The title to this kind of sucks, I recognize this.

The original question was asked as Do Customs duties and VAT apply on jewellery and gifts even when imported into UK by US citizens?

The OP came back, answered that he was not questioned (not caught) by Customs. It can be assumed (and only assumed) that he,

  1. Brought in items/gifts over the minimum value, for which he should have paid VAT, and
  2. Did not declare said items.

My problem with this is that while his answer is a possible outcome, that outcome was based on some amount of luck on his part. He could also have been questioned, had the items found, and been fined, had the items confiscated and possibly worse. (I freely admit I don't know all of the UK penalties for failure to declare)

My worry is that if the next person reads this Q&A, and assumes that he will also slip on by, he may be the one that gets caught.

Do we care? And if we do, what can we do about it, if anything?

The OP has since deleted his answer and accepted that of someone else who did tell him he had to report and pay VAT.

  • 2
    yes, we can downvote them, and answer with accurate, legal answers? :/
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 5:53
  • 1
    It's a great observation. The OP disregarded the rules and didn't get caught and then wants to pass it on as legitimate. We see the same thing with the border force were people slip by and then claim everybody can do it, so you can generalise your question to lots of applications. I upvoted the legit answers and down voted the question. Also left a comment linking here.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:07
  • 2
    The OP has deleted the question. Then he accepted Relaxed answer. So good on him for toeing the line.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 1:58
  • @CMaster your comment/question was deleted. I will ping you from chat and give a brief answer.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 1:59
  • @MarkMayo: It is not so obvious as all of you are making it. For example, supposedly, consumers are supposed to declare and pay US sales taxes for out-of-state online purchases. It would not be accurate to say "you have to", since there's no enforcement. (Hence the desire to make sellers collect it.) I'd say "accuracy" depends on the amount of "luck" required.
    – Louis
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 17:59
  • @Louis The OP himself recognized his potential responsibility to pay VAT - that was the question, after all. My reason for this meta question was how he did the original acceptance, it was self-accepted, and he did not give a factual (regulatory based) answer, he gave an anecdotal answer and selected it. That could have given future readers advice destined to land them in expensive trouble.There is nothing wrong with anecdotal comments, proving/disproving the answer, but when the selected answer was anecdotal, we had a problem. It has been eliminated (is o.b.e.)
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 18:03
  • 1
    Accepting is all about the OP. Voting is for everybody. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


It's an issue but the system has a built-in safety: We can keep another answer on top of a self-accepted answer through our votes. The OP can accept whatever she wants and an accepted answer by someone else would jump to the top but not her own answer.

We can also put a gentle comment like you did, maybe the OP will agree with you and edit her answer accordingly. Even if the OP doesn't accept your logic, those comments double as an explanation if a reader notices the down votes and wonders what might be wrong about this “solution”.

Finally, if the answer is downright dangerous and nefarious, not only somewhat risky and misleading, we should down vote it until it's greyed out and eventually deleted (personally I did down vote that one but I am not sure is so bad that it deserves to be deleted).

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