In UK - thinking of buying from freestyle in US

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jim Taylor, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    So. Having read this thread and recently done my annual 'stock-check' to prepare a big order for the coming year, I decided to compare the general costs of items from different suppliers.

    The upshot is, the same order will cost me approx. 100GBP LESS (including shipping) if I order it from the US, rather than sourcing it here in the UK.
    To boot, there's a couple of items that I can't seem to find in the UK that I can get from overseas (namely bulk 35mm Tmax100).

    I've read in the linked thread that customs and import charges will be added when the item is landed in the UK. (Surprise surprise HMRC want to fill their pockets with even MORE of my hard-earned!)

    My question is this: how are these charges calculated and when (and to whom) do I pay them?

    Or more simply... other than what I pay to Freestyle, what else will I need to pay?
     
  2. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Not sure about the UK, but here's the story in Aus:
    When it gets posted O/S to Aus, the sender fills in a declaration saying the total value of goods in the package. If it's under $1000, it goes through no problems. If it's marked as over $1000 (or they randomly inspect and reckon it's worth more), then you get a letter from the Customs house saying that you can get it when you pay them the import tax. Then you either pay their bill, send a cheque, whatever, and they'll forward it on or you can pick it up.
    One easy way around all of this is to buy in multiple packs, sometimes twice the shipping is still cheaper than paying the customs duty (and in Aus, all of that is still way cheaper than paying local prices).

    I'm presuming the UK works very similarly, just the max-allowable value of goods will change (I think your max is £300 or something?), someone from your ashes-less end of the world can probably confirm, or it should be on the HRMC website.
     
  3. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Find your money limit with customs and, when in doubt, place a couple separate orders. The extra shipping would almost have to be a lower overall amount, I would think.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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  5. onepuff

    onepuff Member

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    It depends on the value of the goods you are importing. For instance goods above £630 in value are subject to a flat rate of 2.5% customs duty plus VAT on the total value of the goods plus the customs duty (yes - they charge you VAT on the duty!). It can vary depending on trade disagreements between the EU and the US - some products can have restrictions or extra duty depending on political wrangles at the time. They don't usually collect duty if it comes to less than £9.00 but you will still be charged VAT. Sometimes the courier will also charge a fee of £10 or so to pay the duty and VAT on your behalf then collect it from you. That is unavoidable and you will need to pay the amount due in full before they will release and deliver the goods to you. I normally add an extra 25%-30% mentally when buying goods from outwith the EU to cover myself.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2013
  6. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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  7. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Import duty in the UK seems the same as VAT. I'd probably second the advice to buy from within the EU, as that means no import duty/tax.
     
  8. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Good Lord almighty. That's about all I know to say after reading all this.
     
  9. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    It is a bit of a lottery what you get charged as UK Customs have a complicated list of items with different charge bands. Try to get advice and you won't get helped - it is all down to you - so you take a chance. Sometimes you win and sometimes you dip out. Recently I was charged a £54 surcharge on a lens board from sent from the USA - the original cost was approximately £16 + £8 to ship to the UK. Fortunately the seller was very understanding and advised refusing to pay the surcharge so it got sent back to him. After about 8 weeks it arrived back in the USA and the seller very kindly did a refund on the goods. So be careful would be my advice. But I have had reasonable charges applied before on items from the USA and paying them wasn't an issue. It all depends how the items are classified by UK Customs and indeed if it gets looked at upon UK arrival.

    Neil.
     
  10. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    ^ It's true, it does seem to be a bit of a lottery as to whether you'll pay anything at all.

    A bit of googling paid off handsomely when I was researching the same subject.

    Almost everything you want to know (and more) is laid out with the usual clarity by HMG themselves here

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/tax-and-duty.htm

    And there are a few sites who make it proper simple for those of us who can't manage HMG's mazes.
    This one for instance:
    http://www.dutycalculator.com/new-import-duty-and-tax-calculation/

    I ended up reckoning to add 30% to the total value of the shipment including delivery charges; if it's still a bargain, then it's worth doing. Plus as Neil Souch says, you might not get charged at all - in which case you've definitely won.

