Customs charges on gifts sent from abroad

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After firstly having to collect a present from the Zoll in Bonn and then secondly having to pay fees in our local Post Office, I've asked my sister (who lives in Northern Ireland)  not to send any presents by post - it's just not worth the hassle.

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Still seems to work sending gifts to the UK. I sent three (1 x Paket 5kg and 2 Päkchen, one with tracking) for Christmas this year all under 39 GBP in listed value, bit painful having to itemise and weigh everything but all arrived in less than a week and no hassle with extra costs or customs duty for the receivers!

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3 hours ago, pmd said:

After firstly having to collect a present from the Zoll in Bonn and then secondly having to pay fees in our local Post Office, I've asked my sister (who lives in Northern Ireland)  not to send any presents by post - it's just not worth the hassle.

Goods from NI should not have taxes or duties levied on them as NI remains in the single market. You should be able to reclaim any duties paid. I wouldn't accept that at all. This is common knowledge at this stage.

 

I'm hearing reports of commercial goods being stopped by UK customs lately and taxes applied. It will get just as difficult in that direction soon enough.

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5 hours ago, scook17 said:

Ordered a DVD from the UK, as the one I wanted here lacked the English original soundtrack, on Hollywood/American film!

 

I can't stop wondering which DVD that is that can't be bought here. Not my business, though. We stream everything.

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27 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Goods from NI should not have taxes or duties levied on them as NI remains in the single market. You should be able to reclaim any duties paid. I wouldn't accept that at all. This is common knowledge at this stage.

 

I'm hearing reports of commercial goods being stopped by UK customs lately and taxes applied. It will get just as difficult in that direction soon enough.

 

The Zoll couldn't give an answer why the first parcel had been impounded. The second was hit with an import fee of 2.23€ and the handling fee 6€. The shop keeper in our affiliated PO couldn't / wouldn't give me a straight answer either. I just paid. He and I have a bit of a history - a few years ago he accused me of trying to send a CD in a letter - it was actually a birthday card. So I knew he would feign ignorance even if he really did know the reason. Just an unpleasant character.

 

This was all earlier in the year. Maybe things have become clearer and Deutsche Post / the Zoll know the correct procedures now. I somehow doubt it.

 

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I have told this story before. Years ago. my son left his CD collection in the U.S. when we visited. All CD's were bought in Gemany with Mehrwertsteuer paid. My brother mailed them to him. They were in a leather binder without the cases. Customs got them and wanted me to pay full import tax on each one. We went back and forth and he didn't want to hear the story. I told him to send them back. We got them on our next visit.

 

My son never left anything in the U.S. again. 

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I've had the same issues with DHL ignoring the detailed information, correctly filled out and positioned forms and lack of any indication that it's a commercial shipment, and had to pay ransom money to be handed my own presents from the UK. Told my family not to send parcels any more for this reason - but my sister didn't get why and posted me two for Christmas. However, she decided to go for the cheapest service, which takes ages but is delivered by Deutsche Post and not DHL - both parcels arrived safely at my door on different days without being impounded, and I didn't have to pay anything. Don't know if it's coincidence or because they counted as Päckchen and not Pakete and that made a difference.

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It's not DHL or Die Post at fault (for a change). It's the Zoll. In many countries the postal services are contracted by customs to calculate and levy the charges but that isn't the case in Germany. Actual customs officers inspect the goods in Frankfurt airport etc. and put the sticker on telling the delivery agent what to collect before releasing the item to the recipient. DHL is just the messenger in this case.

 

 

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6 hours ago, murphaph said:

It's not DHL or Die Post at fault (for a change). It's the Zoll. In many countries the postal services are contracted by customs to calculate and levy the charges but that isn't the case in Germany. Actual customs officers inspect the goods in Frankfurt airport etc. and put the sticker on telling the delivery agent what to collect before releasing the item to the recipient. DHL is just the messenger in this case.

 

 

That's interesting as customs/Zoll told me something different. I received a parcel from the UK (gift under 45 EUR with a correct CN22 form) at the start of December with customs duty and the admin fee.

Spoke to customs and they said that the carrier (DP/DHL, DPD, UPS, etc.) decides on whether to add customs duty. Maybe that's a Munich thing. This seems plausible in my case as the parcel I received is covered in tape informing me that it was opened by Deutsche Post. There have apparently been quite a lot of complaints to customs about DP/DHL adding customs duty (and the corresponding admin fees) incorrectly to gifts under 45 EUR from non-EU countries. This is also not my first one.

