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Category: CV19

  1. Post Brexit Clarification - sales to EU and ROW

    Posted on

    sending goods to EU from UK

    So it's been 4 weeks since "the Big B", the UK is in chaos, the news is full of 'shocked' consumers and tales of ridiculous customs bills on both sides of the Channel.  It's a testament to the efficiency and honesty of our government propaganda machine - I mean PRESS, that people had absolutely no idea what would happen after Brexit, but here we are.  Business from the EU to the UK has almost shut down completely, and literally everyone on the planet is confused.  I'm here to offer a bit of clarification as far as our customers at Sew Curvy are concerned anyway.  However, this should apply to any small business operating in the UK.

    Since 1 January, UK is no longer part of the trading bloc known as the European Union (EU).  We have a 'free trade deal' which does not do what it says on the tin.  It's exactly what our PM said it was, a "non no tarrif deal" (or whatever nonsensical phrase he used).  Basically it means that there are no tarrifs payable on (most) goods going between the UK and the EU and there are no duties on many goods as long as the country of origin is UK or EU.  It's complicated.  Firstly, if you can decipher the difference between a tarrif and a duty from this simple explanation, you are a better woman than me.

    the difference between duties and tarrifs

    Both are taxes, and both are payable to the UK government where goods are imported to the UK.  If you are in a different country, you may have more easy to understand definitions of goods that attract tarrifs and goods that attract duties.  On the whole, if goods are made and sold in the UK or the EU then duties may not apply - there are exceptions such as alcohol.  Apparently these taxes are there to protect our industry, but the only trouble is, that since the UK joined the EU in the first place, nearly 40 years ago, we don't actually have much of what you could call 'an industry' here.  Each country over the years has developed specialties, and ours which was manufacturing, stopped, and now Germany is the main manufacturer for Europe (important to remember this).

    Here's a picture of just how clear the whole situation is to most people including professionals:

    Brexit rules as clear as mud

    OK so on the level of Sew Curvy, as a business which is a small one woman company, not a huge corporation, things are panning out quite simply (I think).  I received my first post Brexit consignment of Steel (remember what I said about Germany? yes that's where all the corset steel comes from) ... There was no duty to pay, but there was quite a hefty 'customs fee' payable to the carrier who imported the goods for me.  VAT was always payable and this has been dealt with in the usual way.  So far so good.  But it was only a small shipment, and I am still suspicious on how things will pan out.

    For my customers, I've seen a massive drop in EU sales - not surprisingly.  I have sent some packages though, mostly to Norway - where nothing has changed, and other countries in the 'rest of the world' catergory - Australia, New Zealand and USA  where nothing has really changed.

    In short, the EU is now treated like "rest of the world" and here is a list of bullet points of everything I know so far.

    For UK businesses importing from the EU:

    • There is VAT payable to the UK government on all imports from EU - this is normal but the way it is applied and paid has changed.
    • There are no duties payable on (most) goods which originate in the EU.
    • There are additional customs fees payable to logistics firms who have to do all the paperwork involved at the port of entry - this seems to be a single charge of around £50-60 at the moment.  If other fees are paid by the logistics firm, then a charge of 2% of the total value of the shipment is also payable.

    For UK consumers importing from the EU and the rest of the world:

    • For orders under £135.00, VAT is payable to the UK government at source.  This means that businesses outside the UK selling to UK consumers must register for VAT with HMRC, and then charge and collect 20% vat and then pay it to the UK government directly.  If the company does this via a sales platform such as Amazon or Etsy, the responsibility for VAT transfers to the sales platform.  If you order something via a sales platform, pay VAT and then are charged VAT again at entry then this is wrong.  There IS an appeals process.  For goods imported by post it's HERE.  And for goods imported by couriers it's HERE.
    • There are different rules if you are both the exporter and the importer (ie if you have a sales office in the UK but ship from the EU).
    • For orders over £135.00, VAT is still payable to the UK government, but at point of delivery which means it should be collected by the carrier who delivers the goods.  There will be a processing fee and an onward postal fee which will make goods quite a lot more expensive.  The customs fees payable in this case are applied to the value of the goods and the postage paid.
    • Our previous threshold of goods under £15 not being subject to fees/taxes etc., is now null and void.  It's been abolished.  There's no threshold.  

    Obviously, small sellers everywhere else, are not going to find it easy to either register with HMRC for VAT (there is no threshold as there is for UK sellers), or commit to the vast amount of admin necessary to be able to implement such a system just for UK customers.  This means that many businesses will simply stop selling to us.  However, in July 2021, the arrangement becomes recipricol.  UK businesses will have to register for VAT with the EU and then pay the EU any VAT charged to EU customers. 

    Is your head hurting yet?

    Right now, we are surviving with our Brexit stockpile and renewed 'faith' that it's not going to be so difficult importing corsetry supplies from Europe as originally thought.  But I'm not counting my chickens or putting eggs in any baskets - I'm taking each day as it comes.  There will be price rises when new stock arrives, but hopefully many hiccups will be smoothed out by then.

