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tlscapital

European import duties

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When I buy a record, in my stubborn mind, I add the stamps in the "face value" of the record(s) that came in that specific mailer. I know that I'm not the only one doing that. Even though I know that not everybody does that at the same time. I never was rich and I always compare prices even when I shop groceries. So that's how I am and do.

Some years ago, USPS doubled up their mail fares for exports. That was a harsh bit that forced a lot of us; "the small wallets", to try as hard as possible to save on combined shipping costs when we are still trying to get good & unrare records (no, we're not a secret sect with weird rituals and sounds). If no stack of records worthy of such a deal could be add-up, we just had to drop the deal and forget about buying there. Why pay a $5 record (that is worth £8) and then $12 to have it shipped ? I do know a lot of people who drastically slowed down their record shopping habits because of that.

Based in Belgium, I'm now having a hard time rounding up deals without the Belgian TAX hi-jack latest "regulations". Any "declared value" import (outside EU) good over 22€, is automatically submitted to custom fees (tax, import duty, administrative charges...) that always sum up between 30% up to 50% of it's paid-for "value". It all depends on the value of the said item and it's shipping costs. Yes, shipping costs are included in the value and so also subject to the taxes calculation ! It's the bust deterrent I've encounter to buy even 3 cheap $10 worth 45s outside the EU.

This is where my little query comes in: Is the UK, Germany, France... custom policy as harsh, crazy and expensive as that ? Or is it just Belgium's ?

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UK situation is similar. Purchases over £15 from outside the EU incur 20% tax plus an £8 handling charge.  

OK, cheers for that. Does that affect the way you buy from the USA ? Was it always like that in the UK ?

In Belgium it was but not as dear I vaguely remember, but it was easy to get around it. Not anymore actually.

In Belgium it's a bit dearer than in the UK; they add an "importation duty" and the stamps to the paid for value to do the VAT which will be 21%. So if the record was $25 and the P&P $12 they will add 3% (importation duty for items above 150 € normally...) to $37 to make it $38 so tax at 21% will cost $8 (=7€) + 12€ "handling fee" (30 € if value is 150 €+) that makes 19 € to receive the record that the guy sold to you for 22.50 € ! Can anyone beat that ?

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UK situation is similar. Purchases over £15 from outside the EU incur 20% tax plus an £8 handling charge.  

There's something wrong with that handling charge - Royal Mail should be charging HMRC for doing their work for them, not the general public

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There's something wrong with that handling charge - Royal Mail should be charging HMRC for doing their work for them, not the general public

Thje handling charge can rise to £13.50 as well for high value items.  The import tax for the UK from what I can see comes into effect when the total including postage is over £36.

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£36 is for gift.

From HMRC...

VAT

You pay VAT on goods sent from non-European Union (EU) countries and EUspecial territories (eg the Canary Islands) if they’re:

  • gifts worth more than £36
  • other goods worth more than £15
  • alcohol, tobacco products and fragrances (eg perfume, eau de toilette and cologne) - of any value

You have to pay VAT on all goods sent by mail order from the Channel Islands no matter what their value.

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OK, cheers for that. Does that affect the way you buy from the USA ? Was it always like that in the UK ?

In Belgium it was but not as dear I vaguely remember, but it was easy to get around it. Not anymore actually.

A few years ago the limit for import VAT in UK was reduced from (I think) £22 to £15, and started to be more strictly enforced.  Around same time US postal charges increased and US eBay sellers. started being more rigorous in declaring the value.  I used to often buy lower price range records from the US  but it's not worth it the cost/hassle now.

 

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Most of the people that I've bought off on eBay are quite happy to put a low value on the customs declaration if you ask first.  If they won't then the trick is to find a friend or distant relative that will accept them and post them on with a low value on the declaration, or just stump up the import duty and handling charge, I know which one I prefer..

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A few years ago the limit for import VAT in UK was reduced from (I think) £22 to £15, and started to be more strictly enforced.  Around same time US postal charges increased and US eBay sellers. started being more rigorous in declaring the value.  I used to often buy lower price range records from the US  but it's not worth it the cost/hassle now.

