Buying bike parts from abroad... tax

Over the weekend I purchased a load of things from Germany, like I’ve done many times in the past (gear cables, 3 x chains, 3 x quick links & 2 tyres for a little over £200). Thought I was getting a bargain as all a bit cheaper than I could find in the UK. I now realise that due to Brexit these amount were all possibly excluding VAT and I’m probably going to get stung with UK tax and possibly custom duties?

Per another thread I’ve also got my eyes on some old SRAM Red eTap and it looks like if I were to go for it I’d be using eBay and potentially buying ‘new’ or used parts from all over the world to cobble together the complete set. A quick Google suggests that tax could be due on used items?

If I buy something from a shop, rather than an individual, is that amount going to already include the local taxes? If so does that mean I wouldn’t then have to pay UK VAT on top of this?

If I buy a used item from an individual from abroad, could I then have to pay tax on it?

I’m rather bamboozled by it all!

Theoretically, the item should be sold to you without local VAT, and then you either pay the UK VAT (and any relevant import duties) at the time of import, or if its above a certain value and the retailer is registered correctly, the retailer should collect them on your behalf.

In the real world, most EU based retailers haven’t got either the facility to remove local VAT on their sites or the ability or desire to collect UK VAT on HMRC’s behalf, so you need to handle that via a payment to the courier/HMRC and a claim back of local VAT, both of which are a right royal PITA.


This may help: Tax and customs for goods sent from abroad - GOV.UK

It was actually that site that confused/concerned me, especially when it mentioned used goods:

Oh right. Well yes, whether something is used or not is basically irrelevant. If you’re a high value ebay seller even within the UK, they will be considered to be trading and if they breach the relevant VAT turnover thresholds, would (at least officially) have to VAT register and start charging VAT. You’ll be ignorant to that, as it will just be wrapped up in the price of the goods, in the same way as when you buy from a shop.

A shop selling used goods on the high street still has to comply with VAT requirements if they meet the relevant thresholds.

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Yes it’s now just a PITA to buy from the EU, as you’ll possibly get hit twice. All my eBay searches now are UK only :roll_eyes:

If it’s used or a gift, you can just ask the sender to declare the value as under the threshold (£39 for gifts & £135 retail sales).

Now where is this trade deal with the US?! :roll_eyes: COVID vaccinations seem like the only Brexit win tbh.


Ok I’m on top of this because I’ve been buying vinyl and I’ve had to deal with some dope heads

Basically - if you’re buying anything under £135 that’s non excise then it should be sent to you VAT etc free

If the idiot sends as a gift because they can’t be arse to set up a VAT remit thing with hmrc and it’s worth over £39 then you’ll be hit with VAT and paperwork charge. Sellers in the EU should register for VAT but most won’t - cunts

Basically < £39 as gift = free

£39 as gift - you pay VAT and paperwork shite

< £135 for non excise = no tariffs

If excise - yer on your own. Small sellers can’t be arsed with tax etc so hit just hit ‘gift’ on the CN22 and you’ll have to deal with the fall out - but you can prob claim back

It’s a total head fuck - principally cos our EU cousins can’t be bothered worrying their end out. However soon it’s going to get even more crazy cos EU I think will be changing all their tariffs soon. Good luck everyone :crazy_face:


… If you pay over £135 to an EU seller then they won’t bother to factor in tax. They needn’t.

You’ll just be hit with the bill at customs - VAT and a clearance fee and customs duty is it’s excise

You ll be hit with total cost of item, postage etc

Yeah, think I messed up a bit, added a load of items that were only marginally cheaper because I wanted to offset the post of postage. In hindsight I could have kept it under £135 with the items that provided a decent saving over buying in the UK.

Thought I’d provide a quick update:
Order placed 3rd April. Shipped from Germany via DHL and info provided on 7th April. Been tracking last few days and noticed it went to ParcelForce. Tracked on their site this morning (thankfully DHL reference worked and produced a separate PF reference #) and I could see note from 10AM yesterday to say customs charges due, letter sent.

I’ve not had the letter yet which contains a separate 17 digit code which is use to pay online, so phoned up to pay, thankfully it could be done by the tracking.

Paid £63 which was £42 VAT, £12 handling & £9 duty. Think I’ll get it tomorrow.

Lesson learnt; buying from Europe is now slow and deceptively expensive!

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So about 30% uplift for VAT, duty and handling? That would be a shock if you’re not expecting it…

The order was £210, it’ll be the 20% UK VAT and the others do work out around 10% in this case. I think the £12 is a fixed fee from ParceForce, not sure how the duty is calculated as I only got the details over the phone. Google suggests the duty is a % which depends on the type of goods, so it seems to be 4-5% in this case.

Oh well, I know for next time!

So how did you come out in the end, worse off?