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Paying duty on items from the states?


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#1 EddScott

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:18 AM

I bought a 501x off ebay from the states and tracking the parcel via USPS it seems it's being held in customs in Great Britain due to charges applying. I thought that if the item was 2nd hand you didn't have to pay duty but it looks like you do. Not too bothered as I think it wasn't a bad price.

What I want to know is how will they contact me to get the charge paid? The website says " Payment of charges - Item being held, addressee being notified " so I assume they will send some kind of invoice to me first? In the past I've either had a phone call to pay over the phone or I've paid when the delivery dude appears on the doorstep. Anyone know what the procedure is?

#2 Percymon

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:27 AM

You will probably get a letter detailing the charges. The charges will depend upon..

1. courier handling fee - Royal mail charge about 12 for this
2. total declared item value plus shipping cost - yes you pay vat and import duty on the shipping element as well! Far east suppliers are great for thsi as they declare a low value generally.
3. the item category declared on the customs form - i think most items declared as 'toy' or 'hobby' carry around 30% duty


So if the declared value and shipping comes to 100, then you'll probably be looking at

30 import duty
20 VAT
12 handling fee

making your 100 purchase a 160 one <_<


I avoid buying from the US unless its my only option - i've always been stung with charges, sometimes the charges being more than the actual item cost itself .

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#3 TWINSET

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:35 AM

3. the item category declared on the customs form - i think most items declared as 'toy' or 'hobby' carry around 30% duty



Import duty isn't that high - it's usually 3-5%

Edit; Radio controlled car duty is 4.7% according to http://www.dutycalcu...controlled-car/

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#4 EddScott

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:46 AM

For my model railway, I buy all the control equipment from the states as it can work out cheaper. Last purchase I was aware there would be a bill to pay but I paid the delivery guy when it arrived.

Anyway, lesson learned regarding RC from the US. Will stick to Asia from now on.

Just checked model rail and the duty is 0%. I wonder why RC cars are 4.7% and rail is 0%.

#5 Percymon

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 11:20 AM

Import duty isn't that high - it's usually 3-5%

Edit; Radio controlled car duty is 4.7% according to http://www.dutycalcu...controlled-car/


Thanks for the clarification Andy - i was obviously confused by my sports equipment nightmares !!

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#6 EddScott

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:05 PM

I can use the USPS tracking number on the Parcel Force website and it shows the car is in the Swansea Depot - so close!!

I'm keeping an eye out for the Parcel Force van just in case its on and I can pay the delivery guy. If I spy the van and its the usual driver I'll ask him what the proceduce is.

#7 Butler

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:14 PM

I ordered a part from the states and it was quite I while before I got the letter. I think it was over a week, from me finding out it was in the UK from the tracking.
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#8 IBIFTKH

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:18 PM

Just because it's been held in customs doesn't automatically mean you will be charged - sometimes you get lucky! I had a kit held in customs for several days but didn't get charged. Last time I got caught for charges I had a letter from Parcel Force telling me what I owed. I then had to take the letter to the local depot, pay the bill and collect the parcel.
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#9 Arcticfox

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 07:22 PM

From the horses mouth HMRC

But in a nutshell, you pay Customs duty and import VAT. Plus the dreaded Parcel farce fee.

Customs duty and VAT is payable on receipt into the UK, but before the goods are delivered. So forget the idea of paying at the door when it arrives :)

VAT is charged the same as in UK, so expect to pay 20% VAT. It will be based on the "total" charge, so VAT is charged on the price of the goods, the cost of postage from the USA and any duty payable. So it's not just the price of the purchase item itself.

Customs duty only if the value is over 135.01 "In all instances Customs Duty is waived if the amount of the duty payable is less than 9". but rc stuff is 4.7% as mentioned by Twinset.

Parcel farce Royal Mail fee, I paid one a couple of weeks ago, it was 11.

Here is a quick table to show when charges are due from outside EU

0.01 to 15

■No customs duty
■No Import VAT

15.01 to 135

■No customs duty
■Import VAT due

135.01 and greater

■Customs duty due, but waived if the amount calculated due is less than 9
■Import VAT due


Use this link to calculate what your costs are likely to be Duty calculator


You will get a letter in the mail for the total duty/vat to be paid, then you can telephone them to pay the bill. Once that has been done your goods are released pretty much immediately for post. However, it's not unknown for the duty/vat letter to take 6 weeks to get to you. Be patient and it will come. Likely yours will be less than 6 weeks. Good luck and hope it all helps.
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#10 TWINSET

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:34 PM

One other thing; if the parcel is sent 'standard' then Royal Mail Post Office handle the customs side, so the fee is lower than if the sender specifies fast/express services which is then handled by Parcel Force

All good fun :)

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#11 nosthevamp

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:55 AM

In my expereince the cheapest option postage wise, USPO the royal mail when it gets here (eventually) worked out the most espensive because of the Royal Mails charges. Next day delivery via UPS (yes from the states) was not only the fastest, it worked out the cheaper. Once the item is ordered its put on the next plane to the UK, it gets checked buy customs and the UPS guy phones asking if I want to pay the duty over the phone (so the package can be dropped with a neighbour) or pay the guy on delivery. UPS applied no extra charge.

On the stuff I used to buy the most expensive thing after the cost ofthe item was the charges levied by the Poyal Mail for collecting the duty. It actually worked out chaeper selecting the most expesnive shipping option. Getting stuff delivered on the 2nd after it was released in the US on the 1st was also quite cool.

Come to think of it NZ post is quicker than the Royal mail when it comes to delivery times; it takes less time for a package to arrive from the other side of the world than it does for one from the UK (in my experience).

#12 EddScott

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:15 AM

My UPS experience is much like the above. They ring, you pay and it arrives within a few days.

Got the little note from Parcel Force today with a bill for 43.70. Its cost about 200 now and one went in the UK on auction site last night for 170 plus postage ;)

Won't be doing that again in a hurry!! :)

#13 mr crispy

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:33 AM

I had fun buying a single 540 motor from the USA this year. It cost around 16 in all with the postage and I thought that was under the amount when customs charges kick in @ 18. Anyway after 2 months of no sign of the thing and the seller refusing to reply to my emails Ebay actually issued me a full refund (yeah I couldnt believe it either :) ) though paypal.

A few weeks later I got a card through the door saying I needed to collect a parcel that had outstanding custom charges? I wasnt expecting anything so went to the PO depot and they showed me a battered jiffy bag that clearly contained the unprotected motor but looked like it had been kicked around god knows how many post rooms for months and said there was 15 custom fees to pay??? I queried why there was any custom charge when you could see on the lable the full cost was under 18 and the parcel hadnt been opened for inspection? They just said if I want it I'd have to pay and then take it up with customs for a refund. Judging by the wreaked and inadequate packaging coupled with the thought of trying to get anything back from UK customs I declined and bid her farewell.

I wonder what they do with the packages after that? Surely it would cost them to send it back with no garantee of reimbursment.

Saying that I'd estimate over 95% of my overseas orders come through fine with speedy posting times and no charges on the smaller packages, but then I try to stay under the 18 mark. Jasons Store in Japan is an absolute legend and I've received stuff from him less the 4 days after ordering it on a few occasions.
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#14 Wooders28

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:10 AM

One thing to note if buying from the Usa in the UK,is that when it is your 'Birthday' and the customs declaration is marked as 'Gift' then you dont pay a penny in duty :) !



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