Buying from Germany (to UK) post-Brexit....?

Zerogee

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Apologies for mentioning the "B-word" in the thread title, hope no-one on here gets "triggered" by it - just to reassure everyone, this is purely about practicalities and not politics! ;)

Now that we're well past the end of the Transition Period, I just wanted to ask about any experiences of folks on here on the subject of ordering direct from German (or indeed other EU) suppliers and stockists since the start of this year?

For my own business, which some of you will know is in the hobby trade but nothing to do with model railways as such, I do still SELL quite a bit to EU customers (individuals, not businesses) but don't buy anything in from them; since the start of 2021 I have NOT been charging EU customers any VAT on their orders, exactly as I do with those in the US, Canada, Australia etc. When packets arrive in their EU destination countries, sometimes the customer has been charged for local VAT (plus a ransom fee - sorry, "handling charge") and sometimes they haven't, which is pretty much the same as it's always been with items ordered from the US or other places.

As far as I understand it, if someone in the UK is buying an item from a VAT-registered business (a shop or stockist) in the EU, the seller SHOULD do the same as above and DEDUCT the VAT from the price - the UK customer is then responsible for paying the UK VAT rate (and the usual extortion fee) when the parcel arrives. If you are instead buying from either a private seller or a small, non-VAT-registered business then you wouldn't get any deduction in the price because there is no VAT there to remove, but you will still probably have to pay the UK VAT on import.

So, what are your experiences of how the German and other EU stockists are handling this? Are they deducting their local VAT as they should do, or are they still charging their full VAT-inclusive price (which could well mean that the customer ends up paying the VAT twice over)?

Has anyone had to have any "firm discussions" with EU sellers over this, or do most of them understand what they should be doing?

Jon.
 
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JimmyB

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My understanding for good under £130.00 (or thereabouts) the local tax/VAT is deducted and the UK VAT is added, i.e. the seller collects the UK tax, so when the goods arrive they are tax paid, no courier fees, and this has happened to me on purchases from Germany and Portugal (the seller needs to be appropriately registered for this to work). However over the £130.00 then import duty is also added, and this is collected by the courier, or so I understand.
 

Zerogee

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My understanding for good under £130.00 (or thereabouts) the local tax/VAT is deducted and the UK VAT is added, i.e. the seller collects the UK tax, so when the goods arrive they are tax paid, no courier fees, and this has happened to me on purchases from Germany and Portugal (the seller needs to be appropriately registered for this to work). However over the £130.00 then import duty is also added, and this is collected by the courier, or so I understand.


Yes, there are various systems for items under 130 Euros, I think, that work as you say - for packets going both ways. I'm more looking for experiences with higher value items, such as buying locos, and whether or not the EU sellers are deducting the VAT as they should do to avoid double-charging.

As I understand it, there are no actual customs duties applicable on model and hobby products going either way - the charges should only be the VAT element and a fixed rate handling charge from the courier or postal service.

Jon.
 

JimmyB

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Yes, there are various systems for items under 130 Euros, I think, that work as you say - for packets going both ways. I'm more looking for experiences with higher value items, such as buying locos, and whether or not the EU sellers are deducting the VAT as they should do to avoid double-charging.

As I understand it, there are no actual customs duties applicable on model and hobby products going either way - the charges should only be the VAT element and a fixed rate handling charge from the courier or postal service.

Jon.
Sorry Jon, not bought anything over £130.00 - ever ;)
 

LGB-Sid

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I used to buy things from Germany but the place I used Modellbahn-Station, suspended my account o_O as he doesn't want to sell direct to the UK anymore :(
 

Zerogee

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Thanks Sid, that's useful to know - though it's disappointing to hear, and I think a bit short-sighted by the dealer, as the new rules are pretty easy to follow and certainly don't stop sales from the EU.

Anyone else have experience of how any of the other German suppliers are dealing with this...?

Jon.
 

dutchelm

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I have had 2 parcels from EU. First from Holland had no reduction for VAT & was taxed again by UK customs. Next from Lippi was tax free & also was not checked by UK customs.
 
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jimmielx

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I made a small order to Bertram Heyn. It arrived in just a couple of days with no extra fees to pay.
 

PhilP

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I made a small order to Bertram Heyn. It arrived in just a couple of days with no extra fees to pay.
1. 'small order' so guessing less than the 130 limit?

2.Bertram knows what he is doing, and values his British customers..

PhilP
 

Zerogee

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I have had 2 parcels from EU. First from Holland had no reduction for VAT & was taxed again by UK customs. Next from Lippi was tax free & also was not checked by UK customs.


Mike, if you don't mind me asking - was the first one from Grootspoor? Did you query with them why they still charged you VAT, because as I understand it they shouldn't have done.... :mad:

Good to hear that Lippe are doing the right thing and deducting the VAT, and that you got lucky on that one with it slipping through un-charged! Again, if it's not too delicate a question, were those orders each above or below the 130 Euro mark?


This is how I understand the current rules should work, whether shipping from EU to UK or vice-versa: assuming that the SELLER (Exporter) is a VAT-registered business and the BUYER (Importer) is a private individual (business-to-business or private-to-private sales are different matters again)...

EITHER:
1) the seller DEDUCTS the VAT from their price and ships the goods VAT-free, then the buyer may have to pay their local VAT rate (plus the handling charges) if the package is checked by Customs; on a large-value item shipped by a courier company, I'd expect that it would get checked and charged, though some items going by regular post may slip through just as some stuff from the US does. This option can be used for any size of shipment, whether under or over 130 Euro.

