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U.S.A to tha U.K. ---imorting a bass???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by THIRSTYGUMS, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Hello everyone, anybody had a bass shipped from the U.S to the U.K. recently? Reason i ask is that i think Rip-Off britain has become so drastically expensive now that i cant justify not taking advantage of the weaker Dollar and Euro (now that we are all living in the 'global village' as it were). I mean 2300 POUNDS for a new warwick thumb???? thats $4000 fer fcuksake!!!! I want to know about any customs/tax nightmares, hidden charges, postage horror stories or unfeasably long waits any of you have experienced.
  2. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001

    If you want a Warwick, you're better off importing it from Germany, where they're made. As Germany is an EU country, you don't have to pay importation taxes.

    Check out

  3. WovenGraphite

    WovenGraphite Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    Bay Area, California
    One of my newbie stories (not proud of it but didn't know):
    Back in 2000, I decided to modify my first real bass: a Status Graphite Series 2000, headless fretted. I wanted to get a fretless headed neck. I had bought a new Series 2 fretted headed and wanted to make something else out the S2000.
    So I ordered a custom graphite fretless neck (rosewood embedded graphite) from Rob at Status Graphite in the UK.
    Paid $500 (USD) for it. Yes $500 (please, no comment).
    Then came the UPS customs bill... $125 (still USD) [as it went through UPS, I guess they charged me the import duties].
    So $625 for a freaking fretless neck... better have bought the fretless bass here! Graphite is not even great for fretless.
    Now when I look back, it kind of make me smile at my stupidity... was making money at that time... ;)
    Still have the bass and after going through several setup (string height, neck relief etc.). It does sound like a fretless...
    Sentimental value.
  4. OBBM


    Jan 26, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    Yup. I've imported three basses and other equipment from the USA to the UK over the past two years. Things to remember.

    1. You will be charged duty at around 3.5%
    2. You will be charged VAT at 17.5% on the declared value of the bass, the shipping and the VAT
    3. You will be charged a Customs Clearance Fee plus VAT.
    4. Don't try and get your vendor to undervalue the bass - it's illegal on both sides of the pond - if you undervalue and it gets lost then you will not be able to claim the full value on the insurance.

    All in all you can add about 25% to the dollar price.

    I've had basses come by USPS and Fedex. It makes no difference. USPS is cheaper and slower and I believe they have a size limit. Fedex do a 5 day service and you can track progress on their web site.

    The other way to do is to go and get one. Flights to the USA are relatively cheap. If you carry a bass back with you and don't declare it, also illegal, you stand to save. If Customs catch you then you stand to have the bass confiscated and still have to pay the Duty and VAT.

    The choice is yours.

    If you want a Warwick then maybe Germany is the place to search. Pound is good against the Euro.
  5. Stox


    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    I've had nothing but good experiences importing my instruments from the US. Typically the shipping charge is $150. You then have to pay roughly 3.5% import tax and then 17.5% VAT. The shipping company will also charge you about £60, their fee for collecting the VAT and administration. I've come to the conclusion that its hardly worth doing for instruments under £1000 as the savings are minimal. I do however believe that some US manufacturers keep their best stock for their domestic market and you may get a better instrument. Tiny finish flaws etc. IME Gibson, Fender & Musicman are guilty in varying degrees - nothing serious but valid none the less.

    In your case look at importing a Warwick from Europe, you wont have to pay tax being within the EU.
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    The other thing to watch is whether your purchase will be covered by a warranty or by consumer protection regulations. If you buy new goods in the UK from a retailer you're covered by the sale of goods act, which entitles you to full repair or replacement if any inherent flaw emerges in the first six years of you owning the goods. A manufacturer's warranty may add to this.

    Similar regulations protect you within the EU.

    Import from the US and you may have relatively little protection.

    Many manufacturers write clauses into their dealership contracts that prevent businesses selling overseas. This may end up hurting your pocket, but it allows distributors to compete and the manufacturer to maintain a presence in guitar shops.

    Here's some stuff on the Sale of Goods act...

