The Parcelforce clearance fee is not illegal, the way they collect it is illegal according to section 104, 105, 83 and 84 of the Postal Services Act 2000:
It states there must be no intentional delay of your postal packet. HM C&E can obviously delay it to check contents and apply duty but after that the mail must be delivered promptly.
Parcelforce are breaking criminal law in sections 83 and 84 which state:
Interfering with the mail: postal operators
(1) A person who is engaged in the business of a postal operator commits an offence if, contrary to his duty and without reasonable excuse, he—
(a) intentionally delays or opens a postal packet in the course of its transmission by post, or
(b) intentionally opens a mail-bag.
They are also breaking criminal law under section 104 which states:
Inviolability of mails
(2) Anything to which this subsection applies shall have the same immunity from—
(a) examination, or seizure or detention, under a relevant power conferred by virtue of this Act or any other enactment,
(b) seizure under distress or in execution,
(c) in Scotland, any diligence, and
(d) retention by virtue of a lien,
Subsection 2d above states that it is against the law to hold you packet by virtue of lien, this means holding it to ransom for payment of a fee, This is the important bit, Parcelforce will not deliver your parcel without payment of the HM C&E VAT and their Clearance fee. They are breaking the law, they must deliver your parcel without delay and invoice you for the fees.
This is covered in section 105 of the act. They can charge a fee but it can only be obtained by civil action, this means if you don’t pay either of the fees - VAT or the clearance fee, Parcelforce can only take you to small claims court.
Note: Parcelforce have paid the HM C&E VAT on your behalf, you no longer owe VAT to HM C&E and as such, you are not breaking the law by refusing to pay Parcelforce which is just a PLC with fat cats at the top.
My anger at the clearance fee started three weeks ago August 2007. I telephoned everywhere and initially got nowhere, so I read the Postal Services Act. I refused to pay for my parcel and spoke to Lynn Gawthorpe at Parcelforce HQ 01908 687000. I quoted the relevant sections of the act and I was allowed to pick up my parcel without any payment.
I have now made a complaint to the Police, if you speak to them at Morriston Police Station, Swansea 01792 456999 (ask for Morriston) you will add weight to the criminal prosecution of the Directors of Parcelforce.
I have also made a complaint through the Postal Commission (regulators of the act) and you can add to this by speaking to Sean O’Hara on 020 75932100 or emailing him on