People hoping to get their Christmas shopping in early have been warned about unexpected post-Brexit changes when purchasing gifts from the EU.

Consumers could get caught out by changes introduced on 1 January which could result in custom charges needing to be paid when goods are delivered.

Small items won’t attract charges, however HMRC have warned that excise goods worth more than £135 will be affected.

VAT will still apply on purchases made in consignments worth less than £135 but should be charged by the seller at the point of sale.

When buying a more expensive item from abroad, consumers may need to pay import VAT, customers duty and excise duty when they receive their order.

York Press: Advice for buying gifts from abroad (PA/HMRC)Advice for buying gifts from abroad (PA/HMRC)

HMRC have said the amount will be determined by a range of factors, and consumers should check with the seller beforehand to prevent any unwelcome surprises.

A spokesman said: “With 100 days until Christmas, we want to remind shoppers of the changes introduced since January 1 so that their present-buying experience is as smooth as possible, and that online shoppers don’t inadvertently get caught out by any unexpected charges.”

Which? consumer rights spokesman Adam French said: “Which? research found that many shoppers experienced issues when ordering online from the EU after the end of the transition period – with some facing additional delivery or handling fees of up to £300.

“We have previously called on the Government to be more upfront about the new delivery charges people will face when shopping from the EU so we are pleased to see HMRC take this advice on board in time for the festive season. Businesses should also be clear about any extra charges so people can continue to shop across borders without any unnecessary complications.

“If you’re ordering presents from the EU or abroad this Christmas, make sure to check if you will be charged extra fees and read the fine print on the return policies.” includes a guide to possible charges as well as information about how to dispute a charge, return unwanted goods and to get a refund on charges paid.