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Old 21.05.2014, 22:30
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Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Hello all,

This is my first post and all that so if I'm in the wrong place with the topic, yell at me and move it or whatever the procedure is...

Ok so here goes. I am a recent expat to Switzerland and relatives in the UK wanted to forward some post and recipes. So they brought an A4-sized envelope, put three or four letters I had left behind in (plus some recipes) and duly posted the letter. This was mid-April.

Contents: two recipes for cake, one letter about insurance renewal and one letter about breakdown cover I really should totally buy because there's a free toy. Zoll held on to this for what must have been a month, because I have only just received it today.

It's not a huge deal... well except for the cake, I really wanted to make the cake. Zoll how could you! Ok well, the insurance was in hand anyway and I didn't want the toy (or the breakdown cover), so not actually a major issue.

However, I'd like to know if there is something I can write on the letter (or include with it) that will convince Swiss customs that in fact it is just paper and that it is okay to deliver it? If I need to receive letters quickly like this in the future and they are in fact essential to my wellbeing (like cake recipes) I'd like to be able to make sure they come within a reasonable time (like a week).

Any words of wisdom would be most welcome. As would cake recipes.

Thanks, LD.
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Old 21.05.2014, 22:36
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

get the relatives a scanner and bypass all this stuff.

I love that your well-being is related to cakes
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Old 22.05.2014, 02:42
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Quote:
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Hello all,
...
It's not a huge deal... well except for the cake, I really wanted to make the cake. Zoll how could you! Ok well, the insurance was in hand anyway and I didn't want the toy (or the breakdown cover), so not actually a major issue.
...
Any words of wisdom would be most welcome. As would cake recipes.

Thanks, LD.
Sven Epiney's chocolate cake (google "Svens Schoggikuchen") is awesome, it only takes 11 minutes to bake and is one of the best I've come across on the net.

Welcome to the forum

Last edited by glowjupiter; 22.05.2014 at 03:11.
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Old 22.05.2014, 05:37
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

That is very strange. I can only think that the envelope had traces of drugs on the outside and a dog in the customs sniffed it causing it to be specially searched.
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Old 22.05.2014, 08:32
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Yes, it shouldn't normally be held up. Are you sure Customs had it for a month or was incorrect postage put on the package so it's been making it way slowly across Europe. Was your Swiss address written down correctly? We've had stuff delayed because of the address not having all the info needed on it.
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Old 22.05.2014, 08:44
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

It happened several times to us than simple letters from Portugal took weeks to arrive here, for pretty mysterious reasons.

Are you sure the delay was related to customs? Sometimes it's simply an issue with postal service!
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Old 22.05.2014, 09:53
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

I think if it had been due to customs the envelope would have been opened and closed again with their "Zoll" sticky tape. Was it?

Someone sent me something from the UK once, which should have been sent as a letter by airmail.

However, Royal Mail decided that it was too heavy for the number of stamps stuck on the envelope and sent it over land instead. It therefore took several weeks to arrive.
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Old 22.05.2014, 11:11
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

I see you're in Lausanne, so the french-speaking part of Switzerland.
Just in case you ever need to contact them about anything Customs is not know as Zoll around here, it's La Douane.

The others are right, unless there's a sticker on your envelope saying that the Douane has kept your letter it's just been delayed for some reason by one of the post offices (probably in the UK), not customs.
And customs would also have charged you for the privilege of retaining it.

PS; now you've finally got your cake recipe, please share.... EFers are greedy lot!
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Old 22.05.2014, 20:14
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

My wellbeing is definitely related to cake!

Okay, so, the letter definitely had customs tape all around it, that's how I deduced it had been opened - but you're all I think correct - I actually have no way to know if it spent all that time at customs, since it wasn't traced.

I have had a look at the packaging again and can't find an airmail sticker, so I guess perhaps it was sent over land. Maybe the postman even walked it?

Anyway, I think that solves the mystery - so in the future, buy a scanner but if I need a dead tree copy make sure it goes via airmail. Great Thanks everyone!
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Old 22.05.2014, 20:45
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

I sent a parcel to the UK once at Christmas time, and it was delivered weeks late. My policeman friend told me it was because I had declared coffee on the items list, the British customs would assume it was there to put sniffer dogs off the scent of the white powder. And so it was opened and searched, and then delivered in February.
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Old 22.05.2014, 20:51
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

I'll go with Anjela's conclusion. We never have problems with letters being forwarded from UK- here in a couple of days.

Bil once sent us a whole salmon from UK- not vacuum packed- sent on 22nd of December, normal post- it arrived early Jan. How the customs didn't stop it, I do not know- as the smell was .... Sadly it had to go straight in the bin
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Old 22.05.2014, 22:12
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Something I've really noticed, quite consistently is that if somebody sends me a letter or jiffy bag or package, it takes AGES to arrive. Not necessarily held but customs but takes weeks.. However if i order something from a company / ebay / amazon / royal mail redirect even, it takes a couple of days.

Recently I wanted a UK phone number, some company i deal with will only call me on a UK number (sorted now by using a virtual number). Anyways , I ordered a vodofone SIM on ebay, 3 days it was here. My brother sent me one same day and it's still not here yet, 3 weeks later.

Just a theory but i think hand written stuff goes into a big bucket and gets manually sorted. The printed labels get read electronically and fast track straight through.
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Old 22.05.2014, 23:25
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Hi Ledefi, and welcome.

I'm going to be trying this lemon cake recipe for the first time soon - it looks so fantastic! You have to scroll down past all of the lovely garden party food to get to the recipe. We're invited to a birthday party at the beginning of June and are supposed to bring a dessert - maybe I'll post the results on EF so that you'll know if it's worth a try. Cake lovers of the world unite!
http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/lemon-bundt-cake/
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Old 23.05.2014, 01:20
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

It was an envelope with several letters in it so Customs are interested in the content.
Your relatives should have filled in one of those little Customs forms and stuck it on the outside.
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Old 25.11.2015, 22:48
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Re: Letters (import) through Swiss customs

Hello all and thanks for the welcome. Yes I realize this is a year or so later... I resigned myself to the package being lost and then:

The package did eventually arrive about 3 months later. What I learned by asking around (I speak French so I was able to have a chat to some of the post office clerks) was that you need the appropriate customs form, CN22 or CN23 I think they're called, on the parcel. This particular package didn't have said form describing the contents so I think it got held up for checking. Everything was opened inside it, anyway.

Royal Mail should know this and if you get the right postal clerk in the UK you're OK. If not, not so fun.

Parcel companies and the likes of AmazonGlobal pre-clear their parcels somehow, which is why it looks like you ordered 200 different varieties of barcode I think.

One of the recipes was a variation on this. (but I replaced the yoghurt with butter and the sweetener with actual sugar because I like real cake). They look horrible but they're very tasty, especially fresh out of the oven.

http://mydietjourney.co.uk/recipes/s...rld-plans-heb/
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