Hello everyone, I have some really sad news to share.
Apparently those laws that took place for the UK in early January this year are now also taking place for all EU nations (Effective tomorrow – July 1st 2021). They were both supposed to happen at the same time but the EU decided to postpone their regulation change so as to not over-burden businesses already struggling with Covid.
But let’s over-burden businesses now I guess … (sigh) …
Ok, so here’s the thing
The EU (as well as the UK) are requiring every business – be they big or small or micro – be they within or out of the EU – to register with the EU and UK governments and establish a VAT tax ID number and issue quarterly statements and payments to their respective agencies.
What is VAT?
VAT stands for Value Added Tax and it’s basically like a country charging its citizens a sales tax on goods they purchase from abroad. Many of our international customers already know this because they’ve had to pay this fee themselves in order to collect our packages upon arrival.
What most businesses do is they keep track of the rates for each country and either add the cost during checkout or absorb it with their epic profit margins. So it’s often invisible to customers.
Unfortunately my products are hand-made and my profit margins are … well … hard to find at times. So I would have to have a unique (jacked up) rate per country and track each sale and report it to the UK and EU. I can’t really afford or have the time to manage all of this. And since the EU and UK are not giving me a choice anymore (and requiring me to file quarterly tax reports) I am unable to sell products to customers in thirty countries now!
There is hope – thanks to Etsy
Etsy recently announced they would be handling much of this for products that were under a certain price threshold (around $180 USD). This threshold varies per country and Etsy tracks it). It means that I can sell my less expensive figures (small ones) to the UK and all EU nations via Etsy as they will handle the entire process with their own Etsy VAT ID number.
What about the larger figures?
Turns out the EU will allow sellers to not collect VAT on items that are above €150 (also about $180 USD). So it’s quite possible the “best” case scenario out of this is that I will be able to sell the smaller figures via Etsy and continue to sell the larger figures internationally via Armaturenine.com. We’ll see. I need to find out if I’m still required to report quarterly statements even if I’m reporting $0 in tax collected in which case smaller figures via Etsy might be all I can afford.
The Armature Nine storefront has all products to EU nations and the UK currently disabled. That’s a total of 30 countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ireland & Great Brittain
C’est la vie mon ami
This is terrible for customers and terrible for my business (and I’m sure for all other tiny businesses). It hurts customers because if any existing customer from these countries now wants to purchase add-ons for their existing A9RIGS, they may never be able to.
And it’s bad for business because these thirty countries have historically made up a substantial percentage of my sales. And without them I may actually not be able to make it!
One of the beautiful things about the internet is that it has created a marketplace that extends around the globe and that means that the most niche and unlikely of ideas or products can actually find an audience big enough to sustain it. In a way, that’s kind of the story of A9. Literally every single friend, aquaintance or family member is shocked when I tell them this is what I do for a living. It’s simply not within people’s lived experience to know that there is a need for an articulated doll such as Armature Nine.
I think people don’t realize how the globe (even the U.S.) is so huge and people are so incredibly diverse, that somewhere out there, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals whom have needs that their local markets are simply not attending to. Go to any mall and you’ll find mostly food and clothing. But what about those of us that are not neuro-typical? What about artists? What about those whom love to study the human figure and animal anatomy? What about doll colectors? Sculptors? Stop-motion animators? Storytellers? Concept Artists? Cartoonists? Comicbook artists? Or people whom just have an appreciation for having something beautiful in their home? And that’s just Armature Nine!
I guess this just means the cost of entry is now a bit steeper than it was and I’ll just have to adapt. Who knows, maybe business will grow in the US and I will some day be able to afford the clerical staff, lawyers and accountants needed to join the EU and UK marketplace.
For now, I will continue shipping to all other countries around the world as they have not yet placed these restrictions.