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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:21 pm   #1
Sparky67
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Default Importing from the USA

Hi all,
Hope this is in the right forum. Mods please move if it's not...
Has anyone imported equipment from the USA recently? I am looking to buy an electronic box costing about £100 including shipping and I am a bit confused as to the extra charges involved in getting it to my door. It's a private purchase, I am not VAT-registered... Can anyone throw some light onto the process and associated costs please?
Many thanks.
Martin
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:33 pm   #2
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Hi,
I have had some items imported, and had to pay vat as well as a customs charge.
But this was a few years ago. I wonder if things have changed ?
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:37 pm   #3
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Same here it seems random some items have come free others my purchase have been held ransom until i have paid import duty at about 30%
This is for second hand amplifiers that have no onward value
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:48 pm   #4
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

I've always had to pay VAT on anything imported from the US in excess of the rather low threshold of £15

An extra Customs Duty comes it at £135

https://www.gov.uk/goods-sent-from-abroad/tax-and-duty


Then there is the "administration fee"

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/....php?t=5503589
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 9:50 pm   #5
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Depends what the custom declaration has on it. I regularly ask people to put a $15 value on it and it won’t get stopped then. Bear in mind that the value of it isn’t necessarily related to the price you paid for it technically speaking

Also make sure they don’t put an invoice inside the box.

Commercial samples $7 on a box that weighs 20kg is a little suspect though.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:00 pm   #6
stevehertz
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

I have imported (and still do) many items from the US. As well as import duty and VAT you also sometimes get a handling charge from the carrier. All in all, the extra charges add about 25% to the buying price.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:16 pm   #7
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Quote:
Depends what the custom declaration has on it. I regularly ask people to put a $15 value on it and it won’t get stopped then
I think you are implying that this is to avoid import duty as the item exceeds the UK duty free import limit?
Surely by doing so you are asking them to break the law and you would also be committing an offence in the eyes of HMRC by doing so? I think they would take a very dim view of it.
Rob
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:17 pm   #8
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

If you're not VAT registered then you have to pay VAT and import duties. These are usually administered by the UK-side courier, and some will bill you before they deliver, some will bill you after you've received it. The courier may also charge an 'admin' fee for their trouble, on top.

Some foreign retailers are already set-up for duties and the vendor software will build it into their online purchase price so you know at the time of sale what you will pay.

The amount of duty (which may be considerable) depends on the category of merchanise declared by the sender.

This is true of any supplier or seller outside the EU.

If an item arrives at your door 'under the radar' when it should be subject to duty, you may wish to enjoy the oversight. But you're supposed to get a form from HMRC and then declare the duty yourself.

Unless it's changed recently, I aren't an expert.
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:30 pm   #9
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

If the items are secondhand radios, parts, etc. you can get away with a low value customs declaration. HMRC generally don't know the value of such items & they're really not bothered anyway, it's new goods being imported (possibly to sell on) that gets their interest.

Mark
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 10:53 pm   #10
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

[2.1 Does the sender have to declare the goods?

Yes. Under international postal agreements the sender must complete a customs declaration (form CN22 or CN23) which in most cases should be fixed to the package. The declaration includes a description of the goods, the value and whether they are gifts or commercial items. Any Post Office abroad should be able to give advice to the sender.

Under customs law, you as the importer are legally responsible for the information on the declaration, therefore itís in your own interest to ensure, wherever possible, that the sender abroad completes the declaration accurately and in full.

If no declaration is made, or the information is inaccurate, the package may be delayed while the Border Force make further enquiries, or in some cases the package and its contents may be returned to the sender or seized by the Border Force.

Above is from a uk.gov website

Remember also that when posting you cannot insure an item for more than what the value is declared.
Rob
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Old 8th Mar 2018, 11:02 pm   #11
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

HMRC are interested in the value and what they can charge as duty. They are remarkably well-informed on the values of a huge range of high value items. A colleague once tried to bring a mountain bike back from a business trip to the 'states and his paperwork wasn't quite kosher. Boy did he get run through the mill, and he was obviously put on some database to be watched whenever entering the country from then onwards.

I have it easy because civil aircraft and parts for same are duty free under international treaties. Otherwise they would be levying tax on every aircraft that landed from a different country and every time it did so..... but then you have to be able to prove that whatever it is is really such a thing.

Most radio stuff you might move internationally doesn't fit easily into the categories they use to determine duty. If bringing in an amateur radio transceiver, I don't think you have to be able to show your licence, but if you do, your new toy is more likely to be classed as radio transmitter than as the (at the time I looked) more heavily taxed radio receiver category. Having a fraudulent invoice or declaration can put you in jail. Having no invoice looks very suspicious indeed. You just have to play it fair

Shortly, we're all going to have to get used to more of this.

David
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 12:06 am   #12
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

I should probably not admit to this but three years ago I brought back a Tektronix 577 curve tracer in my luggage ..... absolutely no problem at all, My flight was into Heathrow then onward to Edinburgh. The luggage was checked in in the USA and I was reunited with it in Edinburgh, being a domestic flight there was no customs to go through once I reclaimed my luggage.

