Understanding Taxes and Duties

Almost all shipments crossing international borders are subject to the assessment of duties and taxes imposed by the importing country's government. Duties and taxes are imposed to generate revenue, protect local industries against foreign competition or both. The duties and taxes normally must be paid before the goods are released from customs. A shipment's duty and tax amount may be based on:

  • Product value
  • Trade agreements
  • Country of manufacture
  • Use of the product
  • The product's Harmonized System (HS) code
Customs officials assess duties and taxes based on information provided on the air waybill, the Commercial Invoice and other relevant documents.
Duties and taxes on international shipments will be billed automatically to the recipient
Please note: As per the contract of carriage with UK Mail, the shipper is ultimately liable for any duties and taxes assessed on the shipment. If the recipient refuses the package or the recipient refuses to pay for duties and taxes, the original shipper will be billed for duties and taxes.

Commodity Descriptions and Duties and Taxes - Provide an accurate description of your shipment contents

Duties and taxes, and other customs fees may be assessed based on the contents of your shipment. Accurate descriptions of shipment contents are not only required for this purpose, but are essential for timely customs clearance. A consistent and detailed description of your shipment contents on all documents will help reduce customs delays.
Tariff tables are based primarily on three factors, so ensure that all three are clearly addressed in your commodity description:
  1. What is it?
  2. What is it made from?
  3. What is the intended use?
Be specific. "Metal parts for hydraulic valves" is better than "machine tools." Also, use generic names, in addition to trade names.
Poor description: "Parts"
Good description: "Two steel springs for woodworking machine"
Including the product's Harmonized System (HS) code will further help customs officials properly assess your shipment and move it through the customs clearance process more quickly.
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