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Understanding Duties, VAT and Taxes on Electric Bicycles

When doing some research about purchasing an electric bike you will quickly notice that a lot of manufacturers retailing their ebikes online do not include VAT, duties or import taxes in the price they bill at checkout, which means that these will be charged to you upon delivery. This especially concerns products sold via crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc. But what does it mean and how much do you really have to pay?

In this article we will explain exactly what you should expect with regards to hidden costs when purchasing an ebike online.

First of all, it is important to highlight the fact that if you reside in an European country, the price you pay when purchasing your FuroSystems eBike(s) is the price displayed on our website, there are no hidden costs. We offer shipping and cover all VAT, import duties and taxes that apply to your country.

Now, what are these taxes exactly? When importing a bike you can expect to be charged the following: Value Added Tax, Import Duties and in some cases anti-dumping duties. Most of you are familiar with VAT, which revolves around 20% in Europe. Similarly, Import Duties, a tax levied at customs, are of 6% in Europe. So when purchasing an eBike which originates from outside your country or economic zone on a crowdfunding platform or website that announces that the VAT and duties are covered by customers, you can expect to pay an extra 1.2*1.06=27.2% on the retail value of your product. That’s an extra €400 on a €1,500 bike. Of course, these will vary depending on where you reside and where your product is coming from.

90% of the time, as with most manufactured products today, your ebike will be coming from China simply because of the costs you and your manufacturer can save doing so while still enjoying outstanding quality (China is not what it used to be, their output quality and experience are now world class, with some exceptions, of course).

The nasty one: anti-dumping duties

This is particularly relevant to ebikes manufactured in China. The interesting thing being that in a way, they all are today. When they are announced as not, most of the components are manufactured there and assembled in another country.

A few months ago, several big manufacturers went to the European Commission claiming that most eBikes importers and manufacturers (designing in Europe but manufacturing outside of the EU) were dumping in Europe, which means buying and retailing at prices way below what they should be and therefore killing local players. However, this does not make much sense, because as mentioned above, all eBikes, even the ones retailed by the “complainers” are mostly made in China but assembled somewhere else. In addition, Lithium-ion batteries, motors and high quality bike/ebike components are more or less the same price everywhere in the world due to the elevated costs of raw materials (Lithium, copper, etc).

Nevertheless, after undergoing some intense lobbying, the European Commission decided to apply a 83% tariff on all ebike imports from China. Not 10%, not 30%, not even 70%, 83% 🙂

This means that when purchasing an ebike from a company that imports or manufactures its designs in China, their import value becomes their actual value multiplied by 1.83. VAT and Duties then apply on top of this so the total multiple becomes 1.83*1.2*1.06=2.33.

You are reading this right, as a European, when buying an ebike manufactured in China on a website, crowdfunding platform or company that tells you that VAT and taxes are on you, you will most likely receive a bill of €1330 on an ebike you paid €1000 (133% the announced price in additional taxes).

Again, we want to insist on the fact that this is NOT THE CASE WITH FUROSYSTEMS, THE PRICE YOU PAY AT CHECKOUT IS THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR YOUR BIKE, NO HIDDEN COSTS.

Similarly, the US soon will soon raise their import duties on eBikes from China to 25%. All of this to say that when going through such a purchase, make sure that you are not surprised by an unexpected bill upon receiving your bike. You can do this by checking the company’s policy on VAT and import taxes as well as verifying the taxes that are relevant to you in your country. In some lucky places, these can be close to 0!

Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments if you have any questions!

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