    Regarding our sales to EU countries, these are now treated in the same way as sales to countries outside the EU - this is what we have been doing:

    • All our packages now carry electronic customs data
    • We have to complete the tarrif code and the value of goods in our postal system.  This is then stored in the bar code on your address label
    • For safety we are also printing out CN22 forms for all packages going outside the UK - see the picture at the top to see what this looks like.
    • We are not allowed to mark goods sold as 'gifts' - actually this is impossible to do as the system is set up automatically.  The whole reason this electronic / digital system is now in force is because of fraudulent acitivity in the postal world, and governments realising that they are being done out of alot of revenue with the growth of online trading and companies marking goods with no value.
    • So far I have only had a couple of hiccups with EU orders - literally only a couple and I have been monitoring deliveries for the last couple of weeks.
    • I have set all overseas postage to tracked so that I can do this.  In these uncertain times, it is frustrating when it is not possible to track any problems.

    There have been border problems in the UK for goods leaving us, and these have been caused by the pandemic as well as Brexit.  Postal updates can be seen HERE - so if you're not sure how the service in your country will be impacted, do check that list.  

     

     

     

  2. It's CHRISSSMASSSSSSS!

    Posted on

    holidays

    And soon it will be brexit too!  As it is now past the posting deadline for corset supplies to get to Europe before they have to go through customs, I have decided to take some time out for a number of reasons.

    1. We need to take stock - it's been a crazy year!  Orders going out like mad has meant we've hardly had time to update stock let alone catch our breath - since March we have had 3 pallets of corsetry steel and plastic whalebone delivered with the last arriving today. 

    Eagle eyed customers will also have notcied a shiney new shelf in the Fabric department where we have been selling coutil remnants, roll ends, and slight seconds.  These usually go very fast only hours after they are listed, so you'll be forgiven for having missed them!  Anyway ... there is still a mountain to climb on that front ...  We have 'bundles' to list yet, which include bra making materials, herringbone coutil boxes, lace and trim bundles and special edition corset making kits.

    corsetry coutil fabric remnants corset making fabric remnants at sew curvy corset boning roll ends for sale
    Corsetry coutil fabric remnants for sale at reduced prices.  Sometimes this includes corsetry fabrics which are no longer in stock or available so the early bird does catch the coutil worms! The famous pile! It's getting alot smaller but there are still corset making goody bags to go!  We have closed the Etsy shop where all this used to be listed because fees and postage rules are ridic! The corset boning roll ends is always the biggest pile! This is  particularly handy for when you need small or odd amounts of flat spring steel and plastic whalebone.

    2.  We need to figure out what to do after the Brexit transition period which ends on 1 January 2021.  As yet, there are no guidelines at all.  For a small business like Sew Curvy, the most difficult thing is VAT.  Customs information etc., is all taken care of through our Royal Mail 'Click and Drop' account but we need to be more clear on the way we present products and VAT.

    3.  We haven't had a furlough scheme going on at Sew Curvy and while that has been a blessing in disguise because I was able to get out of the house, it has been crazy busy - we have sent out more corset kits this year, than in the whole of the previous 10!  You'll see from my previous blog posts that there has been some personal busy'ness going on too - moving house during a lockdown, is no small endeavour let me tell you. 

    corset making supplies for the world
    Corset making supplies going out all over the world
    This was a quiet day!

    I have therefore decided that the 2 week festive break will be an ideal time to take a bit of time off, and sort out the shop & studio without the pressure of orders to send out daily. 

    I have therefore turned off the shopping basket for the Christmas period and will re-open on 31 December.  We need this time in order to catch up with ourselves after what has been a hectic year, and to prepare for the year ahead and our new trading status outside of the EU.  This means we are sorting out stock, getting a sale ready, streamlining the business, and swotting up on really boring things like tarriff codes and VAT.
     
    If you are in Europe and are wondering where your order is - don't worry!  If you ordered before Monday 21 December, your goods are safely on their way and have already left the UK.  If you ordered after 21 December, your goods have not left the studio yet due to the EU blockades on UK goods.
     
    We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers old and new, a merry festive period and a happy and prosperous new year!
     
    We look forward very much to seeing you on the other side!
  3. It's been a while!

    Posted on

    Sew Curvy studio

    Apologies for the extended radio silence from Sew Curvy Towers!  Who knew this pandamoneum - i mean pandemic - would last for so long !! 

    Well whilst things have calmed down a BIT, it's still been busy so first of all I'd like to send out my huge and limitless thanks to all of you who have kept this little business going through what's been a very difficult year for everyone! Thank you so much for all your support!  Judging by the fact that I have sent out more corset kits over this summer than I have in the last 10 years I think we have added a few nice new corset making addicts to the world in the process - sorrynotsorry ...

