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Why post to and from the UK from Spain is more expensive after Brexit

As of December 31st, when the Brexit transition period officially ended, the cost of sending packages to and from UK has gone up. Here's what you need to know.

Why post to and from the UK from Spain is more expensive after Brexit
Image: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum / Unsplash

Most of us were aware that Brexit was going to affect importation and exportation businesses, but what about the consequences for individual people?

One of the main issues that many UK residents in Spain have already noticed are the high taxes, which must be paid on sending and receiving packages to and from the UK and Spain.

The taxes imposed occur whether you are ordering goods from the UK, if you send a package to the UK, or if friends and family in the UK send you a package in Spain. Typically, you have to pay the fees before you’re allowed to pick the item up at the post, delivery office or online.  

Graham Hunt, an estate agent in Valencia tweeted “Daughter’s friend just received a package from the UK. Not allowed to pick it up without paying customs and taxes, in this case €79. That’s a price increase of 20% in effect. Watch UK exports dry up over next 6 months as EU buyers realise”.

While Juan Pablo Venditti tweeted: “We had problems with a package coming from UK last week, it arrived on January 6th and customs stopped it here in Spain. We had to pay €160 extra in taxes and management fees. We won’t be ordering anything from UK in the near future, it’s a shame”.

Another disgruntled Spanish resident, journalist Eugene Costello experienced similar issues when sending an item to his daughter back in the UK. He tweeted: “I live in Valencia and recently sent an old laptop to my daughter. ParcelForce are withholding it until the bill of £146 is paid. Can this be right? An old laptop sent by a Dad to his daughter, so she can work online since her school is shut?”

According to the UK government website “Most goods arriving in the UK are liable to any or all of the following taxes: Customs Duty, Excise Duty and Import VAT”.

The website also states that these taxes must still be paid whether the person in the UK has:

  • Paid for the goods or is receiving them as a gift
  • If the goods are new or used (including antiques)
  • If the goods are for your private use or for re-sale.

If you are sending a gift from Spain to the UK, import VAT typically only applies to goods whose value is over £39, or the equivalent in Euros. Customs Duty is due only if the value of the goods cost over £135.

The UK government website states that in order to qualify as a gift, a customs declaration must be completed correctly and the gift must be sent from a private person outside the UK to a private person(s) in the UK. This also applies to items where there is no commercial or trade element and the gift has not been paid for either directly or indirectly by anyone in the UK.

It also states that a gift is of an occasional nature only, for example, for a birthday or anniversary.

The customs declaration form includes sections which state what is inside the package, what material the item is made from, the size of the item and the monetary value of the item.

Similarly, when receiving items sent from the UK to Spain, senders will need to complete and attach a customs declaration form (CN22 or CN23), Letters, postcards and documents are usually exempt.

Residents in Spain will need to pay customs or VAT charges and a handling fee before they can claim the parcel. These charges will depend on the value of the item and whether it is a gift or not.

READ ALSO: Life in Spain: What’s cheaper and more expensive in 2021?

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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