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Federal Express

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I have bought many records over the years and more recently through Ebay, however, it seems that every time a record is delivered through Fed Ex there is a charge, Import Duty and VAT?


I now get sellers not to send by them and to not mark a value on the record, but still think this is a rip of, has anyone thought these charges and won.



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Ah, I thought this thread was about that super rare Ohio soul group, 'Federal Express'  :thumbsup:


I went to pick a record up from a collection depot and I enquired about an import/duty tax I had to pay. The lad said its total pot luck if you are picked to pay customs or not. I've only ever had to pay it the once so far (on said occasion), but maybe its now built into the eBay processing system. 


I got an email from them saying I'm now part of some eBay currier service, the one Dave Thorley is always (and seemingly, rightly) complaining about. I've not bought a record from eBay since I got that email, so maybe that has something to do with it too. 

Edited by TailorMade Gaz B

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Former FedEx employee here, had to deal with this on a daily basis for about eight years. Here's how it works:


If you're importing goods into the UK with a courier service, like FedEx, they have to be processed through UK Customs. If the items are eligible for VAT and/or duty, as the recipient (who is usually the buyer) is liable to pay those charges. Because the charges are usually (relatively) small, the courier processes the items though Customs for you and takes on the charges. They then pass those charges on to you for repayment, along with their fee for clearing the items for you rather than them being held by customs, contacting you and then you having to arrange the customs clearance yourself, possibly with an expensive broker.


To make it worse, the tax isn't calculated just on the value of the item, but the value of the item plus the cost of shipping, as that's what it has cost. (Bear in mind that there's no such thing as "Free shipping" - someone has paid to send it, even if it's not you). On top of that, if the sender doesn't declare the cost of shipping on their paperwork, Customs then calculate based on their own standard shipping rates, which are often higher than what was actually paid.


There are ways around this, but they all have issues:


Using the US postal service instead of an international courier means that it will probably take longer, be delivered by the Royal Mail (and their customs clearance process is governed by a completely different set of rules) and not necessarily be trackable.


The sender can declare the items as having no value, but this will mean that it's not covered for loss or damage en route. It will also almost certainly be stopped by UK Customs who will ask for a value (as, apart from documents, all imports need a declared value). If they ask for a value, they will also ask for proof of that value.


They can be declared as gifts, which are not taxable, but for customs to treat them as gifts they have to fit three criteria:


- Declared as gifts by sender on all paperwork

- Valued at under the gift threshold (was £35 per person, may have changed)

- Sent from an individual at a residential address to an individual at a residential address. They can't put there address as Jim-Bob's Record Shack, you can't get it delivered to you at work.


You can claim that the sender didn't make you aware of the charges. This works once, but after that your details are on record, including any invoices that have been written off in the past. If the invoice is for a relatively low amount (and you don't argue with or shout at the agent when you call up), they may be willing to write it off for you anyway. Or not, that's their call.


The only sure-fire way to 100% guarantee not being charged tax on imports is to not import things into the UK from outside the EU. Is that fair? Of course not. But as far as UK Customs are concerned, you're spending money in a foreign economy instead of ours so you need to pay them something to make up for it. Customs also don't care if they're used items or brand-new - entering the UK for the first time means they're taxable.


That's how it works for imports by courier. Royal Mail is different, but I've never had to use them.

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It happens with all couriers, and even with Spanish post.  I always opt for the pleading with the seller to put a very low customs declaration on the item, and have had a $1000+ record declared as $5 arrive perfectly, it's often wise to ask for signed for so that the seller gets confirmation that the item has arrived.  It beats the hell out of the Global Postal scam, and having to pay import duty.  They've had enough out of me over the years.

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Short answer is "Because that's how customs do it".


You pay £100 to buy it, £20 on postage. It's cost you £120, so they tax you based on £120. Like it or not, that's how it works.

Edited by Russell H

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