Customs charges for silk strings to UK from US.

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amezcua
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Customs charges for silk strings to UK from US.

Post by amezcua » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:14 pm

I have been awaiting a set of silk strings from the USA and I have paid the postage and full price. Now I have a card telling me there is a £23 customs charge on top . It`s just a set of six strings . How can that charge be justified ? USA to UK.
Last edited by amezcua on Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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prawnheed
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by prawnheed » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:24 pm

It should be:

20% VAT on product plus shipping
Plus a handling fee from whichever postal service you used.

Rasputin
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by Rasputin » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:27 pm

You were unlucky to get the card for such a small package.

A lot of the £23 is actually a Royal Mail fee that they charge for acting as customs agents or some such. The rest will be import VAT, although I thought this didn't apply below a certain level - maybe the strings were on the expensive side, or maybe the sender didn't declare the value. If they had got through then obviously you wouldn't have the RM fee either.

JohnB
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by JohnB » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:38 pm

If the value of the parcel is £15 or less there will be no VAT charged or handling fee on personal imports to the UK from non-EU countries.

If the value if over £15 then you are liable for VAT and there will also be a handling fee from the carrier on personal imports from non-EU countries. Each carrier's fee is different but the last time I looked (a few years ago) the Royal Mail handling fee was £14. Of course the package might slip through without putting being charged.

The moral of the story is: try to keep the value of the order to £15 or less.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

OldPotter
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by OldPotter » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:07 pm

If the value of the parcel is £15 or less there will be no VAT charged
I could be wrong, but as far as I know the "low value exemption for VAT" was abandoned some while ago. Small companies here used to send small boxes of flowers over to the UK without VAT, but that has all been stopped.

Its a mystery to me why the £23 charge is there, it sounds more like a customs duty rather than VAT or perhaps a combination of those. Or perhaps its just a mistake???? Sometimes I order guitar stuff from the USA, almost always I don't pay customs, but the carrier always wants an amount for VAT. As we (Channel Islands) are not part of the EU and don't pay VAT, I always have to get in touch and explain this over and over again.

I would want to find out what the charge is for, before paying up.
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

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Michael.N.
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:13 pm

As pointed out: it's VAT + duty + handling fee. The handling fee can be pretty high even for such a small package. It's not just Royal Mail who charge the handling fee, other couriers do likewise.
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amezcua
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by amezcua » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:45 pm

I found a chart that shows anything below a value of £135 does not get charged. Letters and things that size don`t get charged . There is a form I can fill in as it could be a mistake. The form covers that . I tried to fill in the form on the internet and when it asked why I objected I started to say "There is nothing dangerous in the package" but it stopped dead after the letters "danger ----" It must be a very sensitive topic .I can fill in the form after I pay . There is a time limit and then it would be sent back again .

Rasputin
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by Rasputin » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:19 pm

That is only for commercial purchases. There is a lower limit (£39) for personal gifts, but having looked again I don't think there is any limit applicable to personal purchases. I don't know what happens if you just do nothing - maybe you would hear no more about it and just be out by whatever you paid for the strings.

If you buy from China they tend to mark things as gifts or commercial samples. Just saying...

JohnB
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by JohnB » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:30 pm

OldPotter wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:07 pm
If the value of the parcel is £15 or less there will be no VAT charged
I could be wrong, but as far as I know the "low value exemption for VAT" was abandoned some while ago. Small companies here used to send small boxes of flowers over to the UK without VAT, but that has all been stopped.
The exemption was was stopped for shipments from the Channel Islands to the UK because it was being "abused" by companies setting up bases in the Channel Islands to get round the UK VAT rules for such things as CDs.

However, the £15 exemption is still in force for personal imports from elsewhere outside the EU. (There is no exemption limit for Duty, but as far as I know there is no duty on guitar string, at least I have never been charged any.)

See: https://www.gov.uk/goods-sent-from-abroad/tax-and-duty
Rasputin wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:19 pm
That is only for commercial purchases. There is a lower limit (£39) for personal gifts, but having looked again I don't think there is any limit applicable to personal purchases. I don't know what happens if you just do nothing - maybe you would hear no more about it and just be out by whatever you paid for the strings.

If you buy from China they tend to mark things as gifts or commercial samples. Just saying...
The limit of £39 for personal gifts is correct but there is also a limit of £15.00 for other personal imports from outside the EU (as I stated in a previous post and as is confirmed by the above link to the government website).
Last edited by JohnB on Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JohnB
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by JohnB » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:51 pm

amezcua wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:14 pm
I have been awaiting a set of silk strings from the USA and I have paid the postage and full price. Now I have a card telling me there is a £23 customs charge on top . It`s just a set of six strings . How can that charge be justified ? USA to UK.
What was the cost of the strings?

If the value of the order (not including carriage) is greater than £15 then VAT is charged at 20% on the cost of the goods and also on the carriage charge. Additionally there will be a handling fee from the UK carrier (e.g. Royal Mail, etc, etc)

If the cost of the order is £15 or less you should contact the firm you had the card from as there should be no VAT, etc. (It seems very unlikely that there is Duty to pay on guitar strings, I certainly have never been charged any on imports from the US>)
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

Rasputin
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by Rasputin » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:10 am

Thanks for the clarification above John. The site I was looking at didn't mention it, which seemed to fit with what OldPotter said about it having been done away with. I did find out that duty on guitar strings is 2.7%, but scrolling down the page you linked to it looks as if you pay nothing on the first £135, then 2.5% up to £630, and 2.7% after that. Simples(!)

