tweddle, of HMRC.

Different levels

Many items, such as CDs, have previously been dispatched separately in order to avoid the import duty.

Import duties vary and are not charged on all goods, but are charged on items such as CD players (import duty rate of 9.5%), DVD players (14%), silver or gold jewellery (2.5%), or imitation silver and gold jewellery (4%).

Items such as mobile phones and books are already free from import duty charges set by the EU.

"If you are buying goods from countries outside the EU, it is in your interests to know what the rules are," said Mr Tweddle.

"For example, some websites do not always make clear there is duty or VAT to pay, while others may misrepresent or undervalue your goods to try and avoid paying charges."

If goods were found to be wrongly declared, they could be seized and the customer penalised, he added.

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