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Shopping abroad

Collecting souvenirs and buying presents for friends and family is one of the great joys of travel. But purchases made abroad may not be the bargains you thought if they turn out to be fake, or they get hit by import tax. Here’s some advice to help you avoid scams and understand customs allowances.

Finding genuine goods

The key to knowing whether a deal is good or too good to be true, is research. Shop around at your destination so you get to know the quality of goods available and the types of prices charged.

If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for their tips on trustworthy and reputable sellers. Make sure you get a certificate of appraisal or authenticity if buying high-value items, such as jewellery or art.

How to haggle

Haggling can be daunting for those not used it to it, but it’s a great way to get yourself a bargain and can be a lot of fun.

Strengthen your bargaining position by gathering information before you begin. Look around at the quality and prices of goods on sale. Decide firstly how much you’d like to pay, and secondly what you maximum spend is.

Wait for the seller to make you an opening offer. If you’re not sure how much to counter with, halve the initial price and go from there. Keep a friendly attitude through negotiations and enjoy the process – the outcome should make both you and the seller happy.

Customs duty on purchases

Travellers coming into the UK from another EU country can bring goods with an unlimited value with them, as long as they are for personal use and not to be sold on.

Travellers coming into the UK from outside the EU are limited to a certain allowance of perfumes and souvenirs to bring in with them. To receive this allowance, you must transport the goods yourself, and they must be for your own use or a gift. Beyond these limits, you may have to pay duty on the full amount.

Goods shipped into the UK from outside the EU will attract duty under different rules. You will also need to fill in customs declaration forms, which need to be attached to the shipped items.

Check with HMRC on which restrictions, declarations and duties could affect purchases you make outside the EU.

Further information

For more guidance to help you look after your belongings, and safeguard your cash and valuables, while abroad, visit our safety and travel section.

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The content of these pages are for general information only, They do not constitute advice and must not be acted or relied on as being so.