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Old 19-01-2004, 19:47   #1
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Question [FAQ] Customs and Import Duties

Your Customs Allowance
  • Customs charges may only be applied from goods sent into the UK from outside the EU. Orders from within have already had the relevant VAT and duty paid in that EU member state. Jersey is not classed as within the EU, but as a Special Territory , and as such are liable to VAT.
  • The current allowances for DVDs, CDs and the such are £18, or £36 for gifts.
  • If an item is VAT-exempt (such as books), you will not be liable for charges on those items
  • Postage and packing must be remembered. If the total value of goods in the package that are liable to duty and VAT is less than £18 WITHOUT P&P, you will not be liable for a charge. If the total value of goods in the package exceeds £18, the VAT and duty is charged on the total value of the goods INCLUDING P&P
  • The £36 allowance for gifts only applies to unsolicited gifts from one individual to another (such as a birthday present). Goods marked as "gifts" from a company fall in to the same category as any other purchases and so the £18 allowance applies.(cheers Ed Parsons).

How the charge is calculated
  • Customs (Import) Duty of 3.5%
  • VAT @ 17.5% - the VAT is charged on the value of the goods PLUS the customs duty
  • Administration charge of the courier

For example, if the cost of goods and P&P comes to £30, you would have the following:
£30 for goods
£1.05 customs (import) duty
£5.43 VAT on £31.05

The administration charge of the courier varies. Here are the current charges you can expect:
  • Royal Mail £8.00 (RM site )
  • Parcelforce - £8 for standard parcels, £13.50 for high value (> €1000) and express parcels. (Thanks to DeadKenny for this info). (Parcel Force )
  • DHL £1.25 or 2% (whichever is greater) for non-business users (DHL site - Information - About Duty & Vat for more information).
  • UPS is £11or 2.5% (whichever is greater) UPS site in section marked "Disbursements" (Thanks to Chris for the info and smst for update 14/02/06).
  • FedEx personal handling charge is 2.5% of the combined duty & vat charge (not including total value of goods) or £6.80 (whichever is greater) as of Jan08 (thanks to Chris for the update). If you have been charged more than this, you have probably been charged the business rate and should query this (cheers cm-9 for the info). As before they do not charge or inform you at time of delivery. Instead they send you an invoice in the post up to a month later (they also include a copy of the original customs declaration and a breakdown of the charge)

Another important factor is the value of the goods. If the value is not declared in GBP, HMC&E will use their own monthly rates to convert the value to GBP. The monthly rates are checked once a week and changes made if they differ by more than 5% from the last published rate and amended from midnight on Tuesday/ Wednesday of the following week. (Source - http://www.hmce.gov.uk/business/rates/rates.htm ).

HMC&E can also value the item(s) if they feel that the declared value is false, and will apply what they feel the value should be and you will be charged accordingly.

How you pay
With packages coming in through Royal Mail, the postman will leave a note telling you that you have an item with a charge at your local delivery office, and you will have to go and collect it. If they leave it/hand it over and do not collect any money, you have got away with it.

Couriers such as FedEx, DHL and the such will normally pay the VAT & duty on your behalf and invoice you some time later. Be careful to check that they have only charged you the non-business user rate of admin charge - if it is around £10 or more, they have mistakenly charged you the business rate and you should take it up with them.

If you think you have been overcharged or charged incorrectly on the customs charge, you will need to contact HMC&E - they have a national advice line on 0845 010 9000 which is a good starting point.

Useful Links
HMC&E website offers a wealth of references and information about the various regulations and charges you are liable to.

HMC&E Notice 143 - A guide for international post users much of the information from which I have built this FAQ.

TARIC Homepage a useful EU site that allows you to calculate the import duty for other goods:
  • Click on the "Taric Description" link
  • Enter the type of goods you want to import
  • Make a note of the Taric code for the relevant item
  • Go back to the Taric Home Page and click on the "Taric Code" link
  • Enter the Taric Code and the country where the goods are being sent from
(Thanks to Ed Parsons for the TARIC stuff and instructions).

Last edited by caygs; 11-01-2008 at 21:44. Reason: Updated FedEx Details
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Old 19-01-2004, 19:47   #2
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With all the threads about customs, I have tried to pull together as many of the answers to the common questions into one convenient thread.

Much of this is from experience, a bit of research and from other suppliers threads. Please feel free to post any corrections/additions and amendments and I will incorporate them into this initial post as soon as possible.
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Old 19-01-2004, 20:20   #3
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Good call! I've had a look round the Custom's Links as I was sure computer equipment is expempt from VAT or import duty? I'm sure I read that Sony tried to get the Playstation classed as a computer to avoid tax?
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Old 19-01-2004, 21:44   #4
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That should certainly answer most people's queries. One point to note is that the £36 allowance for gifts only applies to unsolicited gifts from one individual to another (such as a birthday present). Goods marked as "gifts" from a company fall in to the same category as any other purchases and so the £18 allowance applies.

If you want to calculate the Import Duty for other goods then go here:

TARIC Home Page
  • Click on the "Taric Description" link
  • Enter the type of goods you want to import
  • Make a note of the Taric code for the relevant item
  • Go back to the Taric Home Page and click on the "Taric Code" link
  • Enter the Taric Code and the country where the goods are being sent from
Alternatively give the Customs Helpline a ring on 0845 010 9000 who are very good at answering Duty queries.

Whilst it's true that goods from Jersey are subject to VAT, some Region 2 retailers based in Jersey (eg play.com) allegedly pre-pay the VAT for purchases over £18 so you won't get charged. If you're paying more than £18 for goods sent from Jersey then it's worth checking with the retailer whether they pre-pay the VAT.

