VAT question


whelmed

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 14:54
So first off, let me say I'm not trying to do anything illegal here - this is a genuine question regarding how these things work in the UK. So far all the lenses I have purchased have been done in the U.K. so I've not had to worry about this next question.

Alright, with that out of the way, I'm living in the UK but I'm a Canadian. I'm doing a PhD here, and as such I'm poor as piss and always looking for ways to save money. I see my family between 1-2 times a year, and prices for Pentax Lenses are, to put it mildly, slightly cheaper in Canada.

Now - how does that work for me? I'm allowed to bring things in here given the knowledge that they will leave with me and that I do not sell them. That is, if I purchased something in Canada and brought it here for my own personal use, should that mean that I'm exempt from paying import tax on it? So the next question is this ... if I purchased something from a dealer and had them ship it to me in the UK - would this same rule apply?
K-5; Siggy 10-20 f4, 30mm f1.4, 18-50mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8; Tammy 400mm f4, 500mm f8

johnriley

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:05
You'd be better off asking HMRC. They probebly have a helpline of personal importing, or something on their website.
Best regards, John

bforbes

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:06
I think you would end up paying vat and duty because of the UK delivery address. I don't think you would pay if you had it delivered in Canada and your family shipped it to you.
Barrie
Too Old To Die Young

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/barrieforbes
https://www.flickr.com/photos/189482630@N03/

Gwyn

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:17
Even if your family send it you may end up paying. They have to fill in a customs declaration after all.

It could give problems should you need to make use of the guarantee - they could be seen as grey imports and the guarantee be annulled.
You can bring 390 pounds worth of goods into the country duty free from Canada.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/arriving/arrivingnoneu.htm
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/post/index.htm

And more on their excellent website.

polchraine

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:22
Bringing it in for personal use should be free of duty & VAT but if you are temporarily resident HMRC may ask you to pay duty which you reclaim when you leave the country or through a bank guarantee which they will claim if there is no proof of re-export.

Buying in Canada and having it shipped direct will certainly attract VAT and duty if over the very low limit.

If your family buy it and ship it to you, then HMRC may charge VAT if the rules and exemptions are not met.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/post/sending.htm

There are specific forms to fill in and proof that it is yours and will be re-exported may be needed.
.
K20D, *istD, MZ-S, Super-A, ME Super, MX
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, DA* 300,
DA 50-200, FA 24-90, FA 20-35,
M 400-600, A 50 f1.4, A 28 f2.8, A 70-210, M 35-80, M 50 f1.7
A x2S teleconverter and a few others ...

bforbes

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:23
My argument would be that the item belongs to him and you don't pay vat and duty on things you own. He would have an invoice to prove ownership
Barrie
Too Old To Die Young

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/barrieforbes
https://www.flickr.com/photos/189482630@N03/

polchraine

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:26
Gwyn wrote:
Even if your family send it you may end up paying. They have to fill in a customs declaration after all.

It could give problems should you need to make use of the guarantee - they could be seen as grey imports and the guarantee be annulled.
You can bring 390 pounds worth of goods into the country duty free from Canada.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/arriving/arrivingnoneu.htm
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/post/index.htm

And more on their excellent website.

The £390 only applies if the goods are with the person when going through customs - and normally only applies to UK/EU citizens bring goods back or non EU citizens bringing in items as gifts or for sale or consumption, their personal items (to be re-exported) are free from duty/tax.
.
K20D, *istD, MZ-S, Super-A, ME Super, MX
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, DA* 300,
DA 50-200, FA 24-90, FA 20-35,
M 400-600, A 50 f1.4, A 28 f2.8, A 70-210, M 35-80, M 50 f1.7
A x2S teleconverter and a few others ...

whelmed

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:31
Ah hah - that does answer my question then. So if, say, I own a lens and it is at my parents house, they can send it to me in the UK and I wouldn't have to pay tax on it should it be labelled as mine and it's worth less than 390GBP?
K-5; Siggy 10-20 f4, 30mm f1.4, 18-50mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8; Tammy 400mm f4, 500mm f8

polchraine

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 15:34
bforbes wrote:
My argument would be that the item belongs to him and you don't pay vat and duty on things you own. He would have an invoice to prove ownership

I have taken high value items abroad previously and have had to either use a "Carnet de passage" which uses a bank guarantee or pay duty and reclaim it on leaving teh country. Overseas colleagues visiting the UK have also had to do the same with items when coming into the UK.

