Frequently Asked Questions BFPO Parcels
announcementThis is not a legal notice but an advisory notice.
Article 2.1 and 2.6(b)(i) of the Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement relating to the Sovereign Base Areas provides that the SBAs are in EU customs territory and that customs checks on BFPO parcels must be carried out by Republic of Cyprus customs. Therefore, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the SBAA is not the correct authority to address any issues about parcels or interpretation of VAT/EU laws.
For specific guidance for specific products, you are advised to contact the Republic of Cyprus [email protected]
Or visit the Republic of Cyprus Customs website:
Questions and Answers
Why am I paying VAT/duties on parcels arriving into a British Sovereign Territory from the UK?keyboard_arrow_up
The Sovereign Base Areas remain part of the customs territory of the EU. Parcels sent to the SBA’s from the UK are treated as imported into the EU from outside of the EU.
Will I need to pay VAT in both Cyprus and in the UK – VAT twice?keyboard_arrow_up
You should not pay UK VAT for orders sent to BFPO addresses located in Cyprus. You will need to check with the retailer before you place your order that no UK VAT will be applied.
I was charged UK VAT; how do I claim this back?keyboard_arrow_up
If VAT has not been removed prior to purchase, you must contact the retailer direct.
Why am I paying VAT/duties at Republic of Cyprus rates?keyboard_arrow_up
The Sovereign Base Area Administration is collecting VAT and Duties for the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) As mandated by the SBA Protocol annexed to the UKs withdrawal agreement from the EU the Republic of Cyprus is charged with the completion of customs formalities, controls and the collection of import duties related to those products. The rates are set by the Republic of Cyprus.
Who is responsible for collecting the VAT/duties?keyboard_arrow_up
The Republic of Cyprus has authorised a BFC clearing agent to collect VAT/duties.
Can I pay the VAT/duties before my item arrives?keyboard_arrow_up
VAT and duties can only be paid following confirmation the parcel has arrived in Cyprus and has been examined. This is to ensure that any declared values are correct, and VAT/duties are calculated correctly.
Does this mean our parcels will take even longer to arrive?keyboard_arrow_up
Delays are unavoidable as it will take time to sort the parcels, calculate the VAT/duties and inform you, the customer. The lack of a customs declaration will add further delays.
How long will the process take?keyboard_arrow_up
Delays may occur because:
>The parcels on arrival must be transported to Limassol New Port.
>They then need to be sorted by the contractor; this is usually done overnight after arrival.
>Letters notifying the requirement for the payment of tax and duties are produced and issued.
>Customer receives the letter and pays the tax and duties.
>On payment of the tax and duties the parcel is normally released to the local BFPO sorting office within 2 working days.
The requirement for customs clearance is likely to add an average of 5 to 7 working days delay to the receipt of your parcel.
Are there any plans to speed up the process?keyboard_arrow_up
Plans are being put together to automate the process so that you can be notified electronically of the arrival of your parcel.
However, as of 1 July 2021, every commercial parcel shall require the payment of VAT therefore this will lead to further delays. There will be a fivefold increase in the number of parcels requiring the payment of tax and duties.
Will my items be opened?keyboard_arrow_up
The Republic of Cyprus customs officials may,as part of their checks, request that a package be opened to reconcile the items enclosed with the information on the Customs declaration.
Does that mean the cost of the goods will cost more than if we purchased them in the UK?keyboard_arrow_up
The cost of the goods (the price of the item excluding VAT) will not change. Instead of being charged UK VAT for your item(s) you should be charged VAT at the Republic of Cyprus rate. Import duties may apply to higher value items which may mean the total price paid could be more. Some goods which a zero-rated VAT in the UK are not zero rated in the Republic of Cyprus, such as children’s clothes and books. Unless indicated otherwise the value on the customs declaration will be considered to be in sterling.
Will I pay Cyprus VAT on everything I order?keyboard_arrow_up
Consignments with a total value of less than €17.09 per consignment will be passed free of VAT/duties. This will be removed on the 1 July 2021 when all parcels will be taxable.
Can I collect the parcel and pay at the same time?keyboard_arrow_up
No, your parcel will be held in a secure facility with no public access. Payment must be made online at www.jccsmart.com – this is a secure online payment facility and is used by several government departments in Cyprus (for example, payment of road tax). You will need to register at JCC Smart to make a payment.
