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Old 23.07.2013, 20:34
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Re: Importing NEW furniture by transport agent

I shipped a household of new goods from London to Switzerland after we bought a place and I left a UK licensed mover to handle everything, including certifying export to Habitat and John Lewis the stores where we bought the stuff. In due course I received VAT refunds.

The mover used a customs broker who had me sign documents regarding my move. I don't know exactly what was charged, but my recollection is that there was no tax, just fees.

It isn't my job to understand the Swiss tax law; that's what customs brokers are paid for. If they get me a good deal I am glad.

An anecdote: Once, when I was a diplomat in Abidjan I gave a businessmen's luncheon and one of the invitees was the manager of the embassy's customs broker. I commented with satisfaction that we as an embassy didn't have to pay any bribes. He laughed and said "It's all hidden in the fees. We pay what has to be paid."

He knew his job and I didn't. There was a scandal with the embassy there once when, as a result of a disagreement, a container was held at the port until all the stuff in it had spoiled. The moral: Don't try to outsmart the experts.

The moral risk in Switzerland is low; that was there and this is here.

But I have also used a shipper who advertises from time to time on this forum. He shipped new goods from London too and whereas he "lost" the tax papers and I never got the VAT refund I was expecting, neither did I have to pay any tax nor did I get any border documents from his driver. They told me a long story that their van was unloaded at the tunnel from Italy but they still didn't have to pay anything.
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