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"Importation to UK - Customs charges" Topic

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138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 9:03 a.m. PST

I say chaps, as an ex-pat I don't keep up with these things, but this crossed my desk today via a friend in the UK on Facebook.

So, if your item is worth more than £15.00 GBP (purchased from outside the EU) you will automatically be charged a customs charge. Added to that, the Royal Fail will charge an £8.00 GBP admin fee.
Just so you know. (just spent ten mins on the phone with HMRC)

Anyone encountered this?


Cuchulainn22 Sep 2014 9:08 a.m. PST

Yes indeed! I bought a few models from PT Dockyard in the US. The custom charge itself wasn't too bad at all really, but that £8.00 GBP "handling charge" is a real pig.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 9:32 a.m. PST

Yep, nothing new there. From HMRC's site:

"All other goods

If you order or purchase goods other than alcohol, tobacco, perfume and toilet water from a country outside the EU then you have to pay:

Customs Duty on goods with a value that exceeds £135.00 GBP
import VAT on goods with a value that exceeds £15.00 GBP"

On top of that you'll get a handling charge from the delivery people, for doing the admin. Royal Mail is £8.00 GBP, Parcelforce usually £8.00 GBP, although it can be £13.50 GBP for expedited delivery services, and couriers vary wildly.


PS – Note that the £15.00 GBP exempt amount is value of the goods only, but if VAT is chargeable, it's charged on the delivery cost too, so £14.99 GBP plus £10.00 GBP P&P is VAT exempt, but £15.00 GBP plus £10.00 GBP P&P is VATable on £25.00 GBP….

olicana22 Sep 2014 9:37 a.m. PST

Thanks for that bit of info. I will not be buying from outside the EU.

As a matter of interest, do you know if this tariff applies the other way? e.g. EU to USA.

Presumably certain goods imported to the UK will be VAT exempted: Books; children's clothes; non luxury food stuffs. These are not subject to VAT in the UK.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 9:48 a.m. PST

Yes, the usual VAT rates apply, including 0% on books, and obviously if there's no VAT or duty to be paid, there's no handling charge either. As for applying the other way, not to the US (since sales tax in the US is only within individual states) but yes to some countries, Canada springing readily to mind.

"I will not be buying from outside the EU."

Bit extreme, just consider everything before buying. Under £15.00 GBP of goods no problem, and on very large orders it's not such a bugbear it's smallish orders that are a bad plan, as that £8.00 GBP handling charge becomes disproportionately large….

deephorse22 Sep 2014 9:54 a.m. PST

It can also be 'hit and miss'. I've received packages worth several times the VAT limit without charge. I don't know how it happened, and it hasn't happened often, but it certainly made me happy when it did. Some things (such as Thoroughbred Miniatures ACW ships) just cannot be bought any other way at present.

Guthroth22 Sep 2014 10:04 a.m. PST

I haven't bought from outside the EU for over a year now. It takes something VERY special to get me to do it.

Specifically I am denied the joys of Khurasan figures because a worthwhile quantity would be extremely expensive.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 10:07 a.m. PST

Same for me as deephorse.
Last three orders from the States have had no VAT or handling charge added despite being labelled with accurate value.

Thorfin1122 Sep 2014 11:14 a.m. PST

Yes, I got caught out on a few figures I bought – the handling and customs charges exceeded the value of the figures so I never picked them up from the PO, thought I would let the vendor have them back at Royal Mails expense!

jameshammyhamilton22 Sep 2014 2:17 p.m. PST

I either place small orders to sneak under the trigger value or large orders to dilute the impact of the fee you have to pay for the privilege of paying your tax.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 2:38 p.m. PST

Bang on – exactly the way to do it.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2014 3:03 p.m. PST

"As a matter of interest, do you know if this tariff applies the other way? e.g. EU to USA."

No, we believe in free trade. evil grin

Martin Rapier22 Sep 2014 10:19 p.m. PST

It is very hit and miss, I have had a number of packages from Hong Kong, and although one was held up for a while, never had to pay duty or handling fees. Depends what the supplier writes on the outside.

Martin Rapier23 Sep 2014 2:26 a.m. PST

"No, we believe in free trade."

You might think that, however….


just say kwah23 Sep 2014 2:37 a.m. PST

Yes, I got caught out on a few figures I bought the handling and customs charges exceeded the value of the figures so I never picked them up from the PO, thought I would let the vendor have them back at Royal Mails expense!

I'm sure the vendor had a few choice words for a customer who cost him the original postage and behaved like a complete Richard

freewargamesrules23 Sep 2014 4:57 a.m. PST

I got stung heavily a couple of times so now only purchase within the EU.

myrm1123 Sep 2014 5:52 a.m. PST

Standard regulations and standard charges – they have been in place for years. As such no-one really should be caught out by them as the details are trivial to search for on both and the Royal Mail and internet shopping has been around for long enough that this information is well disseminated.

If you get charged, and you can get lucky and get a few through without charge, it would be a bit like complaining about postage getting added on.

Those VAT and customs agent fee costs should be considered part and parcel of your shipping costs really when you decide whether to buy something and yes, indeed should affect the decision to buy local or abroad. But be delighted when you are not charged rather than annoyed when you are.

Try one of the courier firms and see what they charge you to act as your customs agent….last time I saw such a bill for personal stuff, it was around 20quid customs agent fee, so now I try and get Royal Mail to handle, its cheaper.

If you don't like the customs fee, you don't have to pay it you know….just arrange for the item to be delivered to the end point of the port of entry and go down there and pick it up yourself, act as your own import agent by paying import VAT and duty on the spot.

Having done that myself and spent a coupe of hours in the rain on a miserable piece of tarmac out the back of Stansted airport for work imports that a big courier firm suddenly decided they didn't handle, its 8 quid well spent on an order of any size – but jameshammyhamilton has described the best way to do it if you have to…

Andoreth23 Sep 2014 6:42 a.m. PST

Perhaps the best idea would be for HMRC to allow you to report overseas purchases on line and pay the VAT before they arrive in the country thus ensuring that the Revenue receives their dues but the customer avoids the blood sucking Royal Mail handling fee.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2014 4:25 a.m. PST

As a matter of interest, do you know if this tariff applies the other way? e.g. EU to USA.

It has not been applied to my purchases from the UK and I certainly buy more than L15 ($22.50) at a time.

Lardie the Great24 Sep 2014 12:04 p.m. PST

The charges are pot luck, for me more got through "duty free" than got charged.Had some really expensive stuff get through only for a small package get charged £12.00 GBP, 8quid of which is the handling charge. Think positive and cross your fingers when you order…

jameshammyhamilton26 Sep 2014 3:07 p.m. PST

They are very random. I have had things delivered by post that have cost well over the limit with not duty imposed but I have also had duty imposed on items that were sent me at no cost to myself as a thankyou for playtesting a game for a publisher.

But to be safe don't order more than £15.00 GBP in one go or order loads at once.

Littlearmies16 Oct 2014 10:59 a.m. PST

"No, we believe in free trade. evil grin" Bit ironic about the Boston Tea Party then :)

It used to be hit and miss for me (North London) when the US still had surface mail, but since they ditched that service everything I've bought has been hit with the tax and admin fee. I'm another who would have succumbed to Khurusan but for the import costs.

Obviously the alternative is to place your sister in the USA and arrange for parcels to be sent to her so that she can bring them to the UK on holiday (but does she moan about the weight…!).

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