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Questions about sending and receiving post

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Questions about sending and receiving post

Postby lee » August 17, 2011, 9:37 am

I recently sent a small package to the UK via EMS courier, it was a low value item marked as a gift with value of 1,000bt for customs purposes. Yesterday it was returned because the guy I was sending it to refused to pay customs charges. UK customs had added £8.53 VAT and £13.50 customs handling charge. The charges were more that what was in the box so it's no wonder he refused to pay. And to make matters worse I have lost the 1,100 baht for sending it.

Has anyone had this problem before? Maybe customs misread the 1,000bt and thought it was £100. The only contact info on the box is an address, no telephone number or email address.

The sticker on the box says anything over £18 imported into the UK is subject to VAT at 17.5%

Also another issue but this time post coming in to Thailand. My Mother would like to send some clothes over for her grandchild however the post office says that clothes are not allowed to be sent to Thailand. Seems very bizarre to me. Has anyone else had problems sending clothes to Thailand?
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Questions about sending and receiving post

Postby Khun Paul » August 17, 2011, 9:43 am

No I use a post box so anything sent is kept in The Post Office, I have had items of clothing sent to me with no problems.
Although one may use DHL and the like to send parcels to the UK just try using Thai Post and send it registered, very little problems and it uses the British Post office so no delivery man etc. To date touch wood I have never had a p[ropblem either sending or receiving anything from anyone.
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Questions about sending and receiving post

Postby nkstan » August 17, 2011, 10:31 am

I never received an order from JC Penney a few years ago.
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Postby JimboPSM » August 17, 2011, 11:02 am

Lee, this is an area I had not been aware of; I have had the occasional package from Thailand but they have all been of low value (normally under ten pounds) and no charges have ever been made; in every instance it has been clear to me that the package has been opened somewhere en route.

I did find a guide from HM Revenue and Customs called “A guide for international post users”, link:

Not sure whether the link will work so you may need to Google it.

A quick scan of the guide shows that there are different limits for commercial consignment and gifts.

The commercial consignment limit is currently GBP 18.00 but will be reduced to GBP 15.00 on 1st November 2011.

The gift limit appears to be GBP 40.00 (but there are a number of restrictions, e.g. cigarettes, alcohol to be aware of).

Although there is some discretion in waiving charges up to 10 pounds :D in a worst case scenario it does appear that charges can be made both for VAT and Post Office Handling :(
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Questions about sending and receiving post

Postby lee » August 17, 2011, 12:06 pm

Thanks for the link Jim.

I can't work out how they calculated the tax, 17.5% of £20 is £3.50 and not £8.53, and the handling fee of £13.50 is over the top IMO. I'll make sure I mark my packages £15 from now on.
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Postby JimboPSM » August 17, 2011, 12:30 pm

lee wrote:Thanks for the link Jim.

I can't work out how they calculated the tax, 17.5% of £20 is £3.50 and not £8.53, and the handling fee of £13.50 is over the top IMO. I'll make sure I mark my packages £15 from now on.

My (very educated) guess is that they actually made an incredibly stupid mistake by using the exchange rate itself as the GBP value of the goods instead of taking the THB value of the goods and dividing by the exchange rate to arrive at the calculated GBP value of the goods.

The goods value which would result in a VAT charge of 8.53 lies between GBP 48.72 and GBP 48.77, this is remarkably close to the recent exchange rate.

This would give very good grounds for a complaint and a demand for compensation.
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Postby lee » August 17, 2011, 1:14 pm

JimboPSM wrote:My (very educated) guess is that they actually made an incredibly stupid mistake by using the exchange rate itself as the GBP value of the goods instead of taking the THB value of the goods and dividing by the exchange rate to arrive at the calculated GBP value of the goods.
Yes you're right, that looks like what they've done. Thanks for pointing it out.

Unfortunately all queries have to be sent via snail mail so it looks like its going to be a long drawn out process to get some sort of compensation. :(
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Postby jackspratt » August 17, 2011, 1:45 pm

Didn't UK VAT change to 20% at the beginning of this year?
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Postby JimboPSM » August 17, 2011, 10:07 pm

jackspratt wrote:Didn't UK VAT change to 20% at the beginning of this year?

Well spotted, that’s quite correct, I have to admit that it had completely slipped my mind :oops: however in a plea of mitigation, in the mathematics I used I relied on the comment in the OP that:
The sticker on the box says anything over £18 imported into the UK is subject to VAT at 17.5%

I suspect that there may have been a number of practical difficulties relaing to the implementation of the rate change in the "fringe" areas of its operation; the previous rate of 17.5% rate had been in existence for over 20 years and before that there was a 15% rate for over ten years - so there is very little hands on experience of rate changes in the government bureaucracies.

As an aside the Royal Mail has relatively little experience of VAT as the public postal service in the UK is exempt from VAT (as are public postal services across the EU).
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Questions about sending and receiving post

Postby Khun Paul » August 18, 2011, 10:02 am

It would appear therefore that if you import you will be charged VAT however if you send the items from yourself to yourself there is no import charges involved as you do not intend to sell or even to resale items.
Therefore the sender is the same as the recipient so it cannot be charged, We had that in the Forces long time ago and I doubt if it has changed, always send to yourself from yourself, so use Thai mail system, and as the time it will take is in ecxcess of 5-7 days it is reasonable to assume you sent it before leaving Thailand, you are NOT defrauding the government, as if you actually had brought in with you by plane there would be no charges anyway, that is the way i think and it works.
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