Adam's Blog

Don’t Pay FedEx’s Customs ‘Advancement’ Fees

For a while now, FedEx has applied an ‘advancement fee’ of £12 to shipments arriving in the UK which have customs charges applied.

The reasoning for this is half-valid in my opinion. When a shipment gets off the ramp at the airport, if arriving from outside the EU, all need to pass through Customs (shipments from within the EU may be X-rayed, but aren’t liable for any import fees).

Rather than HMRC handling the shipments directly, FedEx employs their own clearance agents to work on behalf of HMRC (likely to expedite shipments), the wages of which need to be accounted for.

Also, unlike some other carriers, FedEx pays any fees immediately to HMRC, which enables them to deliver the shipment with minimal delays.

However, my reasoning against this fee though has always been that FedEx should factor in any clearance fees to the shipment cost.

So here’s a solution if you’d rather not throw £12 away in addition to your VAT. Important to note that Import VAT is legally required to be paid – there’s no reasoning for this to be avoided.

Their ‘advancement’ fee on the other hand is totally unenforceable, and quite cheeky in my opinion.

So simply put together an email (I’ve provided a template below, just add the invoice number and tweak parts as needed). Use the subject line ‘Customs advancement fee’ or similar, then send it to send an email to (if you’re in the UK. Other countries will have a different email).

Dear FedEx,

This is in reference to invoice #xxxxxxxxxx.

After having bought xxxxxxxxxxx from China, I understood there would be the possibility of VAT due on receiving them.

I was however surprised to see an additional section for a clearance administration charge of £12.

Since China is outside of the EU, I of course will pay the VAT due.

However, I refuse to pay the clearance admin charge of £12, since at no point was I made aware of, nor did I agree to, any terms and conditions which clearly stated that I would be liable for any such charges.

At no point in the transaction and subsequent delivery was any contract for a clearance administration charge made between FedEx and myself.

I paid the supplier for delivery, and would expect that any international clearance fees be factored into the initial cost of such a shipment.

If you want to pursue further charges for delivery or administration or the terms upon which goods are shipped, I suggest that you take it up with the company who shipped the goods initially.

Therefore, I request that you update this invoice to reflect no admin fee, and once that has been done I’ll make immediate payment.

Please let me know when this has been done.

Kind Regards,


Note: The above worked for me on 5 consecutive occasions with FedEx, though I can’t vouch for it with other carriers. Definitely worth a shot though.

Let me know of your successes!

Exit mobile version