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It's luck of the draw if you get charges or not. I have bought stuff from the States and have always been lucky (best was a Power Commander for my bike...£270+ in the UK, got it delivered from the States for just under £150). That was, however, when each £ was buying you 2$. The exchange rate is a lot less favourable now, and throw in the chances of getting nicked with the import duties makes it a lot less favourable.

In summary, you might get away with it and have to pay not tax. Then again, you might get nobbled, and end up paying more than the UK cost.

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I've bought a fair few items abroad, mainly because they've been off beat items difficult if not impossible to find new or used in the UK.

I've never yet paid customs duty on anything, not sure at what value this is applied.

You rarely "get away" without paying the vat- low value items (<£18ish?) are exempt.

Post office charges £8.50 fee, parcel force charged around £13 last time!

You don't pay vat or customs charges within the EU.

When is it worth importing IMO?

High value items- maybe, if the price is pound to dollar equivalent.Do the maths first!

Multiple item orders- you only pay the PO fee once, assuming its all sent in one package.

Unusual items where the cost of importing is offset by the items "value" to you.

For a lot of normal items when you do the maths its probably not worth it-

Always bear in mind its going to cost more if things go wrong & you have to send something back, there's a lot to be said for a UK guarantee! Also insured/tracked mail from some countries adds significantly to the cost.

A slightly amusing story- i once bought some eyepieces from Japan, the tracking info said the parcel had been retained- rang parcelforce-apparently the address label had disappeared, but i could collect from PO counters- had a right performance at the post office, they wouldn't give me the parcel.

I don't often lose my temper,but i was close! i mean how many people walk into a post office asking for a parcel from Japan, on the off chance?

Anyway i phoned parcelforce & to their credit they rang the post office straight away,told them to give me the parcel.

The only label on the box was the tracking label.

Happily, i had no extra to pay in this instance, presumably due to the lack of documentation.

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I find if I buy from an individual and ask them to put $40 on the invoice they are usually willing to oblige, and it saves me having to pay import duties and taxes.

Companies will not do this.

And in the UK, if C&E catch you out doing that, (and they're not stupid, they can work out what things actually cost), you are in deep dodo.

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