Customs charges on gifts sent from abroad

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Posted

Has anyone had the experience of recieving christmas gifts from the states and being charged customs duties?

I have lived in Europe for 17 years and this is the first country where I have ever encountered this problem.

What is the Law in Germany

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Posted

The law is the same across Europe, although the rates may be different. Typically 7% import duty on items with an assessed value over €45 plus 16% (soon to be 19%) VAT where applicable. If the duty and taxes are processed by a third party (e.g. the courier or postal service) they may charge an administration fee. The assessed value is the higher of the declared value and the value perceived by customs, should they open or identify the contents. It's a frequent trick to under-declare value and hope they don't spot it or open the parcel as they sometimes do (randomly).

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Posted

I paid 12 euro and change last week for a package sent directly from amazon.com. We have received quite a few other Christmas packages that were not mailed from a business, and have not been billed by customs for those.

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Posted

I have the feeling that the Customs Office has been cracking down on this in the last couple years. Just last week I had to pick up some bibles (sent from a private address) at customs to the tune of €15-odd even though they were declared as a gift. The flunkie with whom I was dealing said basically that Germany wanted the VAT on any imported item.

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Posted

Just last week I ordered clothing from an US based company and it was shipped via UPS. The goods totalled $172.00 + $30.95 shipping. I had to pay duty in cash to the delivery chap when he brought the parcel and a couple of days later I received a thick ream of papers relating to the charges.

It is interesting to note that each item I ordered had it's own sheet detailing (of what I could figure out in German) coutry of manufacture, material used etc as well as applicable taxes ranging from 6.5% to 16%. UPS charged 2.5% processing fee, so I paid a total of €52.36 to receive my order. It was well worth it though and I got it within 24 hours of ordering on line ... now that's what I call service!

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Posted

Its all luck.

What I recommend is having it shipped to you from someone in the states (friend or relative), and get the tags and packaging taken off...like its being shipped to you as something you own already...

...of course this is my thought after shelling out a whole heap of euros to customs on my own Christmas and birthday gifts after the last 2 years...

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Posted

It is luck, but if you take all the tags and packaging off, and there is no statement of the value on the tag from the US post office, you're opening yourself up to the whims of the customs agents. They could very well decide that the article is a new item, and worth more than it actually is, and charge you accordingly.

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Posted

I must say never been charged for items purchased from eBay.com as these usually arrive in used boxes or padded envelopes, even when the value marked exceeds €22. My guess is they check more often during Xmas.

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Posted

Does this apply to gifts packed in checked luggage?

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Posted

Yes. You're supposed to claim it and pay customs if it's worth more than something like 500 Euro altogether. (For all the new items you're bringing in.)

Customs can do random stops on arrival and go through your bags before you leave the baggage claim area, to see if you're underclaiming.

It's pretty easy to get around customs at the airport, though. If you buy any clothes while you're away, for example, take the tags off before you pack them and say they're not new.

By the way, you're taking a bit of a chance anyway if you carry wrapped gifts, that they will be opened by airport security at the departure airport.

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Posted

I guess they've also got more strict over the last couple of years, since the US$ has nose-dived against the Euro. Seems like people are doing some of their Xmas shopping in NY.

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Posted

If you buy any clothes while you're away, for example, take the tags off before you pack them and say they're not new.

This goes for anything you might get charged for. Clothes, Laptops,etc.. Make it look like you had it when you left and your OK.

Don't go packing your new Laptop in the Orig box, or have all the documents, reciepts etc. in your baggage. Mail them to yourself before you go...

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Posted

When I was back in the US for Christmas I went shopping for a wedding dress and what not with my mom and sister, and I am gettign the stuff sent over. What I am wondering is if there is anyway I won't have to pay customs on it since my parents paid for it (so its basically a gift)?

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Posted

Writing gift is a good idea, but if they write that its worth over 50 USD then you will get charged customs. Further, you can say its less than 50, pretend like you already own it and cut the tags off...that should do. ;)

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Posted

I'm getting married to a German in September, but I'm flying over in April. It's a tradition in the US for all the ladies to have a bridal shower where everyone gives gifts - bed linens, towels, etc. I'll be bringing this over with my in my suitcases when I fly to Munich. Will I have a problem with the Customs agents in Munich? I already cut all the tags off and am planning on washing everything so that it has "used" smell about it. I have never dealt with the customs agents in Munich. I usually went through in Amsterdam then Munich. I had to buy a 3 week ticket this time, since the one-way was too expensive. Will this send up "red flags" to the Customs agents? Should I keep it at a two bag limit or should I pay to have 3 bags when I come through? Please help as I'm stressing I'll owe loads to the germans on GIFTS.

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Posted

Frankly I dont think it makes a difference whether YOU bought the items or whether someone else did & GAVE them to you.

If duty is payable then duty is payable.

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Posted

If your stuff is not in brand new boxes, and you don't have clothes with tags, I find it hard to believe they will charge you duty when you arrive into the country with this stuff in your luggage. It could be easily argued that it is stuff you've owned for a while in the US and are just bringing back cause you're living here now.

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Posted

what about those who live in Germany and go home for Christmas where ultimately, we will be given gifts and will be bringing them back in luggage? My mom wants to buy me an iPod, but I suggested we go halves because it is $250. should I claim this as well when I arrive back in germany?

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Posted

Don't claim anything, unless your pulled aside for inspection, and if you are, claim you had it with you when you left.

Just don't be stupid enough to leave it in the Orig. box, with all the docs, cables, US Receipts, etc.. Mail those to yourself from the US

if you really feel your going to need them.

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Posted

Don't claim anything, unless your pulled aside for inspection, and if you are claim, you had it with you when you left.

i usually do this for clothes anyhow since i always stock up on my jeans & underwear when at home (we can discuss this somewhere else!). I've never brought back technical stuff so I was not sure. it's not my intention to deceive anyone buy buying an iPod over there and not here, for yes, it is much cheaper. but trousers that fit, that is something completely different!

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Posted

I bought some I-pod speakers and a heap of clothes and brought them back and had no trouble at all, but then I was incredibly naive and didn't know that I was supposed to pay anything extra on them!

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Posted

Hell, I bought a 21speed Road Bike and brought it back in a big box and didn't pay anything and didn't get caught (this was 4 years ago). When I bring stuff back, I take all the tags off and wear it at least once. There is no way they can prove that you didn't buy it in Germany and bring it on your trip to the States.

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Posted

There is no way they can prove that you didn't buy it in Germany and bring it on your trip to the States.

Problem is, it may be up to YOU to prove that you did buy it within the EU...

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Posted

i couldn't do that with ANY of the clothes I do actually own (and have bought here). When people go on holiday, the don't take receipts from 10 year old clothes with them, do they?!

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