Advisory to UK Buyers

Royal Mail has been assessing high taxes -- way above the usual VAT charge -- on some buyers of the dvds and posters (which ship from USA). There seems to be no way to predict these excessive charges (sometimes nearly the cost of the dvd itself) which mostly come in the form of huge "handling charges."

Enquiries to Royal Mail receive in response only a general statement that extra taxes may be assessed (see below) but they do not give out information about what policies are in various districts, and in fact the charges appear to be random. Some are asked to pay high taxes and others are not.

Because of these charges a minority of customers have elected to allow the dvd to be returned as "Not called for," Be advised that if Royal Mail's charges are excessive, we will gladly refund the cost of returned dvds, but not the shipping costs.

Also be aware that according to their own written policies, dvds are media and should not be subject to customs duties, only to VAT and, apparently, the mysterious "handling charges."

Here is their response to my query:

"when goods are imported via the International Postal system Customs duty becomes payable if the goods are over £135 in value and is usually charged as a percentage of the value of the goods. The amount of customs duty charged will depend on the type of goods and their country of origin. Duty is charged on the price paid for the goods including any local sales taxes plus postage, packing and insurance costs. Customs duty is waived if the amount calculated is less than £9.

"Import VAT is charged at the same rate that applies to similar goods sold in the UK (20%) and applies to goods over £15 in value. The value of the goods for import VAT is based on the price paid plus postage, packing and insurance, plus any import duty charged.

"If the value of the goods exceeds the relief limits, duty and/or tax is payable on the full value not just the value above the allowance.

"If customs charges are payable upon importation, a handling administration fee is also charged by the carrier to cover the costs for carrying out customs procedures, paying any customs duties or VAT due and collecting it from the addressee. As the handling fees are completely separate from any customs charges, any queries regarding the handling fees should be raised with the carrier directly."

Hopefully this legalese makes sense to you!

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