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"Problem with french customs" Topic

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2,385 hits since 17 Aug 2012
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Black Cavalier17 Aug 2012 8:04 a.m. PST

I sold a guy in france a painted army. Im in the US. The cost was $425 USDUS so thats what I put on the US customs form.

I just got a cryptic email from the guy saying the package has arrived, but it sounds like he is being asked to pay an additional 99 euros.

Specifically he said the package was "controlled" and he was being required to "justify" the package. Then he said they asked "to" 99 euros.

So is he having to pay an addition fee to get the package? Is this based on something I did like putting $425 USD on the US customs form? Im horrifed if this is the case. I had no idea this could happen.

vexillia17 Aug 2012 8:15 a.m. PST

So is he having to pay an addition fee to get the package? Is this based on something I did like putting $425.00 USD USD on the US customs form?

Yes and Yes. French VAT at 19.6% plus handling charge no doubt. The amount will be based on the value you placed on the customs form.

Martin Stephenson
Vexillia Limited: Wargames Miniatures & Accessories

No Name17 Aug 2012 8:49 a.m. PST

He will also have to pay VAT on the shipping, so it will be 19.6% of whatever was on the customs form plus whatever it says for the shipping, and of course there will as Martin says be a handling charge. What happens here is that the package is held until the charges are paid, I would imagine it is the same in France.

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 9:10 a.m. PST

I don't know that this is a "problem." This is why customs forms exist, so authorities can determine the contents of a package are legal, and tax the contents as appropriate.

When a car comes to the US from Germany there's a tariff levied against it. Why should figures sent from the US to Franc be any different?

combatpainter Fezian17 Aug 2012 9:39 a.m. PST

One Word:Ouch! Live and learn.

Samulus17 Aug 2012 9:45 a.m. PST

I know technically this isn't 'right' but seriously, if I was shipping anything abroad that was 'value added'i.e. painted I'd just put the base cost of the models in the package on the custom form. They're not going to argue and your customers will love you for it.

Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 9:45 a.m. PST

Where's the problem there?

Every citizen of a country with VAT or similar tax (not just EU) should know that, when purchasing goods from abroad, he/she might be required by his/her Customs Authorities to pay the tax for the goods declared amount. Absolutely normal so far-

Of course, Customs cannot watch (yet) ALL parcels travelling around, so that sometimes your parcel will have the chance to pass through Customs undisturbed, and you can avoid paying that tax. Take this as a lucky day though, not as the rule.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 11:29 a.m. PST

That is the nature of shipping parcels over International borders. Up to a certain value, items can be sent free of customs charges and handling. Howeveer, through the course of time, that minimum is becoming smaller while the VAT or tax is slowly rising.

We are alreading receiving advanced warning of a rise from 19% to 21%

If the package were insured for the full value, you certainly do not want to misquote the price.

@ Black Cavalier, a question:

Was the Customs Declaration form difficult to fill in?

The reason I ask, some sellers in the US prefer to deal only with US customers.


Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 11:32 a.m. PST

Remember, don't steal. Governments hate competition.

Angel Barracks17 Aug 2012 11:34 a.m. PST

@ Black Cavalier, a question:

Was the Customs Declaration form difficult to fill in?

I have just today recieved a parcel from the US and it has a standard CN22 form on it like we use in the UK and no doubt you do too timurilank.
Very simple to fill in.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 12:22 p.m. PST

@ Angel Barracks,

Thanks for the information…scratching head wondering why the self-induced barrier to sell overseas.

Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 2:37 p.m. PST

Just a precision, @timurilank:

Wonder whether it's not as much of a "self-induced barrier to sell overseas" as, more properly, a barrier to purchasing overseas.

It's French Customs who charge the buyer, so the US seller is by no means affected by this --he shouldn't suffer from any inhibition about selling overseas.

Inversely, i'ts me for instance who might feel some prevention to making substantially big purchases from outside EU, because it's me who can be charged the VAT tax by my own Customs Authorities (depending on some criteria unknown to me, but likely related to parcel size and declared value).

I'd therefore say that some US vendors' prevention to selling overseas has nothing to do with taxes issues, but to other, quite different reasons --whatever they are.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut17 Aug 2012 2:41 p.m. PST

I always asked my oversas customers what value they wanted listed, for customs and insurance purposes.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2012 4:43 p.m. PST

Sounds like protectionism is making a comeback.
Or maybe it's just government greed in overdrive.

CPBelt17 Aug 2012 8:14 p.m. PST

Or the plight of bankrupt nations.

bsrlee17 Aug 2012 11:29 p.m. PST

US vendors problems seem to be mainly to do with excessively officious Post employees, and excessive waiting times to get service at the Post Office counter.

Retailers who ship large numbers of parcels overseas can get special arrangements like pickup or expedited processing that are not available to smaller businesses – for instance, surface mail is still available to some businesses, but everyone else has to use Air, which inflates costs at one end or the other.

basileus6618 Aug 2012 6:35 a.m. PST

Yeah, customs is a bitch for buying from overseas. When I buy something from the States, I calculate about 18% plus for customs taxes, plus another 13 euros (plus VAT!) for "handling expenses"- that's how Customs put it: they will charge you 14 euros just for you being such a douche to bother them with buying outside EU!

