Internet shoppers in the UK are being stung by hidden charges when they order items from the EU, as a result of Brexit.

Bargain hunters have found themselves being asked to pay extra costs for their goods, often by the couriers who deliver them to their doorsteps.

As a result, many are choosing to reject the items rather than pay the additional amount.

It's because, up until December 31, 2020 - which is when the transition period for Britain's departure from the European Union ended - customers here could buy what they liked without incurring import duties and other charges.

However, with free movement of goods now over, consumers purchasing anything costing up to £135 may now have to pay VAT charges, depending on the value of the product and where it came from.

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Above £135 and UK-based buyers also face having to pay import duties.

And, under the new set-up, these charges can be a much as 25 per cent of the cost of the item being purchased.

Moreover, because these cannot be paid in advance and are levied only when the item reaches the UK, it's usually the courier who brings them to your address who'll demand payment.

Customers who don't pay the extra don't get their parcel.

One woman was asked to pay a total of £140 in customs duties, VAT and additional charges for some work clothes she'd ordered from Europe, the BBC reports.

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Twenty-six-year-old Londoner Ellie Huddleston thought she'd got a good deal after spotting the same blouses online for £180, but was shocked to later receive a text from courier company DPD which contained a link asking for an additional £58.

Then, when a £200 coat she'd also ordered arrived, the UPS courier who knocked her door asked for an extra £82 on top.

"I didn't even know when the parcels would be coming - so I sent both back without paying the extra fees and won't be ordering anything from Europe again any time soon," said Ellie.

And she's not the only one who's fallen foul of the new rules, with some firms even charging extra 'handling fees' to shoppers to cover costs associated with the new customs checks and paperwork that have to be completed.

For example, Royal Mail is asking for an £8 fee which "reflects the cost of clearing items through customs and presenting them to Border Force".

Meanwhile, courier DHL says it is charging UK customers 2.5% of the amount paid to clear customs, with a minimum charge of £11.

Delivery company TNT is also adding £4.31 on all shipments from the UK to offset the money it's had to spend in adjusting its systems to cope with Brexit.

And it works both ways - EU consumers buying a coat, a pair of boots or any other product from a UK-based retailer also have to pay added VAT, customs charges and courier or postal handling fees.

As a result, many European customers are rejecting goods imported from the UK after being presented with unexpected customs charges when signing for them - leading to some UK retailers considering abandoning or destroying goods returned by EU customers due to the cost and trouble of bringing them back into the country.

According to the BBC, the UK Fashion & Textile Association chief Adam Mansell has claimed it's cheaper for retailers to write off the cost of the goods than dealing with all the amount of customs paperwork and charges upon the goods' return arrival back in Britain.

"It's part of the ongoing small print of the (Brexit) deal, " he added.

"If you’re in Germany and buying goods from the UK, you as the German customer are the importer bringing goods into the EU.

"You then have a courier company knocking on the door giving you a customs clearance invoice that you need to pay to receive your goods.”

Mansell said further customs paperwork facing UK retailers when goods were returned included an "export clearance charge, import charge arrival, import VAT charge and, depending on the goods, a rules of origin document as well.

"Lots of large businesses don’t have a handle on it, never mind smaller ones," he added.