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Import Charges on a gift from the US?

Update: All import charges removed

Amber Dawn
post 29.Mar.2013, 10:00 PM
Post #1
Joined: 18.Sep.2009

We just had our first baby and have been getting a lot of gifts from my friends and family in the US without issue. We got several HUGE packages stuffed with clothes. My mom has been buying baby clothes since we found out we were having a girl and stockpiling them. A few friends with small, clothing gifts took them to her to send in a big box to save on shipping. My mom finally got it all together, got one of the big, flat rate international USPS boxes and managed to shove it all in there. There's also some of my favorite powdered drink mix, some Tylenol PM, NyQuil, some pedicure stuff, tea bags and laundry stuff. This is typical for a "mom" care package. She taped it well and mailed at a cost of almost $80. She filled out her paperwork and the postal worker asked her the total value and they estimated that it was around $700 or $800. The postal worker said to put $1000, just to be safe. Mom was very insistent that they mark it "gift."

Well, a week passed and then two, now, at two and a half weeks we got a letter from the post office. It was a bill for 2580:- for the import fees. I mean, WHAT?! This is a gift from my mother for her first grandchild. Yes, it's all new, but we didn't buy anything in it. Why would I have to pay import fees on a gift? And even so, where on EARTH would they get 2580:- out of this? We can't afford that. We went from two people on a single income to three people on a single parental leave income.

Is there a way to dispute this? How would we do that? And if it can't be disputed and we can't pay the fee, will it be returned to my mother or will it be seized? I am so bummed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Bender B Rodriquez
post 29.Mar.2013, 10:46 PM
Post #2
Joined: 25.Mar.2006

There is no way you can contest this since it is the law: http://www.tullverket.se/en/startpage/keyw...c980001987.html

Also, importing medicine that is not approved by national authorities is a crime, even if it is a gift.
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Max Reaver
post 29.Mar.2013, 11:09 PM
Post #3
Joined: 26.May.2011

Hmm, it's a bit strange actually. Of the people I know, when parents send packages from abroad they don't pay anything, you just pick them up from the post office or ICA.

I think the problem is exactly that your mom marked everything as "gift", this made the tariffs specifically for gifts come into effect. Furthermore, when she set the total value higher than they are actually worth, the 1000 USD became the basis for the calculation of the fee, as opposed to 700 USD. That translates into a few hundred SEK more in import fee. I seriously don't understand why the postal worker in US wanted to set it higher.

You can check if there is any contact information to the issuer on that bill.
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Marmi
post 30.Mar.2013, 12:38 AM
Post #4
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 8.Nov.2005

To OP; sorry that this happened to you, but you need to educate yourself, and inform anyone sending you stuff to Sweden.

There is a non taxable limit on gits, and I think it stands at SEK 500. One thing to keep in mind is that that is per person, so if the sender piles on names as the receiver of the package, all names will count for SEK 500/ea.

ALWAYS put the value of the goods much lower than it actually is. I have NEVER had a package not come thru, and I have sent countless packages from the US to Sweden for many years. I have sent everything from cameras, strollers, baby clothes, you name and I have sent it. I have always put the value at much less than the actual value is, I have also used the prefix "used" (used toys, used clothes and so on), even though everything has always been brand spanking new, and always marked the packages as gifts. All have arrived safely, and no one has ever had to pay any taxes.

Your mom's mistakes were that she probably just put your name on the package, and that she used the actual value of the goods, AND that she listened to the postal worker, and made it even higher. What she should've done: Put you, your husband, your kid/s, your dog/s, and your cat as the receiver of the package - basically as many names as possible without over reaching. If I send something to my brother, I put his both names, his wife's both names, their 3 kids' names, and their two dogs' names. That totals to 9 names, and that gives me a non taxable value of SEK 4,500 to work with, and at that kind of value I would be sending stuff worth about SEK 10,000.

This won't help this time, but for future reference. smile.gif

As for now, you're probably just gonna have to pay the fees, and then try to contest it - you have to pay first though.

Oh, one more important thing, shipping cost also counts into the allowed SEK 500 (how sick isn't that??).
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Marmi
post 30.Mar.2013, 12:50 AM
Post #5
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 8.Nov.2005

QUOTE (Max Reaver @ 30.Mar.2013, 12:09 AM) *
...I think the problem is exactly that your mom marked everything as "gift", this made the tariffs specifically for gifts come into effect...

