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UK Customs Charges

RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
edited November 2012 in Buying & Selling Topics
With the dollar and euro being low against the pound. I was looking at picking up some sets from America etc. Do Customs have a set charge per kilo or is it different depending on what its stated as. Eg gift or goods.
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Comments

  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    very good timing as I've just been stung badly, grrrrr.
    Anything over £15 attracts VAT apparently, and also an £8 charge for 'handling' e.g. customs make you pay for the priveliege of being charged VAT.
    If over £135, you'll also pay import duty.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited November 2012
    Oh and if you put 'gift', it attracts VAT over £40 although this is illegal unless its private individuals.
    I've noticed that if no numbers are filled in, it doesnt attract a charge.
  • ChanMcLChanMcL Member Posts: 1,224
    What if the items are for personal use??

    Say if you buy a set of Tower Bridge from the US and bring it back to the UK?


    In a general case, an iPad?
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,463
    ChanMcL said:

    What if the items are for personal use??

    Say if you buy a set of Tower Bridge from the US and bring it back to the UK?


    In a general case, an iPad?

    You're liable for duty I'm afraid....

  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    Thanks Si that sounds ludicrisly inefficent. Its nice to know they charge you for charging you. Its like the processing fees on websites.

    Although it may still work out to be cheaper than the UK. Thinking I will have to do the maths.
  • mountebankmountebank Member Posts: 1,237
    edited November 2012
    The effect of these duties and charges is that I no longer buy anything from outside the EU.

    Depending on the price of the item, you can be looking at an effective addition to the price of between 25-70%.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    Yeah that's what im looking at as well for charges. It seems getting that helmsdeep may cost more than the uk.
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    ChanMcL said:

    What if the items are for personal use??

    Say if you buy a set of Tower Bridge from the US and bring it back to the UK?


    In a general case, an iPad?

    If you're given a pull you're liable. I took the risk with two Imperial Shuttles and just walked through. Personally I think customs have bigger fish to fry than ttourists being over the limit but it doesn't stop them.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    The effect of these duties and charges is that I no longer buy anything from outside the EU.

    Depending on the price of the item, you can be looking at an effective addition to the price of between 25-70%.

    That of course, was the point... :)

    To keep the spending inside the EU.

    I've looked at selling over there as a VAT registered seller, but after taking out VAT from my end and the import fees, etc. Well, I wouldn't make any more selling there than I do in the USA.

    That is why almost nothing I sell internationally goes to Europe.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    What about trades? What are you liable for in terms of VAT and import duties if you're trading LEGO with someone?
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/post/internet.htm

    Pretty much everything you need to know is there.

    Trades, which from the US to the UK are often polys are likely to be of a value to low to attract any charges.
    brickmatic
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    ^Thanks for the link. Makes it a lot clearer.
  • LegofanscottLegofanscott Member Posts: 622
    I just recently received a non Lego related item from the us a few weeks ago, package was 300 dollars and I got charged £43 for fees, that was through USPS which was then handed over to parcelforce, not sure what FedEx or Dhl would be, but be warned that with parcelforce you've got to pay your charges before its delivered, where as FedEx deliver your parcel then you'll receive a letter asking for you to pay the charges.
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 862
    It is certainly a bit of a lottery as to whether you get hit or not with it! I've had ENORMOUS boxes come from Korea and Japan that were over the limit and not been charged at all, and then again I've had some pretty small (albeit pricey) things come from the USA and been charged a small fortune for them. If you choose to go for it, good luck!
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,766
    edited November 2012
    I got hit with VAT on some stickers sent from the States last month. First time they've incurred a customs fee.

    Sticker value was £20 something pounds. VAT was £5 something. ParcelForce fee was £8. Never again will I buy my stickers from the States. I thought I was saving a few quid in buying from the States rather than within the EU. They actually cost me about £10 more!!
  • KieranAFOLKieranAFOL Member Posts: 14
    ^the HMRC link would suggest they won't charge you unless VAT was more than £9. Makes me worry a bit as I have some polys ordered from US.
  • DaddyDeuceDaddyDeuce Member Posts: 272
    Does it make an difference if the goods are new versus used?
  • The_Sly_FoxThe_Sly_Fox Member Posts: 42
    It would seem so. I usually ask the seller to put 'second hand toy' on the parcel. I have done this a few times and have managed to avoid the extra charges.
  • jasonord69ajasonord69a UKMember Posts: 423
    I purchased a 10187 from the US to the UK. I paid approx £250 including shipping which I thought was a fair price. Unfortunately I had to pay another £60 on top if that price for import duty!
    If you add the extra import duty to the price and the fact that the product may travel half way around the world, I would rather pay a higher price for a set from Europe just to avoid the extra charges and the increased probability of damage to the set.
  • morezonemorezone Member Posts: 207
    If you buy anything over £15 from outside the EU, then VAT is chagable. But because there are so many parcels coming into the country these days, some parcels will get through without being charged. It is a gamble.

    Rule of thumb is: Add 20% and £8 to anything over £15.

