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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > People from UK that bought swords from USA I need your help Reply to topic
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Z. Kornilakis




Location: Greece
Joined: 18 Jul 2005

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 4:03 am    Post subject: People from UK that bought swords from USA I need your help         Reply with quote

Hello,
this is my 1st post here in the forums.

My story in a few words is the following:

I am from Greece and I like (love actually) swords, especially the one from the movie Excalibur. So after years of searching I found that the Albion's Discerner (Very Special Thanks to Mr. Lindsey and to Albion Armorers) is my perfect sword. So I bought the Discerner Limited Edition from Albion Armorers.
Unfortunately the sword stuck in the customs in Athens, Greece.
So after a long search I learned that if I send it to someone in UK, he could send it to me through the simple Post Office and this will pass from our customs. (Dont ask me why, this is what they told me)

My questions so far are:
Is it easy for anyone that leaves in UK (even if he is a student to a UK university), if he pay the taxes of course, to import a sword from USA?
How much are the taxes in UK in analogy of the sword cost?
If it is sent it as a gift from USA would the receiver still pay the same amount in taxes?

I am in a very desperate position, so please if anyone can help me I will be very gratefull.

Thank you in advance.
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James A. Vargscarr




Location: Englishman living in Canada
Joined: 17 Oct 2004

Posts: 92

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 4:58 am    Post subject: Re: People from UK that bought swords from USA I need your h         Reply with quote

Z. Kornilakis wrote:

Is it easy for anyone that leaves in UK (even if he is a student to a UK university), if he pay the taxes of course, to import a sword from USA?
How much are the taxes in UK in analogy of the sword cost?
If it is sent it as a gift from USA would the receiver still pay the same amount in taxes?


Hi Z,

I've had a good few swords shipped to England from the States, never with any problems. Swords are perfectly legal to own and purchase in England, without any need for special paperwork or licenses. Any address in the UK should be equally simple to mail swords to, regardless of how temporary it might be.

Taxes, on the other hand, are a pain. If the sender insures the sword, then the sword's full value will have to be written on the customs declaration. UK customs will charge a hefty VAT; though I'm not sure what their rates are currently. You should be able to find out from a customs website.

As far as labelling the sword 'gift' to get out of VAT - this is a myth. Marking an item as a gift only slightly increases the amount of money an item can be worth before customs charges VAT on it. With anything as expensive as a sword, the benefits are irrelevant - though it might strip the taxes from a hardcover book, or set of CDs.

Incidentally, I'm not sure why the Greek authorities will let a sword through from England, while they won't from the US. I can only assume that it's because Greece and the UK are EU countries. However, if swords are illegal in Greece, there's a good chance that yours will be seized again if customs opens up the package. If it was the Greek customs authorities themselves that told you to have the sword shipped from England, you might be wise to get something from them in writing that your friend can include with the sword when he sends it on to you, just to insure against further problems.

I hope that's of some help - good luck getting your sword!
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Z. Kornilakis




Location: Greece
Joined: 18 Jul 2005

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 7:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply.

Still you made me wonder a few things.

You said If the sender insures the sword, then the sword's full value will have to be written on the customs declaration

So lets say that the sword in reality cost me $2000 but the sender sent it to me with an insurance of $100, the customs will tax me for $2000 (how they will know the real price) or they will tax me respective of the $100 insurance?

Thank you in advance,
Zack
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 7:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Z. Kornilakis wrote:
Thank you for your reply.

Still you made me wonder a few things.

You said If the sender insures the sword, then the sword's full value will have to be written on the customs declaration

So lets say that the sword in reality cost me $2000 but the sender sent it to me with an insurance of $100, the customs will tax me for $2000 (how they will know the real price) or they will tax me respective of the $100 insurance?

Thank you in advance,
Zack


Do you think it is wise to mail something worth $2000 without adequate insurance? Reducing the stated value to save a few $$ might cost you the whole $2000 less the $100 insurance you might eventually recover. Doesn't seem wise to me.... YMMV.

