Sunday, December 4, 2011

Helpful Holiday shipping/shopping tips

The laws here regarding packages from outside the EU have changed in the past six months. If you're trying to send something to someone here and you're away over there - and you want it to be a surprise - don't bother.

The intended recipient will get a notice informing them that they have to account for everything in the package - list it all off and provide proof of payment, receipts and the like.  Then they'll be charged VAT.  And it will still be a month or more before they see their stuff - if it's even delivered at all... and even if it is, it won't necessarily be intact.

If you love someone here and want to send them something special - I'd suggest you go on-line and find a retail store within the EU.  Probably going to be a big one, or something like that, but one where you can order and track your package until it makes it's way to it's new home.

This is nonsense and ridiculous.  I am still waiting for a box that was sent in October via USPS.  A FedExed box incurred over $250 in shipping charges! One had some gifts in it - I had to ask for an itemization - and their value - and then supply it to the local customs agency for them to consider processing it for release (they have yet to do so).

At all other times, if they're not gifts - here are a few tips:

  • remove all indications that the items are new - labels, tags, original boxing - and rumple them up - crease the spine, wrinkle clothes, etc.
  • clearly mark that they are used (if relevant) aAND solely  for the recipients personal use
  • include copies of receipts, if any
  • itemize and list the value of the items - make sure you don't overinsure
  • GET A TRACKING NUMBER - they're less likely to put your stuff in an indefinite hold if someone is actually charting where the item is.... my friend has had her box of books stuck in customs for nearly 3 months now whereas I got the first step done with my FedEx box within the week it was sent!
  • if you have something that would fit in a big envelope - put it in a big envelope and mail it that way - sticking it in a box means it won't be received for a good long while but envelopes are passed by.
  • send an email itemization and copies of scanned receipts to the recipient if you can - that way, on their end, they can immediately supply Customs with a duplicate of what they already have (yes, lame and redundant, but keep in mind - this is where Kafka is from.... and I am beginning to think he wrote what he lived instead of taking his life as a base point and fictionalizing the extremes)
Right now - that's about all I can think of - some of these techniques have been tried out and recommended by friends - some I've already used.  It's a hassle.  The sender must have some affection for you, the recipient, in order to go through all these steps (or be getting some major compensation.) Either way - good luck!  And don't be surprised if your chocolates disappear.

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