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1949threepence

Customs Charges - how random are they?

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I recently bought a very nice MS64, F160 from an e bay seller in the US. He's sent it by USPS tracked service, which is good. But I've just received an e mail from Royal Mail saying that I'm likely to incur customs charges because of the declared value of the item. The curious thing is that I've bought from the USA a number of times before, by the same method, without ever receiving any such notification. So I'm wondering precisely what gives with this. Does it mean that some sellers are just not declaring the value? 

I'm not too bothered as it's worth the extra cost, but I am curious as to why these customs charges seem to be so randomly applied.

   

ROYAL MAIL.PNG

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You just got unlucky. Royal Mail don't examine everything that comes into the UK, but on this occasion they chose something of yours. I've probably bought several hundred coins from the US over the years, but I have only been caught for customs duties etc. on a couple of occasions. It's a lottery! 

Edited by DaveG38
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It also looks as if they are using a common shipping/tracking system with automatic flagging up to the receiving country once entered into the system rather than examining packets individually because it says they will notify you when it arrives in the uk. It's only possible because you have an account which you can settle via email. Phoning card details wouldn't work.

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Thanks gents. 

The other point is what rate of VAT would be properly applied. I hear of cases where 20% has been applied, but my understanding is that the legal rate is 5% on coins. 

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2 hours ago, 1949threepence said:

Thanks gents. 

The other point is what rate of VAT would be properly applied. I hear of cases where 20% has been applied, but my understanding is that the legal rate is 5% on coins. 

Should only be at 5%, Plus service charge was about £8 with the PO

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You are correct on your first post Mike ,some sellers depending on how they are sent dont declare the value if its cheap and not insured.However if its insured and the seller has put the correct value on the ticket it brings it to the customs attention.

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2 minutes ago, PWA 1967 said:

You are correct on your first post Mike ,some sellers depending on how they are sent dont declare the value if its cheap and not insured.However if its insured and the seller has put the correct value on the ticket it brings it to the customs attention.

Absolutely Pete. I think it may well be something to do with that, as I've had coins sent the same way from the USA marked as "gift" or "token". The seller's way of trying to make it a bit easier for the buyer.

There's a certain irony in having to pay customs duty on an item which was originally produced here in the UK.   

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My experience:

Coins I've won from Davissons come packaged with no valuation on the label and so far have attracted no customs duty.

Fedex always charge 20% and getting it reduced to 5% has only proved successful once for me.

UPS always send you a form on which you can declare it as numismatic items and get the correct 5% charge.

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Got no further e mail as promised by Royal Mail, but as the item was shown in USPS as held at a facility here in the UK, twice removed from Heathrow, I decided to click the tracking details on the e mail link shown in my first post, where I found out the customs duty was £15.42, which was less than 20%, but more than 5% - so, no idea how it was calculated as there was no breakdown of the cost. Tried to pay over the RM website, but it failed to work. 

Anyway there was a card pushed through the door when I got back from work last night, saying the item was being held at the local post office. So I decided to pick up in person and paid cash. I would have asked the girl at the counter how it was calculated, but the pick up point is at the back of the post office, it's all open and it was pissing down with rain, so left it. 

Well worth the hassle as it's a really nice coin, but that customs duty is a bit of a mystery. 

Apologies for rambling on. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by 1949threepence
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Customs charges are like mobile phone bills.. a complete mystery to us all 

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27 minutes ago, 1949threepence said:

Got no further e mail as promised by Royal Mail, but as the item was shown in USPS as held at a facility here in the UK, twice removed from Heathrow, I decided to click the tracking details on the e mail link shown in my first post, where I found out the customs duty was £15.42, which was less than 20%, but more than 5% - so, no idea how it was calculated as there was no breakdown of the cost. Tried to pay over the RM website, but it failed to work. 

Anyway there was a card pushed through the door when I got back from work last night, saying the item was being held at the local post office. So I decided to pick up in person and paid cash. I would have asked the girl at the counter how it was calculated, but the pick up point is at the back of the post office, it's all open and it was pissing down with rain, so left it. 

Well worth the hassle as it's a really nice coin, but that customs duty is a bit of a mystery. 

