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Old 25.02.2012, 20:55
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Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

Hi there,
We want to buy some nursery furniture for our little boy from John Lewis in the UK. They say that they'll deliver to us in Geneva (for £500), and will also deduct the VAT from the order.
Has anyone any experience of this? I imagine I will need to pay CH VAT. Are there also import duty costs? And how do I pay them? Will Customs send me a bill in the post?
We'd really appreciate any insight before we go blindly ahead and get stuck with a huge bill that we hadn't expected!
Many thanks,
Matthew
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Old 25.02.2012, 21:00
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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Hi there,
We want to buy some nursery furniture for our little boy from John Lewis in the UK. They say that they'll deliver to us in Geneva (for £500), and will also deduct the VAT from the order.
Has anyone any experience of this? I imagine I will need to pay CH VAT. Are there also import duty costs? And how do I pay them? Will Customs send me a bill in the post?
We'd really appreciate any insight before we go blindly ahead and get stuck with a huge bill that we hadn't expected!
Many thanks,
Matthew
For items above 80CHF you are liable to taxes. THey will send an invoice to you separetly. Unless it is an used items, you do not have to pay taxes. There are plenty of furnite shops for baby in switzerland. It is no worth the trouble to get it from John Lewis
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Old 25.02.2012, 21:20
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

Thanks for the quick reply - is that just VAT (ie 8% of the purchase price), or is it liable to import duty too? (which I guess is pretty hard to predict what that will be).
I've had a look around a few places around Geneva, and there are plenty of cheaper options but nothing that we liked nearly as much.
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Old 26.02.2012, 00:00
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

For this kind of import, you'll pay quite a big premium to import from the UK.

FIRST JL will invoice you the (1) price less VAT, PLUS the (2) shipping costs to Switzerland.

SECOND the shipping company will invoice you for the following;

(3) Import duty (by weight) to Switzerland according to the type of goods. You need to google the ge.ch customs web sites to find the detailed list of each product type, but I think it's typically in the order of CHF per kg.

(4) VAT at 8% on the imported price (i.e. the total 1,2,3 above) to Switzerland.

(5) depending on the company doing the import (JL should be able to include this in the shipping costs) you may be charged an admin fee to cover the cost of the shipping company filling in the import paperwork, paying the above fees on your behalf and then collecting those fees from you.

Steve
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Old 26.02.2012, 00:44
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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For items above 80CHF you are liable to taxes. THey will send an invoice to you separetly. Unless it is an used items, you do not have to pay taxes. There are plenty of furnite shops for baby in switzerland. It is no worth the trouble to get it from John Lewis
I would disagree with your assertion that it isn't worth it.

- Import VAT should be 8% of costs (product+shipping).
- Import duties are weight-based, so not usually significant.
- Shipping costs are worth considering, but I'd expect them to be stated clearly by the seller (i.e. John Lewis). Yes, they do charge more for shipping to Switzerland.
- Customs admin costs are generally not specified in advance, but I've seen numbers around 7-8% of the value of the products.

So the total "import cost" would be around the same (give or take) as the savings from not paying UK VAT: so the price you see (on the UK website) is broadly going to be the price you pay.

But personally, the stories I've heard are that it is much easier and cheaper to buy things from the UK than to buy locally, where local Swiss retailers are clearly charging too much.

As for how to pay the duties, that does depend on how the products are shipped. I bought a set of golf clubs from a website based in Northern Ireland, and the postman asked me for cash when he delivered them to my front door (around CHF 100, but less than the VAT I'd have paid in the UK). I've heard generally that courier services (i.e. not national Post Offices) charge higher costs for customs admin, but I've never seen a full schedule of costs for any company.

Last edited by big yin; 26.02.2012 at 00:45. Reason: typo
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Old 26.02.2012, 09:14
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

remember the postal costs are also taxed
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:13
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

Just thought I would add to this one, imported loads of stuff and never been to concerned about what I was charged all seemed reasonably fair.

