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Old 21.08.2008, 17:12
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Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

I'm moving from the US to Zurich in September.

I was advised that I can take any household items that I have owned for at least 6 months duty free.

I'm planning to take a few electronic items with me, most of them way older than 6 months, but I don't have the receipts for them any more. (Family PC, my wife's laptop, my son's video game consoles, digital camera etc.)

Some of our stuff will be shipped in a shipping container, some via air freight, some we take in suitcases.

Can you give me any guidance on what I need to declare and how high the duties are?

Thank you,
nyenyec
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Old 26.08.2008, 15:40
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

Hi Nyenyec-

You should not have to pay duty on anything you bring into the country-but you should declare everything-even if you don't have receipts-as "duty-free clearance" in your "declaration application for clearance of household effects" form (a.k.a. customs form...there is also a section for "goods for normal customs clearance" which should be blank in your case. They won't ask for your receipts for normal goods, there's not even a place to add them on the the customs form.

Remember that it doesn't matter how you bring in your goods, they all need to be listed on the same customs form, copies of which you'll need to have with you as well as with every box that is sent over (and with your shipping container).

I would also keep this in mind: the Swiss authorities seem to appreciate those who follow their rules and are organized and prepared, so having a copy of your household goods prepared and ready will really help.

Finally, if you are extremely unlucky (honestly, can't see this happening), the duties vary tremendously on what item it is, the country of origin, etc. We did have some problems with eyeglasses that were sent one month later by a friend (they were being repaired and did not come back in time to travel with us). He insured them for $800 and we were charged about 70 CHF because we hadn't listed them as a household item (it never crossed my mind...) and they were subject to VAT (value added tax, which is 7.6%) based on the insured value. So, really, you're better off listing things as completely as possible.

The form is here:
http://www.ezv.admin.ch/zollinfo_pri...x.html?lang=en

Also, keep in mind that your flight must arrive when the customs office is open (you can check on the website for the airport you're arriving in).

Good luck!
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Old 26.08.2008, 15:55
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

Thanks swiss_in_training, this was very informative.
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Old 26.08.2008, 16:15
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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I'm moving from the US to Zurich in September.

I was advised that I can take any household items that I have owned for at least 6 months duty free.

I'm planning to take a few electronic items with me, most of them way older than 6 months, but I don't have the receipts for them any more. (Family PC, my wife's laptop, my son's video game consoles, digital camera etc.)

Some of our stuff will be shipped in a shipping container, some via air freight, some we take in suitcases.

Can you give me any guidance on what I need to declare and how high the duties are?

Thank you,
nyenyec
Not to worry, if you do not have the receipts. Just list everything. The longer the list, the better. After all, all used items are tax free. You would need the list for insurance purposes, anyway.

Spot checking is done. The customs officers are smart enough to discover whether an item is new or used.
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Old 26.08.2008, 16:15
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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I'm moving from the US to Zurich in September.

I was advised that I can take any household items that I have owned for at least 6 months duty free.

I'm planning to take a few electronic items with me, most of them way older than 6 months, but I don't have the receipts for them any more. (Family PC, my wife's laptop, my son's video game consoles, digital camera etc.)

Some of our stuff will be shipped in a shipping container, some via air freight, some we take in suitcases.

Can you give me any guidance on what I need to declare and how high the duties are?

Thank you,
nyenyec
Hi there NyeNyeC,
I shipped my things from the US to Zürich in a container as you
are planning to do. There were a few things in my container that
were brand new. I packed them towards the back.

I totally agree with the previous poster. Make sure that you
list out all of the items on the declaration to match what is on
the shipping manifest. The appearance that you are really organized
is most important. I did this, and they did not check the container
at all.

Another friend of mind did not have a list, and the authorities
held the goods and tried to levy duties on anything that looked
new.
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Old 26.08.2008, 20:22
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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Spot checking is done. The customs officers are smart enough to discover whether an item is new or used.
How do they do this? We have some new appliances that are moving with us* that are more than 6 months old, are in brand new condition and have the original shipping box. I guess I should not re-pack it in the original shipping box, but the original box is the perfect fit!



