Posting pressies this Christmas? Don’t get stung!

With Christmas just around the corner, many of us will be starting to think about presents, and while we are all supporting local businesses where we can, it’s likely that we’ll need to do some cross-border posting at some point.

Unless you’ve a direct line to Père Noël, you’ll be going through more regular channels to send parcels from the UK to France, and that’s where things can get pricey.

No longer part of the EU, Britain is no longer able to benefit from the freedom of movement of goods. That means that deliveries to France, including online purchases, are now eligible to additional taxes and often incur new administrative/handling charges.

Please note: letters and cards are not subject to tariff changes.

post box

VAT charges

France’s VAT rate (TVA) is 20% and whereas before July 2021, this was only applied to goods worth over 22€, it is now applicable to all goods, regardless of value.

In France, TVA is paid at the time of purchase when buying online and will be marked on the invoice. But if you make an online purchase from a UK retailer, the product may be sold ‘ex VAT‘, meaning you will have to foot the bill on delivery.

VAT is usually paid on import (in to the country of delivery) as opposed to output (leaving the country of production). Make sure you check when you place your order as some P-O Lifers have reported paying double VAT (import AND output).

Customs duties

According to the EU website, “Customs Duty is not due for goods, provided directly to the buyer when their value does not exceed 150 euros”, with the exception of perfumes, tobacco and alcoholic products.

For anything over 150€, duty is calculated as a percentage of the customs value, which you must state on the customs declaration form, along with the nature of the contents.

Postage/handling/clearance charges

Additional costs are being added to deliveries to cover the ‘administration’ of sorting out VAT/customs duties. La Poste also imposes a Brexit surcharge for deliveries between France and UK!

You may be required to pay the private delivery driver directly, head to your local post office or pay online.

Prices depend on the size & weight of the package, the delivery company, the country of origin… and maybe the weather, the stage of the moon cycle and Monsieur Macron’s tie colour, although this remains speculation on our part.

Seriously though, as well as price increases, you should factor in additional delays if you want the gifts to arrive in time for the big day.

euro tax

Attention arnaque!

As always whenever money’s involved, profiteers will always try to make a quick buck.

If you are sending packages to and from France, beware of any emails of text messages asking for payment.

Customs officials will never contact you via these channels and for private delivery companies, always go through the original confirmation email/text to track your parcel and pay any additional charges through your secure client account.

Additional info

Royal Mail have created a guide for sending packages abroad and the European Commission have also provided details on taxation and customs legislation.


  1. Having told my friends and family that it would be better not to exchange gifts now, I felt like Scrooge. But then realised that if I contact companies in the U.K. directly, they would probably deliver gifts. Many of them are very happy to chat through the options if they do not have a website.
    I have sent birthday presents during the year from local florists, pharmacies, garden centres, National Trust and Marks and Spencer’s. All have gone through very well. And some have been willing to wrap the gifts and write a card for a small extra charge.
    The only problem is M&S who refuse to tell recipients who the donor was , when asked, so you may need to give an alert. Otherwise, Christmas sorted with no postage or taxes.

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