No, that is not the problem at all. If you don't mark something as a gift, then it's definitely taxable, no questions asked, it counts as goods purchased from abroad, and is fully taxed.

The problem is that there's a limit for "tax free" gifts, and it's SEK 500/per person. The mom exceeded the limit.

If you read my post above, you'll see what I mean. wink.gif
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Amber Dawn
post 30.Mar.2013, 07:26 AM
Post #6
Joined: 18.Sep.2009

QUOTE
Also, importing medicine that is not approved by national authorities is a crime, even if it is a gift.

I honestly didn't know that. It seems like everyone I know gets OTC meds sent by family and friends from their home countries. We've had packages sent from friends in the US that are nothing but two bottles of Tylenol PM, clearly marked as such on the customs form, and they have been delivered without issue.

QUOTE
Oh, one more important thing, shipping cost also counts into the allowed SEK 500 (how sick isn't that??).

So, if it's around $80 USD to send a big flat rate box, you're basically screwed? One friend was able to mail a small package for around $25, but every other package has been well over $40. And I got two huge boxes from the US from a cousin, the estimate amount was $1000 and I got it without any issue, which the shipping cost was over $150. We've had about 10 baby gift deliveries recently. Do they just randomly check things? AND, I still don't understand the 2580:- price. At most, shouldn't it be 1631:-, 25% of the value listed? This is 43% of the listed value.

QUOTE
As for now, you're probably just gonna have to pay the fees, and then try to contest it - you have to pay first though.

But we honestly cannot afford to pay this right now. We have a new baby, a single income and a brother-in-law in the CCU, so we've been driving back and forth caring for their children. There really isn't two kroner to spare. What will happen if we don't pay it? Can we return it to sender?
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Marmi
post 30.Mar.2013, 07:46 AM
Post #7
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 8.Nov.2005

QUOTE (Amber Dawn @ 30.Mar.2013, 08:26 AM) *
I honestly didn't know that. It seems like everyone I know gets OTC meds sent by family and friends from their home countries. We've had packages sent from friends in ... (show full quote)

I have sent OTC medicines - NyQuil, DayQuil, sleeping pills, and whatnot. It may very well be illegal (probably is). Checks are, as far as I know, random. Some are lucky, and some are not it seems.

Sending an $80 flat rate box, yes, you're basically screwed - IF you only put one person as a receiver of the package, and IF your package is picked for a check.

If you can't afford to pay for your package, it will be sent back if your mom checked the box for "Return to Sender" (she'll probably be billed for the shipping back), if she didn't I don' t know what the post office will do with it. My guess would be that a package that doesn't have "Return to Sender" will be held for a while, and then probably discarded. If it doesn't have "Return to Sender", and you want it to be returned, you would probably have to pay for it, but I don't know if you have any rights to do so if you don't accept the package, and you obviously can't do that without paying for it. You're gonna have to find out what the PO will do with the package if you don't retrieve it.

The cost of 2,580:- probably also includes customs fees on top of VAT, thus way more than just the 25% VAT.

I feel for you, and I think it's insane that one has to pay taxes on gifts, no matter what the cost is, it's a freaking GIFT.

Good luck!
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Amber Dawn
post 30.Mar.2013, 08:09 AM
Post #8
Joined: 18.Sep.2009

Thanks for the help. It just really stinks. This is my mom's first grandchild. She and her friends have gone a little crazy shopping. It's obvious the things in the package are not for an adult. If, best case scenario, they are returned to my mom, our daughter will have outgrown things before we can figure out how to get them back here. And the fee is half the cost of a round-trip ticket to the US. There's just no way to justify that cost. It sucks from all directions.
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gplusa
post 30.Mar.2013, 10:45 AM
Post #9
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

I'm waiting for the day when we get busted for our medications import from the US. We only buy a bottle at a time, mind. And the sender always marks the package as "vitamins". Haven't once had a package opened, but I'm sure it will come. What we have done though is to alternate the receiver's name between my name and my wife's name. Same address though, so they probably aren't that stupid.