 

Yes, that was exactly my point with one American seller. He replied that he still did sell as much as ever to the UK and Europe... I thought that maybe he was being a bit obnoxious. I've heard many people saying, just like you, that they do not to bother anymore to buy those little tag priced unrare records from the USA... and this seller e-shop is mainly that ?!

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In the past few months I've bought a couple of records from the USA on ebay both were $80 plus $12 postage. On both transactions I didn't request any special postage or amendments to values, just made normal payment via PayPal. I didn't pay any import charges nor was I requested to .

In the past 10 years I've only ever had to pay import charges once.

If these charges are having such an affect on others, than I must be either fortunate or there not such a problem as some think. IMO.

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Most of the people that I've bought off on eBay are quite happy to put a low value on the customs declaration if you ask first.  If they won't then the trick is to find a friend or distant relative that will accept them and post them on with a low value on the declaration, or just stump up the import duty and handling charge, I know which one I prefer..

I do that from time to time for the "important" pieces in my eyes. Still I can't bother too much those nice people to run to the post office all the time because of my vinyl addictions. :thumbsup:

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I don't understand some of the yanks being so bloody minded when it comes to customs..it's not like it's going to there own government   ( the revenue ), it's just another bloody speed camera / parking fine scam just to get money out of your average joe..gggrrrr imho

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the issue you describe definitely makes me think twice these days before making a puchase from outside our eurozone and as someone who would vote to leave the EU it may get worse if theres enough of us.

where id be carefree a few years ago with what i buy im more cautious because if charges and increased postage rates. not because im skint its a point of principle and simple economics. unless its something i really want or a bigger ticket item i wont bother.

ive almost stopped blind buying now used to do a lot of that especially with gopsel going back 10 years or more. its easier to justify if postage is a fiver not tenner and i avoid anyone who wont play ball with putting a low figure on the customs sticker as well. 

it definitely makes me buy less cheaper end stuff. the higher the valiue of the record usually means i can con myself into mentally sucking up the fees as part of the cost and therefore theprocess. 

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When I buy a record, in my stubborn mind, I add the stamps in the "face value" of the record(s) that came in that specific mailer. I know that I'm not the only one doing that. Even though I know that not everybody does that at the same time. I never was rich and I always compare prices even when I shop groceries. So that's how I am and do.

Some years ago, USPS doubled up their mail fares for exports. That was a harsh bit that forced a lot of us; "the small wallets", to try as hard as possible to save on combined shipping costs when we are still trying to get good & unrare records (no, we're not a secret sect with weird rituals and sounds). If no stack of records worthy of such a deal could be add-up, we just had to drop the deal and forget about buying there. Why pay a $5 record (that is worth £8) and then $12 to have it shipped ? I do know a lot of people who drastically slowed down their record shopping habits because of that.

Based in Belgium, I'm now having a hard time rounding up deals without the Belgian TAX hi-jack latest "regulations". Any "declared value" import (outside EU) good over 22€, is automatically submitted to custom fees (tax, import duty, administrative charges...) that always sum up between 30% up to 50% of it's paid-for "value". It all depends on the value of the said item and it's shipping costs. Yes, shipping costs are included in the value and so also subject to the taxes calculation ! It's the bust deterrent I've encounter to buy even 3 cheap $10 worth 45s outside the EU.

This is where my little query comes in: Is the UK, Germany, France... custom policy as harsh, crazy and expensive as that ? Or is it just Belgium's ?

I also live in Belgium, I always ask the seller to put a low value on the record, most are willing to do that. Even when the Belgian customs get it wxrong there's no way to go back to them and fix it, they outsourced the whole thing to DVS (the old DFDS). 

Most of the people that I've bought off on eBay are quite happy to put a low value on the customs declaration if you ask first.  If they won't then the trick is to find a friend or distant relative that will accept them and post them on with a low value on the declaration, or just stump up the import duty and handling charge, I know which one I prefer..

