UK Purchasers - Import Duties, Taxes & DHL

This is an introduction to how much you might end up paying to obtain a Raspberry Shake in the UK & also my experiences of DHL.

I came across the Raspberry Shake initiative while browsing the citizen science website and was immediately hooked. With a background in acoustics I’d wanted to setup infrasound monitoring for some time and combined with a geophone to measure ground movement the RS&BOOM was the choice for me.

The Raspberry Shake website clearly states “The buyer assumes all responsibility for import duties and taxes” so the DIY Kit version made sense to keep costs down & also allowed me to choose a Raspberry Pi to use.

I checked the UK Government website about import costs and decided to place an order. Ordering was straight forward and it was reassuring to see PayPal used as the payment provider. Confirmation emails arrived promptly.

Nine days later I was pleased to receive an email from Raspberry Shake saying my order was complete & with a DHL tracking link. I followed the link and could see it had arrived from China to the local dept and unsurprisingly was “On hold awaiting for payment of shipment related fees”. However there was no indication of the cost of the fees or details about how to pay so I filled in the notification information (that’s all I could do) and waited for an expected follow up email but nothing arrived. After a couple of days I delved into the DHL website trying to find a way to contact them and after a great deal of effort finally managed an online chat to be told “Your shipment is currently on hold awaiting the payment of duties and taxes, blah, blah…”. “Yes I know that”, I explained. Next I was told the supplier should have given me this information and how to pay and then DHL gave me an email address, payment link and phone number, oh and the fees were double what I’d expected! I emailed ukinvoicequeries about the costs and waited, no reply, so gave up on that route. After a day or so I browsed the payment link entered the waybill tracking number and could see the shipment related fees amount but there was no breakdown or available invoice and I was expected to pay without knowing how they’d been calculated. Another online chat later & I was finally given an online breakdown but as much as I tried I could not get a formal invoice from DHL. Of course there’s no disputing these things and I duly paid. In the meantime I’d contacted Raspberry Shake about the fees breakdown and they said DHL should provide that & I agree DHL should have provided that. So overall a poor performance from DHL.

So how much would it cost in total to receive a RS&BOOM in the UK?

Roughly speaking I suggest allowing about 48% additional costs for shipment related fees on the original purchase price. If you’re buying your own Raspberry Pi and power supply that could be as much as 66% of the purchase price in total.

Allowing for fluctuations in currency conversions, etc, the breakdown below is converted to USD (it’s a universal currency and what the products are quoted in). I’m told “Any shipment coming into the UK and if the value of the shipment is more than £135, as per HMRC the shipment is charged with the import Duties and Taxes”.

Supplier Invoice Value: $560.44
Customs Value: $560.44
Duty Rate at 14%: $78.46
Value: $638.90
VAT at 20%: $127.78
Advance Payment (DHL): $13.48

Total Shipment Related Fees: $219.72***

Shipping: $48.00

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (8 GB): $91.88
Official UK Raspberry Pi 4 Power Supply (5.1V 3A): $11.03
Ethernet Cable: Already have

Total RS&BOOM Costs (to door): $828.16

Total RS&BOOM Costs (to door) and Raspberry Pi, PSU: $931.07

The RS&BOOM is built and configured and producing some fascinating data. Next time I’ll cover my experiences of those stages.

*** An American colleague once told me the UK is known as Treasure Island & now I know why!

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Hello Hadders,

Firstly, it’s great to hear that your new RSBOOM is performing well and already showing interesting data! That’s the important thing.

Secondly, I wish to thank you for the time you have taken to write all steps of your experience in getting your Shake inside the UK. Speaking as a customer, when I ordered my first DIY (RS1D) kit, I too had to pay import duty (which was less compared to a complete turnkey model), but all that you have described did not happen, so I wonder what issue DHL had in this case.

To explain myself better, I received an email stating that my shipment was “On hold awaiting payment of shipment related fees”, but, attached to the same email, I got a PDF detailing all the shipment costs in a breakdown list, together with a link to a DHL website section where I paid via PayPal. It would be interesting to see if anything changed in the DHL pipeline, or if there was something that was missed by the many checks along the same pipeline, because this is not a standard customer experience for sure.

And regarding import fees, eh, Italy was (and is) the same. Once I ordered a weather station from the USA, and the amount of import duty was about the same percentage you have listed here.

Eagerly awaiting your feedback and experience on the Shake assembly and data you are collecting!

Hello Hadders; a follow-up after we looked into this:

When an order is placed through our online shop and is ready for fulfilment, an email is automatically sent from Raspberry Shake with the DHL/ FedEx tracking number.

DHL/ FedEx then carries forward all communication with the recipient.

When the package arrives in port, DHL/ FedEx emails the involved client(s) with all tax information and how to make the tax payments.

Once shipped, all Raspberry Shake has visibility into is the information provided on the DHL/ FedEx websites when using their respective Tracking Number Search bars. We are not privy to any tax/ payment information. Both DHL and FedEx keep that information confidential.

We have discovered that we cannot even query it. This is why your detailed experience and feedback have been so valuable to us. Thank you again.

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