Buying gear from North America^

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andyw67
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Buying gear from North America^

Post by andyw67 » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:56 pm

Does anyone have any experience of buying paddling gear from Canadian/American online retailers? Any recommended retailers?

Kokatat paddling clothing is ultra expensive in the UK but more reasonable in the States/Canada ..... although there is always import tax/VAT to consider, it still seems way cheaper in North America.

Has anyone bought any Kokatat clothing from the States/Canada?

rowlandW
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Post by rowlandW » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:41 pm

Andy,

I've bought kit from MEC (Canada), REI (US), Piragis and Tuktu. Most items have got through without comment by Customs; one or two have attracted sufficient import tax to make me wince but it still ended up being cheaper than buying the same item over here. If REI doesn't have the Kokatat item you want, search their distributors and take pot luck - most dealers over there seem extremely helpful.

Rowland

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Simon Willis
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Post by Simon Willis » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:43 pm

I've not bought paddle gear but I have bought hiking kit.

I don't know what the law says about when VAT is charged and would like to know if an expert is reading. However, I was caught out buying stuff from MEC in Canada. When the delivery arrived the delivery person wanted 17.5% of the value of the goods paid to them to pass on to Customs & Excise or they wouldn't give me the kit.

Now what I do is buy it on my credit card and have it delivered to a good friend in the US who re-packages it as a gift and sends it across. I then send them some dollars or a gift or something else as a "thank you".
S

rowlandW
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Post by rowlandW » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:53 pm

Simon,

Technically, you are being naughty (!) - but the Customs can't check every 'gift' that comes in... Be aware that they DO check a percentage and if they feel that the gift is a camouflaged purchase, it will attract import duty/VAT. Your delivery person was applying the system to the letter - they are not allowed to release an item to you until the duty/VAT is paid.

Overall, no more than 10% of outright purchases I have made have attracted anything, so I'm definitely winning so far!

Rowland

GrahamKing
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import duty and VAT

Post by GrahamKing » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:16 pm

I recently bought some kit (VHF sets) from a Californian supplier, as they were the only stockist I could find. I had to pay UPS the import duty (4.5%) + VAT @17.5% plus a handling charge of 11 pounds. Fair enough: I expected to pay VAT on the goods. But it was levied on the cost of shipping too, which was over £100, and mostly took place outside the UK. That really stung.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:53 pm

There is/was a good explanation on the HM customs and Excises website, but basically:

All packages need to have a customs declaration on them which states the value and type of contents.

Packages with total value under £18 (might be £17.99) do not attract VAT or import duty, which is why many things from 7dayshop (guernsey, not US) are VAT free, but they charge it on more expensive items. They are very nice and if your total order comes to more than £18 they break it into multiple packages and don't charge any extra for the service. All of which is entirely legal.

Packages over £18 you have to pay the appropriate duty and VAT - look at the website and you will find a list of different duty levels and VAT rates for different items.

Imported goods with duty and VAT to pay are held by customs at the port of entry until someone turns up and pays the duty and VAT. This would be a pain but the carriers are good enough to do this and then deliver your goods to you adding a small (or extortionate) surchage for handling, which is the bit most people forget. If the package is sent by USPS this will be the good old post office, if it's UPS or DHL or someone with offices in both countries they will handle the parcel all the way - so in theory if the vendor can tell you who they use for deliveries you should be able to look up the handling charges, it usually isn't as simple as it looks.

Keep it above board, deal with big retailers like REI and MEC and you won't end up going to prison, you might not save as much as you first thought, but it is often worth doing anyway.

Jim

Chris Bolton
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Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:27 pm

I have bought things from USA over the internet and been charged VAT and import duty by the seller. I wondered how these taxes are then collected by HM Revenue & Customs in the UK? Assuming that randomly checked packages arriving in the UK will show that tax has been paid to a US dealer, do HMRC have legal means to force US dealers to hand over the cash?

Am I at risk of paying the US dealer and then finding out that they are not legit and I have to pay at this end as well? Should I be looking for some kind of certification?

Chris

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:08 pm

Chris,

As far as I know they can't do that! The vendor should only be able to charge state sales tax or for items going out of state no tax. I would be highly surprised if they had a UK VAT number and I'm fairly sure it would be illegal to use it for a non UK business. The only possible option is that they are using somone like DHL who will handle the parcel for the whole journey and can charge the VAT and handling fees up front so they don't need to collect it on your doorstep - I'm guessing, I don't know if any carriers can actually do that.

I would be very suspicious. Good luck finding out!

Jim

Bod
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Post by Bod » Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:46 am

Chris Bolton wrote:I have bought things from USA over the internet and been charged VAT and import duty by the seller. I wondered how these taxes are then collected by HM Revenue & Customs in the UK? Assuming that randomly checked packages arriving in the UK will show that tax has been paid to a US dealer, do HMRC have legal means to force US dealers to hand over the cash?

Am I at risk of paying the US dealer and then finding out that they are not legit and I have to pay at this end as well? Should I be looking for some kind of certification?

Chris
I import weekly from the USA but only on proper business terms through carriers and brokers. In your case Chris, if the goods are being shipped via a carrier and going through customs brokerage and are being shipped on a delivered Duty and VAT paid basis then what the US dealer is doing is legitimate, since they will have to pass that money to the Carrier who will have to pay it to Customs and Revenue at the point of entry. If it is just being sent through the post office it is probably not legitimate. So Jim was correct.

When you ship you have multiple options. The shipment can be charged to the shipper or collect to the receiver as can Tax and Duties (or multiple combinations on the above).
John B.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:58 am

Excellent, I've never had a US based shop offer that sort of carriage before but it would take the surprise element out quite nicely!

Jim

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