Low-Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) was a type of tax relief for import VAT. LVCR meant that UK businesses didn’t pay import VAT on shipments with a value worth less than £15.
Since the 1st January 2021 there are different rules for VAT on shipments with a value
lower than £135.
Low-Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) has been withdrawn.
Why the change?
The Brexit transition period has ended, and the UK is no longer under the umbrella of EU VAT rules. This changes some of the processes for charging, collecting, and paying VAT on goods and services moving across the UK border.
Amongst the changes are VAT rules for low value imports coming into the UK. The threshold for low value imports is now £135.
The rules for collecting VAT on low value shipments coming into the UK depend on who the buyer is. That is, whether they’re a business, or a regular consumer.
B2B (business to business) – where businesses sell to other businesses.
B2C (business to consumer) – where businesses sell directly to the end customer.
Low value imports by UK customers (B2C)
B2C imports are where the end customer buys goods from overseas for their own personal use. Under the low value import rules, these customers should pay VAT at the point of sale if the shipment’s value is less than £135.
Point of sale means exactly that, the point at which the sale is made. This means that the seller is responsible for charging UK VAT on the sale.
Does the seller need to register for UK VAT?
Yes, these changes mean that the seller (or their postal service) must register for UK VAT in order to charge it to the UK customer. Watch our introductory video to UK VAT if you need to know more about this, or carry on reading below.
The customs invoice will need to show that VAT has been paid so that the goods can enter the UK. Sadly, this extra work means some sellers no longer want to ship to UK consumers.
What if the shipment is worth more than £135?
UK customers won’t pay VAT at the point-of-sale if the shipment’s value is worth more than £135. Instead, the customer will pay import VAT and duty at the border as usual.
The seller won’t have to register for UK VAT, and they won’t need to show VAT on the customs invoice. It does mean that the customs invoice must show the shipment’s value is higher than the £135 threshold. There are different rules when selling to UK businesses, or through an online marketplace.
Low value imports made by UK businesses (B2B)
If the buyer is a UK business, (so it’s a B2B sale, not B2C), then the seller doesn’t need to charge VAT on the sale.
This applies, as long as all of the points below are true:
The buyer is a UK business.
The goods are bought from another business which is overseas.
You import those goods into the UK.
The shipment is worth less than £135.
How will I pay the VAT?
If you are VAT registered, then account for it as a reverse charge on your VAT return. If you’re not VAT registered, then pay the import VAT at the border.
VAT on imports bought through an online marketplace
A UK customer buying goods from overseas through an online marketplace (such as Etsy or Amazon) will pay VAT at the point-of-sale. The difference here is that it’s the marketplace which must register for UK VAT, not the individual seller using the platform. This is true whether the goods are for a business (B2B), or for personal use (B2C).
Many online marketplaces have options for sellers to print off customs invoices where goods are being shipped overseas. This will show that VAT has already been paid by the customer, which will help shipments avoid delays at the border.