If anybody's doing it on a regular basis they will be doing this (I'm sure)

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Just this afternoon had to pay €17.20 for goods bought from Amazon.com priced at €69.93. The charge comprised of €4.20 VAT and €13.00 as a handling charge. To add insult to injury, the package wasn't even for me!

Have to say I'm buying less and less vinyl from the States nowadays because of these charges and the often ridiculous mailing costs in the first place. I find it incredible that some eBay sellers can still mail out a 45 for $6-8 while others want to charge $20+. No problems at the cheaper end of the postage scale if you know the seller will mark down the value of the item, but otherwise it's no longer worth it.

Add to that the terrible euro/sterling rate (from my perspective) and buying from the UK is considerably less attractive than it once was. Hunting vinyl locally, or buying within the EU, is the only way to get value for money - unless you're lucky enough to have nabbed yourself a bargain.

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I also live in Belgium, I always ask the seller to put a low value on the record, most are willing to do that. Even when the Belgian customs get it wxrong there's no way to go back to them and fix it, they outsourced the whole thing to DVS (the old DFDS). 

If anybody's doing it on a regular basis they will be doing this (I'm sure)

Same here Chris, I've always knew about it and got my ways around or with it. My point here is not so much on how to get around it and so on, but rather to see how come the EU have no commercial frontiers anymore (so it's open for commercial competition) but when it comes to imports from outside the EU, the taxes do vary and are applied differently between EU countries. I'm not talking about vintage records only. It is for everything that have a commercial value, new or second hand.

I just had a bad adventure recently with a Japanese seller (Hi-Fi part made in Japan) who had the stupidest idea the put a slip of the eBay sale of the item in the box mailer (for courtesy the seller said !) while we worked hard in every way to testify to the custom a lower value. So I got f***ked big time. At first I did not understand how the Belgian Custom got around to know the value. The slip inside did that. I needed that part urgently and had to pay in the end and the bad mystery was solved when I opened the mailer that had been open at Custom !

So I had to work out with the custom once again (it's been a long time now). And so, I had to re-discover that, like you say they are like the DVS but worst. The DVS show you how they calculated your tax bill before you have to pay. The Belgium Custom not ! You have to pay and then you can see how they calculated your bill !

I had and still have the gut feeling that the Belgian customs in Belgium is the most peculiar custom administration service in the EU. They work like the mafia. The way they apply the thing is in practice a hi-jack. First you pay then you can see what was destined and actually already belongs to you. And if you're not satisfied with their tax fare and/or calculation or the actual good description (send back for a full refund) you can't get the tax bill refund (even if they recognize the over charge).

Once an American dealer, after asking to lower the value which he vigorously agree to do so, gave me a great "little back bite" point of view on how the Americans decided to stop to pay the Dime to the Crown... Before their independence...

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Trying to put a positive spin on this topic

Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1789 "In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes" If you are paying the latter then you are keeping the former at bay.  

So may we all continue to keep death at arms length even if we sometimes must pay some tax. :)

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Same here Chris, I've always knew about it and got my ways around or with it. My point here is not so much on how to get around it and so on, but rather to see how come the EU have no commercial frontiers anymore (so it's open for commercial competition) but when it comes to imports from outside the EU, the taxes do vary and are applied differently between EU countries. I'm not talking about vintage records only. It is for everything that have a commercial value, new or second hand.

 

That's the way of the world, every country adds import duty to imported goods, difference in Europe is that once it's arrived in one of the EEU's member countries it can be moved around the EEU without duty (or VAT). It was never designed for small amounts like £100.00 or so it'll cost more to administer than the revenue it generates. As for duty there is a standard EEU duty % rate the differences will occur when the local national customs interpret that rate list. I worked in logistics for over 30 years and there some goofy things going on. We used import some products out of the USA via Holland because the customs there were prepared to accept a certain (lower) duty rate than Belgium, we then shipped them from Holland to our Belgian customer thereby saving him money, all perfectly legal.

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It can be worth payong the extra postage and maybe the import duty sometimes cause many UK sellers are two, three, four and sometime s even more expensive than US sellers.  Take a look at prices for something on discogs for UK sellers.

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