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Cycling club arrives in Spain for charity ride... hit with £7,000 bike customs charge

Welsh group Tap It Out paid the fee but now faces having to "fold the club" and feels like the group has been "held for ransom"...

A Welsh cycling club says it may be forced to close for good after being stung by a surprise £7,330 tariff by Spanish border officials when they collected their bikes ahead of a charity ride.

The group — from Tap It Out cycling club running out of a pub in Pyle, Bridgend — flew to Santander, in Cantabria on Spain's north coast while their bikes arrived by ferry ahead of the 600-mile ride raising money for Prostate Cymru, a charity close to the club's heart as some of its members have been affected by prostate cancer.

However, when they went to collect their bikes the group was told to pay an €8,500 (£7,330) tariff, something they appealed — on the grounds of it being a charity event — but were unsuccessful.

Faced with the dilemma of cancelling the ride or paying the fee, the team paid the fee out of the club's accounts but now faces having to "fold the club — shut it down."

Head of the group Nicky Morgan told the BBC organising the trip had been "really stressful" without the added inconvenience and had been rescheduled twice due to Covid.

"We were doing a charity event. It never entered our minds that we were going to sell bikes or be accused of selling bikes. My jaw just dropped," he said.

Another of the riders, Rhys Lloyd, said he was representing his dad who usually rides with the club but is too ill to participate in this one.

Mr Lloyd feels like the group has been "held for ransom" and paying the tariff will "bleed a big hole into the club". Another rider, who lost his mum and colleagues to cancer, said he just wanted to "raise funds and awareness".

Welsh politician Huw Irranca-Davies and MP Chris Elmore wrote a joint letter to the Spanish customs authority, arguing the fee: "Negated the very purpose of the charity bike ride — to raise funds for Prostate Cymru which is a cause dear to so many people — but also has left a very sour feeling in relations."

The pair asked for a "full and immediate response explaining why these charges have been made", and speaking to BBC Wales Mr Irranca-Davies explained he had a long-running support of Prostate Cancer and there was "no good reason" for the fee.

He suggested it could be a result of post-Brexit import fees being wrongly applied to the riders.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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61 comments

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saintly_jim replied to pockstone | 1 year ago
1 like

Northern Ireland is still in customs union with GB so you should be able to bring any number of bicycles there with no problems.

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wycombewheeler replied to saintly_jim | 1 year ago
0 likes
saintly_jim wrote:

Northern Ireland is still in customs union with GB so you should be able to bring any number of bicycles there with no problems.

and then take them over the non border to Ireland, and thence on to the Ferry from Roslare to Roscoff, which presumably will not be subject to EU border checks

For that reason I thought things had to be declared at the Irish Sea. Although I think there are no customs on the way back to GB from NI

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mark1a replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
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wycombewheeler wrote:

and then take them over the non border to Ireland, and thence on to the Ferry from Roslare to Roscoff, which presumably will not be subject to EU border checks

Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area, so there will be border checks on entry to France. 

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IanMSpencer replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
2 likes

Schengen is about people, not goods.

The exit agreement basically put the onus on GB to check goods were compliant with EU standards and customs rules across the Irish Sea, so goods going to NI are supposed to be subject to checking as the NI Agreement asserts free movement across the NI/Eire border.

So there is a border that is internal to the UK for goods. The implementation of checks is still subject to argument, but in principle, for goods the EU border is the Irish Sea between GB and NI. "Got It Done" Johnson pretends that that is not what they agreed to and generally the Government is hoping that the EU will just ignore the detailed agreement, mainly by using the tools of threats, insults and law breaking, which I suspect is not necessarily going to win friends and influence people.

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mark1a replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
1 like

Correct, but wycombewheeler said "presumably will not be not subject to EU border checks" - so in their example, driving GB -> NI -> Ireland -> France, turning up at a Schengen border (France), from a non-Schengen country (Ireland) with a UK passport and a van full of bikes - there will be checks on the people and their goods. 

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Dicklexic | 1 year ago
10 likes

Ahhh Brexit, the gift that keeps on giving!

Just one more little thing that pretty much none of us (both those for and against) would've even considered was a factor when the referendum was held back in 2016.

In this case the club maybe 'should' have anticipated this when shipping bikes by van separately ahead of the riders, but quite understandably may not have even thought it was anything to worry about, based on running similar previous events prior to Brexit. It is my understanding that in principle, it now stands that anyone who travels by car/van to Europe with bikes in/on the vehicle will need a Carnet for them. Just one more cost to add to the ever spiralling costs of travelling anywhere. It seems that if you fly with your bike that the airport staff assume you're a tourist so it's not a concern.

