Britain’s violin trade is blocked by Brexit

Britain’s violin trade is blocked by Brexit


norman lebrecht

March 15, 2021

An everyday tale of woe by Matt Gryspeerdt of Amber Violins in Gloucestershire:

The problem area is UK/EU customs delays and inability to follow their own rules. I try so hard to do the correct documentation. Some very valuable goods are stuck at customs for up to a month, and what used to take three days is regularly taking two weeks and I pay the import VAT at 20 per cent.

I cannot reclaim the VAT back for up to three months because HMRC are so behind with registering businesses for VAT offset. At present I am owed over £15,000 in VAT to reclaim at the end of my VAT quarter.

Also, I need to send my own very valuable pieces of stock to Paris and to Brussels for certification and return. This seems to be impossible. French customs cannot understand temporary import. £50,000 of antique violins have been sitting in a case at a FedEx depot for two weeks now, and it’s impossible to communicate with FedEx or customs.

It’s a nightmare of worry! Without certification and the speedy passage of stock bought and sold to the EU, I cannot continue business as before. It is now easier to send goods to North America and Asia than to the EU.

I buy from private individuals in France etc. I organise all the documentation for them to send to me but there is no incentive for employees of DHL, UPS, Chronopost etc in these countries to learn to do the documentation correctly. Understandably, they think that is our problem here in UK. The tragedy is that I cannot see things improving for years, if at all. So I do less business, pay less tax, employ fewer staff.”

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  • Rogerio says:

    Sir, I suggest you cuddle up with a copy Nigel Farage’s 2015 best-seller “Top Ten Reasons to Vote LEAVE”.
    It will have you looking on the bright side in a jiffy.

  • Mautice Kanter says:

    The French do understand temporary imports, you need a carnet for that and a deposit of 40% of the value when entering and it will be checked on leaving if you removed all the temporary imports. The Music Bands and their groupies have to pay 40% of their equipment as well when touring.

  • IC225 says:

    Headline should read “Britain’s Violin Trade is Blocked by EU Bureaucracy”.
    There, fixed it for you.

  • Never says:

    Happy Brexit !!

  • harold says:

    A familiar story of British business badly affected by Brexit. It carries across all sectors and will impoverish the country for years.

  • If a significant part of your business involves moving inventory around the EU you might find it potentially beneficial to set up a subsidiary company in, say, Holland to deal with your acquisitions and sales within the EU.

    There is a discussion about this on BBC Radio 4’s excellent ‘The Bottom Line’. See: There might be added difficulties for a one person business.