Understanding customs duty is an important element of sending packages and parcels internationally – getting this wrong can see you land with high fees and a headache, and that is the last thing that you want when you are trying to get your package from A to B!
To help, we have put together all you need to know about sending your package through customs, including what it costs, how much you will be charged, where you pay it, and what happens if you don’t pay it.
What Is Customs Duty?
Customs duty is a tax on goods that are shipped from one country to another, and each country has its own rules and guidelines for calculating this tax.
This means that there is no standard rate of duty across the world, so every country sets its own rates, as well as its own rules, regulations, and requirements.
Knowing your destination country’s customs regulations and laws is essential when sending items overseas.
If you do not understand these rules, you may find yourself paying more than expected, or even having your shipment confiscated.
It is also worth knowing that some countries charge duties at different times during the year, which could affect your shipping arrangements.
Customs fees are used to cover the cost of processing international shipments.
These fees are charged by the government and are intended to ensure that the right amount of money goes towards covering the costs of handling your parcel.
How Much Does Customs Duty Cost?
The amount paid at customs will vary depending on the destination country, as well as a number of other factors, including:
- The Size Of The Item
If the item being sent is large, then the cost of customs duty will likely be higher than if the item is small.
For example, if you send a large package via air freight, the duty will likely be higher compared to sending a box of chocolates.
- The Destination Country
Some countries impose higher taxes on certain types of products, such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.
These items are often subject to special taxes in addition to any customs duty.
- The Value Of The Product
In most cases, the duty is calculated based on the value of the item being imported – the more valuable the item, the more you can expect to have to pay at customs.
- The Importance Of The Goods Being Sent
Some countries require that certain goods must be declared before they arrive in the destination country.
For example, many countries require that medicines must be accompanied by a certificate stating their contents and expiry date.
Sending A Package Through Customs
When you send your parcel through customs, you should make sure that you declare the correct information, and provide the necessary documentation.
Failure to do this could result in delays, fines, and/or confiscation of your goods.
You should always check with your local post office regarding the best way to send your package.
They will usually give you advice on how to pack your item correctly, and whether it needs to go through customs.
When sending an item through customs, you will usually be expected to pay online, either using a credit card or debit card.
You will also be required to fill out a form detailing the details of your shipment, and providing proof of payment.
Once you have completed this process, you will receive a receipt confirming that your item was received safely.
You will also be given a tracking number, which will allow you to track the progress of your package throughout the delivery process.
Who Is Responsible For Paying At Customs?
So, who is responsible for paying the fee at customs – the sender, or the receiver?
The answer to this is that it is the receiver who must take responsibility for paying customs fees at the German border – there will typically be charges incurred, and in most cases, you will need to pay these before you are able to take possession of the parcel.
However, if you are sending a gift, then you and the recipient may be able to avoid these costs – provided that the value of the gift falls under 45 euros.
This 45 euro limit refers to the value of goods, including VAT, as stated on the customs declaration form, and does not include the costs of postage or transport.
If the package or “consignment” consists of a number of different items, each of which are usable on its own, then the package may be divisible, and customs and import duties will be collected on any items that exceed this 45 euro allowance.
What Are The Different Types Of Duties?
There are two main types of duties:
- Import Duties
These are imposed when importing goods into Germany from another EU member state.
- Export Duties
These are levied when exporting goods from Germany to another EU member state.
How Do I Make Sure That My Parcel Will Clear Customs?
If you want to ensure that your parcel arrives without delay, you should follow some simple steps, and we took a closer look at these below.
- Know What Type Of Duties Apply
The first step is to make sure that you know which type of duty applies to your parcel, and this means knowing what kind of goods you are shipping.
There are three main categories of goods that can be shipped within Europe:
Personal goods, including clothing, footwear, cosmetics, jewelry, watches, clocks, musical instruments, sports equipment, tools, sporting goods, and other personal items, goods for personal use, such as books, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual material, software, games, toys, and similar items.
The third category is commercial goods, but specific rules and regulations will typically apply here.
You should only ship items that fall into one of these categories. Items that do not fit into one of these categories should not be sent by post.
You should check with your local post office to find out whether they accept parcels containing certain items.
Some countries impose restrictions on the shipment of certain items, so you should check with them before you send anything.
- Choose An Appropriate Delivery Method
It is important to choose an appropriate delivery method, especially if you are sending something valuable.
Most people opt for registered mail, because it provides proof of delivery, and allows you to track your parcel through the postal system.
However, if you are sending small items or items that are likely to get lost in transit, then you might consider using a courier service instead.
- Have Paperwork To Hand
One of the most important elements of ensuring that your package clears customs is to ensure that you have all the relevant paperwork to hand.
For example, you need to provide a valid customs declaration form, and you must also fill in the correct address details on the form.
It is very easy to forget to complete one of these forms, and this could result in delays at customs.
In addition, you should keep copies of all the documents that you submit to customs, in case there are problems later on.
Understanding customs is an important part of sending and receiving packages.
If you follow the above tips, you should be able to avoid any issues when sending or receiving parcels, and ensure that your parcels can be collected quickly, easily, and without extra costs.