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Daily LifeShipping From The U.S.

By Brad Smith

You can order things over the Web and have them shipped directly to Europe or to someone in the U.S. (like a mail-forwarding service) who does that for you. When they ship the item(s), they must fill in the Customs form and declare a value. If that value is over something like $50, you will have to pay money to receive the package. The amount you owe is 40% tax plus 10% handling. Thus, after you've bought the items and paid to have them shipped overseas, you have to pay another 50% tax. The moral of the story is you should probably have your items shipped to a friend or relative, have them open the package so it's no longer new, then ship it to you.

The thing we found most disturbing to learn was that YOUR PACKAGES MIGHT BE OPENED BEFORE REACHING YOU. Thus, lying on the customs form doesn't help much, but removing the original packaging before shipping does. As far as we know, you won't be taxed on 'used' items. And, of course, if the value is low enough (we've heard $50), the package shouldn't be bothered in the first place. We have personally had birthday presents get unwrapped in transit. We've also heard several stories of things being removed from packages without any explanation.

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