customs charge

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gotchaeme | 12:22 Fri 22nd Oct 2010 | Law
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i dont know if this is the right place to post this , but i got a letter today asking to pay customs charge i understand my pakage is from america , but ive got items from america , japan, thailand everywhere before and never got customs charge , and recently i got some leather jacket worth over 100 pounds from america and no charge , and now i buy some small lanterns from america and i get this letter ! i jst dont get it what does it depend on ? luck ? why some items cost money and others dont ?


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yep, count yourself lucky you havnt had to pay before now :)
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yes i suppose i am , but what i want t know is what the charge depends on ? weight ? type of item i mean i just dont get it
yes, you've been lucky not to pay it before
Try ringing Customs and giving them a piece of your mind.

(I don't hold out much hope)
(2-part post):

The following applies to all purchases from non-EU countries. (If you've avoided the charges you've simply been lucky).

The first thing that happens is that the package is checked for the presence of a CN22 customs declaration form (or CN23 if the goods are valued at over £270 but under £2000). If that's not present your package can simply be seized without compensation.

Then Customs Duty is calculated, based upon the purchase price of the goods, including the postage and packing charges (except that postage is excluded from the calculation for bona fide gifts). The rates vary widely, depending upon the type of goods. For example there's no tax on books but cotton-based clothing is charged at 12% (unless it's from the USA, which is currently breaching World Trade Organisation rules by subsidising US cotton farmers; then the rate is 27%). See the 'Standard duty rate' column in this document for other rates:
However if the amount of duty calculated comes to less than £9, the whole of the duty is waived. (It's also waived if the value of the goods is less than £135)
Then VAT is calculated (currently at 17.5%). VAT is charged on the value of the goods, on the carriage charges and on the Customs Duty. (Yes, that's a tax on a tax!). However VAT is waived if the value of the goods is less than £18. (For a bona fide gift, VAT is waived if on goods valued at less than £40).

Then, to add insult to injury, you're charged an £8 examination fee for the privilege of having all of those sums worked out for you. (However, if there's no duty or VAT to pay the fee is waived).

Generally it's the £18 cut-off for VAT which people fall foul of. As soon as the value of your purchases exceeds that amount you're liable to pay VAT and, as soon as you'll pay VAT you'll have to pay the examination fee.

So, for example (ignoring p&p charges for simplicity), a £20 import of cotton-based goods from the USA won't attract Customs Duty, but will be charged £3.50 for VAT and £8 for the examination fee. If the item cost £200, there would be £54 Customs Duty, plus £44.45 VAT (17.5% of £254) plus £8 examination fee.

I recently bught some EASYSPIRIT backless mules on USA Amazon site because they are comfy and they dont sell them in the UK. The postage charge was higher than the price of the shoes but I did not see any other way of getting them so I paid. Then I got a letter from Parcelforce in UK telling me the shoes were in their depot and I had to pay them £14.50 for customs and another £12.50 for their handling charges !!!! apparently the seller puts a higher price on the customs declaration to cover themselves should the parcel get lost.
Altogether the £39 shoes cost me £79 a costly exercise, in future will have them shipped to a pal in the US and she will ship them over as a gift.

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