Last edited by Ed Parsons; 19-01-2004 at 21:55.
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Old 19-01-2004, 21:53   #5
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Good stuff. Let's keep this bumped or make it a sticky


Also worth mentioning is ParcelForce (part of the same company as RoyalMail) charges admin fees as follows...

£8 for standard parcels
£13.50 for high value (> £2000) and express parcels.

The £13.50 fee is also charged regardless of whether the item gets a Duty/VAT charge!! So in other words... don't use their express service!! (obviously you can't avoid the high value charge if it's over £2k).

Remember this is the same company as RoyalMail, and yet the charges are twice as much or more! There's also far more of a guarantee that you will be charged if the item is over the allowance.

More here: http://www.parcelforce.com/portal/pw...aId=load105044
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Old 19-01-2004, 22:09   #6
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Maybe add a list of supplies and their custom safeness?

Although then again that whole area is debatable :/
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Old 20-01-2004, 12:02   #7
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Re: [FAQ] UK Customs on DVDs - your questions answered

Quote:
Originally posted by paul_caygill
administration charge of the courier varies.
UPS is £10 or 2% (whichever is greater) and I can confirm that the £10 does apply to non-business users as I found out yesterday
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Old 20-01-2004, 17:50   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by 36Degrees
Maybe add a list of supplies and their custom safeness?

Although then again that whole area is debatable :/
Not sure whether that would be a good idea - it would give C&E an easy place to look Plus I do not want the grief if a supplier is suggested to be safe and then someone gets a charge.
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Old 23-01-2004, 05:37   #9
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Re: [FAQ] UK Customs on DVDs - your questions answered

Quote:
Originally posted by paul_caygill
Couriers such as FedEx, DHL and the such will normally pay the VAT & duty on your behalf and invoice you some time later. Be careful to check that they have only charged you the non-business user rate of admin charge - if it is around £10 or more, they have mistakenly charged you the business rate and you should take it up with them.
DHL called me last night saying I owed them around £20 for Babylon5 Series 4 from dvdsoon. I asked them for a breakdown and the guy said there was a £10 admin charge. As I had read on these forums the difference in business/non-business billing I questioned him about this. His reply: "No, there's only one universal admin charge"
"Are you sure? I thought non-business was a lot cheaper"
"no, sorry"
"so there's only one admin charge you have for business to business, business to non-buisness, non-business to non-business etc.."
"yes. are you paying over the phone now?"
"what's your number. I'll call you back"

So.. I'll call them back later this morning. Have their rules changed I wonder, or were they just trying to defraud me...
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Old 23-01-2004, 06:27   #10
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Re: Re: [FAQ] UK Customs on DVDs - your questions answered

Quote:
Originally posted by ozric99
So.. I'll call them back later this morning. Have their rules changed I wonder, or were they just trying to defraud me...
No idea myself I am afraid ozric99. I have never had a charge from a courier for customs, so that one was based on comments by other people in other threads about the issue (check a search for DHL on the suppliers forum).

Keep us posted on how you get on and if necessary I will update the FAQ accordingly. And I hope that they have not changed their policy - £10 is a crazy price for what has to be done.
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Old 23-01-2004, 08:38   #11
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I wonder if you can get away with purchasing (or recieving) an item for free, but paying full whack for the manual

Good thread btw, I was just looking for this
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Old 23-01-2004, 10:12   #12
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Glad somebody has put this thread together Hopefully it will stop a lot of repetitive threads on the same theme. It will also allow the mods to close such threads down quickly and point them somewhere to answer their question.

I can cope with the import duty charge: it's just the imposed charge by the likes of profiteers such as the Royal Mail etc. that really annoys me
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Old 23-01-2004, 11:37   #13
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Time to stick this thread
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Old 23-01-2004, 13:19   #14
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Re: Re: [FAQ] UK Customs on DVDs - your questions answered

Quote:
Originally posted by ozric99
I asked them for a breakdown and the guy said there was a £10 admin charge. As I had read on these forums the difference in business/non-business billing I questioned him about this/

From DHLs website:

Quote:
What is the administration fee?
The fee for business customers is £10 or 2% of the shipment value, whichever is the greater. The growth of Internet shopping has led us to introduce a different administration fee for private individuals. This is because net shoppers are usually buying infrequently and purchasing low cost items such as CDs, DVDs or software. We felt that low usage such as this merited a different fee structure. We charge £1.25, or 2% of the shipment value, whichever is the greater. This compares very favourably with our competitors and we are, as far as we are aware, the only air express carrier who has introduced a special rate for private individuals.
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Old 23-01-2004, 17:39   #15
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Cheers Chris, have linked to the DHL website with instructions on how to find the info in the first post now. Cannot find anything like that for any of the others though
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Old 23-01-2004, 18:14   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by paul_caygill
Cannot find anything like that for any of the others though
UPS: http://www.ups.com/content/gb/en/res...dditional.html (it's the bit called Disbursements)
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Old 23-01-2004, 18:19   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris
UPS: http://www.ups.com/content/gb/en/res...dditional.html (it's the bit called Disbursements)
Added
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Old 23-01-2004, 18:30   #18
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ParcelForce: http://www.parcelforce.com/portal/pw...&catId=2500042
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Old 23-01-2004, 18:43   #19
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Royal Mail: http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/c...&catId=5200006 (looks like they have increased the fee to £4)
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Old 24-01-2004, 12:41   #20
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I've had a customs charge notice this morning, but haven't bought anything over £18. I suspect it's a charge for Finding Nemo, from DVDCrave, which was £12.50.

What's the best practice to adopt here? How easy (or not) is it to get a refund for wrongly applied charges from Royal Mail and HM Customs and Excise? Is it better to simply refuse delivery in these circumstances?
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