U.S. fees on purchases from England/Scotland

Not sure if anyone else from the U.S. has ordered anything directly from a dealer in the UK or Scotland, but can you shed any light on inbound fees that the U.S. would charge on the purchase? Also, who charges the fees, the carrier? I have never done it before and am contemplating buying some speaker cables from a dealer in Scotland. Thank you!

Also, wasn’t sure what forum to post this in.


This is hardly official advice, but…

I mostly buy my gear from the UK. In almost every case the carrier contacted me to pay the charges once the products were in the country. I’ve used both FedEx and DHL in the past.

There’s normally a processing fee on top of any duty; the latter will depend on the type of product/harmony code.

In my experience customs duties have largely been inconsequential for hi-fi gear, which is very different from every other country I’ve lived in.

I never get charged anything, but there is still a legal obligation to report the purchase and pay duties. I wouldn’t worry, in any case the carrier will let you know how to proceed.

For anyone contemplating an overseas purchase of hifi kit, it’s worth remembering that there are certain hidden costs when importing something from the UK to the US; for one, there will likely be no local warranty support. For two, anything means powered will require adjustment of the voltage; this can be anything from a simple switch on the back of the equipment to necessitating a re-wire by the manufacturer or distributor. Worst case scenario is the need for a new replacement transformer. So best do your homework thoroughly.

Of course, for speaker cable, you don’t have such issues, but if you do have a problem, remember they may need to be sent back…

As Richard says, Naim might not honour the warranty locally via the US distributor and as someone who has had to deal with sending Naim kit via plane back to the UK for servicing, it is a considerable headache in terms of cost and time. You almost certainly will not come out ahead in the long run for a single item.

Back to the original question though, “fees” covers a great many charges. Can you be more specific? Is it possible you just mean the US customs tax charge for the port of entry?

Anecdotally for your benefit, not from the US but Japan (where there is no Naim at all), sending a single box back for servicing and back to me again was excruciating. Expensive as hell. Document wallet went missing before the item landed in the UK and I had to pay UK customs going back for servicing even. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Thank you all. More specifically, the dealer said I would need to cover the VAT coming into the U.S. Which I guess could be the Customs charge. It seems as though if I were to pay for something in the UK, I would not have to pay the VAT but would need to pay the Customs department a customs fee coming into the US. He thought it could be about 20% of the total of what I was purchasing. Seems like a lot, but in all fairness he didn’t know the exact details.

I’ve done a bit of looking online but couldn’t seem to get a straight answer.

Which is completely unlike how it is in the US. I’ve also had to deal with such headaches when I was living in Brazil and it was a nightmare.

Conversely, I’ve had to ship my Loricraft machine twice back to the UK from the US when I moved here originally due to various issues and other than having to fill out a couple of customs forms, it was no big deal.

The most I’ve ever paid on any hi-fi purchase was 5%, but more often than not it’s less than that. Also remember that de minimis is $800 in any case, so anything below that should not attract any duty or clearance fees.

On the other hand, my wife has paid close to 20% on a handbag.

As I mentioned, it is somewhat item-dependent.

Here’s some related information: U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Internet Purchases

The official schedule of import duties is very lengthy and not all that intuitive.

Once in a while I buy a watch from an authorised dealer on one of the Caribbean islands. They ship via Fed Ex and shortly thereafter Fed Ex bills me for the duty. These are relatively inexpensive watches so that duty is rather low.

I believe that there is close cooperation between Fed Ex and US Customs. In the case of watches and jewelry, they know the retailers and its obvious that duty is owed. As to other goods . . . I suspect it’s somewhat more random as to whether US Customs one way or another will identify that import duty is owed.

But, the UK dealer won’t be charging you UK vat.

If it’s advertised at £5000, he’ll only be charging you £4000. I think.

@Katmaimatt … Why would you buy cables from the UK? What brand are they? I’d be surprised if they aren’t available in the US…

Yes,you are correct.
Just bought some WH Pantom speaker cables. Not sold here in NL. WH charges me price without VAT and ships it with UPS. UPS then charges me Dutch VAT and import fee/duties.
Not much different for US I think. Apart from the exact amount VAT/import duties.

I could source them here, they are Chord Music speaker cables but they are an ex-demo set that is discounted. In the U.S, the same pair would be more expensive.

@Katmaimatt Have you listened to them? They are very expensive. what length are getting?

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