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Tuki Dec 22nd, 2004 03:08 PM

Customs Duty
I recently purchased a piece of glass in Murano. I was told by the salesman at Nuova Venier that all costs were included. The glass arrived several weeks ago and now I just received an invoice from the shipping company for customs duty. DO I have to pay this?

PalQ Dec 22nd, 2004 03:13 PM

You used to be allowed to mail home each day one to yourself a purchase abroad up to $50 duty free. this may have changed but i think you must pay duty - you can dispute the article's worth but customs i think often uses a low base guess of the items worth if there's no receipt. Just call Customs and ask.

Underhill Dec 22nd, 2004 03:24 PM

The charge might be for the shipping company's work in processing the glass through Customs, not customs duty itself.

elaine Dec 22nd, 2004 03:35 PM

It was my impression that Customs allowances only apply to good that you are bringing home with you, other than the one small package shipped home per day.
If your item is over the minimum value, but especially because you didn't ship it yourself, I believe it is subject to duty.
The salesman's charges were perhaps all inclusive, but he can't be responsible for what your Customs charges would finally be.

Intrepid1 Dec 22nd, 2004 03:39 PM

The short answer is yes you do.

Traveler863 Dec 22nd, 2004 06:08 PM

I'd say let customs get a hold of you if there's something due, otherwise ignore it!

Budman Dec 22nd, 2004 06:19 PM

I agree with Traveler863. If you had to pay any customs, you would have had to pay before you got the goods. You have the "goods"? I wouldn't worry about it. ((b))

siena_us Dec 22nd, 2004 11:12 PM

Customs duty is charged when it arrives in the US so how could it be charged when purchasing?

Yes you have to pay and yes they will come after you for it. Next time remember to tell them to keep the value very low (less than $50) and they will probably let it slide.

Ann41 Dec 23rd, 2004 01:05 AM

Ignore it if you regularly ignore all of your other bills.

hobbes Dec 23rd, 2004 01:09 AM

A friend had a similar experience recently in Thailand with goods bought in Australia and later shipped to her. The Australian merchant had specifically told her she did not need to pay ANY extra over the invoice value. When she contacted the merchant re the customs duty he told her to direct the customs request towards him - which she did. Predictably, Thai customs did not follow up with an Australian merchant and all ended well. Check with Nuova Venier whether they will oblige similarly.

ira Dec 23rd, 2004 05:55 AM

Hi tuki,

> I just received an invoice from the shipping company for customs duty. DO I have to pay this?<

If you don't you will be hounded for the rest of your life.

The reasons why you're being charged duty are complex, but it is quite likely that the shop consigned it to a shipping company that turned it over to a bonded warehouse before delivery to you. (This has happened to me.)


Dick Dec 23rd, 2004 06:36 AM

Does the store have your CC number...or did you pay in cash?

If they have your CC number, the shipper will probably just charge your CC.

Traveler863 Dec 24th, 2004 05:26 PM

Ira, I agree but disagree. I wouldn't pay one dime until customs notified me, if they do then by all means pay. Yes you are right about that, it would be a life long thing! Happy travels :)

PalQ Dec 24th, 2004 05:53 PM

It's surprising how many presumably law-abiding folks condone illegal acts, like not paying the probably properly-levied customs duty. I don't see how this is much different from shoplifting, etc. You bought it, duty is required, you should pay it. Period.

Traveler863 Dec 24th, 2004 06:05 PM

There's a huge difference to equate this with shoplifting. Shoplifting is willfully stealing from a store! Awaiting whether you do or do not necessarily have to pay duty on an item is more equated with perhaps stretching on your fed income tax! Get real! Anyone who tracks down this payment is an idiot...if they find you then course pay it!

PalQ Dec 24th, 2004 06:27 PM

It doesn't alter the fact that it's willfully not paying what is legally due. A good citizen would pay what is legally due. Period. You can couch it however you want but avoiding paying in my mind is like stealing! You can call it what you want.

ira Dec 25th, 2004 03:31 AM

>I wouldn't pay one dime until customs notified me,....<

Customs doesn't notify the recipient.

If the OP thinks that the charge is erroneous, the OP can ask for the particulars regarding payment and then see if US Customs was actually paid, or if there is an outstanding claim.

As far as the salesman stating that all costs were included, that could also be an honest mistake. Much depends on how the item was shipped and who did the paper work.


