Brexit might make sending Christmas presents to Europe a little tricky this year thanks to new red tape including VAT and custom charges (and we thought Brexit was meant to stop red tape?).

As part of the of Brexit changes that came in on 1 January this year, the EU now treats postal items from the UK as it did non-EU items before, meaning people must fill out custom forms to send goods – except when sending items from Northern Ireland to the EU.

Meanwhile, further VAT changes came into place on 1 July, meaning that, in some cases, a parcel recipient may have to pay customs or VAT charges and a handling fee before they can claim the parcel.

According to Adam French, a Which? consumer rights expert who spoke to the Observer,new rules “have created a greater burden of customs paperwork for consumers and couriers alike.

“You now have to attach customs declaration forms to anything you send, very clearly describing what it is and where it has originated from.”

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The organisation added that their research indicates that most people don’t know the new rules and consumers have reported problems ranging from delays and unexpected charges to items going missing.

In a survey of members, Which? found that half of people who were planning to send a gift to someone in the EU said they did not know anything at all about the new rules, and 48 per cent felt they knew only a little.

“Incredibly, only one respondent to our survey told us they feel confident in their knowledge of the new rules,” said the organisation.

It also found that of 7 per cent of its members who had sent a gift to the EU since January, 34 per cent had experienced delays, 30 per cent were hit by unexpected charges and 8 per cent said their gift went missing.

Brexit truly is the gift that keeps on giving. But it is not helping people give gifts.

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