Amber D, I must have been asleep when your big news arrived. How is baby ?
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Amber Dawn
post 30.Mar.2013, 12:24 PM
Post #10
Joined: 18.Sep.2009

She's absolutely amazing! We couldn't be more in love. My brother-in-law, the picture of health at 39, suffered a massive brain aneurysm 11 days ago. We immediately went to Hönö to be with the family and help care for the children. It has been one medical roadblock after another. Our daughter, Miriam, has been the one little spot of joy in the pile of horrible this has been. When my sister-in-law gets sad or terribly worried, she usually looks around, finds the baby, holds her and feels better. Little miracles, I guess.

Thank you for asking. smile.gif
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snarky
post 30.Mar.2013, 04:01 PM
Post #11
Joined: 22.Jan.2013

Hi Amber -

I had a similar problem, but my package was just an oversized envelope with a knitted hat from my friend in the states. Anyway, she had marked the package as a gift, but they charged me anyway. We had originally thought it was because she didnt mark it as a gift so we just paid the fee and when we got the package it was clearly marked as a gift, however it was kind of hidden and they probably didnt notice it. We could have contested it, but it was such a minor thing. Anyway, you may want to see if you can talk with them and see the package and package paperwork maybe they have overlooked it. Either way you can try to talk with them and explain the situation, etc.
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Max Reaver
post 30.Mar.2013, 11:19 PM
Post #12
Joined: 26.May.2011

QUOTE (Marmi @ 30.Mar.2013, 12:50 AM) *
No, that is not the problem at all. If you don't mark something as a gift, then it's definitely taxable, no questions asked, it counts as goods purchased from abroad, ... (show full quote)

I thought it was strange since I've seen my gf receiving packages from China countless times (yes she's Chinese, that's why I know so much about China as you may have noticed). I know for a fact that her parents never marked the stuff as "gifts". It should be the same as receiving things from US, since both countries count fall under the regulation for "non-EU". Her mom usually sent dried food (mushrooms or veggies that you won't find in Europe. no meat or diary products as those are forbidden), clothes and occasionally medicine, with her as the sole recipient. And we never got any bill from Tullverket. Could be that the stuff her mom sent were cheap and she never marked the goods value higher than 200 SEK. Then again, luck could be a factor, maybe her packages just never got picked up for random check.
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Pursuivant
post 31.Mar.2013, 12:49 PM
Post #13
Joined: 12.Aug.2008

It doesn't matter if its marked as "gift" or "poison" on the package. You have the rules there to read, you are liable to pay the VAT even if its soiled diapers off ebay if its over the VAT threshold. Otherwise you could get everything and the kitchen sink as a "gift". The sum probably is comprised of the VAT + the obscene handling charges as the posten made the declaration instead of you going to the customs and doing the paperwork. Oh and the VAT is calculated from the value + postage + handling fee, so that racks it up quite nicely. The 500 SEK threshold is including the postage.

Yes, medicines are illegal - OK so someone orders cocaine and it came through you think thats OK just because it happened? You can get nicked and fined for "illegal substance import" and its going to be fun travelling as you show up as a drug smuggler for some Tylenol?

Basically - you have been lucky with the other packages. Next time someone has the bright idea of sending anything, remind them of the facts and that it may get nicked. This time its either you pay the charges or then the package gets either sent back - with return fees your mom needs to pay in full - or then the contents are auctioned off at the customs or incinerated.

The only reason someone would "mark up" the value of a package was if they had it insured. And thats a special service on top as otherwise regular packages "lost" get compensated for something like 2$ per pound regardless of the actual value of the contents. The insurance or compensation doesn't cover "nicked by Customs" cases.
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gplusa
post 31.Mar.2013, 01:01 PM
Post #14
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

The medication that we have imported in the past is really just prescription strength pain killers. Stuff that we could have purchased over the counter in NZ, but not here in Sweden. You can get something similar here, just not prescription free. What we have noted is that the US supplier (it's a medical supply company) won't send to a number of European countries. I don't remember the list off the top of my head but it includes Spain and Denmark. It says nothing about Sweden however. So there must be a formal agreement which allows for low volume importation into certain European countries, including Sweden. I'm guessing. But, yes, you take your chances.
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gplusa
post 31.Mar.2013, 01:02 PM
Post #15
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

More importantly, when do we get to see the pics, Amber ?
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