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"Ordering from the US" Topic


30 Posts

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666 hits since 21 May 2012
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doug612521 May 2012 3:57 p.m. PST

Has anyone had any luck with this recently or did you get stung with the dreaded tax bill and royal mail admin charge. Im looking at putting an order into askari but this issue is putting me off at the mo

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP21 May 2012 4:04 p.m. PST

Always assume you'll get stung…. Orders for under £15.00 GBP of goods are exempt, so do it that way if you can. If that's not practical, "save up" and go way over – £8.00 GBP handling on £100.00 GBP hurts a lot less than on £20.00 GBP….

Personal logo Unrepentant Werewolf 2 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2012 4:34 p.m. PST

Get stung approx one in ten orders, usual value £20.00 GBP to £40.00 GBP

Maddaz111 Sponsoring Member of TMP21 May 2012 4:35 p.m. PST

As somebody who has friends in the department I have to say that the parcels are picked up more often than not by people who do not understand what the product is, and will slap a tax and handling charge on it, even if it is a gift or replacement free of charge for faulty parts.

I had to have a replacement of a game sent to me because the customs/handlers in the UK decided to rip open the packaging whilst searching for contraband – as I said in another forum the parcel when it arrived looked like they had played football with it. Then they wanted to tax me on the replacement sent free of charge by the company.

I can remember the lengths companies used to go to, to avoid such charges, and seeing postmarks from post offices just outside US air force bases in the UK on a bookcase box used to indicate the arrival of a new AH boardgame for me!

Steve6421 May 2012 6:36 p.m. PST

I can remember the lengths companies used to go to, to avoid such charges, and seeing postmarks from post offices just outside US air force bases in the UK on a bookcase box used to indicate the arrival of a new AH boardgame for me!

Im sorry, but Im chuckling over the thought of it .. I can just picture a bunch of uniformed officials ripping into the suspicious package, and finding a glossy boxed publication with pictures of weapons on the cover, and a bold title such as 'Red Storm over Europe – Cold War turns Hot' or some such thing.

The little piggy faced official turns to look triumphantly at his uniformed colleagues, and utters "It looks like we have hit the Jackpot lads !!".

30 uneventful years in the job, and he has finally … single handedly smashed open a diabolical plot to enslave the free world through armed insurrection.

:)

Oh the bitter disappointment that must slowly dawn over his face when he finds out its "just a game".

Being a fly on the wall for those fleeting few moments would be absolutely priceless.

The Wargames Command Post Sponsoring Member of TMP21 May 2012 11:41 p.m. PST

Make sure that the company you are ordering from do not send your order via 'Express Delivery' or similar, or the Parcelforce fee will be £13.50 GBP rather than £8.00 GBP, and in my experience (and I import quite a lot from the USA & Canada) it is no quicker.

Bob.

dwight shrute22 May 2012 1:40 a.m. PST

I have had the last 4 out of 5 orders from the USA charged . Whilst the customs/vat is something you accept . The post office handling charge is a killer and IMHO unjust .

Rudorff Inactive Member22 May 2012 1:52 a.m. PST

Does the £15.00 GBP-00 limit include the postage from the States? I've seen conflicting statements, some say no and some say yes.

The HMRC website is a chocolate fireguard.

The Wargames Command Post Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2012 2:03 a.m. PST

I don't think it does, I'm fairly sure that the £15.00 GBP limit is just on the goods, but of course once you go over that threshold, you will also be charged VAT on the shipping.

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2012 2:21 a.m. PST

Spot on – the £15.00 GBP threshold is goods only, but once you go over, the shipping cost is VATable too, so £14.00 GBP plus £10.00 GBP shipping is exempt, while £16.00 GBP plus £8.00 GBP will be charged VAT on the £24.00 GBP total, plus the handling charge. (Import duty doesn't kick in until about £135.00 GBP or so, and many wargames items are 0% anyway.)

It's usually a good plan to specify when ordering "please ensure the customs declaration shows the correct value of £xx.xx" – prevents getting hit inadvertently because the shipper has put on a total that's rounded up / includes shipping / is in dollars and has been shunted just over the £15.00 GBP by exchange rate fluctuation….

Big Jim22 May 2012 3:20 a.m. PST

I have to say recently my imports (£15+) from the states have all avoided any extra payments. This is due to parcel markings, I think the companies may mark them as a lower value or as gifts. Secondly, they are sent to a company address rather than the home one.

I guess karma will reset this at some point but so far so good.

jameshammyhamilton22 May 2012 3:30 a.m. PST

The last time I bought from the US I ended up placing a huge order $1,000 USD+ and just accepted the charge.

