Mistakes to avoid when sending a gift to the UK

3 mistakes to avoid when you send a gift to the UK

3 mistakes to avoid when you send a gift to the UK

How to send gifts internationally to the UK including gift hampers without the hassle of customs, duties, and taxes

After being an Australian living in the UK for over 10 years, I’ve had many years of hit-and-miss sending gifts to the UK. This blog gives advice on how to avoid hidden postage costs, customs, tax and duties; and most effectively get a beautiful gift to your loved ones in the UK that they will cherish.


Firstly, select a gift that is light and small! This is because for most international carriers, cost of postage is calculated based on the dimensional weight  (also called volumetric or cubic weight), or the actual weight – whatever is heavier.

Each freight carrier has a different calculator for dimensional weight (oh joy!) that is a multiplier depending on the width / length / height of the package.

Here are some links to calculate dimensional weight:


Secondly, you want to consider what you are going to put in your gift to get it posted BEFORE you buy it. If you haven’t thought about it but go to your local Australia Post shop, you might find your gift doesn’t quite fit in their standard Box 2 (31 x 22.5 x 10.2cm) but will have too much room in their standard Box 3 (40 x 20 x 18cm).

Not only will this impact the weight and cost of sending your gift, but you’ll also need to buy some bubble wrap or similar cushioning so your gift arrives without damage to its final destination.



Thirdly, consider what you are sending as this impacts the feasibility of getting through customs without incurring taxes and duties. Even if your gift gets through customs, the UK will charge the receiver any taxes or duties payable in order to collect their gift.  Yes, even though it is a gift!!! If the receiver refuses t o pay, your gift will be returned back to you.

Generally 2-8% of mail (sent via Australia Post) gets picked up and checked for duties payable; and 100% of mail sent through couriers like DHL and Toll will get checked for taxes and duties.

3.1 What are the taxes and duties? 

There are 3 types of taxes in the UK for Australian gifts sent to the UK –

  • (i) VAT – “Value Added Tax” – this is our equivalent of GST and is charged depending on the type of product you’re sending.  The standard VAT rate is 20% and is charged on gifts sent from Australia with a total value over GBP 36 , where the total value includes:
  • the price paid for the goods
  • postage, packaging and insurance
  • any duty you owe
  • (ii) Customs duty – this is waived for items less than GBP135 in value (*Note! You can still be charged VAT even if you avoid Customs Duty)
  • (iii) Excise duty – this is a charge levied when sending alcohol – regardless if it is a gift or not

3.2 Prohibited Items

In addition to the above rules – do not send the following items under any circumstances:

Animals and animal products; Pharmaceutical products; Plants and plant products; Radio transmitters; Sealskins; Tobacco and tobacco products; Vegetables; Weapons.

3.3 How do I avoid the receiver paying taxes and duties on my Australian gift to the UK?

  • Make sure your parcel is marked as ‘gift’ and clearly shows what is included in the package
  • Ensure the value of your gift is less than the equivalent GBP 36
  • Do not include alcohol or tobacco


  • If you’re doing it yourself…
    • 1. Pick something light AND small
    • 2. Think about your packaging before you buy your gift and make sure you have the right ‘fit’ packaging
    • 3. If you don’t want your receiver to pay duties and taxes, ensure your gift’s value is under GBP 36, is clearly marked as a ‘gift only’ and doesn’t contain prohibited items or alcohol. Make sure you clearly mark this on your customs declaration form OR go to a Australian gift hamper company that will manage this process for you.
    • If this is all too hard (and it is time consuming!) select a site like thisAustralian Gift Hamper site who specialise in sending Australian made gifts to the UK. For one price they’ll cover all freight, duties and taxes; and send a beautiful Australian made gift to the UK with a personalised card on your behalf. And as an added bonus, your gift will be tracked door-to-door and they’ll let you know when it’s signed for other end. They even donate $1 from every pack to the Australian Koala Foundation. Now that’s value!


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