When I opened the case there was a leaflet inside saying the luggage had been opened for inspection by the US Transportation Authority. But no mention of any charges. I seem to have got away with that one ....... until now that is. I have been back to the US twice since then, without any problem at all.
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 8:25 am   #13
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

"[2.1 Does the sender have to declare the goods?" Maybe Rob, but some of us arn't all as law abiding as you and dodging taxes is almost an English tradition, same as borrowing a few bits and bobs from work.

Last time I bought something from the States was from Digikey, they have a scheme where all taxes and fee's are taken care their end. The scheme is probably not practical for small private sellers though.

Before that I had a parcel held at the post office hub; before I could get it I had to pay customs, fair enough, but what rankled was having to pay RM a fee to cover their costs of taking the tax off me, a bit like paying someone £20 to punch you on the nose. Ouch.

Andy.
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 8:41 am   #14
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by robinshack View Post
Quote:
Depends what the custom declaration has on it. I regularly ask people to put a $15 value on it and it wonít get stopped then
I think you are implying that this is to avoid import duty as the item exceeds the UK duty free import limit?
Surely by doing so you are asking them to break the law and you would also be committing an offence in the eyes of HMRC by doing so? I think they would take a very dim view of it.
Rob
No thatís perfect acceptable. If itís a new item, bulk import or for resale then itís an issue but for the average parts/spares/repair entering the private market it has no inherent value outside of personal interest. Customs are entirely fine with this. In fact they would rather not have to deal with it because their main focus is on the black economies developing.

There is a blurry line when you import professional equipment however as this usually ends up on the market after a while.
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:10 am   #15
robinshack
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

I would like to see that opinion in writing from HMRC. It conflicts with their website statement.
We all know HMRC are interested in any revenue they might lose.
It is crystal clear on their site:
https://www.gov.uk/goods-sent-from-abroad

Getting back to the OP he might be interested in this statement from ebay, if it is indeed an ebay purchase:
"It's illegal to falsify customs declarations or mark an item as a "gift" in order to avoid customs fees. If a buyer asks you to commit customs fraud,"

Then the reporting link follows.
I imagine ebay know the rules.
Rob
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Last edited by robinshack; 9th Mar 2018 at 10:16 am.
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:28 am   #16
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Thanks all. I think I had become a bit bogged down in trying to work out the classification number and associated trade agreements, which HMRC have now clarified via their email query service. The links above make it very clear I will need to pay 20% import VAT and a handling/admin charge, but not customs duty as it's less than £135 incl shipping.
Thanks again.
Martin
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:44 am   #17
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

OK Martin, at least that is straight from the horse's mouth and you know exactly how you stand. If it were me I would not have wanted to risk it any other way. Enjoy your item!
Rob
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:49 am   #18
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Yes. Good luck. You won't get it in writing because that would imply loopholes are not in place. The main point is that HMRC are a light touch on the process. They subcontract customs handling out and merely have a data entry system which charges correctly declared stuff up front and looks for large statistical outliers like private individuals receiving lots (10s) of small value items. Never mark something as a gift as a seller. That's plainly up front dishonest. However there's an exploitable grey area of statistical insignificance and creative description writing i.e. "parts only" and "commercial samples".

As for the original poster, this is how it works:

1. Take the sale value in £ at the point of issue including delivery that you were charged for the transaction.
2. If this is below £15, there is nothing to be paid. It will sail through and arrive at your door before you know it.
3. If this is above £135, go and read up on rates. It's complicated.
4. Add 20% VAT.
5. Add £8 for Royal Mail handling.

There are some zero rate items such as children's clothes from abroad where the VAT rate is zero so there is no declaration to make.

As for eBay, they know the rules, leverage them because they try and force people to use the global shipping programme (a natural disaster level process this is) then they get to take a cut.

I've spent 20 years doing the dance with HMRC, customs, import, the lot. They are actually soft teddy bears and really nice to work with (and for !)
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:51 am   #19
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

If you are importing equipment from outside the EU there is a list of commodity codes on the HMRC website.

Asking the seller to fill in the customs declaration with the correct code will ensure that you pay the correct level of import duty.

In the case of electronic kits, parts, or items of historical interest for a private collection the correct code can and does result in a zero rate for import duty.

You will always attract the VAT levy, especially if the item concerned exceeds a very low threshold, once you hit this point, you will also attract the administration fee, normally around £10-15.

All of this is easy to sort with English speaking vendors, but is somewhat more difficult with those that have little or no English.

I imported three books from Ukraine last year, and got clobbered for duty at Polish Customs (the entry point for the EU) £80 of second hand books attracted £86 of duty, VAT and admin charges

Cheers
Sean
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Old 9th Mar 2018, 10:55 am   #20
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Default Re: Importing from the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Williams View Post
All of this is easy to sort with English speaking vendors, but is somewhat more difficult with those that have little or no English.
This is a point with EU sellers as well. I had one wonderful German company fill in a customs declaration form when they didn't need to. This resulted in a £45 charge because some idiot entered it anyway at CCL. It was paid, I filled in a BOR286 and got a cheque back with the amount.
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