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Import tax query


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I’ve just purchased, via eBay, a small piece of antique sterling silver (1901 Sheffield) from a US vendor.

The cost was US$20 plus US VAT of US$4, excluding post and packing.  Total cost paid by me including p&p is £33.02.

the item is being posted to me from the US and sent to my home address here in the UK

Can anyone tell me how much import duty/tax I will have to pay and what action if any I should take?

Many thanks

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It may well depend on what the seller put on the customs declaration; I get items not UK available delivered to a friend and she repacks them with a user friendly declaration (non PM's though). 

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

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Without seeing all the fine print on your eBay invoice it is difficult to advise.
Firstly I do not believe the seller should have billed you sales tax but anyhow if the cost is $24 that is about £17.80
If £33 is your total then shipping etc has cost you £15.

A small item sent from the USA would typically cost £8 in postage so for customs in the UK they see £17.80 + £8 = £25.80
VAT at 20% would be £5 so £30-31+ seems about right.

This would suggest that you should NOT incur any fees whatsoever.

If on the other hand the seller has fleeced you in shipping, and the package is not tax paid ( e.g. Global Shipping Program ), then it will most likely be handled by our Royal Mail who will charge you a fixed £8 fee plus £5 VAT before they hand it over.


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57 minutes ago, Rll1288 said:

I must admit I thought that Ebay take the VAT into account when purchasing at it now says on items Price of item, delivery cost and import duties in the description under the price etc. ?

Only if the seller has enrolled in the Global Seller Program. (Aside, if buying from Europe, I think the amount also has to be less than £135 for eBay to take the VAT, otherwise they don't include it and you'll have to handle it at this end, along with any customs duty charges).

19 minutes ago, Pete said:

This would suggest that you should NOT incur any fees whatsoever.

I don't think that's correct. VAT is chargeable on all goods, unless it's worth less than £39 and marked as a gift (which presumably it isn't if it's an eBay sale).

Also, I think VAT is payable on the whole amount you paid, including the postage cost.  It doesn't matter what the postage should have cost, because that would allow people to reduce taxes by pricing items cheaper and charging artificially high amounts for postage.

Edited by paulmerton
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You are not responsible for paying US state sales tax - you should demand a refund of that - if that is what it is. 
Goods are exported US sales tax free. If the goods were being exported from the UK they would be exported UK VAT free. Then VAT is levied as they are imported.
So as Pete says we need more information.
Was the item sold under 'Global Seller Programme'?

What could be paid? - when the package hits the UK border it is taxed on the price paid - the price paid for the goods + shipping costs. Then there are likely brokerage charges and VAT on them.

i recently received a letter in Spain - it had some labels in. The VAT charged was a few cents but i ended up paying 5€ odd. Another letter i paid 15€ something. The declared value of the items was small but with all the fees and VAT on fees it soon adds up.

Edited by sixgun

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34 minutes ago, paulmerton said:

I don't think that's correct. VAT is chargeable on all goods, unless it's worth less than £39 and marked as a gift (which presumably it isn't if it's an eBay sale).

Sorry for any confusion - I was trying to illustrate that by paying £30+ for this item there was every likelihood that the goods were shipped using the GSP so no further charges would be incurred.
Unfortunately the author hasn't made any mention of this so all guesswork.
Agreed if not shipped GSP the VAT will be 20% on the highest amount etc plus a fixed handling fee which I mentioned.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear All

Thank you everyone for your very helpful advice and I’m pleased to say that the piece duly arrived and without incurring any additional duty or other charges so that the total of £33 paid by me including postage and packing from the USA to the UK and no additional VAT, taxes or duty arose.

Many thanks again

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