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Has anyone in the UK ordered from Stewmac this year?

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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 4:11 am  

I don't know if this has been brought up here before, but at 11pm on December 31st the rules on VAT for goods imported to the UK changed for the whole world, not just the EU.
Basically if a consignment is worth over £135, then the old system of HMRC sending you a bill when it's in customs and releasing the goods when you pay it applies.
But for consignments less than that, the seller is supposed to collect the VAT, and then pay it to HMRC, for which they have to be registered for UK VAT and keep relevant paperwork. I know of at least two companies that have announced they cannot ship to the UK anymore because of this. One Dutch, and one Canadian (so it's definitely not just a Brexit thing).
Anyway, I see no hint of this on Stewmac's site, they just say taxes are the buyer's responsibility, so I was wondering if anyone had any recent experience of ordering smaller shipments (less than £135) from them?
Also, while we're at it, does anyone know what import duties other than VAT I'd be looking at?

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-and-overseas-goods-sold-directly-to-customers-in-the-uk

 


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tv1
 tv1
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06/02/2021 10:58 am  

Has anyone ever managed to order something for less than £135 from Stewmac??

😋

 

I hadn't realised that the rules for collecting/paying VAT had changed worldwide - I'd assumed it was just an EU related change.

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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 12:20 pm  

Yes, Stewmac aren't cheap, but they have so many cool looking things.

But with the Stewmax option meaning there's no postage on individual orders, it becomes reasonable to make small orders.

When I first heard about the VAT rule changes was actually someone sharing a post by William Shatner where he was saying that his company (the Canadian one I mentioned, they sell Star Trek books and other memorabilia) just couldn't afford the costs involved in setting up to comply with the new rules for the amount of stuff they sell to the UK, and so was going to have to stop UK sales. I thought he must be getting confused with changes due to Brexit which wouldn't affect his company, but then I later discovered that he was right.

I imagine there are a lot of overseas companies which have no idea about the new regulations, so I'm wondering what happens if they just carry on as before. How do they stop a US company from advertising on the web, taking a payment and sticking the item in the post? Are HMRC going to send packages back? It seems like a very difficult system to enforce, as well as being a hurdle that small suppliers will not want to go through.

Hence wanting to know if someone has experience of it.


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Val
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06/02/2021 1:05 pm  

Yes,  ordered the set of three polishing compounds about two weeks ago and arrived this morning. No issues with customs or vat, but was well below the customs threshold. 


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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 1:43 pm  

Interesting, according to gov.uk the VAT threshold is only £15 (duty is £135).

I guess there's a degree of luck involved as to whether the customs officer dealing with your package can be bothered to chase after small amounts of VAT.


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darrenking
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06/02/2021 3:33 pm  

Beware of Stewmacs 'free delivery'! HMRC will assess a value for the carriage of about £150 and charge you VAT, duty and admin costs on this. No getting around it, no discussion, no appeal. Pay it or face prosecution. I know, it happened to me, twice. If you are a Stewmac premium member you must tell them to show some cost on the invoice related to carriage otherwise you can find your free shipping becomes really quite expensive!


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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 3:40 pm  

Wow, that is crazy. 
I think it's already ridiculous that you have to pay VAT on the shipping charge, but inventing a stupidly high charge so they can get VAT off it is criminal (morally speaking).

 


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darrenking
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06/02/2021 4:07 pm  

Not only that but you also pay VAT on the duty! Tax on a tax on an imaginary cost! 


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Rocknroller912
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06/02/2021 6:47 pm  

@jonhodgson

When I've bought goods from USA and other non EU countries in the past it's the shipping agent which collects the VAT and Import duty on behalf of Customs & Excise + their admin fee, but it is very hit and miss. Guitar back and sides I bought from India last year had no extra charges and was delivered without any delay. The deciding factor seems to be the senders customs declaration. I ordered wood from Belgium pre Brexit which was delayed due to Covid and I'm wondering if I will ever see it.

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mattbeels
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06/02/2021 6:54 pm  

@tv101

Has anyone ever managed to order something for less than £135 from Stewmac??

Bah-hahahahaha!

