Is it normal to be charged both import duty (about 8% for my product) AND import VAT (20%) when I bring goods into the UK from China?"

Yes, that is the norm. Always make sure you check the duty rates prior to shipping. If you are VAT registered you claim the 20% back, other than that 20% is a formality. Import duty varies by product , the list would probably go from here back to China , but you can use something like DutyCalculator.com - we are also integrating a solutions into Xcellerator.

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