Are there taxes from items purchased in the UK?

Hi guys,

I was thinking of purchasing some speakers from the UK since the dollar-pound exchange rate has become favorable over the past couple of months. Are there any duty taxes, custom taxes, etc that I need to factor in before deciding on purchasing the speakers and having them shipped to the US?


- Doc_stereo
The declared value is usually low so you don't pay much if anything. I was doing this 44 years ago and have lost track how many things I have brought in. That said, unless it is a very exotic item you might be better off looking for one on Audiogon.
You will pay a brokerage fee to whoever does the customs paperwork for you when they are imported. This fee can vary significantly depending on who does it. You can have the shipper do it or hire a separate brokerage firm to do it. You will also pay customs duty unless the item is covered by a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. (I don't believe this is the case) Whether you pay state or federal taxes on top of brokerage and duty is up to your government( I'm not in the U.S. so I can't comment on your local taxes).

I would suggest first looking to see if you can get the item already in the U.S., new or used, on Audiogon, for example. You'll get a better handle on what you'll have to pay because brokerage, duties, and possible taxes, will not be a factor. Just shipping.

Be very careful about lying and undervaluing items to reduce taxes, etc. if you import. Customs people know what things are worth. They've seen it all. You'll end up with your name on some government list somewhere as possibly being involved in terrorist money laundering. Then all of a sudden your phone is tapped and you have trouble boarding planes. Sounds paranoid, but that's the way it is these days in the post 9/11 era.
I buy on a regular basis from the UK, Scotland to be exact since it is closer shipping wise to the US. I buy only UK manufactured products. Since the price you pay is less VAT, now 17.5%, the rest of the issues shipping/insurance, credit card fee for foreign exchange and brokerage about 3% need to be less then a US purchase. On the last purchase, made about nine months ago I saved about 10%. The final issue is warranty, which depending on the product, may or may not be honored by the USA distributor. Packing is also an issue, but if the dealer double boxes you should be okay. Also, if you were going to buy in the uSA you will be paying sales tax and maybe shipping. I will soon make another purchase once the pound get to 1.30.

In the eighties, when the pound was a parity, I purchased many CD's, which when landed, were half the cost of USA product. I still buy cd's from Amazon UK.
'The standard rate of VAT will reduce to 15 per cent from 1 December 2008. The rate will stay at 15 per cent until 1 January 2010, when it will go back to 17.5 per cent.'
Thanks for the responses, guys. To give a little more detail, the speakers here in the US costs $16,000 + sales tax + shipping. From the UK, they would be $10,900 (including shipping). What do you think? I'm hesitant at all the hidden costs that may be involved.

- Doc
Considering the economic times I would try to negotiate a lower price here, at that price level there should be a considerable profit margin. If they are being shipped to another state you shouldn't pay sales tax. I have had all kinds of experiences in the past, including a US customs agent telling me he wasn't going to let my speakers off the ship until I gave him $5. I was there and I don't believe it either. I never had a broker but that was years ago, I brought some electronics in by air in the early 90s and picked them up at the airport myself, but 9-11 hadn't happened then.
Buconero117, I personally hope the pound sterling will not go as low as $1.30 as for me $1.50 is bad enough, the forecasts I have heard from those 'in the know' is that it will go up to about $1.60+, it has been hovering around the $1.50 minus a few cents for the past few months or so. In these climes nothing would surprise me, well maybe the 2,500,000 jobs lost in the US in 2008 with 500,000 lost in December 2008 alone!, the worst since WW2.
When considering doing this,negotiate so that the taxes and duties are paid by the shipper.You might also inquire as to servicing this product in the US,as many companies discourage this to support the importer.Many won't perform service on products bought this way (Burmester being one).
Thanks for the responses, guys. To give a little more detail, the speakers here in the US costs $16,000 + sales tax + shipping. From the UK, they would be $10,900 (including shipping). What do you think? I'm hesitant at all the hidden costs that may be involved.'

C'mon doc give us the name and make of the speakers, be a good sport old chap.