Import Tax Duty - How does it work?

I am thinking of buying a set of speakers on eBay that will come from the USA (as there will be a considerable saving even after shipping and import duty costs).

My question is will Customs ask me to pay the import duty before forwarding my parcel from their depot or will they just send it and ask for it on delivery?

The problem is that I live in University Halls of Residence and all the mail is delivered to the porter where we then collect it ourselves. Therefore if they ask for payment on delivery, I am going to have to sort an arrangment out beforehand as the porter obviously isn't going to pay anything in the hope that I will pay it back.

Thanks, Dave

  Jackcoms 13:50 15 Feb 2007

Why not speak to Revenue and Customs (or look at their website), click here to establish how much they will want and when?

If they want it on delivery, give it to the porter up front (assuming you can trust him not to do a runner with your cash)

  Belatucadrus 14:40 15 Feb 2007

If customs and excise or the post office spot that it's VATable, then they don't actually deliver, you get a note advising you that there's a package available for collection when the taxes are paid. To top it all the post office also tack on quite a sizeable service charge for opening your parcel and calculating the VAT, though I'm not sure what it is at the moment.
General rule of thumb is sub £18 and they don't bother, over and IF they spot it, prepare to be nailed.

Is there anyway of paying in advance so that they don't have to open it and charge the service charge?

It's a set of speakers with a sub woofer so I think the chances are pretty slim of them missing it. It's going to cost about £100 incl. shipping so I don't really want to pay more than £20 tax.

  mike1967 15:14 15 Feb 2007

Probably not legal but you could get the ebay seller to put a customs form on it saying its a gift to you, then you pay no import duty

I like that idea. I'll send him an e-mail and see what he says. Obviously can't expect him to break the law but I'll put forward the suggestion.

  mike1967 15:25 15 Feb 2007

Do check out the totally legal way first, I'm sure you're allowed up to £100 pounds or more before you pay duty, I remember buying stuff from, and that never got stopped, or was I just lucky.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 18:05 15 Feb 2007

I have had many items delivered from the States and every one had the usual declaration paperwork on the outside. I have never had to pay import duty yet but I might have been lucky.


Do these include items that would usually be eligable for import duty? What is actually included on the declaration paperwork?

  GANDALF <|:-)> 18:36 15 Feb 2007

Most of the items (mainly electronic gizmos) were well over £40 and the paperwork was stuck on the outside in a clear envelope (all the items were bought from businesses not individuals). The ID of the goods was always clearly visible.


  Kate B 18:36 15 Feb 2007

I've just had a bill for £40ish on goods of about £100 ordered from the US from FedEx for the duty. I've emailed Customs & Excise to ask about it, but a 40 per cent duty rate for goods under the threshold seems a lot to me.

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