OR:
2) the seller uses one of several VAT pre-payment schemes, such as the ones run by Amazon or eBay (though there are others that can be used for individual items not sold through online marketplaces), in which he (the seller) still charges the buyer the full VAT-inclusive price - but at the prevailing VAT rate in the BUYER'S country, not the seller's. The seller then accounts for the VAT through his own VAT returns in the usual manner. This option is ONLY available for shipments worth under 130 Euros (so would probably exclude most G scale loco purchases...), but if it is used then the buyer will not have any additional VAT or fees to pay, it's all dealt with at the seller's end.

As far as I'm aware a buyer should NEVER have to pay VAT twice over - he either pays it as part of the purchase price if the seller is using option (2), OR it should be deducted at the time of sale and then gets charged by Customs if using option (1).

Jon.
 

jimmielx

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1. 'small order' so guessing less than the 130 limit?

2.Bertram knows what he is doing, and values his British customers..

PhilP
Yes, well under 130. And yes!
 
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dunnyrail

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I have bought an odd book from Germany with no issues. However I believe that there are different rules for printed boiks and the like. As for Model Railway items, thus far I have not indulged from the EEC as there is little I need relying on the UK second hand market and this forum for the odd wagon here and there.
 

MaybachMD

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I have asked Lippe for their price on the new LGB Viik which is very competitive especially if you pay the €49 Premium membership fee. VAT is deducted for sales over here. I have had 2 orders from Grootspoor this year. If you register with them, when you log in the prices shown are without VAT. I believe they have a cut off below which VAT is not removed., but for smaller items we do not pay it here either. The most irritating thing for me has been the extended order time whilst customs checks are undertaken followed by a charge that is very hard to disPute but which you have to pay if you want the stuff.

There are so many small suppliers in Europe that I will continue to buy from Germany and others. The likes of Grootspoor often have items that are rarely for sale in this country. I want my Railway to be an accurate representation of DR so I just have to swallow potential hassle and costs. Ho hum. Just bought a new German car yesterday. No problem with that.
 

DafyddElvy

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Just out of interest and for those that fully understand the tax consequences of brexit.

If a friend or family member wants to send a birthday or gift for any other occasion from France/Germany to Scotland is that subject to import duty?
And vice versa if I send gifts to family or friends in the EU?

David
 

The Shed

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Just out of interest and for those that fully understand the tax consequences of brexit.

If a friend or family member wants to send a birthday or gift for any other occasion from France/Germany to Scotland is that subject to import duty?
And vice versa if I send gifts to family or friends in the EU?

David
 

beavercreek

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I, like you Jon (Zerogee), import into UK and sell items to overseas destinations.
Although there is the 'special' case for under €130 or £130 (depending on who you are dealing with)... it did, for a while, seem to be a lottery for more valuable items.

For valuable items that I send out, I do not add VAT and the buyer is left to swallow what ever happens at their end from the shipping companies and collection agencies, just like has always happened..with the exception of the EU, before brexit, where they used to pay the VAT on the item that I charged but now I treat them just the same as if shipping to USA for example.
BUT as i mentioned before, importing from EU has been a strange thing.
Whereas, when I bought from the USA, I ended up paying for items without tax and, 90% of the time, had to pay import charges (if applicable) and VAT and 'handling charges when the item reached the UK .. I found that in the early days after the brexit transition, that importing from the EU seemed to be fairly haphazard, as regards VAT, import duties etc.
I am only talking about commercial transactions on 'new' items, not second hand from individuals...

More than once I have had to go back to a dealer to get a refund of VAT that they charged, as I was charged once again when the item hit these shores.
Most EU commercial sellers and dealers are now savvy to the new rules and deduct the VAT when invoicing..but there are still some that you have to 'educate'!
 
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ntpntpntp

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Though I've not bought any model railway stuff from Germany for some time, in N gauge circles people have observed that while some shops such as Lippe seem to be following the rules, at least one major player DM-Toys has made no effort to sell ex-VAT. I think they're losing some of their UK customer base as a result.

I did buy about £400 of drum kit from Germany a couple of months ago and paid ex-VAT. It was delivered by UPS with nothing to pay to receive the delivery (as some people had reported having to pay the driver). For a while I thought I might have "got away with it" but a couple of weeks later I received an invoice from UPS for the VAT and handling. Fair enough.
 

Zerogee

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Though I've not bought any model railway stuff from Germany for some time, in N gauge circles people have observed that while some shops such as Lippe seem to be following the rules, at least one major player DM-Toys has made no effort to sell ex-VAT. I think they're losing some of their UK customer base as a result.

I did buy about £400 of drum kit from Germany a couple of months ago and paid ex-VAT. It was delivered by UPS with nothing to pay to receive the delivery (as some people had reported having to pay the driver). For a while I thought I might have "got away with it" but a couple of weeks later I received an invoice from UPS for the VAT and handling. Fair enough.

Yes, I have no problem with having to pay the VAT in one way or another - as long as the seller follows the rules so that the buyer doesn't end up paying twice! In the end, the only extra you should be charged on top of the VAT amount is whatever flat-rate handling fee the carrier imposes - which, of course, is proportionally less painful on larger-value items...

Good to know that some German and other EU suppliers are on the ball with this - I guess the lesson is to check with them first that they will deduct the VAT from the purchase price - and if they won't, then there will probably be another supplier who will!

Jon.
 

JimmyB

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Yes, I have no problem with having to pay the VAT in one way or another - as long as the seller follows the rules so that the buyer doesn't end up paying twice! In the end, the only extra you should be charged on top of the VAT amount is whatever flat-rate handling fee the carrier imposes
If the item is over £135.00 then you have to pay import duty on top of VAT.