Customs charges on gifts sent from abroad

178 posts in this topic

 

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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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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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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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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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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Rilana I don't think they are going to go after you for clothes most of the time unless you have a suitcase full of jeans in different sizes or something (but not when it looks like a person's normal wardrobe). iPods, laptops, cameras, etc. though they can ask you to prove they were bought in the EU... If you can't it may be up to you to pay the customs charges.

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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).

According to my local Zollamt, the charges are a straight 19% Mehrwhateversteuer (MWT is VAT?) on anything valued at over 45 Euros. If the items are mailed using the US postal service, or the Canadian postal service, and if some or all of the following criteria are present, you have a problem and will have to drive to the Customs house in your area as specified on the evil green postcard you will receive in your mailbox.

 

The value exceeds 45 Euros and/or;

The package is untidy looking;

The listing of items is vague;

The parcel looks too big for the declared value;

The parcel feels too heavy for the declared value;

The person who unloaded it from the plane was having a bad day.

The person who sent it forgot to check off gift.

The person who sent it, decided to use their business address as their return address with a fancy printed return address label, even when it was a personal gift.

 

My "local" customs office is 1,5 hours away and not serviced by train. Joy. They always let you open the parcel yourself. And if you are lucky, whoever sent it washed your crap, and took the tags off, or bought it at Target for 70% off and left the tags on. It helps if your friends and family send you something in the parcel that is quite worn, that you can pull out first and hug to yourself while squealing enthusiastically. Germans don't seem to like worn looking old things. :-) Going just before closing, to pick up your parcel is also a very good strategy. (The enthusiastic squealing, itself, is usually enough to embarrass the civil servant enough to want to get rid of you immediately on the spot.)

 

You may require a receipt in German, an email in German, or something official-ish from the person who sent it, written in German giving a more detailed listing of the contents with the value of the goods noted. Zero English is spoken at my local office. (No prob, thank goodness - my German isn't flawless, but I got a 96% on my Deutsch Zertifikat. :-) Whew!

 

If the parcel is valued at over 45 Euros, you will pay 19% MST on the full amount, NOT just the amount that is over 45 Euros.

 

Compare this with being allowed to mail from Germany 300 dollars USD worth of merchandise, per day, to the USA without having to pay any duty.

 

:-/

 

I couldn't get a ride to the office for 3 months and they sent a parcel back to the USA... Still waiting for it to get there so that I can try to get it shipped again. You have to be very specific with friends and family regarding the labeling. The best shipping method is the International Priority Mail Flat Rate Box from the USPS. 20 pounds of weight, 35 US dollars shipping fee. It's a great deal. But they have to check the GIFT box off, and the value of the goods must be under 45 Euros.

 

Smiles,

CA

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Easy.. It was bought off ebay from a local, for which you meet -up with and paid cash for. No receipts. No Bill..

Theres always a way around stuff, which is why 99% of the time the Customs guys don't care. Now if you were bringing

in a suitcase full of iPods, that would be an issue.. Like who takes a 100 iPods with them on vacation...

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Rilana I don't think they are going to go after you for clothes most of the time unless you have a suitcase full of jeans in different sizes or something (but not when it looks like a person's normal wardrobe). iPods, laptops, cameras, etc. though they can ask you to prove they were bought in the EU... If you can't it may be up to you to pay the customs charges.

I don't think they do all that much though...I took my laptop to the US and back with me and nobody asked and I bought i-pod speakers and a camera there and it was fine too...

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Received a notice that a package had been shipped (USPS) from California to us. From hubby's sister, marked as gift (necklace and watch) and insured for $500 dollars. Notice from customs office said we'd have to pay import duty despite it being marked as a gift. Shipped Dec 19th, notice arrived Jan 4th.

Went to the winnenden office to pick up.

Package had not been opened.

Asked about customs and official asked to open package to view.

Enclosed were jewelry and christmas gift card.

She said, no fee, it's obviously a gift.

Phew

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It's a complete crapshoot.

 

Sometimes we order stuff online from the US and it arrives at our doorstep with no customs duties charged. Sometimes, we get a notice and havve to go to the Zollamt and fill out a zillion forms regarding the fiber content of the cloting, etc. to be keypunched into a huge make-work database, no doubt, and end up paying 15%.

 

The secret seems to be keep the orders small. If it arrives UPS or FedEx, we almost never get dinged. If it arrives in a big-ass box vial DHL/Deutsche Post, we're generally screwed.

 

Interestingly, we once refused shipment on a big box from L.L. Bean at the Zollamt because they wanted to treat us like commercial importers and charge full German VAT ... they sent it back to Maine (at their expense). I simply reordered the whole thing online and it sailed through without any problems about a week later.

 

Steuer runter ... macht Deutschland münter!

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... and insured for $500 dollars. Notice from customs office said we'd have to pay import duty despite it being marked as a gift.

<snip>

She said, no fee, it's obviously a gift.

I think you were lucky. IMHO whether its a gift or not is irrelevant for import duty purposes.

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I am planning to ask my friend to send me a camera >500$ and will be taking it out of Germany. Can I explain that to the customs and get away without having to pay the duty ?

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If the camera is coming into Germany from outside the EU then you are liable for duty.

 

Of course you can explain this to customs. Unlikely to have any effect.

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You could temporarily import and use it in Germany/EU (for up to a year) if you raise a ATA Carnet, but it's probably not worth the hassle or cost.

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Is the 45€ limit also applicable to packages sent from an actual business? Or do I have to pay no matter what the cost was (will be about 45USD)?

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this is probably a really stupid q, but I want to order something from an online shop based in the UK. Will I get charged customs duties?

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i know! :o *sheepish grin*

question is sort of irrelevant now. i found a shop in germany and they had free delivery, same price. this UK shop had free delivery, but not any more.

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