Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Customs: More Than I Wanted to Know

After mailing a package to the Netherlands for Ben's birthday, I decided to look into Amazon Global for my daughter-in-law Ruth's birthday gift. I learned more than I wanted to know. If I read the pages of information correctly, apparently the gift I sent, which will go through customs, will generate charges which must be paid by the recipient of the gift before they can claim it.

What? If I send them a present they have to pay customs charges to receive their gift? They sent John a present for his birthday, and we weren't handed a customs bill to pay before he got to open his sausages. (John is addicted to summer sausage, pepperoni, and all things of that nature. The boys all know that anything of that nature is guaranteed to be a hit.)

Amazon can ease the burden on the recipient somewhat by software they use. They will estimate the charges and add them on to your bill. I can buy Ruth, for example, a $15 can opener. The charges to mail that to the Netherlands in only 8-12 business days is $29.99. I haven't figured out what the added customs fees and charges will be. Maybe I should send money. Is that tacky? I really love that young woman. I want her to have something special. I just hate to throw money away.



sherrie said...

Would she have to pay customs on money? The wire charges can be as much as shipping a can opener. I know, I will get what you want her to have, give it to her parents to take when they visit (customs???), and then you can take me to lunch when you come to visit here! There, all fixed. Hahahahah....

Ben said...

There's a couple of options...

First of all, don't have Amazon ship anything here. It's CRAZY expensive. We were able to send you something because we purchased it *from* the US. As long as you have a US credit card, it isn't a problem. For you to buy things here, you would need a Dutch bank account - not going to happen. So... there are two options.

(1) Buy things there and have someone bring them. Customs doesn't really do much when you walk in through the doors.

or (2) send it regular mail, label it as a gift, and declare the value at $20 or less. Of course, if you put something quite valuable in the package, you have to ask yourself if it's worth more than $20 to replace and send again, noing that customs can charge VAT (19% tax on Euro prices) plus import taxes (don't even ask) when you send something over that.

If it's something quite expensive... just don't send it.

There are always dollar-denominated iTunes gift cards which come via email, and we could always put those to use on movies and such.