*out of CH to a new country. Hopefully, the agents there aren't as clever as the Swiss ones!
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Old 26.08.2008, 22:11
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

Yes, the boxing is a difficult part of the move. I spent so much time creating boxes for the strangely shaped items we shipped (like skis and large wall hangings) that I think Swiss customs was probably just laughing when they looked at them. Really, do you know how hard it is to find boxes for skis in Arizona in the late Spring--I think my self-created box was a work of art if you have an appreciation for lots of duct tape and strange shaped cardboard things.
I didn't ship anything in a brand name box since I didn't want anything to appear new (at least from an obvious glance on the outside of the box). It strikes me that appliance boxes might cause a stir in Swiss customs since they are usually big ticket items and might bring in some good duty fees for Switzerland. It is probably a major pain in the rear, but using boxes that aren't the original for appliances might be a good idea.
We just got our stuff last week after four months and it all arrived without problems. It appeared to me that the boxes had never been opened by anybody on their way over here--probably luck of the draw as much as anything else. But, like the other posters we carefully listed everything and had a copy of the list with each box. The Swiss do appreciate good organization it seems.
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Old 29.08.2008, 23:51
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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How do they do this? We have some new appliances that are moving with us* that are more than 6 months old, are in brand new condition and have the original shipping box. I guess I should not re-pack it in the original shipping box, but the original box is the perfect fit!



*out of CH to a new country. Hopefully, the agents there aren't as clever as the Swiss ones!

Bubble wrap...tons of it. That is what the professional movers use to protect items and then they find the box that best fits the item or they build one to fit it and the gaps in the box are filled with more bubble wrap or packing paper. Don't use newspaper, it's too messy when you are unpacking. (ink transfer). The reason the original boxes fit so well may be because of the styrofoam. Also, in some cases the original boxes for the appliances may not be double walled and are not sturdy enough for an international move for fragile items. Also check the insurance conditions for electrical appliances, in some cases there is no coverage if they don't work at the new destination. Depending on the destination and the time of year your goods are on the water, the shipping container can get very hot and this can cause problems.

P.S. If the appliances are dual voltage but there is a switch to change the voltage, move the switch to the correct position when you pack. It is easy to forget this at the new destination. Even though the plug may not fit, and requires an adapter, you don't always remember that you need to switch the voltage on the appliance itself until it is too late.
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Old 30.08.2008, 07:43
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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How do they do this? We have some new appliances that are moving with us* that are more than 6 months old, are in brand new condition and have the original shipping box. I guess I should not re-pack it in the original shipping box, but the original box is the perfect fit!



*out of CH to a new country. Hopefully, the agents there aren't as clever as the Swiss ones!
Surely, you have a guarantee certificate or other proof of purchase, e.g. credit-card statements, receipts, etc. Those are useful not only for nomads, but also for the stayers to claim against theft insurance, etc.

BTW smart inspectors are better. Dumb customs officers can be stubborn and insist on standard receipts.
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Old 30.08.2008, 11:53
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Re: Paying duties for household items when moving from the US

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Surely, you have a guarantee certificate or other proof of purchase, e.g. credit-card statements, receipts, etc. Those are useful not only for nomads, but also for the stayers to claim against theft insurance, etc.

BTW smart inspectors are better. Dumb customs officers can be stubborn and insist on standard receipts.
Hummm... Well, I'm not the one who keeps the original boxes & reciepts. That's my taller half. I bought the mircowave, a new DVD player & a couple other things from Ikea during the sales in January. Since I'm not nearly as organized I have doubts where the reciepts ended up!

I guess I could throw out the original boxes. My best bet will be to ask the movers. I'm sure they know how to pack a mircowave!!

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The reason the original boxes fit so well may be because of the styrofoam. Also, in some cases the original boxes for the appliances may not be double walled and are not sturdy enough for an international move for fragile items. Also check the insurance conditions for electrical appliances, in some cases there is no coverage if they don't work at the new destination. Depending on the destination and the time of year your goods are on the water, the shipping container can get very hot and this can cause problems.
Yes, I keep the styrofoam with the boxes! Sad I know!!!!

I will have to look at the insurance issue. Thanks for reminding me.


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P.S. If the appliances are dual voltage but there is a switch to change the voltage, move the switch to the correct position when you pack. It is easy to forget this at the new destination. Even though the plug may not fit, and requires an adapter, you don't always remember that you need to switch the voltage on the appliance itself until it is too late.
In my case, we don't need to worry about that. It's the same voltage.
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