    Also, the £15 value is supposed to cover postage costs as well. So if you have a parcel valued at say £13 and the postage was £3, then they can charge you VAT as the item value is £16.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,463
    Doesn't matter if the item is new or used - you're still liable for duty.
  • PraiasPraias Member Posts: 51
    I've never bought Lego from outside the EU but did trades. I just ask for the person to mark it as gift and keep the value below the allowed.

    And afterall, if you are trading it's not the same as retail so I think that marking it gift is approppriate.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,463
    Marking something as a gift raises the threshold at which the recipient must pay duty, but not by much - I think it's only increased from £15 to £40, which is still pretty miserly.
    RedbullgivesuwindLegoboy
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,727
    ChanMcL said:

    What if the items are for personal use??

    Say if you buy a set of Tower Bridge from the US and bring it back to the UK?


    In a general case, an iPad?


    If you bring something back to the UK from outside the EU (that is, you are carrying it, not posting it) then you are allowed up to £390 worth of goods without duty and tax.
  • MHyypiaMHyypia Member Posts: 15
    edited November 2012
    The rules are a little different if you go on holiday outside EU and bring something back. According to HMRC you are allowed to bring back goods worth £390 without having to pay tax or duty.
    Not sure how strict they are on that limit though. Some years ago I went to US and bought a guitar worth about £1,000 and not wanting any problems I decided to go through the red line at customs and declare it. The officers there were not interested at all after I told them what the item was and I never had to pay anything for it. The limit then was even lower though which was totally unenforceable and might have contributed to their reaction. Perhaps with these limits they actually enforce it.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Hmm so here's a question .. if I move house to, say, New Zealand, and take a few thousand £ worth of MISB with me, will I be charged tax on it?
  • MHyypiaMHyypia Member Posts: 15
    I'm pretty sure you don't as moving your belongings will come under recidency and domicile laws rather than import duties. It's ages since I did tax law though so I'm not sure. It's a little different though if selling lego is your business and the sets are "stock" though. Also you would need to find out what the law in New Zealand was.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited November 2012
    ^^ I would imagine even if you were hit for it the duty on a few thousand £ worth of MISB would be negligible to the cost of moving to NZ, especially if that involved buying and selling houses.

    As said above, personal belongings are normally exempt and items that have high resale value such as cars etc normally get specific relief (at least they do if moving to the UK). It might be hard to prove that MISB are for personal use though.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited November 2012
    Yeah, I guess it depends whether they 'believe' that people collect MISB i.e. do they count as belongings or not in their eyes. Hmmm
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    ^I think it may come down to how many you have of each set. If you have 5 or 6 of a big set then they may consider that stock.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    best not take my sun polys with me if i move there then!
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,766
    ^ You'd best leave them with me. ;-)
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    Ha ha I think something like that would be fine. As it could be an army builder. But if you had say ten falcons then I think they would see as a business.

    Actually @Legoboy there mine as I believe in relation to the olympic minifigs Si said 'If these are real you can have all my poly bags'....or something like that. *walks off whistling nonchlontly*
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ahh yes, ahem that :) .. well I'm still looking for a shop that sells edible hats.
    MatthewRedbullgivesuwind
  • vickicaravickicara Member Posts: 11
    Also if buying from Amazon.com, they now charge the import fees before hand so no chance to even sneak a package through. Not sure if this would negate the parcelforce £8 charge or not.
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,766
    ^ Is this not a choice the buyer can make? It can either pay the fees upfront with Amazon or risk getting caught. This is how it was the last time I bought an eligible item from overseas, but things might have changed of course.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,859
    @Si_Dorking_Surrey_UK edible hat store...now there is a business idea.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,963
    Here's my top tip for saving 8 quid:

    Phone up ParcelForce and offer to pay for the duty and VAT only. Point out that you won't pay the £8 handling fee because you did not instruct them or authorise them to pay the customs charges on your behalf, nor did they give you an opportunity to arrange to make the payment yourself.

    It worked for me, but I've only tried it once. They said they'd send me the goods after paying for the duty and VAT only, but that I'd be getting an invoice for the £8... but that was several months ago, and nothing ever arrived.
  • DadDad UKMember Posts: 815

    Here's my top tip for saving 8 quid:

    Phone up ParcelForce and offer to pay for the duty and VAT only. Point out that you won't pay the £8 handling fee because you did not instruct them or authorise them to pay the customs charges on your behalf, nor did they give you an opportunity to arrange to make the payment yourself.

    It worked for me, but I've only tried it once. They said they'd send me the goods after paying for the duty and VAT only, but that I'd be getting an invoice for the £8... but that was several months ago, and nothing ever arrived.

    Wow. I guess you can't really blame them if they don't want to deliver your parcels in future!



  • fy222fy222 Member Posts: 178
    I thought parcel force charge a clearance fee of GBP 13.50 instead of only GBP 8.00?!

