If you ever keep yourself up-to-date with the latest news about products in Japan I’m sure there are a lot of exclusive items you’d want to get a hold of.
So, here’s a guide with a list of services I’ve used over the years and a number of things you should be aware of if you’re in the UK.
Fees, Fees, Fees – Foreign Exchange, Customs and Courier Administration
As you know, everything in the UK is sold with VAT (Value Added Tax) which is 20% of the item value. When you import something, this is added to your items too:
- Anything classified as a “gift” such as something you’re sending to a friend and is over the value of £39.
- A “commercial good” which is something you bought from a shop and is over the value of £15.
- The total value of the goods in the package is over £135.
The only exceptions are food and books which are exempt from this.
Other than customs charging VAT on your import goods, the courier such as Royal Mail or Parcel Force will also slap on an extra “administration charge” for handling the customs clearance procedure. This has been a minimum of £20 from my experience.
It’s why whenever you buy an item from overseas via a site like eBay, you often find the item underpriced to something like “1USD” to avoid custom charges! It’s risky to do this of course. You can get yourself into trouble and you also won’t be able to claim the full insurance that some P&P (postage and packaging) services offer such as EMS of course.
So, check what the custom fees are in your own country before importing. It will be at your own risk if you choose to use the same tactic as some oversea sellers to avoid import duty.
As far as P&P is concerned, EMS is the fastest but also the most expensive. Just shipping a PS3 game (or regular blu-ray disc) can cost £15 but you can get it as fast as the next day after shipping. If you don’t mind waiting a month or so, some of the sites listed offer economy delivery by ship which is the cheapest at around £5 for the same item but doesn’t offer tracking or insurance.
Other than customs, admin fees and P&P, you also need to take into account the foreign currency commission charges your bank will make which, is usually in the range of 1-2%.
In other words…
Import Good = Goods Price + Foreign Currency Commission + P&P + Customs Charge + Admin Fee
So, as you can see importing isn’t cheap! But if you are undaunted and think it’s worth it, here’s a list of sites I’ve used