I can understand your desperation at this point but don't let it cloud your judgement. You could end up with nothing for your trouble.

Cheers!

Kel

PS. I've been an importer/exporter in the leather and shoe business fourteen years. I've seen and heard a lot of horror stories about shipping to & from Greece and Italy too.
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James A. Vargscarr




Location: Englishman living in Canada
Joined: 17 Oct 2004

Posts: 92

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 7:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Z. Kornilakis wrote:
So lets say that the sword in reality cost me $2000 but the sender sent it to me with an insurance of $100, the customs will tax me for $2000 (how they will know the real price) or they will tax me respective of the $100 insurance?


When you mail anything these days you have to fill in a customs declaration sticker, which is affixed to the package. The sender is required to describe the package contents - in this case, your sword - and disclose the value of said contents. The sender then signs the sticker, and legal action can be taken against him if he is found to have written misinformation upon it.

You're right, it would be possible to label a $2000 sword as having a $100 value, and hope the customs inspectors either don't open the package, or will be ignorant of its true value and wave it on through without the heavy tax. Many people agree to take this gamble when shipping swords around the place; and it often works out very well for all parties. However, it must be remembered that it is a gamble - if the package disappears, you have no way of reclaiming your $2000 in insurance (since you can only insure the item for as much as your sender has declared to be its value); and if customs suspects your sword to be valued too low, there is a chance that whoever filled in that sticker could get in hot water. At the very least, they will re-evaluate your sword, and tax you accordingly for however much they deem appropriate; and this of course could be more than your sword's true worth.

To give an example from my own experience, I was once ticked off to find that customs had re-evaluated a correctly priced sword that was shipped to me, and charged me more tax than they should have done. To add insult to injury, it was a second hand sword. This actually happened since I moved to Canada (and the addition wasn't much) but it shows how mistrusting customs can be sometimes. On the other hand, I've had swords sent to me in England by North American smiths who were 'creative' with their disclosure of the content value which arrived promptly, efficiently, and tax free.

C'est la vie! Wink
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel is right Z ..... insuring & declaring the true value is the best way to go, regardless if the VAT hurts !

I know of a fellow collector who recently had a couple of very expensive swords stolen, passing thru customs, and did not have anywhere near the full value declared .... so he is now totally out the money (talking $ thousands $ here) as well as some incredible one of a kind custom pieces !

Not worth trying to save a few bucks when the cost can be the whole kettle of fish !

What's that line Aretha Franklin sings ...... "You better THINK" ! Mac

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 6:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mac is absolutely right. Being willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a sword and then trying to scrimp on insurance is a fools errand. Always insure for the full value. It only takes one time and you'll be kicking yourself for the rest of your life.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Z. Kornilakis




Location: Greece
Joined: 18 Jul 2005

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your replies.

All of you are right about how risky it is to put a lower insurance value on the sword than its real value.

Unfortunately when the sword cost almost $2000 the tax will be very high here in Greece.
When I am saying very high I am talking about 82% of its value.
Thats a robbery if you ask me.
If it was a about 20% I wouldnt risk it at all.
The logicaly would be to put the actual VAT of the country.

Imagine if I had to pay 82% for a $2000 sword that means $1640 more.

Anyone knows how much percent of the value of a sword is the tax in UK?

Thank you in advance,
Zack
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Jonathon Janusz





Joined: 20 Nov 2003

Posts: 467

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking as somebody who has never been to Europe and knows little to nothing of customs laws, I was wondering if this might work for you (folks do this kind of thing to get complicated stuff between the US and Canada around here fairly easily, usually to save on shipping charges):

Have the sword shipped to a friend in the UK. Then either have yourself and the friend drive to a mutually agreeable halfway point, hand deliver the sword, and you drive it home, or (if your friend can't make the trip), take a long weekend and drive to the UK and back yourself.

Good luck!
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

82 % ..... Yikes !

Good grief, Charlie Brown .... that is robbery !

Time to start voting somebody out of office there !

