Mailing boxes home from Italy?

May 18th, 2004, 11:48 AM
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Mailing boxes home from Italy?

I did a search on this first and found lots of useful information, such as do not use the Italian postal service and beware of duty fees, etc. It sounds like many people use Mail Boxes, Etc. Is it really over $200 for one large box to be sent home? Is there some cheaper yet reliable alternative? Also, what is the minimum value you can ship home without incurring duty fees? Can you avoid these if you bring everything home with you?

Now we are thinking of packing an extra duffel or two in our suitcases and packing our clothes in those, and our purchases in our suitcases. If we bring everything back that way, will we still have a customs fee?

Thanks so much for any information!
TexasAggie is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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We have done that twice--never again.
Wait for the fall sale from Pottery Barn--easier and cheaper.
bobthenavigator is online now  
May 18th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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You will always have a customs fee if your purchases exceed the statutory amount either through the mail or if carried back. We sent a case of wine back from Tuscany in October and it was about $100. I would figure wine to be on the heavy side of a box so I think $200 is high.
swalter518 is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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P.S. Bob, we've gone through this before! It's not the same buying it a Pottery Barn-no matter what you men think!
swalter518 is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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I know--I know !
Just could not resist. Mi scusi !
bobthenavigator is online now  
May 18th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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I've mailed parcels from the Italian and from the Vatican Post. They are not the easiest in Europe, but far from the worst and I've sent packages home from a dozen countries or more.

Your post is so confusing that no answer can be given to your question about "one large box" or your question about a "minimum value." And whatever makes you think that you can avoid duty if you bring it with you?

hopscotch is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 01:34 PM
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We mailed a huge box of clothes back from Italy including winter coats and packed the souvenirs in our luggage.
sherry1 is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 01:53 PM
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I always use the local post office as they are the cheapest for parcel shipping. UPS, FedEx, etc. can't compete with the post office in this instance, so yes the private shipping companies are expensive in most international parcel shipping. I'm not sure if this is true, but I believe I read or heard that the international postal agreements require the post offices to keep reasonable prices. I think most actually subsidise this dept from profits from other departments or government handouts. UPS and FedEx and other such companies don't, they just charge whatever is the going cost, and they are really not interested in shipping bulky boxes across the pond, whereas the post offices have no choice.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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We are not planning on bringing thousands of dollars of stuff back with us, seeing as how we will be on our HONEYMOON and not there to shop for expensive items. That is why I thought we might be able to avoid paying duty on things if we brought them back with us on the plane. I read on several posts that you have to pay duty fees on anything you ship back in excess of $25 in value. All we are considering buying is a set of wineglasses from Venice, maybe a couple of vases, and a few leather items. Certainly nothing extremely expensive. All I wanted to know was if you could avoid duty on things you bring back in person since you obviously cannot do so by shipping them if the minimum threshold is $25.

My inquiry about shipping was merely to inquire if there was a reliable, less expensive alternative to using MBE and paying a few hundred dollars for it plus all the custom/duty fees I saw mentioned. I just thought it would be nice to not be stuck carrying everything around for the 12 days we will be there. I was also hoping some kindhearted, more experienced traveler might know more about the duty fees imposed upon packages mailed home, that is all.
TexasAggie is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 02:11 PM
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From my Italy file
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.

This is not the same as using a private shipper. They usually send things to a bonded warehouse and you will have to pay a fee to the warehouse.

Also, many shops will ship for you.

The duty free limit is now $800 per person for things that you bring back with you.

