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Old 20.05.2009, 11:45
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DHL and customs on gift?

Hi all,

Okay, this is weird. A few months back a friend of mine in the US sent me toys (monkey dolls, for some reason) worth $25 for my birthday. This was done via DHL. Now I have mail from them asking me to pay them CHF 35 for customs or VAT!

Is that common? Can it be right? I didn't buy this item, it was gifted to me and is obviously non-commercial, and is worth less than the customs. I didn't even buy anything from DHL or ask them to ship me anything. Plus the bill seems a bit large for the items, no?

Can DHL just unilaterally charge me like this?
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Old 20.05.2009, 11:49
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

According to the shipments I send and receive to and from the states...
Yes, DHL can charge you if the shipment was not marked as a gift. If it
was marked as a gift, then it is your responsibility to prove it. But, first
you must pay the invoice then prove your point to get a full refund.

Usually, if indicated as a gift and the value is truly low enough, there will
not be any charges, exempt from taxes and fees.
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:04
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

- Thanks for the response! I just got them to email me an invoice, which is marked commercial (incorrectly). Is the invoice something they made or is it what was made by my friend? Or is it the website that he bought from?

- I don't understand quite why DHL is in a position to ask me for anything - I neither bought the thing nor asked them to ship it nor agreed to anything with them. Legally, can they just send me bills like this without my agreement to anything? Seems like an amusing - or annoying - modern day white elephant racket if so. Just send someone something big and make them pay DHL.

- In fact, why is *DHL* asking me for money? They're just a courier company, right?
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:16
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

Oh and the bill has a break-up of the charges...it's like 20 bucks for 'admin', another eight for 'avance fonds' and five for TVA (VAT?)
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:29
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

I'm curious to hear if someone has the policy/rules on this for receiving packages from the States. I currently live in Italy (but will be moving to Switzerland over the summer) and I often receive packages from my mother in the States.

In Italy, I do have to pay duty (dogana) and delivery charges on packages I receive from my mom. She always marks them as a gift, but that doesn't matter. Italy still charges a duty because it's based on the value (and sometimes the amount paid for shipping it over). It's never consistent though - sometimes the courier charges me the duty and delivery charges and sometimes not. I've managed to find on the internet the rules on charging duty on packages received from the U.S. and the courier guy should actually almost always charge me something, but only has a few times. I don't think the courier or the Poste Italiane always know what the policies are. Go figure....that's Italy for you!

P.S. The delivery charges are for the courier here in Italy. Basically my mom has paid for the postage to Italy and then there is a courier fee from Italian customs (in Milan I think) to my home in Torino. I rarely get charged this though.
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:31
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

Thanks Scott
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:18
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

Quote:
View Post
- Thanks for the response! I just got them to email me an invoice, which is marked commercial (incorrectly). Is the invoice something they made or is it what was made by my friend? Or is it the website that he bought from?

- I don't understand quite why DHL is in a position to ask me for anything - I neither bought the thing nor asked them to ship it nor agreed to anything with them. Legally, can they just send me bills like this without my agreement to anything? Seems like an amusing - or annoying - modern day white elephant racket if so. Just send someone something big and make them pay DHL.

- In fact, why is *DHL* asking me for money? They're just a courier company, right?
Several answers to several questions:

Especially if the item was sent from a commercial firm then DHL will
act accordingly, despite being a gift, despite you not ordering it or not.

If it was not sent from a shop, then your friend stateside put a value
on the paperwork. Also had the chance to mark it as a gift, or other
valuable. If they forgot, then see my last comment below.

DHL acts as your representative to the Swiss authorities. DHL figures
the value, does the paperwork and prepays the costs to the Swiss
government. In turn, they send you a fancy bill adding a small
percentage for their troubles. This is normal. First time I received a bill
from DHL or UPS for this same reason... I call and complained. Did no
good, they said it is policy that was accepted to when someone sent
the shipment and when you picked it up. Typical small print!

If you don't pay, they may seek Inkasso (bill collection agency). I
have used them as well and know how they work. First if you don't pay
- your name goes on a list of non-paying customers. If you don't react
and pay the bill after the Inkasso contacts you - then you name goes
on a red list. After that they do the official Inkasso part and seek to
deduct your pay. If your name goes on any list, don't try to get a
credit or rent a high-priced item in Switzerland - you will get turned
away!

To close, let me say this: If you have proof that it was sent and
indicated as a gift, then use it and show DHL... Finished. But, again,
first pay the bill. On the other side, if you don't have any verification of
"gift", then pay the bill and forget about it. Mark it up as an experience
and tell your beloved friend in the states not to send anything via
DHL... USPS is the best bet for ensuring the "gift" is checked.
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:34
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

Ah. Wow. Thanks again for the very detailed response.

To close, let me say this: If you have proof that it was sent and
indicated as a gift, then use it and show DHL... Finished. But, again,
first pay the bill. On the other side, if you don't have any verification of
"gift", then pay the bill and forget about it.

Yeah, the idiot child bought it online and sent to me. Probably the website is the "official" sender. I'm assuming from context that "verification" isn't a matter of me emailing a copy of birthday wishes. Sigh. I should send them an invoice for a hundred bucks for the pleasure of getting my attention. By opening the letter they'd accept the fine-print, carefully enclosed of course
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Old 20.05.2009, 12:39
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Re: DHL and customs on gift?

Doubt the Birthday wishes will make any difference. Coming from a
business is the hammer here.

Pay up and tell your offspring that an e-mail is enough Birthday wish
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