    I recently paid GBP 31.55 custom charge on a CHF 135 item (postage included!).

    ouch...
  • LegofanscottLegofanscott Member Posts: 622
    edited November 2012

    Here's my top tip for saving 8 quid:

    Phone up ParcelForce and offer to pay for the duty and VAT only. Point out that you won't pay the £8 handling fee because you did not instruct them or authorise them to pay the customs charges on your behalf, nor did they give you an opportunity to arrange to make the payment yourself.

    It worked for me, but I've only tried it once. They said they'd send me the goods after paying for the duty and VAT only, but that I'd be getting an invoice for the £8... but that was several months ago, and nothing ever arrived.

    You mustve been lucky then, i certainly can't see anyone getting out of that one, i thought if you refused to pay it all including the handling fee you don't get your parcel, a total rip off i know but thats the way it goes, if people don't like it try another delivery company.

  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,963
    Except you generally don't get to choose who delivers your goods from abroad. They charge extortionate fees because, generally, they can get away with it.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179

    if people don't like it try another delivery company.

    I was told by the post office that it's a fee charged by the government.

  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ I think they were lying. Who'd have thought RM would do that.
    Redbullgivesuwind
  • sirrich69sirrich69 Member Posts: 469
    I have read this thread with interest, as I also got stung so did some investigation myself. I went to the same link @kevbags did and as he says everything is pretty much there.

    If the item is sent as merchandise on the customs form then as others have indicated you pay VAT if the item is over £15. The £15 however includes the postage cost. So an item that cost £10, but postage was £5.50, then VAT is chargable on that item. Once the item goes over £135 you are liable for duty as well. However the Customs Duty is waived if the amount of duty calculated is £9 or under.

    If an item is marked as a gift then the threshold is higher £40 before VAT is charged. However the £40 excludes the postage charge, it is only the price of the gift. The same rules apply for duty if value is over £135.

    I got a free duty calc program for my iphone. It is just called dutycalc. You input all the details and it calculates the import VAT and import duty you may pay. You then need to add the parcel force rip off charge.

    On some items I Would be happy just paying the VAT and or duty, it is the parcel force £8 handling charge that stings.

    @Paul_merton very impressed you did not pay the £8 handling charge, I searched on the parcel force website, and it is clearly in thier terms and conditions the £8 handling charge, so even though I was livid with the £8 charge did not phone them up as did not see I had a leg to stand on.

    The only way around this is to get the seller to pre pay the customs before the parcel arrives on UK shores, I think @legoboy indicated this is possible with Amazon, I wish it was possible with other sellers.

    LegoboyRedbullgivesuwind
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited November 2012
    ^ Great info ... i did a search and there's a duty calc app for android too .. not tried it yet but installed it remotely and will try later. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bundletech.app.dutycalculator&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5idW5kbGV0ZWNoLmFwcC5kdXR5Y2FsY3VsYXRvciJd
  • murrayhensonmurrayhenson Member Posts: 7

    I just recently received a non Lego related item from the us a few weeks ago, package was 300 dollars and I got charged £43 for fees, that was through USPS which was then handed over to parcelforce, not sure what FedEx or Dhl would be, but be warned that with parcelforce you've got to pay your charges before its delivered, where as FedEx deliver your parcel then you'll receive a letter asking for you to pay the charges.

    That's true up to a certain value; I think for the UK (for FedEx) it's 500 GBP. Over that point, they're probably going to contact you first rather than just invoicing you. Also, I'm fairly certain that if a shipment is assessed for duty/tax, much like ParcelForce (and, likely, others) FedEx will cover that on your behalf in order to speed along the shipment but you will then be charged an admin fee for this. I don't believe the admin fee is much.

    As others have noted, if HMRC (or your local equivalent) are doing their jobs, it's almost always cheaper to buy local (meaning the EU for those of us here)... or buy while on holiday.
  • LegofanscottLegofanscott Member Posts: 622
    edited November 2012

    Except you generally don't get to choose who delivers your goods from abroad. They charge extortionate fees because, generally, they can get away with it.

    Unfortunately that is true, but if you ever come across a website stateside that has the option of Fedex or other courier id always recommend choosing it, Parcelforce is unfortunately run by Royal Mail so anything sent priority through USPS mail gets automatically handed to them:(

    The only thing i don't like is that they keep your parcel ransom, atleast with fedex, UPS and DHL you can get it straight away without having to phone up or wait for a letter before they will deliver it.
  • CaptAPJTCaptAPJT Member Posts: 223
    fy222 said:

    I thought parcel force charge a clearance fee of GBP 13.50 instead of only GBP 8.00?!

    I recently paid GBP 31.55 custom charge on a CHF 135 item (postage included!).

    ouch...

    I always assumed goods from Switzerland although not in the EU were also tax exempt. Obviously not :-/
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,727
    I regularly purchase from bricklink and other US sites. My orders are nearly always £15 plus postage. I ask the seller to write the price of goods only on the customs form. If they do, I will buy. If they don't, someone else gets the business. I have never had anyone refuse to do it so far.

    The customs form says something like value in the box. So the seller is not lying - they are writing the value of the goods, not the total transaction.
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