Patrick Dec 25th, 2004 08:00 AM

I'm not much of a shopper so maybe I'm confused, but I've only heard of stores in Europe taking care of the VAT or other tax credits for you. I've never heard of one paying the duty on goods you purchase. This sounds like the argument I've heard many times on flights home, "But I bought it at a duty free shop. Doesn't that mean I don't have to pay duty on it?" Duh. No, it doesn't!!

ira Dec 25th, 2004 09:47 AM

>I've never heard of one paying the duty on goods you purchase.<

Almost all of our items shipped home from Europe have arrived at our house without any requirement to pay Custom's duty.

Occasionally, someone slipped up on the paperwork and the item ended up in a bonded warehouse and we had to pay duty.

AAFrequentFlyer Dec 25th, 2004 10:33 AM

It's simple folks -

<b>Items mailed to the United States are subject to duty when they arrive. They cannot be included in your exemption, and duty on them cannot be prepaid.</b>

You could read all about it here -


ira Dec 25th, 2004 11:04 AM

&gt;Items mailed to the United States are subject to duty when they arrive. &lt;

Not exactly correct.

&quot;Once per day, you can mail yourself $200 worth of goods duty-free; mark the package &quot;For Personal Use.&quot; You
can also mail to other people up to $100 worth of goods per person, per day; label each package &quot;Unsolicited Gift.&quot; Any package must state on the exterior a description of the contents and their values. &quot;


AAFrequentFlyer Dec 25th, 2004 12:16 PM

The lightbulb is really working for you today, <b>ira</b>.

The above statement came from the US Customs and border Protection Agency, part of US Department of Homeland Security.

I guess they don't know what you know?

I realize there are exceptions, but the main point was and still is that the OP was questioning any duty charges. I'm sure that whatever charges were levied against his shipment were above and beyond any exceptions, exclusions, etc.

Get it?

Happy Holidays! :-)

clevelandbrown Dec 25th, 2004 01:00 PM

Its been my experience that with shipped goods, customs sometimes collects a duty, and sometimes doesn't. I suspect they don't have enough people to check every package, so they just do a sampling. I do know that if they impose a duty, delivery cannot be made until the duty is paid.

Thus, if the OP is correct in his report, I would conclude that someone, probably the shipping company, paid the duty through some sort of contractual arrangement, subject to reimbursement from either the shipper or the shippee. Of course, there is a possibility that the charge is fraudulent or erroneous, but that should be checked with the shipping company, not here.

So I don't think customs will come after the OP; I think the shipping company, or whoever paid the duty on your behalf, will be the the party at interest. Tuki, you will have to decide yourself whether to pay the debt. Of course, if the shipping company retained an interest in the goods by contract, I suppose they could get a court order, seize the goods, and auction them off.

I don't know about the advice you are getting about ignoring debts or cheating on taxes; I wonder if the posters are underemployed lawyers trying to generate some business?

ira Dec 25th, 2004 01:34 PM

Dear AA,

As I noted, your statement was not totally wrong, just not entirely correct.

The quote that I posted was from the US C&amp;BP people.

Happy holidays.


AAFrequentFlyer Dec 25th, 2004 02:52 PM

Dear ira,

The quote I posted was the first sentence from US C&amp;BP website!

Gappy Holidays!

elaine Dec 25th, 2004 03:08 PM

the following is abridged from the uscustomstreas website

Duty-free Exemption
The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained below.

Depending on the countries you have visited, your personal exemption will be $200, $600, $800, or $1,200. There are limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products you may include in your duty-free personal exemption. The differences are explained in the following section.

The duty-free exemptions ($200, $600, $800, or $1,200) apply if:

* The items are for your personal or household use or intended to be given as bonafide gifts.
* They are in your possession, that is, they accompany you when you return to the United States. Items to be sent later may not be included in your $800 duty-free exemption. Exceptions apply for goods sent from Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands
* They are declared to CBP. If you do not declare something that should have been declared, you risk forfeiting it. If in doubt, declare it.
* You are returning from an overseas stay of at least 48 hours. For example, if you leave the United States at 1:30 p.m. on June 1, you would complete the 48-hour period at 1:30 p.m. on June 3. This time limit does not apply if you are returning from Mexico or from the U.S. Virgin Islands. (See also the section on the $200 exemption.)
* You have not used all of your exemption allowance, or used any part of it, in the past 30 days—...