Man, I feel for you & your countrymen, Z ! Best of luck whatever you decided to do, Mac


Z. Kornilakis wrote:
Thank you very much for your replies.

All of you are right about how risky it is to put a lower insurance value on the sword than its real value.

Unfortunately when the sword cost almost $2000 the tax will be very high here in Greece.
When I am saying very high I am talking about 82% of its value.
Thats a robbery if you ask me.
If it was a about 20% I wouldnt risk it at all.
The logicaly would be to put the actual VAT of the country.

Imagine if I had to pay 82% for a $2000 sword that means $1640 more.

Anyone knows how much percent of the value of a sword is the tax in UK?

Thank you in advance,
Zack

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas McDonald wrote:
82 % ..... Yikes !

Good grief, Charlie Brown .... that is robbery !



Zack-

I'm DEFINITELY with Mac and the rest of the guys on this issue... that's downrignt ignorant. Unless there is a lesser tax for hand-carrying something through, I don't know what you might do. Getting hit for taxes to anywhere else (the UK for example) and then getting hit again at customs at the border trying to get back home would be insane. Let us know what solution comes up, would you? Best of luck!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Z. Kornilakis




Location: Greece
Joined: 18 Jul 2005

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I still don't know what to do. Sad

The problem in this story is that to import a sword in Greece you need a Special Licence of Import for the particular item.

The items that need this kind of Licence are all kind of hand weapons (pistols, rifles, etc.) chemical weapons, explosives and other similar products. Unfortunately swords, spears and bows fall in that category.

The joke in this is 1st, that they put swords (even if they are just decorative) in the same category with explosives and guns.

But the funnier part comes when in reality you can go to shop in Greece that sells swords, bows etc. and you can buy them easily without no one to ask you of any kind of licence. I already bought 3 swords in the past from different parts of Greece, and never faced any problem.
But to import them you need a licence (because they are weapons).

Yes they are dangerous. Every piece of metal can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but even if this is right then why the heck I can buy them freely from shops?WTF?!
No logic.
Welcome to my country Sad
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Z. Kornilakis wrote:
The joke in this is 1st, that they put swords (even if they are just decorative) in the same category with explosives and guns.

But the funnier part comes when in reality you can go to shop in Greece that sells swords, bows etc. and you can buy them easily without no one to ask you of any kind of licence. I already bought 3 swords in the past from different parts of Greece, and never faced any problem.

Welcome to my country Sad


The typical catch-all, whether it makes sense or not. I hate it for you.

Unless the swords you purchased were made in Greece, they, too, had to be imported. You might ask one of these retailers for advice or perhaps help.

Oh, and there are brilliant issues with laws and governments anywhere... Unless it has changed, I had heard about a law in one state here in the US that requires a gentleman who is traveling beyond a certain distance from home in the company of a lady to carry a sword to defend her honor. Yeah, like I would make it down the street with a sword strapped to my hip without being arrested...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Unless it has changed, I had heard about a law in one state here in the US that requires a gentleman who is traveling beyond a certain distance from home in the company of a lady to carry a sword to defend her honor.


I've heard that this is an old Maryland law, one of those forgotten ones that's technically still in the books. Haven't looked into it to see if it's true or not.
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Z. Kornilakis




Location: Greece
Joined: 18 Jul 2005

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:

Unless the swords you purchased were made in Greece, they, too, had to be imported. You might ask one of these retailers for advice or perhaps help.


All the swords that are sold through shops in Greece are imports.
So is not a law that push you to buy products made in its country instead of imports. Mad

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Oh, and there are brilliant issues with laws and governments anywhere... Unless it has changed, I had heard about a law in one state here in the US that requires a gentleman who is traveling beyond a certain distance from home in the company of a lady to carry a sword to defend her honor. Yeah, like I would make it down the street with a sword strapped to my hip without being arrested...


