HELP please with questions about customs and VAT refund!

  1. I am in the US and thinking about making a significant purchase from the UK via from a private seller. The eBay listing says that 17.5% VAT is included in the price - does that mean that there's any way I can get the VAT refunded? The seller belongs to a "business" of sorts and is selling a few assets but is not usually a retail merchant so I don't know if he will know how to provide the forms that I've sometimes seen available for VAT refunds in the EU when shopping. Or would eBay somehow be able to help me with this?

    I am also wondering if anyone knows how customs charges are usually calculated on goods coming from Europe. I have tried looking up some websites to find out answers to these questions but it's like a quagmire. I just would like a simple answer which doesn't have to be exact but would give me a rough idea - surely somebody out there has had some experience with this?

    Thanks so much for your help!
  2. OK, I am not an expert on these things... however, I am not sure how this would work. When I shopped in Paris over spring break and had the VAT refund forms, I had to show these forms along with my plane ticket at the airport to prove that I was not an EU citizen and was taking them out of the country. That said, I am not sure then how you would be able to get the proper certification if you are having the items shipped to you in the US, since the EU authorities would be the ones who would have to certify the forms.

    Sorry, probably wasn't too helpful.
  3. ^ Thanks, this has been my experience too with shopping on trips to the EU. I've been trying to do more research and it appears to me that VAT refunds are only given to travellers leaving the EU but I am not sure. So the refund might not be applicable to internet/mail orders at all. :sad:

    I also found some information about "import VAT" charges but I am finding this whole thing fairly confusing. I really wish they'd just provide a simple page explaining what happens in situations like this!
  4. yes, it is very confusing, especially for an outsider! It seems to me like they would just not charge the VAT if they were immediately exporting it, but that would probably be too easy!
  5. Ok, I'm VERY familiar with importing!! The seller should deduct the VAT off the price for you. You shouldn't even have to pay it. Duty coming in on a leather handbag may be up to 9%. If they mark it a gift with a lower value, you probably won't have to pay anything. Let me know if you have any other questions! I import handbags on a regular basis.
  6. ^ Oh wow, that makes a huge difference if the price I would have to pay my seller is actually going to be 17.5% less than the highest bid!! I wonder how it's going to work since it's over eBay and I'm worried my seller won't know to do this since he's not actually a merchant. Is it basically up to the seller to honor that?! Is there a website that I can point them to to show this information when asking them to deduct the VAT from the invoice?
  7. although I agree that the seller should deduct the VAT I doubt they would do it, unless they have to actually 'pay' the VAT, kwim? a private seller doesn't have to pay VAT so it may be a mistake on their part. if they own a business but this is not related they just included that out of habit.

    however, if they sell as part of their business, they should deduct the VAT bec they can claim it as an export. that would be great, so good luck with that.
  8. I guess it's complicated because it's unclear whether the seller is selling them as a private person or for a business. They are basically acting as an agent/employee for a business. The item being sold is related to the business so I believe they are properly registered and have to pay VAT but they are not usually in the line of selling things to the public - it's a rare auction of some assets related to the business that they no longer need.

    So I guess it's basically up to the seller to deduct the 17.5% VAT from the invoice before billing me? And if they don't, do I have any recourse, like is there a way to file for refund of the VAT from Her Majesty's government myself?
  9. As lara0112 has stated unless they are a legitimate VAT registered business you will NOT get the VAT back. This is because they can only deduct the VAT if they can later claim it back via their business expenses.

    If they have something on their auction stating prices are inclusive of VAT it's probably to assure people that the price they pay is all they pay with no VAT slapped on after.

    You have no way of reclaiming it back in the same way you can from a store because you aren't going through a customs port with the paperwork. If they do remove the VAT and give you a VAT invoice you could get a hefty import tax bill so you have to figure out whether it's worth asking them to mark the customs form as a gift or to try and get them to remove the VAT. You also don't get the full 17.5% back it's about 10% as they keep back some for handling etc.
  10. Hi I don't think they should add the VAT either, though I know coming from Amsterdam (i'm Dutch) small companies don't always want to do that, others do (after you show your passport), if you got charged VAT anyway, you go to the office in Schiphol to get your VAT back, but that is when you buy IN the country it self. Now she is exporting, which is something different and then no VAT should be applied.
  11. Yes but that only applies to businesses who are able to recoup the VAT from customs and excise. If the seller is private, which isn't terribly clear in this case, then you can not claim the VAT back as a private seller is not VAT registered and can therefore not claim it back
  12. She doesn't need to recoup VAT because VAT only applies for citizens of that country, just the same when you buy something out of state you do no need to pay sales tax. also you could call the embassy in your country and see if you could get back the VAT from them but I think they will say the same, you do not need to pay taxes. The seller applies VAT to give that to the IRS only needed for citizens.
  13. I myself am from the Netherlands and my husband (American) was always able to buy things in the NL showing his passport and they withdraw VAT, if for some reason it couldn't he would go to the station on Schiphol or he went to the American embassy to get a refund. As you just don't need to pay taxes.
  14. I find this link
    look at VAT, maybe you can before you import file out an exporting document. When my husband brought his personal stuff (furniture etc.) he had to file a form too so that he didn't need to pay taxes. The seller should definately be aware of this.
  15. best bet would be to get forms either from the sending company, IRS? or the embassy, maybe you can call the UK american embassy and see what they have to say?