I must have been lucky with a CD I bought from Japan recently - CDs over there are surprisingly expensive and with what has happened to the pound following the referendum they are way way over £15, but there was no customs charge. I have had quite a few things from China / HK as well, but have only rarely had to pay. My last order from the States was caught, and so was an item from India, but they were in decent-sized boxes so I was asking for it really. The moral of the story is "don't buy cheap things from outside the EU", unless they're really really cheap... or if you do, try and get them from the far east.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:54 pm

The limit seemed to be around £15 - otherwise VAT is charged. That has been my personal experience. Postage charge maybe included in that limit too. The higher limit may be for customs duty.
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amezcua
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by amezcua » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:02 pm

John B seems to have the current situation right. The £23 was partly VAT and partly handling charges. The strings are probably a bit more expensive but they come in double lengths so £70 divided by two . So averageing £35. I hope the g and D will reach .
Here is the follow up after I paid for the package. By the way it was not enclosed in a hard box but a very sensible padded envelope. I had a quick peek before I got them home and my first impression of the lowest string was --that looks thick . More like rope. When I came to fit the lowest string it was too fat to fit in the tuner hole and much too fat to go in the tie block .I had to file the tuner hole for some time to get it in. The tie block was trickier .With the hole angle slanting down towards the top it was impossible to use a file. Fortunately I saw the fretsaw hanging up and took out the blade. It`s normally brittle so I had to heat it to red hot and let it cool down . Then I was able to curve it to get it in the tie block hole. I put a strip of masking tape on the top to avoid scratches .By reversing the blade a few times I was able to enlarge the hole . I could tilt it sideways to attempt to keep the hole a reasonable shape . That worked for the E .The A hole ( titter not ) was a little too tight but that cleared fairly quickly . The A also fitted the tuner hole. I hope I remember to adjust the nut slots as well .No going back with strings this thick . If I had a bow and arrow the E string would do very well for that .
Can`t wait to see how they sound . There is a sort of historical romance with silk strings that I had to try out . I may cut my left fingernails to see if that would suit them better . The loop at the tie block looks hellishly lumpy . I might escape from the half plasticky and half metallic mixture we normally get with the usual strings .
One of the reasons I wanted to get the silk strings and hang the expense was realising my left ear has dropped out of the game following a recent test ,so I had better do it now in case the other ear packs up . These kind of strings are used on the Chinese Qin or Guqin . It`s a very basic table guitar with no frets. A clean direct sound a bit like gut . The strings are silk from moths and not spiders . Advertised on Etsy . A bit odd that . More like hand made than mass produced . I wanted to give him encouragement .

amezcua
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Re: Customs charges for strings to UK from US.

Post by amezcua » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:46 pm

Well I managed to fit the new silk strings. My first impression of the low E was ---that looks a bit thick . It was too thick in fact . It would not fit in the bridge hole or the tuner peg hole.. I had to file the peg hole to enlarge it . The bridge hole is tilted down to the top so I had to improvise. I took a fretsaw blade and heated it up to red hot . That took the brittleness away and I could curve it enough to get it moving in the bridge hole. After a while it was just possible to slide in the E string.The A fitted the tuner peg but still needed work on the bridge .The bottom string is just right for a bow and arrow . It`s that thick .I filed a much wider slot in the nut but when I tuned it up the wrapping is much more pliable than usual and tended to catch on the nut edge. I relieved the edges a bit but had to watch it going over the nut as I tuned further. When it stuck the first time It released with a bang and I thought it had broken . But it sounded the same note .Big relief . So 3 extra jobs to fit one string.
Overall impression of silk strings . Very beautiful sounds . Crystalline is a good description . All the strings have a similar sound quality unlike the usual nylon to metal contrast . Except---- the low E is too dull sounding . It is whisper quiet too . That string needs some work . Edit here --I checked the bridge bone height at the E side and it is too low . About 9.5mm and under the lowest string there a shallow groove worn by metal windings. So I need a new bridge bone which will improve the volume easily . I was cautious with these new strings and tuned to 435 Hz . The maker advises to raise the tension gradually . End of edit --- But the other strings are exceptionally good . It`s now like a much more expensive guitar but I have not heard guitar notes as nice as this before . Not even on the best guitars . I think a gut E string might be a good match . I cut my nails short too as the notes have a very good impact without the scratchy /metallic nail component to the sound . strings were not quite double length but I should have remembered the advice to leave the extra attached and if the string breaks at the bridge just wind a bit more on. That might be awkward with tuning . But two and a half turns on the pegs seems very secure .Fitting strings at the bridge is much easier than nylon . Good value but a slight question mark over the E . If you slide your right hand on the E while fretting you can make a ghostly tune . It would work well as a film score effect .Quite a unique sound .Like breathy whistling .

amezcua
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Re: Customs charges for silk strings to UK from US.

Post by amezcua » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:00 pm

I keep noticing how players complain about their g strings. They try various makes but the g always gets a bad report . Well real silk g strings have a great sound . I did the wrong thing when I cut the spare length off the g. If the coil is left attached it can be feed through and reattached when it goes at the bridge. That would be very good economics as it severely reduces the cost over a long time.
The low E string should have been thinner (about 1.8 mm ) but that can be requested when ordering . I fitted a medium tension Savarez E and the sound blends very well with 5 silk strings . I cut my nails short last week as the work I was doing kept breaking them but silk with nails is definitely better for me . If they break the strings I shall wind a bit more through . Nuts and bridges should be polished smooth though .

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