Some USA sellers fill export forms with slightly lower values, to save some bucks from their overseas customers, but I understand that can be a federal offense, so no many of them do it.

Patrice18 Aug 2012 12:48 p.m. PST

The French customs think that the buyer can fill a form to be repaid from overseas VAT. This could be true if you are selling things with VAT included to US customers, in this case (theorically…) your customers in Europe could be repaid from US VAT (not often done, too complicated…)

To make things worse, most of this Customs controls are not done by Customs officers any more, they are done by some private company acting on behalf of the Customs and they have no interest to be kind.

Musketier21 Sep 2012 6:16 a.m. PST

Sounds like protectionism is making a comeback.

Customs duties have always been around if anything, today's tariffs are the residual shadow of protectionism in its heyday. Although there are additional sales taxes in some US States, most US citizens don't equate them with customs duties, and if you don't buy or sell abroad much, you don't encounter the latter.

In Europe we may have been more used to them (some of my UK correspondents still put a green sticker on their parcels to me), but from the OP it would appear that they've faded from awareness here as well since the introduction of the Customs Union, and subsequently the Single Market. So technically, it isn't France levying duties on the OP's exported army, but a French customs agent acting on behalf of the European Union.

Either way, from experience large or heavy parcels do tend to attract attention. Personally I never order anything over 1 kg around one pound is best. That way you may only get hit for the handling fee (10 euros here in Belgium, last time I looked), or pass under the radar altogether.

Petrov13 Oct 2012 8:11 a.m. PST

Yeah import tariffs, is this news?

GNREP817 Feb 2013 8:30 a.m. PST

Specifically he said the package was "controlled"

Bit late I know but 'control' and variants on it tend to be Customs 'English' for inspect – working with German speakers in the past who had to use English it was "ve make ze control now on zis lkw (lorry)" – the phrase razzia which comes from Arabic and came into French use for police raids (and also used by WW2 Germans) was also used sometimes (by Italian and Spanish colleagues if I remember)

Scenery Basics17 Feb 2013 10:03 a.m. PST

The barrier for US shippers to sell overseas is that packages travelling from the US to the US are easy to ship: print postage at home, drop the mail into a mailbox or on the drop counter at the post office. If you send a package outside of the country, you prep it at home, go to the post office,fill out the customs form, wait in line (for unaccountably long times based on the customers),then hand it to the worker in person. The worker then determines the cost to ship, with much head scratching and ignorance involved (is Austria where the koalas come from?). Then you pay and move on. Time to mail a package to the US: 5 seconds. Time to mail a package to the UK:25 minutes on a good day. Also consider that each item being shipped is another round of hassles, and it becomes more clear why people avoid it.

The other aspect of the transaction is that noe the item will take much longer to arrive than eBay's expected turnover, leading to an easy Paypal refund for failure to deliver, followed by customs difficulties(did you know that it is forbidden to send toy soldiers to Italy, for example?), then followed by customs charges, which the customer blames on the sender.
If you do everything legally and properly it is a major hassle.

Panfilov18 Feb 2013 6:49 p.m. PST

Actually, both evil bay and the USPS web site now let you fill out the customs form on line, you just need a 4x6" package to paste the (Bar coded) label to.

No more standing in line at the Post Office and filling in the multi-carbon form. And you get a discount on the shipping rate, not sure about international.

Tirailleur corse17 Oct 2013 8:36 a.m. PST

Pesonnaly, I received several (small) parcels from the US (flags from Flag Dude as for an exemple, but also a rifle scope from Midway's -before 09/11-) at normal postage rates, through regular mail, and was NEVER asked anything by the Customs.

On anther hand, my second son ordered a softair "gun" from Hong-Kong and was charged (like a mule!) by the customs.

Rules are hard to undrstand …
I believe, everything depends on the size and nature of the shipment. If huge and looking like an M4 assault rifle, safer for the sender to fullfill the right form.
From that point, I suspect the Customs to consider a minimum value under which they do not charge anything. Something around 100$ or so IMO.

So, for small parcels and/or low prices I would recommend the sender either to minimize the declared value, or eventually, to "forget" to declare it as a commercial shipping …

In both case, stay safe, the french customer cannot face big trouble by the end of the day, … beside beeing asked for the VAT and handling fees!

LAGAFFE31 Dec 2014 8:13 a.m. PST


Information that can save you a disappointment.
Do not order from falcon figures USA, they are swindlers and robbers.
In January 2014, with friends we ordered figures for a significant amount (over 180USD with shipping). Of course, falcon figures cashed our money but, despite many reminders which they ni longer answer, we have not received anything to date.
We must condemn this behavior,we suggest you to boycott this company and do to these people the publicity they deserve.

Best regards.

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