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international shipping

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    international shipping


    I'm currently coveting one of your medium (or maybe a large) Cafe Bag, but I was just wondering, before I order it, whether anyone knows if it's likely to attract UK customs tax?

    The bag itself looks great value, but once you add on international shipping, it's getting towards the top of my budget and I'd hate to get hit for customs too!

    Anyone got experience of ordering stuff for delivery to the UK?



    Teresa here, your friendly Tom Bihn shipping manager. Unfortunately when we ship to the UK via International Express Mail the customer is frequently (if not always) hit with a customs/brokerage/tax bill which I've heard can be quite pricey. If we send packages to the UK via UPS Worldwide Expedited, the price for shipping is much higher but the customer is only responsible for applicable taxes upon delivery. If you think you would like to order from us and would like to know exactly how much we would charge for each method to your specific location, please email me at [email protected]. Unfortunately, I am unable to estimate how much you may have to pay upon collection of the package in either case. That would be a question you should ask your local UPS or Parcel Force agent.

    I hope that helps.


      it does! I've emailed you.



        VAT & import duty in UK

        Be aware of the above when ordering items. I ordered a large cafe laptop bag and mitre and was charged £24.70 for VAT and import duty before Parcel Force would release the item. Quite a hefty amount considering the original price of the item!

        If you purchase goods through the Internet Customs duty and VAT will be payable, as follows: Customs duty - if the amount of duty is £7 and over and
        Import VAT - if the value of the goods is £18 and over. So basically you will have to pay.

        It seems as though customs have a terribly complicated way of working out what duty is applicable so you`ll probably have to take their word for it that the duty is the correct amount. Some info is available on www.hmrc.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can try contacting the Tariff Classification Service 01702 366077 (+44 1702 366077 for international callers). However, I think the figures above should give you some indication of cost.


          thanks Hailey

          It would be nice if the customs & excise website had some kind of 'ready reckoner', where you input the details of the item. cost and shipping costs, and it tells you how much you'd have to pay.

          Doesn't shipping cost get added to item costs when working out the tariff?


            Thanks Hailey for sharing that valuable information. As I've said, it's very difficult for me to ascertain just what an international customer will be charged upon receipt of their shipment. It does seem to be somewhat random and confusing - the method by which these things are assessed. And they vary greatly depending on where you live. Certainly if people have questions in the future, don't be afraid to ask and I'll do my best to provide an answer. It looks like you've given everyone a good starting point.

            Thank you again!


              Costs once package gets in to UK


              Just thought I`d let you know, have checked with Customs and Excise who have said I have not been charged a customs duty. I have been charged £11.20 VAT which is fair enough and the other £13.50 is apparently a "clearance fee" which Parcel Force charge for collecting the parcel from point of import. This seems a bit odd as presumably they have already been paid for postage and this should be part of the deal? The information Parcel Force gave was also very misleading as they gave the impression this charge was added by Customs and Excise. Teresa- have you had any other instances of people raising this with you? It`s just we have ordered things from other countries also outside the EU and have never had a courier charge us like this previously. Is it just something which is specific to Parcel Force? Anyway, just thought I`d let you know. We are looking forward to just getting the bag now!


                Info from parcel force on clearance fee

                Parcelforce Worldwide clearance

                If we receive a parcel from overseas for import customers, we will pay any Customs duties and taxes on their behalf to HMCE. However, we will require payment for this, together with our Customs clearance fee, before the parcel can be delivered to them. Parcelforce Worldwide charges a Customs clearance fee which helps cover the cost of additional handling, administration, collection of monies and provision of facilities for Customs clearance of packages.

                We have two levels of clearance fee for import parcels. There is a charge of £13.50 for express parcels imported through the EMS (i.e. International Datapost equivalent) and GLS (i.e. Euro 48 equivalent) networks and also for high value standard parcels (valued at over €1000). For all other import parcels, an £8 charge will apply.

                These clearance charges are only applied if a duty or tax is payable on the parcel.


                  Hi again Hailey,

                  I have had several customers in the UK raise the issue of charges assessed upon receipt of their shipments. Thanks for providing the information you have. The trouble is that we deal with International Customers all over the world and the US Postal Service has contracted with different couriers for delivery of packages in various countries. In Ireland and France for instance they had been handled by notoriously unreliable GLS. Fortunately I believe this may have changed recently. I believe the last shipment to Ireland I made inquiry upon was actually being handled by DHL. The charges a customer will be assessed are dependant upon both the country's policies and the discretion of the courier. It does seem that Parcel Force will continue to be the courier for our shipments in the UK and I'm glad to have information to give them about what they can expect to pay. Thanks again.


                    Extra shipping costs

                    Originally posted by Hailey

                    Just thought I`d let you know, have checked with Customs and Excise who have said I have not been charged a customs duty. I have been charged £11.20 VAT which is fair enough and the other £13.50 is apparently a "clearance fee" which Parcel Force charge for collecting the parcel from point of import. This seems a bit odd as presumably they have already been paid for postage and this should be part of the deal?
                    You'd think so eh?

                    I just got hit by this. I'm really annoyed by it, it bumps the price up significantly.I think Tom Bihn in the future need to inform all UK buyers that there will be additional postage charges to pay in the UK if they get hit with a customs charge, not that its Tom Bihn's fault- there seems to be no mention of this on the USPS website either.
                    Oh I see from above Tom Bihn did know there would be additional charges. I would have appreciated this information being made avaliable to me when I placed my order.
                    Last edited by mamphiek; 12-26-2005, 07:34 AM.


                      Just so you know, in Norway the Post Office when they clear packages from abroad through customs they also claim a customs fee even though most merchandise (notably excepting alcohol, tobacco and gasoline) does not incur customs fees. In Norway they also add our 25% VAT of course and in essence they add the flat customs fee on top of that, so the price increase for a small package is significant. Which is the reason why buying from a national retailer is so much nicer at least for smaller purchases.

                      If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate!