One of the most common questions we get is 'is it cheaper to buy collectibles from abroad?' Like many cases, if a deal looks too good to be true, it is. In this post, we're going to cover 3 common scenarios and explain them so you can make an informed decision.
I've seen a Hot Toys figure for sale for £50 on Ebay and they normally retail for £200 plus!
These are fake items. You'll see the account almost always originates in China and the seller sells hundreds of varying items. It's not a mistake listing, it's a fake. If you're lucky, you'll get a fake figure which is a crappy version of the real thing. If you're unlucky you get nothing and then the stress of going through Ebay's resolution centre to try and get your money back.
I've looked at the US price and converted it to Pounds. It's a lot cheaper!
It's because your comparing ex VAT abroad prices with inc VAT UK prices. If you buy from the US and your item is worth more than £15 and not a gift worth more than £34, you'll get a VAT bill (currently 20%), plus customs duty of 2.5% or possibly more on anything worth over £135. You'll also get a fee from whichever courier processes the charge in the UK which is typically £12 to £15. Also, your card payment will get converted at a rate that isn't the flat exchange rate. It's normally +3% to 5%. This soon adds up and gives you a nasty surprise when your item arrives.
One of the most common US suppliers is Sideshow Collectibles who we resell for. You should find all our prices are cheaper than Sideshow.
For example, Sideshow's Arkham Asylum Joker Premium Format Figure currently has a price of $449.99. Look a bit further and you'll see the shipping to the UK is $54.28. So let's do the maths and see how this pans out.
$449.99 + $54.28 = $504.27
Today's exchange rate puts that at: £373.05
Let's add on 3% for card fees: £384.24
When the item comes into the UK you'll also need to pay:
VAT of around: £76.85
Customs duty of around: £9.61
Courier fee of around £12
Total price: £482.70
Our price on that one? It was £399.95 but it's now sold out. Feel free to compare any other item and if you notice us more expensive, please let us know and we'll be happy to take a look.
I've heard some non-EU places say I'll get no import fees even though the item is over the thresholds set by UK government.
The only way this can be done is if the shipper deliberately breaks the law and under declares the value of the item. Such practices of course affect our UK economy by avoiding paying taxes due. It also pulls business away from law-abiding sellers such as ourselves. Further, you are responsible for the import fees, so if the seller has lied to you and declares the true value, you are liable for it. Also, if the seller under declares the value and customs notice, you risk your item being seized and investigated.
Just like the example from the US above, the same rules apply to any other country outside of the EU.
If you've innocently purchased something from China over the thresholds stated previously, check the customs info paperwork and check it matches what you paid for the item. If it doesn't the seller has broken the law and they should be reported to HMRC.
At Movie Figures, illegal practices of course frustrate us greatly as it's unfair practice. If you notice any foreign reseller doing this, please take the time to report them to HMRC here or let us know and we'll do it on your behalf.
What are the benefits of buying from the UK?
Quite a few:
- You're supporting the UK economy.
- You're supporting a UK business as well as the manufacturer.
- Goods can arrive next working day.
- You have no stress or delays caused by import duty or tax.
- The price you see is the total price you pay.
- If there's a problem with your item, returning the goods is easy and fast.
- You can pick up the phone and talk to us or contact us by email for fast response.
- Buying from the UK means you're covered by UK customer laws and rights giving you more protection if anything happens to your item either in transit or over time.
- So long as you buy from a reputable supplier, you can be certain your goods are genuine, official items.
Where can I find the latest information on taxes and import fees?
Gov.uk is the best source of official information. Here's the link to the page about tax and customs for goods sent from abroad.
Where Is A Good Place To Buy Collectibles From In The UK?
On this here very site :)
We sell Hot Toys, Kotobukiya, Sideshow and much more at great prices.
If you can't find what you're looking for, please contact us as we can source way more than our site lists!