And I thought that only my country's laws are the worst ever written. Razz
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Alex Oster




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just occurred to me that Aaron may have it with checking with local retailers. They may charge a fee, but it might not be as bad as the VAT. Also, have you actually called up customs and had an honest straight shooting conversation with a supervisor?
I found out that Hooka's could be shipped if unused as "decorative brassware" and make it through US customs. Where if its labeled Hooka they presume its drug related and seize it. However, where you got to love our uneducated customs officers, this commonality might play in your favor. I don't know what would work in your situation... maybe "Stage/Movie prop"...?
If you have it shipped unsharpened its not really a weapon is it? I'm just thinking about the classification area.
Being smaller than the US, the officials on your side may have more time to poke through each parcel than the guys here do.

Just some thoughts.
But always insure.

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Import duty to the UK from US is around 20% of thevalue of the goods. I can dig out an invoice for a precise figure if you want but it's around that (It is in reality VAT but it's collected as customs excise duty due to a peculiarity of the system dealing with non-EU countries) Between member states in the EU there can be no normal import duties and VAT should only apply where the gods are transfered as part of a business supply. Shouldn't apply for a package between individuals for no profit and not part of a business but don't rely on that as I've not looked at a situation like this. Also be careful the Greek customs people don't stop the package and claim you're avoiding VAT by routing it via UK. If you have a friend who runs a business importing, or who's an acountant or tax lawyer they should know the rules for this. Sorry can't help more but I'm a corporate tax specialist not VAT/Customs.

I think Aaron's idea sounds good: find a licenced retailer and ask them to import for you. May not get rid of the duty problem but would obviate the licence problem. If there was an Albion stockist in Europe they could import from them but I don't think Albion use stockists (don't know though - maybe they do).

Probably find that licence law is a hang-over from some old statute from when swords were military tools. In the last 30 years the UK has wiped some really old and useless laws of the books that had simply gone unchanged because no-one thought about it. Due to the amendments, witchcraft is now officially not an offence, it's not a capital crime to take a leak in the Thames off Westminster Bridge, and the US is now officially recognised as a country (apparently they forgot to ratify it properly until the 1970's I'm told!)



Hope you find a solution
Daniel
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Unless it has changed, I had heard about a law in one state here in the US that requires a gentleman who is traveling beyond a certain distance from home in the company of a lady to carry a sword to defend her honor.


I've heard that this is an old Maryland law, one of those forgotten ones that's technically still in the books. Haven't looked into it to see if it's true or not.


Exactly, Bill... and I believe it was still on the books as recently as 8 years ago, when I still lived up there. It's one of those that isn't worth the effort, time, or expense of repealing... until someone actually forces the issue. Most of the "duels" I saw up there were people playing catch with 9mm slugs in the city streets. They probably have better things to worry about, you know? Wink

It is good, however, to know that the US is now recognized in the UK as an official country.

On the idea of using a licensed dealer to handle the importation and taxation issue - I don't know if it will help or not, but I'd be seriously checking. For a few bucks for their trouble, they may be willing to help. It's like transferring firearms here in the States... find a gun dealer or individual with a Federal Firearms License, and all of a sudden, things can happen.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think what was not entirely clear in the above emails from Mr Kornilakis (don't know your first name, sorry) is the distinction between the tax issue and the licence issue. I'm assuming they're completely separate. IE you can't import at all unless via a licenced route, and even if you do, the tax wil be 82%. So you would have to import via a dealer and via another EU country to get the best of both worlds. At least that's what I assumed.


Yes, Aaron, you are now an official country ! Bet you sighed a huge sigh of relief knowing that. You can sleep easier at night now !



Daniel
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Parry wrote:
Yes, Aaron, you are now an official country ! Bet you sighed a huge sigh of relief knowing that. You can sleep easier at night now !


Yeah, I was starting to get light-headed holding my breath... Razz

Honestly, the comfort actually comes from knowing I have friends and like-minded folks on both sides of the pond. It's nice, given the politics and circumstances in the world today, to be able to hold a genuine, sincere, civil, helpful conversation with people from all over the world. I was thinking about that at lunch today...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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