    The good news is that I now have help on a Monday which is the busiest day, so we are able to get more sent out faster.  There are still a few blips in the supply chain for haberdashery, cotton fabrics and cotton tapes, but on the whole, things have settled down in that area.

    On a personal note, my house move continues to be 'interesting' - I've moved from the west of Oxfordshire to the south of Oxfordshire.  The studio is still in West Oxon which for me, means longer commuting times and this does impact on the working day somewhat - I used to live only 5 mins away from the studio,  in a perfect house that didn't need decorating/sorting/mending etc., so I could quite happily work till 6.30pm and still have tea on the table at a reasonable time,  but that has all changed now so along with all the lockdown type stuff, I'm having to adapt a bit on the home front.  It's all good, though a few things have changed, or will be changing over the next few weeks:

    Changes at SCC for the month of November and beyond as follows:

    The first thing is Fridays.  I'm no longer sending out orders on a Friday. This will give me more time to focus on blog writing, tutorials, admin, and social media!

    The 'big bad B' - BREXIT

    So on 31 December as things stand now, we're going to be out of the EU without a deal.  This is going to add new meanings to words like 'chaos', 'panick' and 'pandemoneim' and it's going to be a whole world of pain financially for many people, not least small traders like Sew Curvy who will have to negotiate a whole new raft of rules and regulations as far as customs and duties are concerned. I'm expecting a drastic change to the way we import and export, so what I'm trying to do is get enough stock together to ride past that particular storm (if that will indeed be possible!) and keep all of you corset makers in stock too!  That means i'm concentrating on our core corset making components - busks, spiral steels, flat steel boning and good quality european corsetry coutil.  So, 'preparing for brexit' will be high on my agenda over the next few weeks and that means lots of studying of new procedures, new VAT rules, and stock related admin. I'm tired just thinking about it.

    In summary:

    • Post no longer going out on Fridays
    • Shopping basket will be closed for a period over Christmas so I can work out all the Brexity stuff.

    I hope you all have a safe and productive lock-down, and lets keep everything crossed that November's 'pain' will be December's gain.

  4. Update! Covid, Post, Life in General

    Posted on

    sewcurvyblog mailing corset supplies

    Corset Making Supplies for you are collected from the Studio every day!

    It feels like ages since I've written a general update on the 'situation' as regards Covid, Sew Curvy Service and other stuff...

    Well the Covid situation seems to have settled a bit which is good.  Haberdashery and Fabric supplies are getting through - still slower, but a bit quicker than last time I wrote! 

    Demand is still high, but not as high as when we were in full lockdown - that of course changed when people started going back to work.

    sewcurvyblog coutil delivery
    Corsetry Coutil deliveries are back to normal at last!

    Between all of those things, and the new postal system which has literally changed my life, you the gorgeous Customer, shouldn't notice too much amiss.

    Where i'm still struggling is with admin - I have a pathological need to get my orders out on time - it's always been the case - and by the end of the day there's only so much time (and energy it must be said) to catch up with Admin.  Admin is basically stock records, ordering in, customer correspondence etc.,  I'll sometimes do a bit of this of an evening from home, but right now - there's no internet for me at home (read on).

    So other news which i've mostly kept to myself, is that for the entire period of lockdown there has been a bit of extra stress for me on the personal front!  Literally the day before - on 23 March - my husband and I bought a new home!  Then there was lockdown.  Which meant that the whole house buying/moving process slowed down and on top of the usual stress of that, the lockdown stress was on top! Argh! I never do things by half!! The first time we moved home, we did it on our wedding day - 23 years ago!  Well done us! 

    sewcurvyblog moving house
    doesn't everyone have skulls to pack on moving day?

    Anyway, that move took place (finally!) just over a week ago and ofcourse, the things you never notice when you view a new home, surfaced, and there is much to sort - with us it was basically that we had to dunk the entire place in bleach, hire a skip for all the rubbish left in there, and clean till our hands were raw.  Anyway ... all done now, so normal service in the shop should resume from today!

    In sumarry where we are now:

    • Orders are being packed asap every day,  and post is collected daily.
    • The new postage system means that post is collected by the postman every day - it's been a godsend and means time saved on many fronts - no driving to the PO by lunchtime (and therefore limiting number of orders packed), no waiting in queue's at the PO, no danger of infections from other PO customers (though that was minimal it must be said), no looking up tracking numbers and doing separate emails per customer, etc., etc., 
    • Supplies are getting better at coming through
    • Stock levels should be back to normal soon

    Again, THANK YOU so much for your amazing patience through this difficult time, and your support of Sew Curvy! It's been a pleasure getting your corsetry supplies out through these times and knowing that some of you are trying new things whilst possibly forming a new corset making addiction - sorrynotsorry.

    sewcurvyblog oasis of calm
    My studio neighbour, The Cuckoo's Nest Gallery, has been creating an oasis of calm outside Sew Curvy Towers!