This master list contains a terminology guide, as well as a list of VAT/GST/CT exemption limits, minimum fees and duties. It also includes tax and duty rates in case you go over the limit.
You can use the information from this list to plan your order or customs declaration. This post is very factual, a numbers post, it does not contain information on how you file a declaration, fill out the declared value or if it’s wise to try to pass a 10kg parcel as $15. We do have a guest post for that. For more about the whole process of international shipping read the RepGuide
We recommend bookmarking this page or writing the limits for your country down.
If you have extra information or find something wrong on this page please contact us.
Table of Contents
- Terminology Guide
- VAT Exemption Limits and Duty Limits by Country
- VAT Tax and Duty Customs Rates by Country
- Notes & Assumptions
Value-Added Tax, in some countries GST (Goods and Services Tax) or CT (Consumption Tax) is usually charged on all goods and services sold in a country. Most countries also charge it on imports, in order to not give foreign products a competitive edge.
For simplicity, we only list it as VAT in this guide.
VAT Exemption Limit
For small tax payments the act of raising charges actually costs more than what the government gets.
In order to not waste time and resources for small cases, exemption limits exist in almost every country
VAT Minimum Fee & Technical Exemption Limit
An alternative to the exemption limit in order to avoid collecting low fees is to have a minimum fee. Most countries have an exemption limit, some have a minimum fee, some have both.
This situation exists, for example, in the EU where 22€ is the exemption limit. Due to different VAT rates, for Hungary (27%) this comes down to a fee of 5.94, but for Germany (19%) it’s only 4.18. Because Germany deemed that it’s not enough to raise a small charge like that, they introduced a minimum fee.
In our example, Germany, the exemption limit is 22€, which would come with a 4.18€ tax charge, but charges under 5€ are dropped. Which means in reality it’s free to import parcels worth 26.29€, the point at which you reach 5€. This gap creates an new exemption limit that’s used in practice, which we call technical exemption limits.
With the dropped rates due to COVID (16% instead of 19%) the technical exemption limit is even higher.
The minimum fee is hard to find out and usually not talked about, since it’s only a small gap. So our table might not be complete.
Declaring in this gap, where existent, might very well be beneficial, as it’s not the usually $20 or $22 customs officers see every day.
For countries that have technical exemption limits it is the most important number to look for
We list the duty exemption limit for the sake of completeness, but it’s usually for commercial goods and high enough for most small personal packages to pass through without duty being charged.
Also, most people will try to stay under the VAT limit, which is always lower than duty anyways.
Exchange Rates & Currency used
All prices are converted to USD. This is because the agent declares prices in USD and because the items in your warehouse are listed in USD.
The exchange rate is the average exchange rate from August 15th, 2019 to August 15th, 2020.
Exchange Rates used: EUR: 1.112648, GBP: 1.264993, CAD: 0.735411, AUD: 0.66785, RUB: 0.013581, JPY: 0.009269, SGD: 0.717016, NZD: 0.633604, CHF: 1.044095
Please recalculate with the current exchange rate if you want to hit the limit precisely. For instance if the Euro was at EUR-USD: 1.18
Our Exemption limit * (New Exchange Rate / Old Exchange Rate) = New Limit 24.48 * (1.18/1.112648) = 25.96
This is very important: Chinese export customs seem to have problems with parcels declared over $130. So even if your county allows more, if it doesn’t get out of China due to bad paperwork you won’t get it.
On mobile, please hold phone in landscape mode to see full table
VAT Exemption Limits and Duty Limits by Country
|Country||VAT Exemption Limit||local||VAT minimum Fee||VAT |
Technical Exempt. Limit
|United States (USA)||∞||∞||$800|
|EU – Germany||$0||€0||1€||$6.17 [€5.23]||$166.90|
|Switzerland||$5.22 [CHF 5]||$67.79 [CHF 64.93]|
VAT Tax and Duty Customs Rates by Country
It’s better to avoid paying customs at all, even if the rate is low, as it requires extra paperwork and time.
|Country||VAT Standard Rate||Duty Standard Rate|
|United States (USA)||0%||various|
|Canada||Depending on province||Depending on province|
This list is incomplete, mainly due to the fact that duty usually doesn’t apply to personal goods.
Notes & Assumptions
It is important to know that taxes and duties vary for different kinds of items. For instance tobacco usually does not have an exemption limit in most countries and has different tax rates. These extra taxes and duties have not been taken into consideration at all. This guide was made in the assumption that you are importing textile goods.
Gift exemptions were also left out, as we do not condone fraud. Declaring purchased goods as gifts is an old trick, that every customs officer knows, it will not help you.
It is also assumed that you import goods for personal use only, not commercial.
Sources and further reading
No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information. This shall not be interpreted as advising you.