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Sending family property to the UK

Sending family property to the UK

Old May 31st 2011, 9:07 pm
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Default Sending family property to the UK

I have e-mailed HMRC to ask how I can do this without getting stung for duty and VAT, but thought the vast knowledge base of BE might get me an answer sooner.

I want to send my late mothers diamond engagement ring to my son in the UK, so he can give it to his girlfriend. It was purchased sometime around 1970 in the UK, when my parents married in 1939 dad couldn't afford an engagement ring. Mum died just before we moved to the US and it came over with us. It has been cleaned, the stones reset and valued this week at $1100.

If it was his personal property and he had left it in the US on a visit, no problem sending it back. No it isn't easy to claim that, as he would have to fill out a form at the UK end declaring such, and as he is a police officer the legalities make it not even worth considering. But is there a way to do this in these circumstances.
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Old May 31st 2011, 10:47 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Whatever you find out re customs, I would use a service like FedEx for something as valuable as this -- and I would think FedEx will have the expertise to help you with the appropriate customs papers to indicate that this is a gift from you to him and there is no duty owed.

Once I had a sheepskin coat made to measure in London. When it was shipped over here, it was big enough to fit a sumo wrestler. I sent it back via USPO -- and it hasn't been seen since. One of those guys out of Goodfellas at JFK no doubt. It took nine months to get the insurance paid.
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:01 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

I was going to use FedEx wouldn't trust anything like this to the postal service. While FedEx have the customs forms they don't know anymore than they have to be filled out.
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:04 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

No idea...but congrats to you and your son, well presuming she says "yes"
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:10 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
No idea...but congrats to you and your son, well presuming she says "yes"
Thanks don't think she's been asked yet. He wants the ring in his possession first. I think he is dubious it might be a bit old fashioned, but the jeweler here said it was a classic design. Don't want to see him get caught for a couple hundred quid in duty and VAT.
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:10 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Forget FedEx...for something this valuable (money and meaning) I would arrange a vacation to England!
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:12 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by avanutria View Post
Forget FedEx...for something this valuable (money and meaning) I would arrange a vacation to England!
They are coming here for Thanksgiving, they can take it home with them then, if all else fails.
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Old May 31st 2011, 11:17 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by lansbury View Post
They are coming here for Thanksgiving, they can take it home with them then, if all else fails.
That seems the best and safest thing to do IMO.
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Old Jun 1st 2011, 12:24 am
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
Whatever you find out re customs, I would use a service like FedEx for something as valuable as this -- and I would think FedEx will have the expertise to help you with the appropriate customs papers to indicate that this is a gift from you to him and there is no duty owed..
I have found FedEx to be pretty useless when it comes to customs paperwork for international shipments of personal property - basically they insist on having a commercial invoice for the goods and don't seem to be able to cope with the concept that such a thing might not exist.
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Old Jun 1st 2011, 5:48 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

HMRC replied to my e-mail within 24 hours, quite impressed.

However the ring will be subject to full duty and VAT as it doesn't qualify for VAT or duty relief. Plan B I think.
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Old Jun 1st 2011, 8:56 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by lansbury View Post
HMRC replied to my e-mail within 24 hours, quite impressed.

However the ring will be subject to full duty and VAT as it doesn't qualify for VAT or duty relief. Plan B I think.
Just as a matter of interest, and, to be honest, because something feels wonky, did they elaborate on the VAT issue? Presumably VAT (or sales tax) was originally paid on the ring. If you had the receipt, or any paperwork showing the origin, would that affect the situation?

Perhaps more than just interest, as I wonder what would happen to similar items we purchased in the UK...as and when (and if) those items 'move back to the UK' would the government automatically be allowed to levy a second round of VAT on the items?

Or if an item spends more than x months out of the UK does it essentially abandon its UK status?
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Old Jun 1st 2011, 9:19 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by celticgrid View Post
Perhaps more than just interest, as I wonder what would happen to similar items we purchased in the UK...as and when (and if) those items 'move back to the UK' would the government automatically be allowed to levy a second round of VAT on the items?

Or if an item spends more than x months out of the UK does it essentially abandon its UK status?
I believe if it's your personal belongings accompanying you on a move then they don't get taxed. My belongings didn't get taxed when I moved to the UK (we had to fill out forms and attach them to the mailed packages) and when we moved back to the US the paperwork said any personal belongings that we'd owned for at least 6 months would not be taxed.
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Old Jun 2nd 2011, 12:04 am
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by avanutria View Post
I believe if it's your personal belongings accompanying you on a move then they don't get taxed. My belongings didn't get taxed when I moved to the UK (we had to fill out forms and attach them to the mailed packages) and when we moved back to the US the paperwork said any personal belongings that we'd owned for at least 6 months would not be taxed.
That's right in both directions. We've moved back and forth similarly.

However my concern is not over something being taxed, but being taxed twice by the same country. Or, if that is right, the potential for an item to be taxed on multiple occasions by the same country. That just doesn't feel right. Sure, you buy something in the US, you pay sales tax. You send that new item to someone in the UK, you potentially pay VAT...taxed twice, but by different countries. I'm unsure on what basis HMRC say this item would be subject to VAT and duty and would love to know that, as it might have a bearing in my future dealings.
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Old Jun 2nd 2011, 10:38 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by celticgrid View Post

However my concern is not over something being taxed, but being taxed twice by the same country.
Which is what we have here. The tax at the time was paid when the ring was purchased in the UK. Now they want 20% VAT and 2.5% duty to send it back, because it is going to a different family member.

If I take it with me when I go back, no problem. Doesn't make sense, but then why should it.
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Old Jun 2nd 2011, 11:23 pm
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Default Re: Sending family property to the UK

Originally Posted by avanutria View Post
the paperwork said any personal belongings that we'd owned for at least 6 months would not be taxed.
Has anyone ever been asked to prove they've owned the property for more than 6mo? I went over to the UK for a week and got engaged. When I came back, I didn't declare the ring to customs. I've always wondered about this section of the law.
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