They are not necessarily doubting ownership but too often visitors will come to the UK and sell or leave items behind as gifts.
.
K20D, *istD, MZ-S, Super-A, ME Super, MX
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, DA* 300,
DA 50-200, FA 24-90, FA 20-35,
M 400-600, A 50 f1.4, A 28 f2.8, A 70-210, M 35-80, M 50 f1.7
A x2S teleconverter and a few others ...

bforbes

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 16:13
polchraine wrote:
bforbes wrote:
My argument would be that the item belongs to him and you don't pay vat and duty on things you own. He would have an invoice to prove ownership

I have taken high value items abroad previously and have had to either use a "Carnet de passage" which uses a bank guarantee or pay duty and reclaim it on leaving teh country. Overseas colleagues visiting the UK have also had to do the same with items when coming into the UK.

They are not necessarily doubting ownership but too often visitors will come to the UK and sell or leave items behind as gifts.

I can see what you mean, but does it apply all the time and in every country. I'm thinking of all the times you go abroad with camera bodies etc. of high value.
Barrie
Too Old To Die Young

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/barrieforbes
https://www.flickr.com/photos/189482630@N03/

Gwyn

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 16:29
You are only allowed to import things tax free as a foreigner if you are a temporary resident - I believer the time limit is 2 years. It is somewhere on the site.

Quote:
Goods imported from outside the EU for temporary use in the UK

If you are moving to the UK for a specified period of time, for example a student coming to study, you can claim relief from tax and duty known as Temporary Import (TI) relief on goods for your period of stay in the EC up to a maximum of 24 months.

To claim, goods must be imported for a specific use and intended for re-export from the UK within a specified time.

Link to all the legalspeak.

However the chances of getting caught importing something when you fly back from Canada are very small. You could just buy things and bring them in. Don't do this with Sigma lenses - they will want proof of customs clearance if you need to have them repaired, but Pentax are more lenient.

Posting them will involve customs payments I believe even if you are a temporary resident.

I would be bit concerned about getting them back into Canada at the end of your stay without having to pay duty on them again.

polchraine

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 16:39
Went I went to S Africa about 4 years ago, customs stopped me and asked for details of my cameras and lenses. They noted the serial numbers and gave me a form to hand in when I left the country - had I not done so, on my next visit I could have been refused entry or asked to pay a fee/fine.

I have had similar requests in other countries too.

The systems are not perfect and HMRC have a duty to recover as much tax and duty as they legally can - if they did not, we would pay extra income tax.

Take an example of how it could be abused.

If Whelmed was a friend of mine, I could ask him to purchase a lens in Canada by mail order and have it delivered to his home address. the receipt and everything will show the home details. I pay him cash so no transaction is traceable.

Whelmed's parents open the package and lens box, and repack it in a "used" way. They then post it to him with the exemption forms so teh UK authorities do not charge VAT.

I get a lens at Canadian prices with no UK VAT and just a small posting fee.

Or next time he goes home, Whelmed leaves all of his existing lenses here and buys new in Canada. He returns here to continue his studies and brings his personal set of lenses with him, all nicely packed. He pays no duty and I pay cash for a full set of Limited lenses and a couple of DA*300s. So, to ensure HMRC collect duty & VAT they are within their rights to charge it on import and refund it on export.

Ultimately, Whelmed should call HMRC and give them the full facts and they will email a definitive statement which he can use on import/export of the lenses.
.
K20D, *istD, MZ-S, Super-A, ME Super, MX
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, DA* 300,
DA 50-200, FA 24-90, FA 20-35,
M 400-600, A 50 f1.4, A 28 f2.8, A 70-210, M 35-80, M 50 f1.7
A x2S teleconverter and a few others ...

bretti_kivi

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 17:32
... the limits for duty were recently raised.
The most annoying part about importing into the EU is not the duty, but the levies that UPS or DHL or Royal Fail impose for the "trouble" of dealing with customs formalities.

I'd actually go around a different way. Go find the appropriate the Duty rate and then check out the amount payable. If it's small, it won't be collected. However, the VAT (also on the shipping costs!) is payable.
I've been requested to prove what something is, what its value is (which is damned near impossible because of its scarcity) and just generally jerked around. TNT were very good, UPS charged very high brokerage fees and Canadapost stuff gets intercepted every time.

Don't be tempted to price something down, as the written numbers will be the ones that are counted should you need to claim on insurance, too.

Wait til they visit or you visit them.

Bret
my pics: link
my kit: K3, K5, K-01, DA 18-55, D-FA50 macro, Siggy 30/1.4, 100-300/f4, 70-200/2.8, Samsung 12-24/f4, Tamron 17-50, and lots of other bits.

gartmore

Link Posted 30/03/2010 - 19:55
The only sensible thing to do is ignore all this well intentioned 'advice' and phone HMRC and ask THEM what the position is and get a well informed, impartial and accurate response.

You will probably find them helpful and knowledgable.
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -
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