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Your cheap imports from China are about to get more expensive

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Your cheap imports from China are about to get more expensive
Parcels arriving in Sweden. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT
12:44 CET+01:00
The Swedish customs agency has put its foot down to ensure that consumers pay VAT on goods imported from outside the EU – which could make online shopping more expensive.

Swedish Customs called a meeting with postal service Postnord after it emerged that the state could be losing out on billions of kronor because of consumers not paying VAT on goods bought from Chinese online shopping sites such as Wish and Alibaba.

It said that unclear rules meant the customs agency and Postnord had different interpretations of legislation, with the latter handing out parcels from countries outside the EU and worth less than 22 euros to recipients without asking them to pay VAT on the goods.

Swedish Customs has now requested that Postnord plug the loophole, writing in a statement that VAT will be charged "from the first krona of the value of all goods".

As a result, said Postnord, it will also charge an administration fee which means that anyone buying goods from China or another non-EU country will be charged both VAT and the added fee.

Asked if that fee will be 125 kronor (approximately $15), which is the current administration fee Postnord charges when it does collect VAT and customs duty, the company said a decision had not been made.

"But there is going to be a fee, and in relation to the value of these mail order items of very, very little value, it will be significant," spokesperson Thomas Backteman told news agency TT.

Swedish Customs urged consumers to become more aware of their obligations.

"Ultimately, it is always the consumer's responsibility to pay VAT on this type of goods. They have to be aware that it is going to become more expensive to order goods via mail order" from non-EU countries, it said.

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