However I had these bunch just charge me for the following admin fees:
Formalities of importation 72.50
Formalities for importation 10.00
Taking cash on delivery 15.00
Telephone, telefax etc. 22.50

The shipping was stupidly expensive, so in future I will insist on sorting the shipping and handling myself as I know the reasonable freight and clearance handlers.

The one that hacks me off is the 15.00 for taking cash

Now and then you do tend to get robbed by these bç%*ü but that is life.
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:18
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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Hi there,
We want to buy some nursery furniture for our little boy from John Lewis in the UK. They say that they'll deliver to us in Geneva (for £500), and will also deduct the VAT from the order.
Has anyone any experience of this? I imagine I will need to pay CH VAT. Are there also import duty costs? And how do I pay them? Will Customs send me a bill in the post?
We'd really appreciate any insight before we go blindly ahead and get stuck with a huge bill that we hadn't expected!
Many thanks,
Matthew
That's a big delivery charge, for £500 you could get to the UK and back twice from Geneva by car...

If the furniture will fit in a car I'd combine it with a trip to the UK and go and collect it myself.

Can you not get similar stuff from Ikea in Geneva?
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:30
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

The majority of the baby furniture I've seen sold here in CH is poor quality and/or just plain ugly. (And we looked at a LOT of different places here).

So I can definitely understand why someone would want to import furniture from elsewhere. Besides, they may still be saving money -- even when VAT is considered.
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Old 13.09.2012, 21:32
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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- Import duties are weight-based, so not usually significant.
.
But this is furniture so could be quite heavy...
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Old 13.09.2012, 22:52
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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But this is furniture so could be quite heavy...
In fact when we imported two hand made leather sofa's the admin charges were less and the import charges were okay and the total weight was about the same.

In fact the last item 50% was MWST and the the other 50% was based on the weight, no issue with that but when the admin fees come more to the import charges that is nuts.

Anyway I should not complain, we have saved thousands of CHF by importing items, so to lose a bit on one you have to put down to experience. The sofas by the way are gorgeous and you cannot get anything here for the same money anywhere near that quality. I could say similar with a lot of other items we imported as well.

However I admit we have bought some items from IKEA some of it is pretty good and when you move into a new apartment with next to no storage, it makes good sense.
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Old 13.09.2012, 23:28
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I ordered all of our nursery furniture from the states just a couple of months ago.

I was charged:
- shipping port to door from the company (paid by invoice)
- customs clearance fees from Germany importer (they had a flat rate; paid by invoice)
- Swiss VAT (8%, paid in cash to driver upon delivery)
- a few misc fees totaling maybe 100 CHF (admin crap)

For us it was totally worth it as we got really beautiful furniture which we couldn't find here.
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Old 14.09.2012, 07:27
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

But is John Lewis furniture Swiss quality?
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Old 14.09.2012, 07:55
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

if you know someone in france have it sent there and then you go and pick it up... and see if you can come back across without paying the duties..loads of my friends have and still do this
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Old 14.09.2012, 08:02
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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if you know someone in france have it sent there and then you go and pick it up... and see if you can come back across without paying the duties..loads of my friends have and still do this
Which is breaking the law....great friends you have.
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Old 14.09.2012, 08:17
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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Which is breaking the law....great friends you have.
It's only breaking the law if the furniture costs more than 300 CHF per person*

* You can't split individual piece of furniture but I think you can say "the table is mine, the four chairs belong to my wife" and be OK.
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Old 14.09.2012, 08:18
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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if you know someone in france have it sent there and then you go and pick it up... and see if you can come back across without paying the duties..loads of my friends have and still do this
That's dumb, as then you have to pay the UK VAT, and risk paying a hefty fine (Swiss VAT + up to 4x penalty).

Tom
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Old 14.09.2012, 08:56
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Re: Importing furniture from John Lewis - VAT question

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It's only breaking the law if the furniture costs more than 300 CHF per person*

* You can't split individual piece of furniture but I think you can say "the table is mine, the four chairs belong to my wife" and be OK.
True, but I believe that Aussiefamily was alluding to something else.

Having said that, it's still sometimes much cheaper to buy something in the U.K, paying U.K. VAT, Swiss VAT and import duties then it is to buy it here.
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