Import costs from USA - vat etc

13 replies
Found 24th Jun 2014
Just bought a lenovo thinkpad X201 i5 with 128gb SSD for silly money in the us and have arranged delivery internally to a friend in Wisconsin.

Will ask them to forward ship it to me direct but I am worried that I will get clobbered on tax duty

The machine cost $180 (about £110) but I read that purchases under £135 aren't too expensive on duty.

Naturally I don't want to risk the machine being confiscated at customs due to non payment of duty or taxes

Does anyone know the best way to go about this to ensure a smooth delivery process?

Appreciate any input whatsoever



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I think the limit is £35- above that you'll pay import duty& Vat . Works out at about 25% of declared value - the shipping company will pay that and charge you for it before delivery . I couldn't possibly tell you to ask it be sent as a gift or a sample with a $30 declared value as that would be illegal

Original Poster

Did think about that - but the weight and size might be a giveaway

So a cost of about £28 is bearable I think

I'll ask my friend to enquire with the shipping co - probably FedEx.

Cool. Thanks for replying.

In addition to the taxes I also had to pay a fee of about £10 fee for the company collecting the tax. I think it was Parcelforce.

It doesn't matter, if they can wrap it up in gift wrap and make sure no invoice is present.

That or you can ask them to simply put a note inside the box that says "return from warranty"

As long as it has tracking, everything should be fine, declared value $25

Sorry but be careful if you try the gift wrap scenario - my parcel was sent in gift wrap with a greeting card as well - no invoice. Made no difference to the tax. No idea about the return from warranty though

Total customs value (CIF): £143.94
This is the amount that customs values your import at
- Duty: £0.00
- VAT: £28.79
Total import duty & taxes due: £28.79
This is the amount that needs to be paid to customs

Original Poster


Total customs value (CIF): £143.94 This is the amount that customs values … Total customs value (CIF): £143.94 This is the amount that customs values your import at- Duty: £0.00- VAT: £28.79Total import duty & taxes due: £28.79 This is the amount that needs to be paid to customs

Happy to do this.

How do I go about completing the transaction?

Is it payable prior to shipping or upon arrival?



well if you gonna use FedEx I would recommend you to open a account this way you won't have to pay any clerical fees whuch is about £11.00 but only the vat.

also you can always show low value as this keep you cost down.

vat is payable later with FedEx.

with DHL is payable upon arrival.

I've always found that if you pay the courier for shipping and the tax then you don't pay a handling fee, whilst if you just have it shipped and it gets inspected and found to need tax to be paid then you end up paying the tax and an handling fee to the courier.
These days I prefer to know I've already paid it so it doesn't end up costing more and getting tied up.

Never had any tax when I've recieved it as a gift

There's a limit on gifts - £36 hmrc.gov.uk/cus…htm
I wouldn't recommend customs/tax fraud to be honest.

£135 is the point at which they begin to charge customs on items

You generally pay VAT on anything over £15 from outside of the EU (including shipping). VAT is 20% of total cost.
Customs is paid as a percentage of the item cost, as determined by the item type.
Handling fees are down to the individual company but can be prohibitively expensive on low value items.

Original Poster

Thanks everyone for your help

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