Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Customs Duty (

ira Dec 25th, 2004 11:04 AM

>Items mailed to the United States are subject to duty when they arrive. <

Not exactly correct.

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


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

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:50 PM.