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MMD > Archives > January 2001 > 2001.01.25 > 03Prev  Next

UK Customs & Excise Duties
By Julian Dyer

It's easy for a misunderstanding of postal rates and customs forms
to cost the unfortunate recipient a lot of money!

I understand that in the USA piano rolls count as sheet music (Jody
wrote about a court ruling defining this, with regards to MIDI files),
so 'sheet music' is perfectly correct for customs declarations from
the USA.

In the UK books, etc., happen to be zero-rated for tax and duty, so
parcels marked 'sheet music' will have zero duty while 'recordings'
attract 5% import duty, plus 17.5% sales tax on the declared cost plus
the postage, plus a handling fee per box.  This can all add up to 50%
of the original roll value.  I would always expect piano rolls to be
sent as 'sheet music'.  Another advantage of this is that books and
sheet music can be sent M- Bag rate.  This can work out vastly cheaper
than parcel post, saving perhaps $30 postage on $100 of rolls.

All that parcel post offers is insurance (and the chance to pay duty on
the extra $30).  That's effectively a 33% insurance premium on each
lot, and the effective premium is still high even for higher-value
items.  If you are prepared to forego the insurance and put up with the
odd loss, you are still in profit if every fourth or so parcel is a
write-off.  The real loss rate is negligible.  Delivery speed is pretty
well the same for all surface items, varying from 4 to 8 weeks depending
how long you wait for a container to fill up.

I think it is up to the buyer to choose the service required, and accept
the consequence of that choice.  I've been delighted with the M-Bag
service; the only problem is what to do with the growing collection of
US Post bags!

Julian Dyer
London, England.

(Message sent Thu 25 Jan 2001, 14:50:59 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Customs, Duties, Excise, UK

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