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nazreal

Sent by DHL, passport required and now custom tax?

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nazreal

Hi all,

My friend in Aus has sent me some UGG boots that I left there (I thought we were going to meet up in Beijing and he'd pass them to me but it turns out our schedules conflicted) - anyway, he sent them by DHL Express and they've been held due to a 'clearance delay' for about a week now.

On day 2 of the delay (I'd been tracking), someone from DHL contacted me saying, 'are they personal items' to which I replied, 'yes' and then she asked for my passport. I sent over a pdf and her response email of, 'that's ok thanks' suggested there wasn't a problem.

Today (5 days of delay now), she emailed saying there's a custom tax of 550RMB on it.

To be honest with you, I'm quite dubious as to where this has suddenly come from. If there was a custom tax on it in the first place, wouldn't DHL have told me at the beginning? And since they've been paid for on the other end (i.e. Aus and I know it wasn't cheap cos DHL express global is crazy expensive) how on earth can they have another tax on this?

I emailed back saying I wouldn't pay unless offical documentation stating the reasons could be produced and all the DHL correspondent sent was a website (luckily I read Chinese....) but it didn't help. So I emailed her saying it was very dodgy as last week, my mum sent a package of contact lenses of the value of at least 800RMB and it wasn't inspected, wasn't opened and no customs tax was demanded on it! It got to me fine.

So for anyone with experience on this, could you tell me if this is normal or if something fishy is going on? If it's normal I will pay although quite grudgingly as 550RMB is a lot of money (1/8 the average person's salary here!) and I don't want to be taken advantage of...

Advice/comments would be really great!

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Daan

Hmm. It's not that odd that DHL didn't ask your friend to pay this levy up front, as such levies generally need to be paid by the recipient of a parcel. This is because DHL can't know how customs officers in the country of destination will treat the parcel: they may not even bother to check what's inside and let it through immediately, but they can also decide they want to investigate the contents of a parcel and the nature of the shipment more closely. They do have the right to impose additional import taxes on goods coming into the country. In this case, it seems they decided to take a closer look at your parcel, and it seems they've unfortunately concluded, in spite of what you said in your e-mail, that it's a commercial shipment. This means customs officers can (and will) levy a tax on the value of the goods.

The reason you have to pay this fee to DHL and not to the Chinese customs service directly is that this makes it a lot easier for DHL to get your stuff to you quickly, as they'll simply pay the fees on your behalf and then ask you to reimburse them. This is pretty much standard procedure all over the world.

In all, it doesn't seem to be quite as fishy as you may think, although I do agree that 550RMB is quite excessive for a pair of boots. Could you post a link to that website? It'd be interesting to see whether they give any tax rates for such shipments.

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roddy

I don't think it matters if it's commercial or not, there are import tariffs and you're importing something. Don't think there's any way round it. If I'm understanding that page correctly, the charge can be 100% of the value of the item? Does anyone know if it matters if they're new or not? Or if you can claim the tax back on your way out (like that tax-free shopping for tourist thing?)

"550RMB is quite excessive for a pair of boots."

It'll seem quite reasonable to Chinese boot-makers.

Edit: Actually, could be more than 100%? Up to 100% tariff then 17% sales tax? Ouch.

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Silent

I don't know the Chinese rules but as far as I know most countries tax based on the kind of goods and the value of the goods. There may also be a difference in commercial goods or gifts, but I suspect this difference is more based on the fact that the value of commercial goods are easier determine than the value of (used) personal goods/gifts.

I think most countries have 2 or 3 kinds of taxes when importing goods. Import tariffs based on the goods (type/new/age), VAT and special tariffs (often used for alcohol, cigarette's etc).

Edit: Often it's also relevant or it's brought in personally or through a mail/package service.

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nazreal

Hi all,

Ok that makes sense although I'm still balking at the idea of 550RMB!! The only way I suppose I might be able to contest the amount and/or get it lowered is by reiterating that they are personal (i bought them myself!) but I don't know what DHL can do if it's customs asking them/me to cough up.

