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  • UK Customs charges

    I today received a package which was sent via Registered Air Mail via Japan Post where the seller declared full value and triggered two stickers to be put on it:
    One is a nice pink one on the front stating "Customs Fee To Pay". The other one is on the back from "Border Force" on behalf of HMRC listing the VAT due plus the dreaded Royal Mail International Handling Fee with the closing sentence: "This package cannot be delivered until the charges are paid" which my postman did not even try to collect.
    Do I ignore this and throw away the envelope or do I dutifully call up somebody to try and pay VAT and Royal Mail charges? The sticker does repeat the registered mail tracking number but no other details identifying me.

  • #2
    Sounds like a mistake. Usually they stick a note through your door, don't they, so you have to go to pay. I haven't had to do this for ages because I just can't afford the 'handling charge' but in the old days, when US post was so cheap, I certainly never had to hand over money at my door. It's my understanding that The Post Office pay the charge in the first instance, to get the parcel from customs, and then they claim from you- and this is what they call their handling charge.
    I reckon it's an error- I bet posties aren't even allowed to collect money. I'd keep schtum until they ask you about it, which they probably never will.
    "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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    • #3
      yeah, had this happen to me once or twice, just keep quiet. To try and get it paid now would probably be a tricky process and end up costing the same in their wages and admin, so I wouldn't feel too guilty about it.

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      • #4
        After a couple of years without buying from the US, withdrawal symptoms got the better of me and I have bought a couple of things in the last few weeks. Low value quoted so managed to avoid customs.
        What are the charges now? £8 for the letter still and VAT on stated value? and on postage too? VAT is 20%?

        Also what is the value threshold for customs to apply nowadays? and postage is included in the value calculation?

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        • #5
          Thanks Bongolia. Good to hear an answer based on experience.

          Candiman, the Royal Mail handling charge is still £8.
          The value on the customs declaration was stated in Yen and the 20% VAT was applied only to that, not the postage. That might have been because the Japanese postage charge is not visible on the envelope.
          Customs charges (VAT) are applied to all imports into the EU with a value over £15. All items valued over £135 will attract import duties and all gifts between private individuals over £39 will atttract VAT.

          One interesting experience I've had in 2017: I have used Tenso and Buyee, the shopping service that allows you to buy on Amazon, Yahoo auctions, Rakuten and other websites from sellers who do not ship internationally. Tenso and Buyee receive the items for you in Japan and then consolidtae your purchases and send them to you. The purchases I made were well above any of these thresholds but I was never charged VAT for them. I was surprised by that but couldn't figure out whether this was an oversight twice or whether this is being treated by HMRC as a shipment from myself to myself and therefore exempt. It shouldn't be in my opinion.

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          • #6
            I had that happen to me once a couple of years ago. I didn't do anything about it and never heard anymore about it
            It's your New Year gift from the Post Office



            North of the River Cole

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