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Old 20.05.2009, 13:17
JHosche JHosche is offline
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

From our experience here and from what we've read - our understanding is this:

First you have to account in the value of the item (or what Customs thinks your item is worth here in Switzerland)...then you have to account the value of shipping. If it's a gift, the limit is 100CHF for the combined worth (item + shipping costs) before its hit with customs tax...if it's a commercial purchase, I think it's like 55CHF or something like that. We were told to always have people from the US send stuff via USPS only as the lower shipping cost helps keep it under the 100CHF limit. In addition, if you send it "Express" by UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc - it goes through a special customs office which adds in their fee for "processing the package" to that magical value for your package (so then its item + shipping costs + processing fee = package value). In any of these cases, if its over 100CHF, you get taxed the 7% or whatever...and yes they tack administration costs onto everything here...not just packages.

We've had to pay "administration costs" for someone to look at our permit and sign/stamp a piece of paper that says we match our permit (as in my face matches the face in the permit)...only to have to show the permit again when we turned that piece of paper in. That and for example, my parents were visiting here in Switzerland - they didn't see a parking meter sign in a Migros parking lot...ran in, bought 1 thing, came back out in 5 minutes and had a 90CHF parking ticket. The fee for the actual ticket? 40CHF...with a 50CHF administration fee. That's Switzerland.

The good news is that it is hit or miss whether customs will actually inspect your packages or not to charge you. We had several packages in a row mailed to us with no charges - then the last 2 times, we got hit with charges of 130CHF and 70CHF to pick up our packages (for baby things that my wife's parents shipped themselves - marked gift and everything). The explanation given is that those items would have cost a lot more in Switzerland so this is how they protect their vendors.
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