Before you order something for the first time from China, you might have a couple of questions and want to consider a few things. We collected the most frequently asked questions and answered them for you.
Bear in mind: you can’t order everything. Importing things such as drugs, weapons, fireworks or animals is regulated.
If you’re unsure, just check out the website of the German customs office
Our tip: Fakes don’t have to have a bad quality - but how you deal with this subject is up for you to decide.
Gifts are charged at a different import sales tax limit than regular goods. Only an order with the value of 150€ or more will be charged import sales tax. Nevertheless: the declaration “gift“ on a customs declaration of a Chinese package is often seen as implausible. So these packages might rather get stuck at customs. Just pick up your package with the customs declaration, bill and ID and pay the import VAT in case of an order worth more than 26€. It isn’t your fault that the merchant send the package with the wrong declaration, so don’t worry.
First things first: keep calm ;-). Most likely the declaration on the outside of your package was inadequate or your package
just happened to be one of the random checks. The most common explanation is: “The necessary bill or voucher was not located on the
outside of the package”. In maybe 5% of all cases your package lands at the customs office.
You go with your substitute customs declaration, your ID and the bill to your local customs office and pick up your package – if your package is worth less than 26€ you can just take it home with you, if its worth more than 26€ you pay the extra costs. The substitute customs declaration contains the most important information on what order you’re about to pick up.
Sometimes you have to open the package in front of the customs officer to prove that it is the order that belongs to the bill you brought along. Tip: If the package is worth less than 26€, you can scan your ID, the bill (often your PayPal-bill) and the declaration, sent it to the customs office and they will ship your package to you without extra costs...
If you have to pay Import VAT for your package but don’t have time to pick the package up at the customs office, you can have the Deutsche Post represent you. Send the declaration, missing documents and a copy of your ID to the customs office and they will hand the customs clearance over to the Deutsche Post. This method can take some time, so extra fees might be raised for the storage at the customs office. Advantage: you can pay the cost to your postman.
Keep in mind that the waiting time in customs offices does vary. Sometimes we had to wait over two hours. But the customs officers are usually very friendly and we had some nice chats with them ;-).
Our tip: everyone should visit their local customs office at least once. After that the communication via e-mail is less stressful.
When you order from countries outside of the EU you have to keep import sales tax and customs charges in mind.
Every order with a value of less than 26€ won't be charged import sales tax or customs duties. The rule states that purchases of a value of only 22€ or less are free of import sales tax but import dues are only raised if they sum up to more than 5€ - so order for 26€ (including shipping) without worrying about costs. Import sales taxes are raised starting from 26€ - usually they are 19% (items such as books and flowers have a tax of 7%). Up to an order value of 150€ (keep in mind: including shipping fees) no customs charges will be raised. Customs charges depend on the kind of product you order. Garments are charged with 12% and CDs and DVDs charged with 3,5% customs charges. Digital cameras, books and USB flash drives are free of customs charges.
Our tip: there are usually no extra costs - just skip this question ;-).
Keep ten days in mind. The first nine days your package will be stored at the customs office without costing any additional fees. Storage fees
will be raised if they reach the 5€ value and that is on the 10th day. Warning: packages will only be stored for a fortnight, after that they
will be returned to their shipper.
Our tip: try to pick up your package within 10 days.
Do you have any questions? We'll gladly add to our FAQ - just write us a message: firstname.lastname@example.org.