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Import VAT/duty on books?

MrCynical

Established Member
I've tried googling this but the various other forums that have threads on this are incredibly confusing, and HMRC's website is worse. I'm essentially thinking of ordering a few books from Amazon's US site (can't find them anywhere in the UK). Does anyone know whether I'll have to pay import VAT or duty on them? They're ordinary pages-with-words-on-them books without any extras like CDs (some Star Wars Expanded Universe novels if you must know :p) which seems to be relevant in some way, but I'm completely confused at this point. Can anyone help me out :lease:

Also, anyone know what delivery times from Amazon US are like with the standard shipping? Can it really take a month?
 

unique

Moderator
if the value of the goods is over £18 you pay 17.5% VAT on the value of the goods plus shipping, and you get a one off fee from the post office to clear the goods through customs, which is over £5 these days

thus the trick is to place seperate orders that combine to a goods value of less than £18 to avoid customs fees. if the goods are worth £17 and delivery is £5 thats fine, no fees, but if the goods are £18.50 and shipping 50p, you will be hit for charges.

shipping for books from amazon US is usually pretty cheap so it works out better to pay more in shipping than pay customs

the same rules apply regardless of the goods, thus cds, books, dvds, computer games etc, keep the value under £18
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
Customs is supposed to work like this

Import Duty - Variable, typically around 3%

plus

VAT - usually 17.5%

on top of this if the courier pays the duty and tax on your behalf then they usually add their own handling fee - anywhere between £10 and £20 is the norm.

UK Customs have a threshold of £18 below which they don't normally apply import taxes.

Most books are zero-rated - this means they still have VAT but the rate is 0%.

The exceptions to watch out for is if the book comes with accessories - a toy, a CD etc. In which case sometimes you can find the whole book rated at 17.5%.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

MrCynical

Established Member
Most books are zero-rated - this means they still have VAT but the rate is 0%.

The exceptions to watch out for is if the book comes with accessories - a toy, a CD etc. In which case sometimes you can find the whole book rated at 17.5%.

It doesn't, so looks like I should be OK. Thanks all!
 

Ratfink

Prominent Member
Just to bump an old thread.

I want to order a book (reference) and blu ray together from Amazon.com. Am I right in thinking that as long as the blu is below £18, then it doesn't matter if the book takes the total over as it's duty free?

Is that right?
 

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