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Importing from Japan


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I’m sure this must have been covered before, but having searched I can’t find a thread, and it may have changed post Brexit. I know if I buy from Japan I will have to pay VAT. There is also import duty but I can’t figure out the % from the government’s website. Is it 4.5%? Are the taxes and duties also based on price and shipping cost?

 

Can anyone enlighten me?

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Guitars/basses are commodity code 4202.92.1500.

Duty for guitars is 6.7% from Japan and is payable on instrument cost plus shipping, converted from Yen to GBP at the monthly HMRC published rate, then 20% VAT is added to the total. So if your guitar is £800 plus £200 shipping (total £1,000), once converted it will be £67 Duty and £213.40 VAT, or a total of £1,280.40.

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1 hour ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

Anything to declare, sir?  Red channel/green channel. Doesn't matter if you ship it by DHL or carry it in.

Are you saying you have to pay tax? What if it’s an old bass you had in your other international home …I have a stingray bought in the uk in the 90s, it’s been all over Asia, looks really battered and I’m thinking of bringing it back to the uk, would I have to pay tax again on it and how would they value it…this isn’t hypothetical.

Edited by Musicman666
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20 minutes ago, Musicman666 said:

Are you saying you have to pay tax? What if it’s an old bass you had in your other international home …I have a stingray bought in the uk in the 90s, it’s been all over Asia, looks really battered and I’m thinking of bringing it back to the uk, would I have to pay tax again on it and how would they value it…this isn’t hypothetical.

That's a very unusual situation to be in. Your best bet would be to consult your H.M.Customs web maze for the rules on you dual residency types. I expect it will be simplified to a require time duration on the most recent occasion abroad and expiry since getting back to Blighty.

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8 hours ago, Musicman666 said:

Are you saying you have to pay tax? What if it’s an old bass you had in your other international home …I have a stingray bought in the uk in the 90s, it’s been all over Asia, looks really battered and I’m thinking of bringing it back to the uk, would I have to pay tax again on it and how would they value it…this isn’t hypothetical.

 

When you posed the original question, you wrote:

and if you just get on a plane buy it and bring it back as personal luggage ..is it zero tax??

 

The key thing here is the word 'buy', you didn't say anything about bringing in personal effects.

 

As @Downunderwonderposted, check the C&E website or take advice.  Sadly, just because an instrument is old, well travelled or battered doesn't automatically exclude it from being seen duty-exempt.  Border officials couldn't be any less interested in provenance.  Do your diligence.

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15 hours ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

When you posed the original question, you wrote:

and if you just get on a plane buy it and bring it back as personal luggage ..is it zero tax??

 

The key thing here is the word 'buy', you didn't say anything about bringing in personal effects.

 

As @Downunderwonderposted, check the C&E website or take advice.  Sadly, just because an instrument is old, well travelled or battered doesn't automatically exclude it from being seen duty-exempt.  Border officials couldn't be any less interested in provenance.  Do your diligence.


I thought I was doing my diligence, I get many opinions on this but the one opinion I can’t get is  from uk customs.  If you are buying secondhand and bringing it in I can’t see any difference comparing that to my situation as far as the customs officer is concerned, all he sees is a less than new guitar being brought in as personal luggage. I thought there was an exception for personal household goods being exempt, ie they are not your professional tools. But I’m probably at some stage going to bring a few guitars over as necks, and the next time it will be the bodies just to be sure. It’s a pia but what else can I do, I don’t want to pay tax twice. 

Edited by Musicman666
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5 minutes ago, Musicman666 said:

Yes I can see why you might think that …I’m really trying to figure out if anyone here has the knowledge. 

There was a guy asking about getting his stuff back from Greece. Another guy had an amp needing repair in EU and sent back. Both cases involved deep diving the customs website....

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Unless things have changed in the last few years I believe you'll need to show some sort of documentary evidence that the bass was already yours, if challenged, and has not just been bought.  Bill of sale etc.

 

Some years ago now but my dad died whilst holidaying in Australia and HMRC wanted to charge me import duty and VAT on his personal effects until I sent them a copy of the death certificate.  I'm surprised they didn't charge duty on his ashes!

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I used to travel to Japan quite regularly in the early 2000's back when the exchange rate was very good (I can remember trips with 240yen to the pound) so used to buy stuff quite a bit. The fact that they fitted in my luggage made it easy, also the fact that when arriving at Heathrow there was a flight from India that landed at the same time which got a lot more attention than the flight from Tokyo.

 

Hiding a bass would be a lot more difficult....

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47 minutes ago, Paul S said:

Unless things have changed in the last few years I believe you'll need to show some sort of documentary evidence that the bass was already yours, if challenged, and has not just been bought.  Bill of sale etc.