I'm in the process of applying for a refund as a matter of principle. It's quite complicated as customs need to agree to the VAT reimbursement (which they have done in this case) before DP/DHL will refund the 6 EUR admin fee. The deadline set by DP/DHL is also quite tight during the holiday period. 

For now, I have a few tips:

- apply for an Abgabenbescheid ASAP as you will need this for refunds from both customs and DHL - 

https://www.dhl.de/de/privatkunden/hilfe-kundenservice/sendungsverfolgung/zoll/fragen-zum-abgabenbescheid.html

- take photos of all 6 sides of the parcel and all stickers, labels, etc. (also required for the refund process)

- if the sender has family connections, make sure they use the same family name as yours if possible.

As the rest is complicated, I can provide an update once I have the full story and hopefully a successful outcome. Unfortunately, I don't think this issue will disappear overnight.

 

Edit: minor tidying up as I'm writing on my phone, nothing to do with the content. 

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On 28/12/2021, 16:45:59, fraufruit said:

 

I can't stop wondering which DVD that is that can't be bought here. Not my business, though. We stream everything.

 

You only have to look on Amazon Prime Germany to see many films streamed only with the German language track and the original English track omitted. This is a real PITA for people who actually want the English language track, be they British (as myself) or those wishing to hear the original track. I know many Germans who hate the dubbed versions, because they just don't translate well, or the dubbing is poor, or they wish to improve their English. If Amazon prime wasn't free (as I use it for deliveries) honestly I would not bother. 

 

There is a huge amount not available in Germany. Having signed up with Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney, this leaves only HBO which is not available here and Sky which I used to watch via a UK sky box and a 1.5M (yes 1.5M) satellite dish on the balcony. But several years ago they switched the satellite to narrow band, so those in Europe watching UK TV were unable to watch, even with a subscription. When I moved, I donated the satellite dish to the landlady, as it was no longer of any use and the new place had no balcony.

 

The sky offering in Germany (IPTV box) doesn't support UHD and needs a satellite or cable connection (not available for me), so I suppose I could go satellite again, but seems a whole lot of hassle as everyone else can simple stream UHD via the internet. We can stream multiple UHD streams, so I see satellite as a fairly obsolete technology now.

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Thanks for the explanation.

 

I've only watched a couple of free movies on Prime.de and they were in English. Everything I have ever tried to watch on Netflix is also in English if it is the original language, of course.

 

I get Prime, Hulu, Netflix and others from U.S. with a VPN. I know that isn't possible for everyone. I use my son's accounts.

 

Cable and satellite are pretty much out everywhere now.

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It's definitely the Zoll that inspects goods. If a parcel is opened then the Zoll is not legally allowed to open it. They must ask a Post worker to actually open the parcel because of the Briefgeheimnis laws. The parcel might also contain a personal letter and that cannot be read and the Post worker is sworn to uphold the secrecy of the mails. That's why the tape says opened by the Post and not the Zoll, but the Zoll agent looks at any goods that need assessment. They are standing beside each other.

 

If it was Die Post that levied the charges, they could send them on to your local post office in the case there's not enough paperwork to assign a value. But they don't, they send them to your nearest customs branch office.

 

When you get the Abgabenbescheid from DHL it will have a ZP number on it. This is an internal Zoll reference number that is required when requesting the refund from the Hauptzollamt responsible. For example for parcels coming through Frankfurt it will be Hauptzollamt Giessen.

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Jumping in on this, my parents shipped a parcel from the UK before Christmas - it has still not arrived and I have received nothing to indicate it's being help in customs - or been returned to them. There is no tracking (and I can assume the forms were filled in correctly, but will check) - Is there a way I can contact customs to see if it's there, and the card just somehow got lost? or a link similar to https://www.dhl.de/nachforschung-brief which covers post not sent from Germany.

 

Cheers

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@fmshughes

I had an almost identical situation; parcel sent well before Christmas from UK; tracking said it was in De after a few days then nothing. I was just about to ask your question here too then it was delivered 3 days ago.  Everything perfectly addressed and documented, no sign of Zoll control. 'Only' 3 weeks. A mystery.

Good luck!

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22 hours ago, fmshughes said:

Thanks @Feierabend - I'll keep my fingers crossed it's just late and not lost

Turned up today - seems like a month is pretty standard for a parcel now - much quicker the other way (at least in my experience)

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Glad it turned up fmshughes!

Yes, I don't think it's just imagination that parcels are taking longer, I noticed that back in Jan 21 when brexshit kicked in, both with online packs and private parcels from the UK. And it is really costly sending people presents. 

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