The Royal Mint has launched a website for people who want to buy and sell its gold and silver coins.

The Royal Mint Bullion is aiming to attract new investors to its collection of coins by offering buying, storage and potentially a 'buy back' facility.

Accounts are free to set up and users can buy and sell 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What gold can you buy?

You can buy either Royal Mint gold or silver bullion coins in line with the global fluctuating price, known as the spot price, plus a premium.

The size of the coins is weighed in troy ounces, which are slightly heavier than standard ounces. This measurement is normally used for precious metals and gems.

A 22-carat George and Dragon 2014 coin, weighing 0.2354 troy ounces, will go for about £199. A one ounce Britannia Bullion coin is priced at around £807.

No VAT is paid on gold bullion coins, but there’s 20% VAT on silver. Britannia, Sovereign and Lunar bullion coins are all free from capital gains tax as they are legal tender in the UK.

You can choose to have your bullion sent to your home or it can be kept in 'The Vault' (unless it’s silver) which is protected by the Ministry of Defence. There is a 1% annual storage fee plus VAT.

There’s no limit on how much investors can buy, but the mint has set up an advice and storage service for people spending more than £50,000.

The Mint may be able to buy it back from you when you wish to sell. It’s a little precarious as the competitive rate is based on a percentage of the day’s gold price. It’s not such good news for smaller investors either, as the Mint will only buy back full tubes of coins.

Risky business

In the past small investors have been put off of buying precious metals because buying and storing them is too complex. There’s also a widespread fear of being ripped off by a dodgy dealer.

Research from the World Gold Council estimates that an extra £4 billion could be invested in the market if the price of buying or converting gold was made easier.

However, a number of financial experts have called for caution, pointing to the volatile nature of the price of gold. In the last three years the price of an ounce of gold has fallen by more than £400.