 

 

Ian Hunter said Mott The Hoople would go to the US on tour, never take anything, buy all their guitars cheap from pawn shops in Los Angeles, ship the lot back as personal effects and sell them all for profit in Denmark Street on their return.  In a few cases, they were buying to order.

 

Going back to @Musicman666 comment, sadly, it's 2021 and it's all about tax revenue now.  It makes sense to have some kind of evidence to prove it's yours and has been so for some time (not three days).  Remember that HMRC are legally entitled to check your credit card/bank card to support claims that you've only just bought something.  Thing is, everyone on Basschat who has imported kit has a different story; my two from Japan were both different.  Interestingly, I have a mate who travels on dual passports (British mother, American father) and about 25 years ago he just strolled through Heathrow on his US passport with two new Jackson USA guitars in cases. 

 

I do wonder what would happen if you actually went through the red channel dumb and and said, 'I don't really know the circumstances, but look, I've owned this for ages (at this point provide some evidence, photos, receipts etc.) and do I need to pay duty?'  Would they let you through or would they sting you?

 

 

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On 18/09/2021 at 18:29, FDC484950 said:

Guitars/basses are commodity code 4202.92.1500.

Duty for guitars is 6.7% from Japan and is payable on instrument cost plus shipping, converted from Yen to GBP at the monthly HMRC published rate, then 20% VAT is added to the total. So if your guitar is £800 plus £200 shipping (total £1,000), once converted it will be £67 Duty and £213.40 VAT, or a total of £1,280.40.

@FDC484950 / All - I could very much be wrong, but, that commodity code you quote shows as Musical Instrument Cases - Click here for that page,
Here's a link to the electric guitars page (at 2% Import Duty rate) - 9207.90.1000
 

 

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IME trying to work out the exact amount payable in VAT and duties on something you've imported from another country is a fool's errand. It's far simpler to take the price of the item, the cost of shipping add them together and then put another 25% of that total on top. This should adequately cover you from the complexities of trying to find the correct commodity code and then working out if duty is payable on top of VAT or VAT on top of duty and finally the addition of the courier's clearance fees.

 

TBH if you need to work out the price to the exact £, you probably shouldn't be importing it in the first place. My advice has always been that only items which are impossible to get without having to import yourself them from their country of origin are worth the hassle. Trying to save a few pounds on a new Fender or similar mass produced instrument that already has an official UK importer/distributor will generally end in tears and/or disappointment.

 

As for trying to sneak an instrument through customs at the airport - don't even think about it. While everyone has success stories to tell, you won't be so pleased when customs seize your newly bought bass and hit you with a fine as well as the import taxes before you can get it back.

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59 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

IME trying to work out the exact amount payable in VAT and duties on something you've imported from another country is a fool's errand. It's far simpler to take the price of the item, the cost of shipping add them together and then put another 25% of that total on top. This should adequately cover you from the complexities of trying to find the correct commodity code and then working out if duty is payable on top of VAT or VAT on top of duty and finally the addition of the courier's clearance fees.

 

TBH if you need to work out the price to the exact £, you probably shouldn't be importing it in the first place. My advice has always been that only items which are impossible to get without having to import yourself them from their country of origin are worth the hassle. Trying to save a few pounds on a new Fender or similar mass produced instrument that already has an official UK importer/distributor will generally end in tears and/or disappointment.

 

As for trying to sneak an instrument through customs at the airport - don't even think about it. While everyone has success stories to tell, you won't be so pleased when customs seize your newly bought bass and hit you with a fine as well as the import taxes before you can get it back.

Ooops ..quoted wrong post.

Edited by Musicman666
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1 hour ago, Noisyjon said:

@FDC484950 / All - I could very much be wrong, but, that commodity code you quote shows as Musical Instrument Cases - Click here for that page,
Here's a link to the electric guitars page (at 2% Import Duty rate) - 9207.90.1000
 

 

You are correct - not sure why my search picked the wrong item. It appears, looking at the table for Japan that it is in fact zero duty.

 

@BigRedX my post was for illustration only as to how the process works, not a guide to getting a precise price - I’ve found it quite difficult to get the Sterling value before charges from courier companies and in some cases they refuse to hand over the customs entry document (I need this for business purposes). 

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1 hour ago, NancyJohnson said:

 

 

 

I do wonder what would happen if you actually went through the red channel dumb and and said, 'I don't really know the circumstances, but look, I've owned this for ages (at this point provide some evidence, photos, receipts etc.) and do I need to pay duty?'  Would they let you through or would they sting you?

 

 

Well there is a huge difference between someone doing a surgical tax avoidance international shopping trip and somebody returning home from living abroad carrying their personal possessions, and I would hope that customs would see it that way also. I have plenty of photos to back up my case but not much else in terms of receipts etc. 

Edited by Musicman666
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