CAUTION - MISREPRESENTATION ON IMPORT TAXES

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I recently went to buy a Nintendo DS from eBay and saw a number of reviews for sellers and the buyers were unhappy with the service from international sellers, simply because the cost of the unit plus P&P was ok, but then on arrival into the UK the goods were subjected to Import Duty and VAT.  For anyone thinking of buying from eBay sellers internationally outside the EEC, please be aware that you are only exempt from VAT and Duty if the cost of the goods PLUS freight/P&P is less than £28.  Over this value you will be liable to have a full customs declaration entry made by a freight agent, pay a duty rate which is variable depending on the type of commodity you have purchased, and then you will have to pay import VAT based on the Cost of goods, freight charge and duty value.  The agent will not release the goods to you until the VAT and Duty, and possible a use of customs deferment account fee has been paid.  The reviews show that this is delayed by Customs and Excise but this is not the case, this is that unless the seller shows that there may be a delay due to Customs Clearance on entry into the UK, this is misrepresented by the seller.  You have to pay ofr the goods through credit card or paypal before you receive and then have no choice to pay the taxes as otherwise ultimately Customs will destroy the goods if they are with them uncleared or in dispute for too long.  Overall, this makes something which looks very good value on the face of it very expensive.  The seller then insists that you do not have to pay VAT/Duty on importation into the UK, and that they have checked it out with Customs and Excise themselves, and ask you to trust that this.  This is not the case.  I work with Customs and Excise daily and the only way you will not have to pay will be misrepresentation of the values to them which can result at best in fines or at worst in imprisonment if you instruct an underdeclaration.  If anyone requires any guidance on importation of goods from outside the EEC, please refer to website: hmrc.gov.uk and this will guide you or give numbers to call if you are unsure.  Don't bid on anything of high value unless you are prepared to pay at least 17.5% VAT on the goods and a Duty Deferment fee to a clearance agent!
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