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Saxophones VAT payments

Alexandria, Scotland
Hi I was wondering if anyone has any experience of importing a vintage sax from USA I have done a bit of web research and I find importing old musical instruments only incurs a 5% vat payment. ( I can't find definition of old )
has anyone any answers to either question.



Elementary member
Berkshire, UK
Have bought three so far this year. Each time I have paid for shipping the seller/shop has used USPS. When the goods get to the UK it is Parcelforce who pick up the goods and notify you how much frieght and duty is owed. It is at the normal rate unless the goods are under £45 (check that amount with HMRC). Paid approx £50 to Parcelforce (they pay HMRC on your behalf or the goods are returned to Customs within 28 days) for around £210 spent on sax and shipping.

Never heard of 5% mentioned anywhere!
Alexandria, Scotland
Hi Prof it's on a website duty calculator and it's only for old instruments the Vat office calls them HS codes no is 9705.00.0090 so you may be able to claim a refund. I suppose I've sort of answered one of my own questions I just wanted verification from someone else. The problem with courier companies is your relying on them inputting correct info but what the definition of old for instruments is I don't know. I phoned VAT office I am awaiting reply but won't hold my breath.
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Senior Member
SW of London Town
From my own experience, you end up paying around 20/23% of the declared value in duty (+Parcelforce's own admin charge, from memory about £15 for clearing customs). That is why most buyers ask for a lower value to be declared on the paperwork, but also explains why a lot of US sellers refuse because it automatically reduces the amount claimable for insurance purposes should anything go wrong (apart from the fact that declaring a lower value is illegal, but that's just a minor point!!!).


Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Near Lutterworth, Leics.
Don't pay ParcelForce's or Royal Mail's admin charges. The latter are interfering with the mail (illegal) if you offer to pay duty and VAT but NOT their admin fee and they then withold the goods from you. Do a Google and you'll find the info you need to quote if they argue. Always works for me! A good queue behind you at the collection depot always encourages the staff member to give in.

Or.... just give in to them. It's up to you!


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