Apologies for rambling on. 

 

 

 

 

With royal mail you pay a handling fee for every packet that has an import duty which is determined by what the seller put on the label including the value  .They also have the right to be able to open and check the contents of the packet to confirm whats in it.

So more than likely its the handling fee and duty combined total £15.42.......Normally the boxes are ticked on the card they post you with the prices on.

The handling fee goes to the Royal mail or alternative courier the seller may of used and the duty to the goverment.

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4 hours ago, PWA 1967 said:

With royal mail you pay a handling fee for every packet that has an import duty which is determined by what the seller put on the label including the value  .They also have the right to be able to open and check the contents of the packet to confirm whats in it.

So more than likely its the handling fee and duty combined total £15.42.......Normally the boxes are ticked on the card they post you with the prices on.

The handling fee goes to the Royal mail or alternative courier the seller may of used and the duty to the goverment.

OK, thanks Pete. That makes sense. I'm 99% certain the package hadn't been opened, but all the postage costs and details shown, were from the USA end. Absolutely nothing from Border Force/Royal Mail that I could see. I think they should be a bit more transparent with their costs. 

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Well, my first coin from the States since the one above, and I've fallen unlucky to be stung by customs charges again. £19.68 consisting of £7.68 "import VAT" and £12.00 "Clearance Fee".

Interestingly, this time the package has been routed through Parcelforce, rather than Royal Mail and this morning I received a letter telling me how to pay, which I've done. I've even pushed the boat out and paid an additional £12 so it can be delivered on a Saturday (tomorrow).

You can see from the link above how long it's been piffling about in this country, after taking only 3 days to arrive from the USA.    

It's not the cost, it's the delay and the fact we are having to pay customs on an item that was actually produced here in the UK, that gets me. 

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48 minutes ago, secret santa said:

Have you been charged 20% or the correct 5% ?

The cost of the item before postage and after the exchange rate on the day, was £122.19. I've been charged £7.68, so 6.29% in actuality.

Presumably meant to be 5%, but how that equates to 6.29% I've no idea. Obviously there's an inclusion of something else that's hidden, as 5% of £122.19 is £6.11.  

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Vat is payable on the total cost of the imported package, i.e cost of item plus postage as well. I presume that makes up the difference, as £1.50-1.60 x 5 is £7.50-£8 which could be about right for a package depending on the service used.

The exchange rate used will depend on the prevailing rate on the day, which might be the post office's own for currency, or could be the financial market's rate, or could be the buy or sell rate for someone else. It's not going to be a million miles away, so not really an issue.

There is a cheaper solution to these clearance fees which is to book the import VAT at the point of purchase using an integrated ordering system, just as ebay adds a tax charge onto sales to certain US states. Once that's done, there is no hassle with having to clear a parcel manually. As a business, it's far preferential to have a system which eliminates human involvement wherever possible because the cost of putting bums on seats is significant.

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1 hour ago, Rob said:

Vat is payable on the total cost of the imported package, i.e cost of item plus postage as well. I presume that makes up the difference, as £1.50-1.60 x 5 is £7.50-£8 which could be about right for a package depending on the service used.

The exchange rate used will depend on the prevailing rate on the day, which might be the post office's own for currency, or could be the financial market's rate, or could be the buy or sell rate for someone else. It's not going to be a million miles away, so not really an issue.

There is a cheaper solution to these clearance fees which is to book the import VAT at the point of purchase using an integrated ordering system, just as ebay adds a tax charge onto sales to certain US states. Once that's done, there is no hassle with having to clear a parcel manually. As a business, it's far preferential to have a system which eliminates human involvement wherever possible because the cost of putting bums on seats is significant.

Closer, but still not exact. The total cost including postage, was £148.92, 5% of which = £7.45.

If, as you say, the VAT is calculated according to the exchange rate at some given point on the journey, as opposed to the time of purchase, that could easily account for the 23p difference between 5% at time of purchase, (including postage), and the £7.68 that was charged. At any rate the difference is no longer significant. 

Yes, the solution you mention would be a good one. It would certainly mean much faster throughput.      

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