Federal regulations allow you to bring back more than one liter of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but, as with extra tobacco, you will have to pay duty and Internal Revenue Service tax...

Also, you should be aware that state laws might limit the amount of alcohol you can bring in without a license. If you arrive in a state that has limitations on the amount of alcohol you may bring in without a license, that state law will be enforced by CBP, even though it may be more restrictive than federal regulations...

Gifts you bring back from a trip abroad are considered to be for your personal use. They must be declared, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts people gave you while you were out of the country, such as wedding or birthday presents, and gifts you have brought back for others...

Gifts worth up to $100 may be sent, free of duty and tax, to friends and relatives in the United States, as long as the same person does not receive more than $100 worth of gifts in a single day. If the gifts are mailed or shipped from an insular possession, this amount is increased to $200... you.

By federal law, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and perfume containing alcohol and worth more than $5 retail may not be included in the gift exemption.

Gifts for more than one person may be shipped in the same package, called a consolidated gift package, if they are individually wrapped and labeled with each recipient’s name...

Be sure to mark the outermost wrapper with the:

* Total value of the consolidated package;
* Recipients' names and
* Nature and value of the gifts inside For example, tennis shoes, $50; shirt, $45; toy car, $15), for instance:

To John Jones-one belt, $20; one box of candy, $5; one tie, $20.

To Mary Smith-one skirt, $45; one belt, $15; one pair slacks, $30.

If any item in the consolidated gift parcel is subject to duty and tax or worth more than the $100 gift allowance, the entire package will be dutiable.

You, as a traveler, cannot send a “gift” package to yourself, and people traveling together cannot send “gifts” to each other. But there would be no reason to do that anyway, because the personal exemption for packages mailed from abroad is $200, which is twice as much as the gift exemption. If a package is subject to duty, the United States Postal Service will collect it from the addressee along with any postage and handling charges. The sender cannot prepay duty; The recipient must pay duty when a package is received in the United States.

jsmith Dec 25th, 2004 07:58 PM

Tuki, what was the value of the glass you puchased?

In the 60s I purchased furniture in Denmark which was shipped in a wooden box only slightly smaller than a Smart car.

The shipment was consigned to a customs broker in Boston who cleared it thru customs, paid the duty, arranged for delivery and sent us an itemized bill.

ira Dec 25th, 2004 10:38 PM

Dear AA,

Please reread what you wrote, &quot;Items mailed to the United States are subject to duty when they arrive&quot;.

They are *subject* to duty. This does not mean that duty will be charged in every case. There are exemptions as noted by elaine.


Huitres Dec 25th, 2004 11:49 PM

Just one more reason to bring the items home yourself. I bring bubble wrap and packing tape in my suitcase and have returned many a time with lots of Murano treasures, all carefully wrapped. I put them in a separate carry-on bag that I then put under my seat in the airplane so always secure. I have never had to pay duty on any of the items I have purchased.

AAFrequentFlyer Dec 26th, 2004 12:50 AM

Fear ira,

First - I did not write that. It's an exact quote from customs website.

Second - That's EXACTLY the point. If you go back to my first post you MAY get it. I simply used that quote as a starting point for the OP and few others that doubted the fact that duty could be levied against any shipment coming to the US.

and finally, I also posted the web address to Customs and wrote that more info could be found there.

YOU were the one that said that the quote was inncorect. The quote was exact and it has a simple meaning. ALL shipments are subject to customs duty. Whether an individual package will or will not get customs taxed will depend on many variables.


elaine Dec 26th, 2004 04:37 AM

Dear AA and ira,
you seem to be taking umbrage at this disagreement over semantics, but the words 'subject to' seem to be used by Customs in a particular way.

If you look at the excerpt I copied and pasted above (I abridged, but did not change any wording from the website)
the last paragraph says
&quot;If the package is subject to duty the USPS will collect it from the addressee.&quot; It seems that 'subject to duty&quot; is not a 'maybe', but indicates that a duty will be charged. In that sense, then not all shipments are 'subject to duty'. The exemptions indicate which shipments or imported items are not subject to duty--everything else is.

Perhaps if they wanted to be iffy about it they would have said &quot;eligible for duty&quot; or 'duty may be charged.&quot;

Peace on earth.

ira Dec 26th, 2004 12:11 PM

I suggest that we let elaine have the last word. :)


AAFrequentFlyer Dec 26th, 2004 12:15 PM

Exactly what I was thinking :-D

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