Books from Canada - a warning

Books from Canada - a warning

Postby SaintedAunt » 08 Dec 2013, 18:22

Currently, a friendly and genuine seller in Canada is selling his Biggles collection, which includes quite a lot of 1st editions of the early books, mostly in nice facsimile jackets.

HOWEVER… be warned. You may find yourself not only paying expensive postage but also expensive customs duties. I bought a good copy of Blue Moon, from him, not overwhelmingly expensive - with the expensive postage maybe the same as the price it goes for in the UK (when you can get a decent copy with no missing pages…). But a few weeks after it had arrived, I received a demand from Fedex for customs duty of nearly £37. And it appears that I have to pay. Fedex have already paid it and now want their money. Curiously, it also appears that HM Customs in the UK can charge duty on a secondhand book which originated in England! I tried to protest but Fedex can charge you £50 + VAT if it turns out it wasn't their fault - and you can be sure that they would make quite sure they were safe.

I have in the past bought Biggles books from both the USA and Canada without paying any duty, but they were not sent using Fedex. Has anybody else had similar experiences? I shall not make that mistake again…
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby Spitfire666 » 09 Dec 2013, 17:59

SaintedAunt wrote:Currently, a friendly and genuine seller in Canada is selling his Biggles collection, which includes quite a lot of 1st editions of the early books, mostly in nice facsimile jackets.

HOWEVER… be warned. You may find yourself not only paying expensive postage but also expensive customs duties. I bought a good copy of Blue Moon, from him, not overwhelmingly expensive - with the expensive postage maybe the same as the price it goes for in the UK (when you can get a decent copy with no missing pages…). But a few weeks after it had arrived, I received a demand from Fedex for customs duty of nearly £37. And it appears that I have to pay.

Thanks for the warning, SA. :shock:
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby dadlamassu » 13 Dec 2013, 21:50

The rules of import to UK are quite clear and freely available on the HMRC website http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageTravel_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000014&propertyType=document#P20_1785

In summary goods received from outside the EU by commercial purchase or a commercial gift incur:

£0.01 to £15 - No customs duty, No Import VAT,
£15.01 to £135 - No customs duty, Import VAT due
£135.01 and greater - Customs duty due, but waived if the amount calculated due is less than £9, Import VAT due

If the gift is from a private individual the tax free allowance is £40.00 per person if the gifts are individually wrapped, labelled and declared as such.

The company collecting the tax/duty may also charge a fee on top.
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby SaintedAunt » 13 Dec 2013, 22:38

I don't know when these rules first applied, but I can tell you that it is either very recent or else some people (like Fedex) are more active in enforcing them. Fedex actually pay the charges themselves and then send you the bill. They say it is cheaper that way :o which ought to be utter nonsense.
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby Sizzling Sausages » 13 Dec 2013, 23:27

I've bought a few books from Canada and have had no such problem in Australia (or from other countries). Canada's postage though is extremely high, as SA noted, meaning the book has to be a decent price for it to be worthwhile. I've not bought many other books from there because of this.
There's a debate going on in Australia at the moment though, on paying GST on overseas purchases. At the moment it only applies to purchases of more than $1000 but retailers here are claiming that's unfair and want it lowered to about $100. That would put a bit of a spanner in the works*, although I don't know if it would apply to second-hand items as well. Thankfully, of course, most Biggles books don't cost that much anyway! :)

*The GST in Australia is 10 percent, and many people say it wouldn't really matter if we had to pay it on everything bought from overseas because we're so ripped off price-wise here on most things that it'd still be cheaper to buy them from overseas. Sadly this is true - I buy most new books and CDs from o/s and it's still cheaper, even with postage, than buying them in-store (or even online from an Aust seller) here.
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby Spitfire666 » 14 Dec 2013, 07:45

SaintedAunt wrote:Curiously, it also appears that HM Customs in the UK can charge duty on a secondhand book which originated in England! I tried to protest but Fedex can charge you £50 + VAT if it turns out it wasn't their fault - and you can be sure that they would make quite sure they were safe.

I once got stung when an American friend made up some home videos for me. Sadly, when asked "value", she put down what she thought represented the time she spent doing it! I was tempted to tell the Post Office to return them to sender, but went without dinner for several weeks after that. :shock:
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby Fairblue » 14 Dec 2013, 09:57

Spitfire666 wrote:
SaintedAunt wrote:Curiously, it also appears that HM Customs in the UK can charge duty on a secondhand book which originated in England! I tried to protest but Fedex can charge you £50 + VAT if it turns out it wasn't their fault - and you can be sure that they would make quite sure they were safe.

I once got stung when an American friend made up some home videos for me. Sadly, when asked "value", she put down what she thought represented the time she spent doing it! I was tempted to tell the Post Office to return them to sender, but went without dinner for several weeks after that. :shock:
It is a bit of a shock, isn't it, when you get charged like that. I have a friend in Canada who has obligingly received some goods in the post for me, unwrapped them, wrapped them up herself and sent them on as a gift. I paid her the extra, of course, and it still worked out cheaper, but it's not something I would like to do too often, as I feel it's taking advantage.
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Re: Books from Canada - a warning

Postby dadlamassu » 14 Dec 2013, 17:56

NOTE: You may be able to claim a refund of VAT and charges from HMRC since Books are Zero Rated: http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageVAT_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000102&propertyType=document

The import tax rules have been in force for decades as has the exemption for items from the EU. Some carriers are more vigilant and consistent than others. I have had parcels arrive without any charges and also had similar parcels charged by the same carrier so it seems a hit or a miss.

The current UK charges are set by HMRC (they vary from country to country) and came into force in January 2013 but Notice 143 (the controlling international document) is updated roughly annually and has been at least since I first fell foul of the system in 1998!

Commercial transactions are based on the country from which the item is sent. Not from where the item originated.
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