I have been asked to post about buying wholesale makeup from the US and importing it into the UK. I can understand that for anyone starting out it can all seem a little scary so hopefully this information will be useful and put any fears you may have at rest.
Just for the record, there are several good wholesale cosmetics and beauty suppliers in the UK and you will get full details of those if you are a member of Cheap Slap (what do you mean, you’re not? You need to join Cheap Slap right now!!) There is easily enough of a good selection available from the UK sellers to get started, and I know some people with established cosmetics businesses who only ever use the recommended UK suppliers.
However, a lot of the best wholesale makeup deals are to be had from US sellers, especially for the most in demand high end brands like MAC, Benefit and Bobbi Brown. There are quite a few trustworthy US sellers with authentic wholesale makeup products for sale, so it makes sense to keep your options open and consider buying from them at some point down the line.
When buying from the US, the additional costs you need to consider are the shipping costs, VAT and customs duties, and also any extras like a handling fee.
The main suppliers all use major couriers to ship to their UK customers, and shipping quotes are usually available before you order. The cost depends and the size and weight of the package. You pay the agreed shipping cost up front at the same time as you pay for your order.
Obviously, and it depends what you are buying, but in my experience shipping is usually never more than around $50, and that can be for up to 200 items – remember that lipsticks, mascaras, eyeshadows etc are small and light. So the cost of shipping per item for small items can be very reasonable.
You can always ask for a couple of shipping quotes depending on the quantity of items, as there may be a minimum charge which makes it work out more expensive per item. For example, the cost to ship 100 items may be only a little bit more than for say 20 or 30 pieces.
VAT also gets added to any goods shipped to the UK with a value over £18. VAT is charged at 17.5% on the value of the goods so you will need to factor this cost into your budget as well. I should also mention that VAT is also applied to all orders from UK suppliers as well, and UK suppliers always list their prices before VAT. That means that you will always have to pay VAT, and you will never have to pay any additional VAT just because you are buying from the US. It is possible to reclaim VAT if you are VAT registered, but most people reading this will not be.
Next up, customs duties. I am no expert on this because there are loads of different customs rates depending on what the product is, so as a rule of thumb I just budget for another 10% of the order value.
Finally, a handling charge of around £10 or £15 is added by the courier company (or £8 if your package is delivered by normal post). You will need to pay the VAT, customs duty, and handling charge when the package is delivered. The courier company usually telephones you for payment by credit card beforehand and the post office leaves a red card through your door with details of the charges due before the item can be delivered.
When you work it all out, the additional charges of buying from the US still make it worthwhile. I know, because I do it all the time, and so do a great many other eBay cosmetics sellers. The fact is that to get the best stock, the US is where it’s at. It may take a little longer for your goods to arrive, but only a few days, and the little extra effort involved is well worth it.