    There is a counter-argument in that if we as UK users don't buy from UK sources, we might end up with no UK sources at all in the long run ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2013
  11. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    Thanks pdeeh. I've trawled HMRC pages and came up with pretty much the same thing as you've summarised in your post.

    I think this ^^ is a good idea though, so I'll go over the numbers again and add a 'safety margin'.

    I totally see (and agree with) your point in respect of killing the UK market by shopping abroad. The thing is, despite 'supply and demand' issues, there's still a top level price that consumers are willing to pay before they start straying elsewhere.

    Where does capitalist-savvy meet capitalist-greed?!
     
  12. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Don't know how big, but if it was me and the real world saving including import duty was still significant, I would note the two calculations out on an email and send them to your usual UK supplier and see if they want to price match. At the end of the day pricing isn't just about margin, but also stock turnover and wastage. I am pleased that we do have 3-4 pretty good stockists in the UK and think they should be supported. It's quite likely that the UK stockists would do a deal on a big order.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Import duty and VAT are diferent things.
    If you import something from outside your VAT Zone (in this case the EU) you have to pay that VAT extra.

    The import duty is a fee that is product related and designed to control import of sort of goods and can vary widely.

    In general you have to pay both, VAT and import duty.
     
  14. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    that's a rather good idea, mr rusty.
    good business is also often about good relationships & it is a bit tricker to have a relationship with a US company in LA than (e.g.) Matt at Ag if you are in the UK.
    Even if a UK supplier can't price-match to the nearest penny, one question I'd ask myself is "Is it worth sending the business abroad for the sake of 10p/roll? 50p/roll? £1/roll?".
     
  15. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    My wife doesn't like it when I do this in shops, but I do it regularly when there is a big saving to be made but I would rather keep the business local. Have never done it with photo gear as I don't spend enough to make it worthwhile, but not so long ago knocked £1K off some granite tiles at "Topps Tiles" because I showed I could buy identical elsewhere. At the end of the day turnover is turnover and margin is margin and not many businesses will cut their noses off given the choice.
     
  16. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    Ha ha! I don't know why, but this post reminded me of a quote by Nursie in Blackadder II:

    Nursie: You're so clever today, you better be careful your foot doesn't fall off.
    Queen: Does that happen when you have lots of brilliant ideas? Your foot falls off?
    Nursie: It certainly does. My brother, he had this brilliant idea of cutting his toenails with a scythe, and his foot fell off.

    Back to the point - having done the number crunching, using the dutycalculator website, its probably only going to save me a fiver (ish), so not really worth it in the long-run. I pretty much exclusively use Ag-photographic for my stuff, so I'll see if they can do better than their list price for larger orders (I remember taking advantage of this when Kodak Ultra Endura cut sheets were available).
     
  17. philbed

    philbed Subscriber

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    I'm living in France and I used to order films and paper to Freestyle. Even with the customs taxes, the VAT and others fees, it still around 20% less than buying the same items in Europe.
    What am I buying ? Ilford film and Kentmere paper.
    The next question : why these articles are more expensive in Europe than in USA ?
    I still have no answer !
     
  18. tocalosh

    tocalosh Member

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    Have a look at B+H In New York. They have an option to prepay custom/import charges. When I priced some 30m bulk rolls of hp5 it was cheaper to buy from across the Atlantic than it was from AG who are less than 2 hours drive from the Ilford factory.
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Price-making is not as simple as counting up production costs, margin and taxes. It also depends on the market, the local competitor and the prices the local consumer will accept.
     
  20. Chris Livsey

    Chris Livsey Member

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    Did this include the "clearance" fee ?
    I bought some Nikon cassettes from the USA as well as the VAT Parcelforce aded £8 (vat free!!!)

    A lens from Germany sailed through in two days.
     
  21. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    I get the bulk of my bulk film from people converting to digital, any one thinking to convert soon?

    I get nervous when I get below 1000feet of any film type.