The website is:

http://www.customs.gov.cn/publish/portal0/tab3889/module1188/info231023.htm

Thanks for your comments guys.

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nazreal

On an update - I just got another email from DHL who sent me the form my friend filled in - he's put the value of the package as WAAAAY too much! like 510AUSD as opposed to the real value which is actually more like 150AUSD =_=' But he has clearly declared them as 'GIFT' so....surely if he has declared it as a gift, there should be no custom tax right?

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jbradfor
surely if he has declared it as a gift, there should be no custom tax right?

Welllll, then what's to stop everyone from claiming everything is a gift, and no one pays tax? And don't call me Shirley.

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yonglin

Customs are usually payable on gifts (although the customs-free allowance may be larger compared to non-gifts). It may be possible to avoid customs by declaring the goods to have zero or negligible value (say 5 or 10 dollars -- within the customs-free allowance). Sometimes, however, goods are inspected and it may be determined that the value exceeds what was declared, in which case customs are levied on the value as determined by the inspector.

It might be possible to appeal the customs fee but it seems to me that this might be difficult given your friend's declaration. If you refuse to pay the fee, the package will probably eventually be returned to the sender.

Also, international couriers usually also charge a customs brokerage fee. This fee may be larger than the tax itself, amounting to as much as 30 dollars or so per item.

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fanglu
If you refuse to pay the fee, the package will probably eventually be returned to the sender.

Or destroyed - might want to check. You'll probably have to pay the postage back to Australia.

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Daan

510 AUD? Ouch. No wonder Chinese customs decided to levy an import tax on that. The European Union has pretty high customs-free allowances, but even here, you'd be charged quite a bit of tax for importing such an expensive gift. What I'd do is send DHL an e-mail and explain he simply got the numbers wrong: just say he should've written down 150 AUD instead of 510 AUD. They may be able to help you fix the declaration form. If they can't, you can either pay 550 RMB, or refuse to do so. In the latter case DHL will probably either destroy your package, or return it to your friend, depending on which box he ticked when he dropped off the package in Australia and on Chinese customs regulations. As fanglu said, though, DHL will almost certainly charge your friend for the postage back to Australia if he takes delivery of the return package.

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roddy

So maybe as it's personal use you don't have to pay the tariff, but still have to pay the sales tax? 17% of AUD510 should be about RMB550 I think. Have they broken down the costs for you?

You should email them back, saying that under the circumstances you're willing to let them buy your luxury boots for a mere AUD399.99.

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lanzhoumian

I have had several things sent to me via DHL in Beijing and never had to pay. Used, personal items one should be able to bring in for free right? When you arrive in Beijing by plane you also dont have to pay customs duty on your personal items.

One thing thats good with DHL is that you can actually call them and talk to a person - and there supervisor if you want. Might be better than email

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Sakat

I had a lot of trouble with DHL. They really are uncompetent. They completely broke my computer send from Japan to Beijng. It took a month to get it in a horrible state. Every time I contacted them they were just speaking nonsense.

At first was like you a clearance delay and then just a lot of bulls**t.

Advice:

NEVER change the value of your object. In my case they talked about a very expensive tax to make me lower the real value to avoid tax. But then if it's broken you only get back what you declared.

Don't pay the tax they ask. At first open your package, check and if the guy who deliver isn't happy he can just call the company.

If it's broken directly takes pictures of the object. But also the employee with the object, his cards (name and number) to prove he was there when you opened. And then just refuse to pay any tax. Makes him call the company to tell it. Then agress them by email asking the contact of the supervisor of the employee you have contact with, until you have the main person in charge.

I wrote about my experience with that vandal company if you want to check. It's in French but with Google translate:

http://translate.google.ch/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=fr&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sakatland.com%2Fblog%2Findex.php%3Fpost%2F2011%2F02%2F27%2FMerci-DHL&act=url

At least the pictures in the end are a good reason enough not to use DHL...

.3194775474_1_m.jpg

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