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Right idea - but wrong in detail - so as it's an EU country you don't have to pay 17.5% VAT, as you would if it was coming from America - but you do still have to pay Customs duty !
  8. Import tax was about 10-11% when i last checked

    you have to pay import tax on the items value and the shipping cost, then you pay vat on the import tax, items value and shipping cost (they tax the tax, ass-bandits!), and yeah, clearance fee's etc etc

    Another big downfall is the hassle if it arrived broken, trying to get it back over and getting a replacement etc, those backage handlers are not gentle with your stuff :(
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree and I'd never take the risk with a bass - I have bought small items like Tuners/Pickups etc. etc. from the US at cheap prices - but have often been slapped with a customs bill and handling charge that made it less worthwhile - it also delays the shipping item considerably if they open the item up! :meh:

    When I first got the internet I thought it was great to order stuff from the US at cheap prices - nowadays I think - well I may have saved a few quid - but I could go into a shop in London and walk out with the item under my arm - no worries, no risks, no sleepless nights...and it's mine now!! :)
  10. OBBM


    Jan 26, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    3.7% - See here
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes it gives a handy example - but this omits the cost of P&P which has to be factored in when importing, not just bringing in through customs...

    To work out how much you will have to pay please follow the steps below:

    Look up the item’s Duty Rate % and VAT %.
    Multiply the Purchase Price Abroad (PPA) by the Duty Rate %. This gives you the amount of Duty to be paid. Call this AMOUNT A.
    Add AMOUNT A to the PPA and multiply the result by the VAT %. This will give you the amount of VAT to be paid. Call this AMOUNT B.
    Add AMOUNTS A & B together and that will be how much you have to pay.
    For example:

    You have to pay duty & VAT on some Compact Discs. The total cost of these CDs, including local taxes, was £100 sterling. Following the steps above:

    The Duty Rate is 3.5% and VAT is 17.5%.
    £100 x 3.5% = £3.50. This is AMOUNT A.
    £100 + £3.50 = £103.50 x 17.5% = £18.11. This is AMOUNT B.
    £3.50 + £18.11 = £21.61.
    You would pay a total of £21.61.

    So - it's not just the 3.7% as VAT is added on top and is also levied on P&P!

    I have also been levied a charge for Customs opening the item to check and then a "handling fee" from the Post Office!
  12. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001

    I can only go by my own experiences, but having imported around 20 basses from various EU countries, I've never once paid any form of tax or duty. Admittedly, I'm in Portugal, you're in the UK, so maybe things are done differently there, but having a number of friends in the UK who do the same sort of thing, I've never heard any of them mention this.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well you can see the Law on it in the links above - it's definitely supposed to be levied - but UK Customs don't open every package - it's just a question of luck if they haven't had it happen to them!

    I order a lot of small bits and pieces as well as CDs and music books etc. etc. off the net and I find about maybe 1 in 4 , will firstly be severely delayed - then you get a note from the Post Office saying you have to go to the Sorting Office to pay - there is, import duty, a customs fee and a Post Office "handling charge" added on and you have to pay up or they don't give you the package!! :(
  14. OBBM


    Jan 26, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    I didn't say that it was. I was correcting the erroneous 10% and pointing out that the duty element is 3.7%.

    If you'd have read my post at the top you will see that I covered all the elements. I've done it numerous times and I know.
  15. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001

    That's amazing. I swear, I've never had anything from inside the EU get charged in any way at all. From the US or Canada, it's absolutely guaranteed, and from Australia I've got about a 50/50 hit rate.
  16. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001

    Bruce, try this link


    It's HM Customs & Revenue, on a page specfically dealing with internet purchases. Specifically ...

    Customs duty is not payable on goods bought from countries within the EU. However, VAT is payable (if due) either in the EU country of purchase, or in the UK if the EU supplier is UK VAT registered. But, special rules apply to excise goods ie cigarettes, tobacco alcohol etc and these are explained separately.
  17. Thanks for the storys guys, cheers for taking the time. Alas! too late! I Have already done the deed! I bought a damaged thumb bass for a good price on e-bay, but now that i calculate the total according to your info, i have really only saved about £400. AND at the same time gave myself a real headache (worrying for a fortnight until it arrives, hopefully in one piece)
    If it all goes well then i will log a post detailing all the ups and downs with photos, links e.t.c so that anyone else considering importing can get the jist before they jump in....
  18. 20th oct 2005 - Still no sign! :(
  19. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    But since VAT does not apply to second hand items [as they've already had VAT applied at original purchase], and when you buy from a shop, it would be illegal in their own country for them to sell without paying VAT, this isn't really a consideration we need to make - is it?