When it is a small shipment the handling charge is just silly.

Essentially you have to pay tax (fair enough), a charge for them working out how much the tax is and another charge for the privilege of paying all this money :( The only upside is that the latter two charges are fixed so larger orders suffer less.

freewargamesrules22 May 2012 9:57 a.m. PST

Stopped ordering from USA because of these charges by Customs and Post Office. Now I only order from EU.

gunnerphil22 May 2012 12:06 p.m. PST

I found that it would depend if I was having stuff sent to my home or my work address. If sent to work got stung by tax, VAT and whatever else could be added on.

doug612522 May 2012 2:19 p.m. PST

I've actually got the option of using a German address, perhaps they are kinder, same VAT equiv problem but seems to have no admin charge

Goose66622 May 2012 2:24 p.m. PST

Have also stopped ordering from USA.. Over 50% of orders were getting clobbered and so its no longer a valid order, unless i cannot get it from anywhere but USA, and then frankly, I have just done without a lot now.

It is just plain daft.

And be warned a lot of sellers included the postage fee in with the value of things, on the customs form by mistake, which took one item that was way under the thresh hold to over it and I got stung.

£8.00 GBP plus 20% VAT, soon adds up. You either order somethin very pricy at Doug say, or ultra cheap, but then the postage tends to be as much as the item.

N Drury23 May 2012 2:09 a.m. PST

see link

Spot on – the £15.00 GBP GBP threshold is goods only, but once you go over, the shipping cost is VATable too, so £14.00 GBP GBP plus £10.00 GBP GBP shipping is exempt, while £16.00 GBP GBP plus £8.00 GBP GBP will be charged VAT on the £24.00 GBP GBP total, plus the handling charge. (Import duty doesn't kick in until about £135.00 GBP GBP or so, and many wargames items are 0% anyway.

This seems to be contradicted by the HMRC website -

"The import VAT percentage rate is applied to the total value of the goods. In the case of goods brought in this is the sterling equivalent of the price paid abroad, as shown on the receipt. In the case of goods posted from outside the EU, it is the amount on the Customs Declaration, which includes the price paid for the goods, the cost of transport, postage and packing, insurance and any duty that may be payable."

Marcus Maximus Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2012 2:23 a.m. PST

I thought it was under £40.00 GBP…….for gifts?

N Drury23 May 2012 3:10 a.m. PST

Customs duty applies to goods over £135.00 GBP (but if the amount of duty is < £9.00 GBP it is waived)
VAT applies to good over £15.00 GBP

For gifts the VAT limit is raised to £40.00 GBP

see link

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2012 3:12 a.m. PST


I thought it was under £40.00 GBP GBP…….for gifts?

It is, but if you're buying stuff from a company it's, umm, not a gift…. From HMRC:

Gifts bought online for someone else
Ordering and paying for goods over the Internet to be sent to someone other than to you doesn't count as a gift and the recipient will be liable to pay UK duties and taxes.
By contrast a gift – defined as something sent directly by one private individual to another – doesn't attract import VAT if its value is £40.00 GBP or below.

So, the simple fact that the return address is a company rather than just a person's name, is enough to confirm that any tick in the gift box is fraudulent….

N Drury23 May 2012 3:17 a.m. PST

Just found one more point well hidden on the HMRC site, postage costs are sometimes excluded from the duty calculation for gifts

"Customs duty – customs duty becomes payable if the goods are over £135.00 GBP in value but is waived if the amount, when calculated is less than £9.00 GBP

The amount of customs duty charged will depend on the type of goods imported and the value stated on the customs declaration CN22/CN23 (converted to £sterling using the rates of exchange for the month of importation as shown on the HMRC website). link

The percentage varies depending on the type of goods and their country of origin. Duty is charged on:

the price paid for the goods, plus;
any local sales taxes, plus;
postage, packing and insurance.
However, the cost of postage is excluded from the calculation for customs duty on gifts except where the sender has used the Express Mail Service (EMS) as opposed to a standard mail service."

This (from the same page) is quite clear about including shipping in the VAT calculation -

"Value Added Tax (VAT) – Import VAT is charged at the same rate that applies to similar goods sold in the UK and applies to commercial goods over £15.00 GBP in value, and on gifts that are over £40.00 GBP in value. However, please note that commercial consignments sent to the UK from the Channel Islands do not benefit from any relief of import VAT. The value of the goods for import VAT is based on the:

basic value of goods, plus
postage, packing and insurance, plus
any import (Customs or Excise) duties charged.
As with customs duty, the cost of postage is excluded from the calculation for VAT on gifts except where the sender has used the Express Mail Service (EMS) as opposed to a standard mail service."