It got cancelled in the end, but I had been planning to drive down to the Alps this summer with mine and my family’s bike in the van, and then meet them at the airport so that we all had our own bikes with us for the trip. I assume this would've been a scenario that would require a Carnet, and I'm sure there are lots of similar situations for other travellers too. I had no idea this was a concern until reading this story today.

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IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
17 likes

I worked in developing a SITPRO export document printing system for a tube making company in the 1980s so I know how hard it is getting export documentation right.

So when all the Brexiteers were poo-pooing that export documentation might not be for the feint-hearted, I tended to dismiss their protests as lacking in practical experience. Smug look.

The reality is that day to day bureaucracy to get through life is at the limits of what people can cope with, so it is no surprise that Joe Public falls down a trap like this.

You don't know what you've had till you lose it.

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mark1a | 1 year ago
9 likes

I was mindful of this last year when preparing for the (covid cancelled) l'Étape du Tour, and investigated both the ATA Carnet and the Duplicate List forms. EU import duty on complete bicycles is 14%.

In the end, as I was due to travel in my own van with bike on board, I decided to go with it and declare it as personal property with no intention to export. Academic really as the whole event was cancelled unfortunately.

I also put together a folder containing all the receipts and proof of purchases within the UK for the bike build, as (a risk not mentioned in this article), I also thought that it wasn't inconceivable that UK customs would try and charge import duty for bringing it back unless I could prove I took it out with me.

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joe9090 | 1 year ago
11 likes

Shame Wales voted for Brexit. They can blame their fellow country traitors rather than the Spanish customs. 

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Secret_squirrel replied to joe9090 | 1 year ago
7 likes

Dont think thats entirely fair.  Regardless of how Wales voted they would have been dragged out of the EU by the the rest of the UK.

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Dicklexic replied to joe9090 | 1 year ago
1 like

The entire UK 'voted for Brexit' apparently, not just Wales. In fact pretty much every region was 'more' pro-Brexit than Wales. Only London, the South East, N.Ireland and Scotland had a lower percentage of remain voters.

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Sniffer replied to Dicklexic | 1 year ago
6 likes
Dicklexic wrote:

The entire UK 'voted for Brexit' apparently, not just Wales. In fact pretty much every region was 'more' pro-Brexit than Wales. Only London, the South East, N.Ireland and Scotland had a lower percentage of remain voters.

I don't think this says what you thought it should.

London, SE, NI and Scotland had a higher percentage of Remain voters than Wales.

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NickStrugnell | 1 year ago
6 likes

All this could have been averted simply by filling in an ATA carnet for temporary import as explained on the UK government website: https://www.gov.uk/taking-goods-out-uk-temporarily/get-an-ata-carnet

As the bikes were unaccompanied (presumably all in a van) they would have not been exempted from duty as a personal import and therefore import duty would be levied on the residual value of all non-EU/UK bikes (any bikes actually made in the UK or EU would have been duty free due to the customs union between the two). This means that all the Far Eastern manufactured bikes (which I imagine would be the majority of them) would have duty charged on them at their current used market rate.
 

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cdamian replied to NickStrugnell | 1 year ago
3 likes
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Flâneur replied to NickStrugnell | 1 year ago
9 likes

"All this could have been averted simply by filling in an ATA carnet <snip rest of ill-judged, misleading nonsense>"

ATA Carnet cost for non-LCCI member: £310+VAT

Plus a security has to be provided to cover the potential duties if you don't re-import it: £2000! (for a £5k bike, if you're honest)

Plus, in addition

Security Fee £50.00
Additional Security Fee £6.00
Issuing Fee £58.75
Sub Total £114.75
Final VAT £22.95

Hardly simple or cheap, is it?

 

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NickStrugnell replied to Flâneur | 1 year ago
4 likes

I'm sure you'll agree this is a small price to pay for blue passports.

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hawkinspeter replied to NickStrugnell | 1 year ago
4 likes
NickStrugnell wrote:

I'm sure you'll agree this is a small price to pay for blue passports.

We've been over this before - that's not why people voted for it. We've now got control to set up protected marine sanctuaries or something

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

Exactly.  This is what so many remoaners don't get.  We are now free to give workers more rights, pay people better, have more effective health and safety legislation, cleaner beaches and waters, be more compassionate towards refugees, protect our natural capital, boost our green economy, provide higher animal welfare standards...

