Customs delays on deliveries sent from abroad - Germany

Experiences, and advice on tracking packages

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alicetours
Who has experiences receiving packages from abroad? How long do these take if they have to go through customs? I had something sent to me from the US about three weeks ago via First Class (airmail.) Should I consider it lost in the mail at this point? Or could it be delayed by customs spot checks? I am so frustrated because there is no way to track the package in Germany, and the items are relatively hard to come by.
dcgirl
If the item was sent First Class overseas, it should have received some sort of tracking number. You can use that number to check the status on the USPS website. Be aware that Customs will only hold your packages for a short period of time before returning them to the sender. I think the specific length of time depends on how it was sent from the US, but if memory serves, most items are held for about 10 days.
Small Town Boy
I would guestimate, based on posts on Toytown and experiences that friends have had, and given the combined incompetence of German customs and the Deutsche Post, that around a quarter of parcels sent from the US to Germany never arrive. Some of those are returned and others are never seen again.
alicetours
Ugh, STB, that is sooooo irritating. I hope your guestimate is based on real accounts. I totally agree that German services are absolute shite and incompetent. @Dcgirl, there is no tracking number with items sent First Class but the customs form does tell me that it was sent out from Cambridge three weeks ago. Deutsche Post confirms, but since it wasn't sent UPS, there is no way to track it.
Johnny English
Check with your local ZOLL office. They like to sit on stuff from overseas without notifying you. Don't expect a card in the post - it can happen - but its 50-50 at best. Normally they just stick stuff on a shelf.
dcgirl
There should be a number or something on the customs form. We had a bunch of stuff sent Priority, which doesn't usually include tracking. But because they were being sent overseas, requiring a customs form, they all got a tracking number. The USPS is pretty incompetent as well, but since German Customs has a habit of sitting on packages, you may want to contact them to get that number. It may do nothing, but it can't hurt. If you are able to get any kind of tracking numbers, DP or DHL (depending on the size of the packages) should be able to provide the corresponding German tracking numbers. I don't think you can use the German tracking numbers to look up the status on their website, but you can call DP/DHL customer service and they should be able to track them for you with those numbers. When dealing with our lost packages, it seemed to all come down to who you happened to talk to at DH/DPL and if they felt like working that day.

Good luck!
Johnny English
DP and DHL tracking numbers dont exist. Well they do - in that you can send a parcel and they gave you a tracking number. But the number is as much use as a chocolate radiator when you actually wanna track something. The tracking has NEVER worked on the website and even via the post office you can NEVER track 'em either. It's like they are pretending to offer a real service by having tracking numbers like the big boys - but they don't actually track anything in reality.

Oddly it is CHEAPER for us to send via UPS within Germany than via Deutsche Post. How fucking daft is that? We send every single thing with UPS for Germany, but use DHL/DP for small stuff to other European countries 'cos it is cheaper than UPS.
ferkel
Hi, I don't know how applicable this is, but my experience is as follows:

2 Large (15-25 kg) boxes were sent from Canada with DHL to my work address (company). I used DHL because it was a coporate account/rate and therefore worked out cheaper than posting and took days not weeks

They were quick (couple of days) to get to Aachen customs and then they called my work place and we had to fax some details (statement that I really worked there, my ID, anmeldung). Then they arrived in 1-2 days.

This cost nothing extra, but the contents were labeled and were all pre-owned, personal possesions - clothes, linen, dvds, trinkets, usw.

The DHL numbers for me tend to give an indication... but often stop updating at some point...

Hope this info helps.

Ferkel
Quasimodem
Be careful also with stating your values on your customs declaration. This past year I sent a teddy bear and wooden candlestick-holder to a friend in Germany as gifts. Declared value: $20 USD. German customs held up the package and sent her a note saying she owed them 20 more Euros if she wanted to receive the package. I told her to refuse it and two months later it made its way back to me. Embarrassing when you want to send someone a gift and they have to pay additional money just to get it.
Darkknight
All internationl packages entering and leaving Germany pass thru the Hauptzollamt processing center at the Frankfurt Airport.
Depending on how back logged they are and if the package requires any import tax, they are usually released to DPAG/UPS/FEDEX/etc
within 4-5 Days of arrivial.

Only if the package requires import Duty and is non deliverable, is it then given over to the Local ZollAmt which then sends you a letter telling you to come pay & collect it.
Sometimes The Carrier can collect the Duty for the ZollAmt, saving you some trouble, if your home when they come to deliver, or at the local DPAG office.
pipa
I sent myself 2 boxes from the USA by UPS on the same day. They both had similar stuff inside - books, dry goods and things I couldn't fit in my suitcase before moving here. Same info filled out on custom forms, same costs, etc. I then flew to Germany, received one box in 2 weeks, the other one almost 3months later (after a lot of calls and confusion). It had been opened, as had some of the dry goods inside the box (including a previously unopened box of Nespresso coffee capsules - and some of the capsules themselves!!). Some stuff was also missing and the box was in a beat up state, all the stuff shuffled around disorderly, coffee powder spewn around. I was very angry but there was no one I could complain to. I had no explanation, no apologies. I assume they do random checks on packages - and maybe if the customs guys like something in your package, they take that, too. I'm afraid what might happen with my stuff in my relocation shipment now...
Mariposa
pipa, things like that happen with packages from Germany to the US too. I've read so much about things missing from packages, especially when they're gifts, but also food (which is legal to ship, so that is not why it's missing)... even sometimes boxes of chocolates where some chocolates would be missing but not all. So it's definitely not just a problem of Deutsche Post but generally of mailing services, USPS just as much as DP.

I sent some boxes (five of them, two media mail, three ground shipping) from the States to Germany a couple of years ago when I moved, and everything got to Germany just fine, nothing was missing or broken, and they also arrived in the time frame given by USPS. I also paid no customs, but they were all personal items sent from me to me because I moved and as such are not taxed. The ground shipping boxes contained mostly clothes and shoes and stuff like that, the media mail boxes were full of (text) books probably worth $800 when I bought them (though they were used of course). By the way, the lady at the post office in the States told me not to put the value on the boxes. I did have to pick up the boxes at the customs office, they asked what was in the boxes, I told them, they let me go with the boxes without paying anything.
garibaldi
Look, if you need stuff from the States just fly over ans colect it. If you want to send stuff just fly with it. If others can manage that then so can you.
Katrina
OK, so I have left some clothing with a friend in the US *cough* and she's going to post them to me here. Which postal service would be recommended by you lot and which service? Doesn't need to be overnight, items are low value (honest) and small weight (about 2kg at absolute max), but they do need to get here.
LauKatOD
Pipa, as far as I know you may only ship 1lb/500g of coffee without paying customs on it...I saw a show on this once and they either confiscated it or made you pay the customs...since you weren't with the packages maybe they just took it?
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