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Old 01.05.2009, 08:53
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Duty charges with Amazon UK

Hello expats of Chocolateland,

Could anyone give me advice on Swiss import duties?

I would like to purchase a few music CDs and books from Amazon UK and get them posted to my address in Switzerland. I have a Swiss registered Visa card and it seems to me that I could save a bit of money by paying the Visa bill in Swiss francs - with the value of the English pound being so low against the Swiss franc.

However, I’m not sure how much duty I would have to pay as I’ve never done this type of purchase before.

Also, does it make any difference if the purchase is classed as a ‘Gift’ during the buying procedure on the Amazon website?

Thanks for any comments.
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Old 01.05.2009, 09:11
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

Welcome to the forum John

Use the search function and click on some of the links below. I'm sure you'll find your answer on one of the existing threads.
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Old 01.05.2009, 09:57
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

Hi John98,

I don't think there is any import duty on stuff from the EU. I've bought DVDs from play.com before and not had to pay any extra tax.
It can take a while for things sent by regular post to get here though - play.com usually deliver within a fwe days in the UK, but it took over 2 weeks for the packages to get here!

Hope this helps
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:13
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

Just remember that CH is not the EU. They can and do charge when they feel like it. Use the search as this topic has come up before. Another tip, if you're buying in from abroad don't use air freight, if you pay for express delivery the ex-CH courier will hand it to the Swiss Post upon entry into CH and when you get it delivered it will be followed by a bill for Swiss post handling charges. This is a disgusting rip-off that you can't get around unless you use slow surface mail.
I got so pi$$ed of with the Swiss post loading on extra charges (even after you'd already paid to have delivery to your door) that I have almost completely stopped importing stuff - that doesn't mean I pay the rip-off Swiss prices, I buy abroad when I'm there and import myself, getting stuff deliverfed to a UK address and then collecting it myself.
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:15
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

There is duty. But there is a threshold. Stay under it and you'll not get charged. So don't order larger quantities. I got a DVD for CHF12 from amazon.co.uk that was CHF20 on the amazon.de site.
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:25
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

i get stuff from amazon.co.uk all the time... as notallthere says, it is generally much cheaper than amazon.de.

there is a threshold above which you will be expected to pay some excise duty. it used to be around 70 francs i think.... once exceeded, the excise duty is normally around 15 francs.
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:26
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

I've ordered books every so often from The Book Depository for a couple of years already. The books usually arrive one by one (free postage & handling) in blister envelopes and the Swiss Customs has not charged anything.
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:52
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

I believe the threshold for books is 200CHF.

It's lower for other items.

A warning - if the supplier splits the order into several packages. You can pay the 18CHF admin fee for each package along with the excise duty - it can soon add up.
I just paid 60CHF duty for two small packages that were part of the same order.

Lots of low value orders is the way to go.
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Old 01.05.2009, 10:55
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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I believe the threshold for books is 200CHF.

It's lower for other items.

A warning - if the supplier splits the order into several packages. You can pay the 18CHF admin fee for each package along with the excise duty - it can soon add up.
I just paid 60CHF duty for two small packages that were part of the same order.

Lots of low value orders is the way to go.
That's a classic example of a rip-off in Switzerland - they get away with ridiculous charges and there's not much you can do about it. Well actually there is, I only buy what I have to in this country and buy much more abroad. Personally I don't agree with the whole concept of customs duty anyway, it's an archaic system that allows the government to take money off you, just because they can.
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Old 01.05.2009, 11:19
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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That's a classic example of a rip-off in Switzerland - they get away with ridiculous charges and there's not much you can do about it. Well actually there is, I only buy what I have to in this country and buy much more abroad. Personally I don't agree with the whole concept of customs duty anyway, it's an archaic system that allows the government to take money off you, just because they can.
I've said this before: the "ridiculous" charges are charged both ways. It is not a "Swiss" thing. If you are in a EU country and buy from Switzerland you are subject to customs/duty etc too.

The duty (VAT) is peanuts compared to VAT you pay in EU countries. The admin charges (was CHF 18.00 on my last bill) depend on the carrier and the route (airport or road freight), which you cannot influence.

As mentioned: keep orders lower than CHF 80.00 at a time and you'll probably be lucky to avoid be charged. Otherwise, shop local
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Old 01.05.2009, 11:36
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

I find you have to be unlucky to be charged duty.

Try keep the value of each package below 100chf, that is what I aim for and am usually ok.

