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BREXIT

What you need to know when sending a gift between Spain and the UK post-Brexit

Sending and receiving gifts between the UK and Spain has become a bit more difficult – and expensive – since Brexit. Here's what you need to know to avoid any nasty surprises.

What you need to know when sending a gift between Spain and the UK post-Brexit
Many people have noticed that gifts travelling between the UK and EU sometimes with arrive with an unpleasant surprise: a hefty fee. Photo: Jorge Guerrero / AFP.

One of the first things that people have noticed since the UK left the EU is that to send and receive parcels between the UK and Spain you now need to fill out a customs form.

New rules that came into force on January 1st mean that new taxes and charges now apply to almost everything that goes back and forth between the two, including gifts.

Many people have noticed that gifts travelling between the UK and EU sometimes will arrive with an unpleasant surprise. In order to collect their parcel, many have been asked to pay exorbitant fees.

Twitter user William Kemble-Díaz said Correos asked his sister in Madrid to pay to receive her 60th birthday present that he sent her from London: “They won’t listen that it’s not a commercial transaction”.

Graham Hunt, an estate agent in Valencia that contributes to The Local, tweeted earlier this year that his “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”.

So is there any way to avoid paying customs charges and extra tax?

Gifts valued up to a certain amount do not attract charges

If people in the UK are sending you a parcel with a gift worth under €45 or £39, they should say “No commercial value” or “Birthday gift” or “For private use only”, on the customs form and state the value is below the threshold. 

But gifts worth more than this amount are eligible for VAT and, if valued at over £135 (€156) customs duties, with the recipient receiving the bill.

Sending parcels as gifts to the UK

When sending parcels to the UK from Spain, the sender should fill in a customs form (CN22 or CN23), which are available at the post office

These custom documents have information about the goods you want to  ship including their cost, the sender and receiver’s details and which parties are involved in the shipping.

Packages which weigh up to 2kg valued up to €425 require a CN22 customs declaration while the CN23 is used for packages which weigh between 2 and 20 kg with a value of €425 or more.

You should have two copies of the completed form, and hand it in when sending the package. 

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BREXIT

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions two weeks after they were told their UK licences were no longer valid, with the latest update from the UK Embassy suggesting it could still take "weeks" to reach a deal. 

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Spain who are currently in limbo, unable to drive in Spain until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

There are no official stats on how many Britons of the 407,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain in 2022 are affected; according to the UK Embassy the “majority exchanged” as advised.

But judging by the amount of negative comments the last two updates from the British Embassy in Madrid have received, hundreds if not thousands are stuck without being able to drive in Spain.  

May 12th’s video message by Ambassador Hugh Elliott left many unhappy with the fact that the forecast for a possible licence exchange agreement will be in the “coming weeks”, when two weeks earlier Elliott had spoken of “rapidly accelerating talks”. 

Dozens of angry responses spoke of the “shocking” and “absolutely ridiculous” holdup in negotiations that have been ongoing for more than at least a year and a half, and which the UK Embassy has put down to the fact that Spain is asking the British government to give them access to DVLA driver data such as road offences, something “not requested by other EU Member States”.

Numerous Britons have explained the setbacks not being able to drive in Spain are causing them, from losing their independence to struggling to go to work, the hospital or the supermarket, especially those in rural areas with little public transport.  

“I know personally from all the messages you’ve sent in, just how incredibly disruptive all of this is for many of you,” Elliott said in response. 

“If you are struggling to get around you may find additional advice or support from your local town hall, or charities or community groups in your area and the Support in Spain website is another very useful source of organisations that can provide general support to residents.

“And if your inability to drive is putting you in a very vulnerable situation, you can always contact your nearest consulate for advice.”

There continue to be disparaging opinions in the British community in Spain over whether any pity should be felt for UK licence holders stuck without driving, as many argue they had enough time to register intent to exchange their licences, whilst others clarify that their particular set of circumstances, such as arriving after the December 2020 ‘intent to exchange’ deadline, made this impossible. 

OPINION: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault

So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for drivers whose UK licences aren’t valid anymore in Spain or soon won’t be?

“The agreement we’re working towards now will enable UK licence holders, whenever they arrived in Spain or arrive in the future, to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without needing to take a practical or a theory test,” Elliott said on Thursday May 12th of the deal they are “fully committed” to achieve.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to get a Spanish driving licence?

And yet it’s hard for anyone to rest their hopes on this necessarily happening – sooner or later or ever – in part because the embassy advice for those with UK licences for whom it’s imperative to continue driving in Spain is that they should take steps to get their Spanish licence now, while acknowledging that in some places there are “long delays for lessons” and getting your Spanish licence “doesn’t happen overnight”.

READ ALSO: What now for UK licence holders in Spain?

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