Another "buying from USA post" (UK)

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Don Simon, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I know there's been a few posts on this subject, which helped clarify things a bit, but the info I've found isn't really conclusive, so if no-one minds I'll just ask the question anyway...

    Based on your own knowledge or experience... if I am considering a lens which costs £700 in the UK, but costs $900 from B&H, does it make (financial) sense for me to buy from B&H? Since the lens itself would cost equivalent of £450, is the import duty going to be near the £250 difference?

    Thanks!

    Edit: I don't know why I didn't find this earlier, but the HM Revenue and Customs site indicates that in addition to the 17.5% VAT, 6.7% is the "standard" rate for camera lenses. Some things are still not clear - for example, will I simply be paying the item's value, plus 17.5% of the item's value, plus 6.7% of the item's value, or will it be something sneakier like adding the 6.7% duty and then charging the 17.5% VAT on the item's new value including duty? Also does "standard" duty rate mean they could arbitrarily increase it without notice? Sorry if this all sounds a bit confusing, it's certainly confused.
     
  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    No replies yet... I guess either it really was a stupid question, or no-one else understands either :lol:

    First of all I should point out that I'm now not considering a $900 lens, but instead a $300 one. This particular lens I need to import as there are none left in this country...

    OK so according to HM Revenue & Customs, the Customs Duty (6.7% in this case) is applied on the value of the item. The lens equating to £150, that means I will be paying just over £10 Customs Duty. Does this sound right?

    Now it gets fun... this information was not made clear on the Customs website, I had to call up and find out exactly which Section it was listed under. Wonderful. But anyway... it turns out that VAT is applied on the total value of the item, including cost of freight and insurance value!

    This is where my complete lack of knowledge on these matters really shows... I have no idea what the insurance value is... I assume it is not the total value of the item... Presumably it is the courier's insurance limit, which for UPS Worldwide Saver is $100 (£50)... does that sound right?

    This means the item's value for VAT is:
    Lens (£150)
    Customs Duty (£10)
    Shipping (£20)
    Insurance value (£50)
    Total: £230.
    ... Which means, at standard VAT rate (17.5%), I will be paying...
    VAT: £40...
    ... So in total I will be paying £270. For a lens costing $300...

    Again does this sound right?

    Oh and by the way, I also read that Royal Mail may charge me handling fees. I have searched their website and tried calling and no-one can tell me anything. Are Royal Mail going to charge me for a package delivered by UPS?

    OK so there are a couple of issues here.
    1) Do not live in Britain if you intend to buy photographic equipment, you will get ripped off, robbed, cheated, fleeced, jacked and otherwise bled for every last penny, and there is no way around it even when importing.
    2) It's 2007, people have been buying goods from abroad using the internet for quite some time now, and HM Revenue & Customs still makes it unbelievably difficult, if not actually impossible, to find out how much you will end up paying.

    ... But other than that, do my estimated calculations sound about right? Thanks for any thoughts.
     
  3. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am in the second category!! I had a look at this before because there are some very cheap items on eBay.com compared to eBay.co.uk. In the end, I gave up because I was not quite sure what I was going to pay. The way I understand it is that you have to pay VAT on the total price of the lens (Lens+Customs Duty+Shipping+Insurance). I don't think you have to pay VAT on the insurance value but on the actual cost of insurance associated with shipping. But don't take my word for it; as I said I am in the second category.
     
  4. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Your understanding of the insurance issue sounds more likely... of course I still have no idea what that value would be :(

    I have to say I am surprised (although I shouldn't be). If my calculations were right then importing the item nearly doubles its value. Photographic equipment here can cost twice as much as in the US (not exaggerating) but I honestly didn't expect importing to cost as much.

    So, anyone going to New York willing to pick up a lens for a small commission? :lol:
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Or, you could hop a train to France where you have had the lens shipped to a blind drop-box and blow off the VAT. But that would be the American thing to do. ;)

    mike
    (under no circumstances should you follow this advice. But you could then test the lens while you were on the way home. ;) lolol)
     
  6. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Or, even better. Meet a "hotti" from France, have the lens shipped to her/him, and go over for a long weekend of wine, romance and art when you pick it up...

    Oh, wait... that would be the French thing to do.
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unless you're the "BYOB" (bring you're own babe) sort. ;)
     
  8. tempra

    tempra TPF Noob!

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    Most couriers including Royal Mail will charge a handling fee for customs if it gets stopped there as you have to pay them the duty etc. and they pass it on to HMRC.

    I haven't bought from a US store like B&H however I have bought from ebayers in the states and Hong Kong who have declared values as either a gift or lots lower than actual cost, and they have all been delivered without a problem through Parcel Force and DHL without having to get my chequebook out again.

    Might be worth having a look at URGalaxy or Digital-rev to see if they have your lens, alternatively if it is a Canon lens, 7dayshop.com are stocking canon again - not sure of their prices nowadays, but when Jessops were selling the 50mm 1.8 for £85 plus shipping I got it for £49 shipped a couple of years back - they are in the Channel Islands.
     
  9. lockwood81

    lockwood81 TPF Noob!

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    Maybe have someone you know in the US buy it then ship it to you as a gift, eliminates the whole duty fee thing...just a thought.
     

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