Alternatively, you can pay the charges to receive the item, then return it and reclaim (most of) the charges. Under consumer laws that apply in the EU you’ve a legal right to decide to return goods bought remotely within 14 days of receiving them, and then return them with a further 14.
However, in order to be able to return the item yourself, you’ll likely have to first pay the extra charges to accept it, then send it back at your own expense (unless the retailer’s offered free returns). The retailer should refund you the cost of the item, and then:
- You CAN reclaim import VAT and customs duties. To reclaim the costs, use form BOR 286 if Royal Mail or Parcelforce delivered the goods, or form C285 if it was a different courier.
- You CAN’T reclaim courier handling fees or the cost of sending the item back.
You only pay import VAT and customs duty when goods are imported into Britain, so you won’t have to pay these again when sending back (technically, exporting) the goods. There is a theoretically a risk though that the country you’re sending the item back to could levy charges when the goods arrive, which the seller might be forced to pay before the item’s returned.
Lawyers we’ve spoken to say they’ve not heard of people being charged for doing this yet, but it could in theory happen. If in doubt, you need to contact the country to check.