...all while reducing pettifogging regulation and the depredations of unelected, wasteful bureaucracy (is this right?).

In general I'm in favour of keeping the corruption closer to home and keeping a wary eye on officials.  I'm just not a fan of how the UK has been doing this for time.  Examples: chucking some cash at councils and saying "you sort it out" on national issues - standard cycling infra anyone?  Handing important services to their "partners" in big businesses and wiping their hands...

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fenix replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
5 likes

Cleaner beaches and water? How is that working out for us ?

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Poolster replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
3 likes

Give your head a wobble

Employment rights have been weakened with deregulation. The erosion of working time, paid holidays, some forms of discrimination, health and safety and redundancy. England is also one of the worst places in Europe when it comes to water quality, with just 14% of rivers in good condition. Plus the human rights act is not safe - exporting refugees to Rwanda. 

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IanMSpencer replied to Poolster | 1 year ago
8 likes

Give your sarcasm and irony sensor a smack.

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Jetmans Dad replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

Exactly.  This is what so many remoaners don't get.  We are now free to give workers more rights, pay people better, have more effective health and safety legislation, cleaner beaches and waters, be more compassionate towards refugees, protect our natural capital, boost our green economy, provide higher animal welfare standards...

...all while reducing pettifogging regulation and the depredations of unelected, wasteful bureaucracy (is this right?).

This may have been intended as sarcasm, but I have a couple of friends who actually believe this, and voted for Brexit on this basis. 

Explaining endlessly that the EU regulations are a minimum standard and there is nothing to stop member states from imposing higher ones of their own has done precisely squat to change their minds. 

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Exactly.  This is what so many remoaners don't get.  We are now free to give workers more rights, pay people better, have more effective health and safety legislation, cleaner beaches and waters, be more compassionate towards refugees, protect our natural capital, boost our green economy, provide higher animal welfare standards...

...all while reducing pettifogging regulation and the depredations of unelected, wasteful bureaucracy (is this right?).

You are Joe Lycett and I claim my five British guineas!  3

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matthewn5 replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

We are now free to give workers more rights, pay people better, have more effective health and safety legislation, cleaner beaches and waters, be more compassionate towards refugees, protect our natural capital, boost our green economy, provide higher animal welfare standards...

We always were. The EU rules were a floor, not a ceiling.

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chrisonabike replied to matthewn5 | 1 year ago
1 like

We always had an odd take on EU rules - complain bitterly then follow blindly.  Punctuated by "if you don't change this for us we're out".  Other nations seemed to navigate these with more finesse.

Anyway I thought I was being mildly ironic but maybe satire has left the building?

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hawkinspeter replied to matthewn5 | 1 year ago
1 like
matthewn5 wrote:
chrisonatrike wrote:

We are now free to give workers more rights, pay people better, have more effective health and safety legislation, cleaner beaches and waters, be more compassionate towards refugees, protect our natural capital, boost our green economy, provide higher animal welfare standards...

We always were. The EU rules were a floor, not a ceiling.

Well yes, but now we can remove those regulations so that the majority will suffer while a few rich individuals get richer.

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KDee | 1 year ago
5 likes

That really sucks! I assume they got hit with the fee because the bikes were being shipped ahead, rather than travelling with the riders themselves, so it's seen as an import instead of a personal belonging.

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NickStrugnell replied to KDee | 1 year ago
11 likes

Correct. They would have needed an ATA Carnet to prove the goods were a temporary import. It's not cheap, £300+VAT, but vital if you are ever taking equipment to another country on a temporary basis. Wasn't needed going to the EU when the UK was a member which is why it probably didn't occur to them.

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philsinclair replied to NickStrugnell | 1 year ago
1 like
NickStrugnell wrote:

Correct. They would have needed an ATA Carnet to prove the goods were a temporary import. It's not cheap, £300+VAT, but vital if you are ever taking equipment to another country on a temporary basis. Wasn't needed going to the EU when the UK was a member which is why it probably didn't occur to them.

I think they could still claim it retrospectively. Also there is another international (not EU) rule that the temporary export of goods that are going to be returned to the previous country are exempt from taxes. This is typically used for art works being loaned for exhibitions in another country. Also used for sports equipment, e.g. for use in the Olympics, etc.

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NickStrugnell replied to philsinclair | 1 year ago
2 likes

The ATA Carnet is the proof of temporary export required by the "international (not EU) rule" that you are referring to. It's the standard way of temporarily exporting equipment between countries and used by sports teams, touring live bands, art exhibitions etc. It can't be applied for retrospectively.

 

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