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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 8:53 pm  

@Rocknroller912
I'm aware of how things used to work, but the law changed at the beginning of this year (see the link in my original post).
Now for smaller consignments the seller (or the online marketplace if they're using one) is supposed to collect the VAT and pay it to HMRC.
It seems like a ridiculous system and I don't know if it will last or if the people at HMRC are really putting any effort into enforcing it
From Val's comment above it does at least look like if you order something from StewMac, it is currently coming through unmolested, despite them apparently not complying with the new regulations.


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tv1
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06/02/2021 9:36 pm  

But for consignments less than that, the seller is supposed to collect the VAT, and then pay it to HMRC, for which they have to be registered for UK VAT and keep relevant paperwork

How the hell does the postal / courier service *know* that the $50 package has had the VAT paid on it by the foreign seller/sender?

The process to collect VAT, duty and the fee for collecting the VAT & duty (and the VAT on the fee of course!) makes sense in that it’s obvious that it needs to be done (the declared value slip stuck to the package) and is easily enforced (package not released until payment collected).

Clearly, you dont really want to do that for a $20 package, because the cost isn’t worth it, so you draw a line at a more appropriate value (£135) and enforce it there.  

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Jonathan Hodgson
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06/02/2021 10:11 pm  

I think it's nuts too, I'm just relaying what the new rules are.
I don't know how they're policing it, if at all.


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Boo
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06/02/2021 11:06 pm  

so I was wondering if anyone had any recent experience of ordering smaller shipments (less than £135) from them?

@jonhodgson Yeah I did and I didn’t get charged any VAT/import tax or whatever you want to call it. I do have StewMax but I was expecting an email from UK Customs with a bill to pay, I didn’t get one and my package just turned up at my door last week. This really surprised me and I am half expecting a bill through the door or email (this probably won’t happen). I don’t like what is going on in this country (UK). Like someone has already said, it’s not just Brexit (stupid idea), it seems to be any commerce with any country. At this rate it isn’t going to be worth the hassle of trading with anyone outside of the UK because it will be too expensive and not worth risking unexpected charges. It comes down to greed and don’t forget that the majority of the voting public in the last election gave the damn Tories the power to walk all over us. Expect things to get worse in many ways. 

Anyway, on this occasion, I didn’t get charged. 
the other charges you see on there are for £29.44 is for the annual StewMax  

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mattbeels
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06/02/2021 11:43 pm  

@boo

Daaaaang, that’s some expensive paint! 
I didn’t really think about it from your other post about SM but doesn’t anyone in the UK have shielding paint?!?

It‘s a good thing you didn’t get charged customs, lucky dog!

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Jonathan Hodgson
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07/02/2021 12:02 am  

Daaaaang, that’s some expensive paint! 
I didn’t really think about it from your other post about SM but doesn’t anyone in the UK have shielding paint?!?

Crimson do it, RS have a spray lacquer, I'm sure there are others.

They're all expensive though, and for the amount he's got the StewMac seems to be a pretty good price, depends how many guitars you're going to build.

Chris at Highline Guitars makes his own, just graphite lubricant and acrylic paint. I'll have to give it a try

 


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Robin
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07/02/2021 9:51 am  

@mattbeels 

Daaaaang, that’s some expensive paint! 
I didn’t really think about it from your other post about SM but doesn’t anyone in the UK have shielding paint?!?

I saw some shielding paint on Custom Guitars, but at £9.95 for a 30ml bottle. Thats about 3 times more expensive than Stewmac.

@boo, decant yours into little bottles and sell it.


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Russ
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07/02/2021 2:58 pm  

It all seems a bit hit or miss when buying from America, not just from Stewmac. Sometimes there are import taxes and sometimes not. I have noticed that the cost of imports from Europe are now about four times as much since our exit. 😕 

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Rocknroller912
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07/02/2021 6:21 pm  

@russ

Sadly problems with buying and selling from Europe were all predictable to people who had experience and knew how the system worked but politicians glossed over the truth because they are never concerned with details only policy.

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Chrisot
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10/02/2021 4:05 pm  

Yes I just received an order yesterday. It took about 21/2 weeks to arrive but there was no vat or import duty to pay. Goods value was about $130. I think I got away with it this time! Usually 20% vat + duty.


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