Can I pay by cash or is it only an on-line payment system? keyboard_arrow_up
Payments will be on-line only. Cash payments will not be accepted.
Does the parcel recipient have to use their card, or can I nominate a friend/partner to pay for me? keyboard_arrow_up
Anyone with a card and access to the JCC Smart online service may pay for the parcel on your behalf. The person paying will need to register at www.jccsmart.com to make the payment
What are the different methods of payment?keyboard_arrow_up
JCC Smart accept all major credit and debits cards. You must register for an account at www.jccsmart.com
Can I check how much the duty will be on an item before it arrives?keyboard_arrow_up
Current VAT rates are publicly available on the Republic of Cyprus customs VAT department website , and it may be possible for you to calculate in advance what the likely duty may be.
What are the current VAT rates?keyboard_arrow_up
The standard rate of VAT in the Republic of Cyprus is 19% which is applied to nearly all imports exceeding €17.09 per consignment. As of 1 July 2021, this will apply to all packages regardless of the value.
When do I have to pay import / customs duty?keyboard_arrow_up
If the value of the consignment exceeds €150. Over €500 for gifted made in the UK.
Is there anything I need to be aware of for high value imports?keyboard_arrow_up
If the value of the item exceeds €1000 you must appoint a clearing agent to submit a declaration and clear the item on your behalf. A clearing agent is a representative you appoint to act for you to receive the item; the Fiscal Office can advise you on this process.
Why have I been charged VAT on children’s clothing?keyboard_arrow_up
VAT for children’s clothing in Cyprus is charged at the standard rate of 19%.
Why have I been charged VAT for nappies?keyboard_arrow_up
VAT for nappies in Cyprus is charged at the standard rate of 19%.
I want to upgrade my phone; do I still have to pay tax and duty?keyboard_arrow_up
Yes, a mobile phone has a customs value associated with it and will be liable for tax and duty on the market value of the phone (what it would have cost to buy the handset outright new)
What happens if I don’t agree with the amount of tax and duty added to my goods?keyboard_arrow_up
Calculations are based on the declared value of each parcel or in the absence of a declaration, the market value of the goods. Receipts / invoices and other supporting evidence will be required to dispute any calculation. Please refer to enforcing your rights if you require a review of a decision made by the Republic of Cyprus Customs.
Can I still appeal the amount of tax and duty after I have paid?keyboard_arrow_up
No, you must make representations before payment. If your representations are accepted, the cost of tax and duties may be recalculated.
What happens if I returned my item/s?keyboard_arrow_up
You must contact Republic of Cyprus Customs to apply for a refund of VAT/duties. This can be done at your nearest Republic of Cyprus Customs House (Limassol / Larnaca). You are unlikely to recover tax and duties on items unless they are defective or faulty. Please contact Republic of Cyprus Customs for further information: [email protected]
Can Customs seize my item if I do not pay the duties? keyboard_arrow_up
If you have not paid the duty after 30 days of issue of the notice you will be sent a final reminder. If after 15 days of the date if the reminder letter you have still not paid the tax and duty the parcel will be disposed of.
Exceptionally we will allow an extension of up to 90 days from the date of arrival of the parcel, for personnel who due to personal circumstances (such as being on an Ops tour) are unable to receive the notice and pay the duties.
My parcel was a gift, do I still need to pay VAT/duty?keyboard_arrow_up
You will not pay VAT/duty on gifts with a value under €45. Parcels that exceed €45 will be liable for VAT/duty. Parcels may be examined to ensure there is no abuse of this concession.
A gift is a consignment from a private person to a private person. The person in the UK must have received the goods in the UK, packaged them and posted them to the consignee.
If a private person in the UK orders goods from an online retailer and puts the delivery address as the BFPO address, so that the goods are delivered direct from the retailer to the person in Cyprus these do not count as gifts, even if the goods were intended as a gift.
Can I send any items through the post?keyboard_arrow_up
No, prohibitions and restrictions apply to certain products. Any item that is not permitted may be seized. A list of prohibited / restricted items is published on the Republic of Cyprus Customs & Excise department website. BFPO also have a list of items that are prohibited to be conveyed in the postal system.
These examples are for illustrative purposes only and rates vary according to the item ordered and its value.