Q. I’m flying to London soon and love to shop. If I buy a purse or something in England and send it back to the U.S. by FedEx or DHL, would I be charged duty if I send it home before my return flight?

A. It depends on the value of the item you buy. The first $800 would be duty free. This applies to returning residents who have been out of the country for at least 48 hours; the exemption is applicable once in a 30-day period and is reduced to $200 for travelers who have already used the allowance or have been out of the USA for less than 48 hours. Any value over $800 would be subject to duty. The next $1,000 worth of the goods you purchased is subject to a flat rate of 3%. If the value exceeds $1,800, the remaining duty will vary between 0-10% (except for clothing and textiles, which can be much higher, up to 25%). If you ship by FedEx, you are required to pay duty. And you’d also want to insure your purchase to its full value. Frankly, it might be wiser just to bring your purchase into the country in your cabin or checked baggage.

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