Here's the reference to the relevant EU law –

"Inclusion of postage charges in customs value – Article 165 of EC Regulation (EEC) 2454/93 requires all postal charges levied up to the place of destination in respect of goods sent by post to be included in the customs value of the goods. However, this does not apply to gifts other than those sent by Express Mail Services."

N Drury23 May 2012 3:22 a.m. PST

I do note however that the instructions for completing the customs declaration part of the shipping label just refers to 'value of goods' so I suspect that in many cases the sender will tend to put just the contents value even though the intention is presumably that the value for VAT purposes should be the same as the invoice total for the order.

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2012 3:46 a.m. PST

It gets better than that, as LVCR (ie. the "under £15.00 GBP is VAT free") rule is absolutely clear that it applies to "intrinsic value" which is the value of the goods only, EXCLUDING shipping costs.

link

Thus the correct way to fill in a CN22 is to state the "INTRINSIC VALUE" (ie. goods only) if it's less than £15.00 GBP, or a gift of any value, unless sent by EMS, while using the "VALUE" (which includes shipping costs) if it's £15.00 GBP or over and not a gift. How's that for nice and simple…?

N Drury23 May 2012 3:48 a.m. PST

Dom is correct that the £15.00 GBP and £135.00 GBP limits above according to link

are based on the 'intrinsic value' of the goods which is defined as -
"The intrinsic value is the price paid or payable for the goods excluding postage and packing and insurance costs."

N Drury23 May 2012 3:55 a.m. PST

Indeed, you beat me to it. When ordering small value items from outside the EU into the UK it would be a good idea to request that where applicable the shipper takes care to put 'intrinsic value of goods less than <£15' even if the total on the invoice including shipping is >£15

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2012 4:01 a.m. PST

Yep; alternatively itemising the goods and shipping separately on the CN22 would also seem a practical option, but having had several chats, both online and real world, with customs bods over the years, they all take it as a given that the CN22 will be filled in with the intrinsic value, and indeed regard it as normal practice that if the shipping label actually states the cost of postage (eg. old-fashioned stamps….) that will be added to what's on the CN22, which means a potential for over-charging if the CN22 actually has the value on it, as opposed to the intrinsic value….

N Drury23 May 2012 5:03 a.m. PST

I'm sure that has actually happened to me on a games order from the US to the UK. The 'value of goods' on the declaration was roughly equal to the invoice total but I could only reconcile the VAT charged by adding in the face value of the stamps.

I suspect that the vast majority of CN22's filled in by individuals will just show the goods value and in some cases the sender may be thinking of the value for insurance purposes and the limits applying to the postage option chosen. It never would have occurred to me to add in the postage costs until I looked at the HMRC site.

It certainly is a bit of a mess, the intention to include shipping costs never quite makes it clear whether this should be the actual cost paid by the shipper, or the amount the seller invoices the customer.

I suppose this also means that if an overseas supplier offered a 'free postage' deal you should ask them to charge postage but discount the goods by an equivalent amount.

GNREP823 May 2012 12:31 p.m. PST

The little piggy faced official turns to look triumphantly at his uniformed colleagues, and utters "It looks like we have hit the Jackpot lads !!".

30 uneventful years in the job, and he has finally … single handedly smashed open a diabolical plot to enslave the free world through armed insurrection.

:)
-----------------
slightly unfair speaking as an ex piggy faced official now causing trouble elsewhere! its a bit of a Sun tendency that all people doing things we don't like are all ugly (traffic wardens, traffic police, UKBA officers) whereas those we like (like fireman) are all handsome. Of course in reality there are ladies men who are absolute horrors in the way they treat the public and four eyed speccy types who treat people well. The handling charge is of course nothing to do with HMRC and stays with the Post Office. Actually of course parcel post staff do pick up firearms and drugs on a depressingly regular basis.

Marcus Maximus Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2012 2:30 p.m. PST

@Dom Skelton – I was clarifying for others as a gift is a gift of course from one individual to another, however you are spot on with regards the item coming from a company.

Personal logo Dom Skelton Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2012 5:59 p.m. PST

Fair enough; with the thread subject being "ordering" from the United States I thought it was probably best to slightly labour the point that "gift" isn't a convenient loophole that people can exploit; besides the whole "not allowed" thing, you're also ridiculously likely to get caught, so best not to give anyone ideas…. ;-)

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