DHL Guide > Pay Duty and VAT FAQs

Pay Duty and VAT FAQs

If this is the first time you’ve received a Duty & VAT invoice from us then you may have some questions that you’d like answering before you pay it. This could be an unexpected bill and you may be unsure what it is or how it is calculated.

We hope that the most commonly asked questions listed below will make everything clear but if you have any questions that we haven’t covered, we’ll be happy to help.

Why should I and not the shipper pay Duty and VAT charges?

The person receiving a shipment is obliged to pay Duty and VAT except where the person sending the shipment has agreed to accept these charges. Private individuals intending to buy goods on the Internet from non-EU countries should be particularly careful. The price advertised on the supplier’s website will not include UK Duty and VAT and you will be expected to pay this once the shipment arrives in the UK.If you have agreed with the shipper that he will be paying the charges, then the shipper should indicate this on the Invoice or AWB. Otherwise Duty and VAT is charged to a receiver.
I’ve already paid for delivery – why is DHL invoicing me?

This invoice is not for delivery charges. The invoice relates to import duties, other applicable government taxes (such as VAT) that were levied by HM Revenue & Customs when your shipment arrived in the country and an Advance Payment or Disbursement charged by DHL (as set out in Receiver’s Guide to Duties and Taxes under ‘Your charges Explained’). We will not be able to deliver your goods to you until we have paid the duties and taxes to customs on your behalf. Unfortunately, we are not able to tell you in advance of the costs.
Weren’t these costs included when I paid for my goods?

Retailers (internet or catalogue) will normally include advice about import duties on their shipping information pages. You may wish to check the Terms and Conditions of your purchase.
How are Duty and VAT calculated?

For more information please call us on 0844 248 0777

Calls to DHL UK phone numbers beginning ‘084’ cost 7 pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

This wipes out all of the saving I made by buying online!

Unfortunately this is sometimes the case. Products sold by companies outside of the UK may appear cheaper compared to UK prices because they do not include taxes. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) advises buyers to check for additional costs before purchasing goods from overseas. You can find useful information and advice at
Why have you given me a customer number?

In order for us to raise an invoice we have allocated you a customer number but this is not a formal DHL account and has no shipping facilities. If you already have a DHL account then continue to use this for all shipping.
What about my duty free allowance?

Your duty free allowance is only for items you carry with you in your baggage. Goods that you do not carry with you are subject to entirely different regulations. Goods over a value of £15.00 are subject to taxes.
What if I already own these goods?

Items which you have already owned for more than six months or obtained in the European Union may be relieved of import taxes. To claim this relief you must complete the form C3 available from H. M. Revenue & Customs. You can download a C3 form from Please complete the form and return it to DHL within 7 days, ensuring that you quote your DHL Customer number on the form. Alcoholic drinks and tobacco products do not qualify as personal effects.
How about gifts?

If your items are a gift there is a different allowance. Items up to £34.00 in value per person are not liable for customs charges. This does not apply to items purchased from abroad to be used as gifts. Different allowances apply to alcoholic drinks and tobacco products.
What about samples?

Trade samples are subject to various conditions to qualify for tax relief. To check if your sample qualifies, please contact Customs. Detailed guidelines are published in Customs notice 365 and are available from Customs on 0300 200 3700 or at If your goods do qualify for tax relief please reply to us in writing within 7 days quoting your Customs reference.
Why am I paying tax on delivery charges?

Under current regulations the cost of delivery is added to the declared value of the product to make the shipment’s “value for Customs”. If the sender has not supplied a shipping value, a value is used that is based on the weight of the shipment as per the Customs scale of charges. This calculation will also include a VAT Value Adjustment which is the cost of transport within the EU borders, liable to VAT only.
What if the sender wants to pay for the Duty?

There is a facility for the sender to nominate to pay these charges on the shipment documentation. We can usually re-issue the charges to the sender, but we need you to get the sender to confirm to us in writing that this is what is wanted. Alternatively, they can pay the invoice directly using one of the payment methods shown on the reverse of the invoice. Unfortunately, we cannot accept credit cards issued outside of the UK.
How do I pay?

We offer a number of payment options which you will find on the back of the invoice. Internet / Telephone banking: If you have access to internet or telephone banking, payments can be made to sort code 40-02-13, account number 21096222, using your DHL Customer number as a reference. Credit or Debit Card: To pay by Credit or Debit card please call 0844 248 0777 Cheque: Payable to DHL INTERNATIONAL (UK) LIMITED and send to Customer Accounting, PO Box 4833, Slough, SL3 3JE At the Bank: Using the payment slip attached to the invoice. Please confirm that the bank have entered the invoice number and Customer number in their system, to ensure that DHL can match your payment to the invoice. Please allow 4 working days for receipt of payment.

Calls to DHL UK phone numbers beginning ‘084’ cost 7 pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

Where can I get more information about Customs?

These taxes are collected for the Government by HM Revenue and Customs. There is a National Advice Service for Customs matters available on 0300 200 3700. Information is also published on-line at
Why did you bill the duty charges to my account? We agreed with a sender/ 3d party that they will pay the duties!

The sender/3rd party should indicate on the backup documents they wish to be billed. If they have not done so, we will need you to get their written authorisation to confirm that this is what is wanted – then we will be able to re-issues charges to a sender.