Just received this week, all 9 seasons of the West Wing on DVD, delivered from amazon.co.uk for €48.00. Nothing for the swiss tax man either.
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Old 01.05.2009, 13:38
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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I've said this before: the "ridiculous" charges are charged both ways. It is not a "Swiss" thing. If you are in a EU country and buy from Switzerland you are subject to customs/duty etc too.

The duty (VAT) is peanuts compared to VAT you pay in EU countries. The admin charges (was CHF 18.00 on my last bill) depend on the carrier and the route (airport or road freight), which you cannot influence.

As mentioned: keep orders lower than CHF 80.00 at a time and you'll probably be lucky to avoid be charged. Otherwise, shop local
I know it works both ways - that's the reason why I think the whole concept of customs, duties etc is a rip-off - what valid reason can you think of for a government to charge you some money on something that you paid for elsewhere? They do it because they can
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Old 01.05.2009, 13:56
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

Well, one reason is to protect local markets, and the people who work and live in these local markets. All countries do that.

It was the general sweeping comment that the Swiss rip off where they can for not justified reason that provoked my post.

IMO it's a bit more complex than that.
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Old 01.05.2009, 14:11
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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Well, one reason is to protect local markets, and the people who work and live in these local markets. All countries do that.

It was the general sweeping comment that the Swiss rip off where they can for not justified reason that provoked my post.

IMO it's a bit more complex than that.

You're right, I posted in a way that implied that this was a Swiss phenomena, all countries do indeed do it, doesn't make it right though. The protectionism argument is valid but in my opinion, no real justification for such charges. In reality, I wonder how much of the money raised by such revenue charging is passed to local level and how much disappears into the central revenue. I don't mind buying local to support local shops and producers, I do mind paying ridiculous prices for the same thing that's produced in a third country and costs a fraction when bought in a neighbouring country - eg buying a far east made TV is cheaper in Germany than in Switzerland (this is just to illustrate the point)
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Old 06.05.2009, 23:58
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

I just got a bill from Swiss Post Logistics for CHF59.70 for something I ordered from Germany that only cost EUR22.89. So Swiss post charge almost double the actual value of the item being imported? That can't be right! Can it?
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Old 07.05.2009, 09:10
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

What's the breakdown?
Depending on the route - did it go via the airport? - handling fees vary. The VAT (=MWST) shouldn't be very much on that amount, unless it was declared at a higher price.
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Old 07.05.2009, 09:39
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

I ordered some books from Amazon.ch = Amazon.de. They took ages to come even though they were supposedly in stock. I got so many e-mails from strange addresses confirming and re-confirming my order again and again (media4experts.de). Looks like Amazon has lot of partners or something. I was checking my letter box every morning like a good pig for next 2 weeks. Then 16 days later I get a mail saying "books dispatched today". I was like WTF!
No duty charge so far. Order was for under Euro 100.
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Old 07.05.2009, 11:33
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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I just got a bill from Swiss Post Logistics for CHF59.70 for something I ordered from Germany that only cost EUR22.89. So Swiss post charge almost double the actual value of the item being imported? That can't be right! Can it?
i've had that recently too.

there are 2 charges, 30CHF for the customs people just doing it, and another 10CHF for applying the VAT correction AND the VAT correction. rip off.
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Old 07.05.2009, 14:16
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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I just got a bill from Swiss Post Logistics for CHF59.70 for something I ordered from Germany that only cost EUR22.89. So Swiss post charge almost double the actual value of the item being imported? That can't be right! Can it?
http://www.konsumentenschutz.ch/medi...-post-gls.html

It seems your package was sent via private courier and Swisspost GLS. You pay VAT on shipping too. If there's no invoice they can estimate the value.

When you order from amazon and opt for standard shipping standard swiss post fees apply, that means CHF18 + VAT when VAT is more than CHF5 and no charges when VAT is under CHF5. VAT is 7.6% on DVDs. So you can order up to a value of CHF65 (including shipping) without incurring charges (CHF65*7.6%=~CHF5). Import duties may also apply on some items, VAT is not an import duty.
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Old 07.05.2009, 16:05
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Re: Duty charges with Amazon UK

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I ordered some books from Amazon.ch = Amazon.de. They took ages to come even though they were supposedly in stock. I got so many e-mails from strange addresses confirming and re-confirming my order again and again (media4experts.de). Looks like Amazon has lot of partners or something. I was checking my letter box every morning like a good pig for next 2 weeks. Then 16 days later I get a mail saying "books dispatched today". I was like WTF!
No duty charge so far. Order was for under Euro 100.
Some products are not stocked or shipped directly by Amazon (usually anything other than books, CDs or DVDs). Secondhand items are also sold by 3rd parties through Amazon Marketplace. This is usually stated on the product page.
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