Duty is about 10% on everything. Most inspectors don't care anymore. Much more like Europe.

ira is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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A word of caution about MBE in Italy. If you should have a problem, the European concept of customer service is quite different from what Americans expect. It cost me $150 to ship a box of pottery through MBE in Sorrento, but the package took two weeks -- one day longer than another parcel sent through the Italian mail at the same time for a cost of about $25. When I complained to MBE in the US that they failed to deliver the express service (5 days) I paid for, they disclaimed any responsibility for the Sorrento facility, giving me only the address of their European regional office. That office completely ignored my two letters. In future, I'll take my chances with the Italian post.
The declared value of the pottery was under $200, so I did not face the customs problem that applies when you bring back (or send to yourself) items valued at more than $400.
kayd is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 02:37 PM
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Thank y'all so much!!
ira, you know so much about every aspect of traveling in Italy! You must travel all the time
TexasAggie is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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We shipped a package home to the US from the Rome Fed-Ex office in early May. The contents were mostly packaged food items (not wine or meat), and were well-packed by us and the Fed-Ex employee. Apparently the correct paperwork wasn't filled out by that office, and our package was delayed by customs and the FDA. The package arrived today in a different box than the one we packed it in, and everything in it was damaged. Whether this was the FDA, customs or Fed-Ex I still don't know, but it was re-packed very carelessly. Next time we would use the money to buy an extra suitcase to take home with us. We flew home from Paris and brought back a lot of stuff in our suitaces and carry-ons without any problem.

FYI the price for one 20lb. box was over 100 euro. You are allowed $800 duty-free, so unless you plan on exceeding that I don't see any issue. Even then, the tax is pretty negligable.

Enjoy your trip!
tpl is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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We sent a good-sized box from the Venice post office and it beat us home (OK, we had another month on the trip) Cost $100, though. Nothing inside was breakable.

Shipped some platters from a shop in Florence through UPS. One of the three made it unbroken. Never did get satisfaction from UPS. Scratch the $150 or so they charged us plus the cost of the two largest platters. Seems they blamed the shop and the shop blamed UPS.
Lady is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 11:47 PM
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I usually just pack one suitcase inside a lager one. As I purchase items (I love to shop at flea markets and fairs) I simply wrap them (I take bubble wrap with me but you can purchase it wherever you are). Both of my large bags are on wheels so they are pretty easy to get around even as they get a little heavy. At the airport I then have two large bags to check and my carry on bag. I have friends who travel much more than I who feel that it is cheaper and easier to check a third bag on the airline and pay the extra fee there. Your bag with goodies arrives home with you.
We have also had very good luck having wine glasses, pottery, etc shipped directly from the company.
Have a great time.
1jan1 is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 04:59 AM
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Hi TA,

>ira, you know so much about every aspect of traveling in Italy! You must travel all the time<

Alas, all I know I got from this forum.
ira is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 08:35 AM
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IMHO don't try to mail anything on your own. Too expensive and too much trouble. Most shops, especially pottery & glass, etc. will mail it to you for a nominal fee. I purchased about $500 of pottery in Sienna and they wrapped and shipped everything to me for about $50. Everything arrived in about 2 weeks and in perfect condition. They know how to wrap those things but good! If it's not breakable, put it in your suitcase. ALWAYS take an extra foldable bag! I don't care if you can buy the same thing in the states, I love to bring back a little something. It holds special meaning to me & brings back great memories. Just put a reasonable dollar amount on the customs form; they don't care!!
sparklie is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 11:10 AM
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Re mailing things home from Italy:
a friend of mine bought wine glasses in Venice and told the salesperson that she wanted them to be mailed home to her home in Hawaii. She didn't want to pay extra to a shipping company. One year passed, and no glasses. She called, they called back, she wrote, they wrote back, she faxed, they faxed back. Still no glasses. She returns to Italy on another trip, goes to Venice, (to the same store) with her receipt, and explains the situation. The owner looks at her and says, "Oh, it's You!" Goes into the back of the store, and returns with a package containing her glasses. The package had postmarks from all over Italy. It seems the package never left Italy, because apparently they never heard of Hawaii, USA, and kept shipping it to places they thought were the same. She picked up the package and took the glasses home with her in her suitcase!

And there is that story (which may be apocryphal) about the mail strike in Italy a number of years ago, where once it was over, the postal service decided that there were way too many pieces of mail to be delivered...and so they burned them all.
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