fees plees?
October 27, 2009 12:06 AM   Subscribe

what other fees will i be paying for shopping internationally?

i am interested in buying something from a clothing store in denmark through their online boutique. they ship via fedex. i live in the US. what other fees, if any, will i be required to pay?
posted by violetk to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why don't you try going to the checkout process on the online store up until payment is required? All applicable fees should be listed.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:58 AM on October 27, 2009

Response by poster: wongcorgi—actually, no. this is the message that is found on their shipping page:

Please note that the shipping rates stated above are not inclusive of any import fees that you could be charged with when the package reaches your destination country.

that's why i was asking.
posted by violetk at 1:03 AM on October 27, 2009

For import duty see CBP.
posted by devnull at 1:52 AM on October 27, 2009

You may have to pay what's known as an import tariff, effectively money collected by the US Government as compensation for you using your money to purchase goods made abroad.

From a purely economic sense the idea is a tariff compensates governments for the tax revenue lost, but in actuality we see this intent distorted by political motives and tariffs, unfortunately, are commonly used to protect favoured domestic industries from lower cost, foreign competition.

In terms of exact amounts, probably not much but difficult to say. Consult the following detailed documents, which outline duty to be paid depending upon the specifics : In actual practice (I live in the UK) wether or not you pay import duty seems to be a function of the total amount of money spent, with smaller sums (or gifts) ignored by customs.

I've imported small quantities of electronics from Hong Kong (less than 25 pieces) without fees, but I've had artwork sent to me by a friend in New York, who thoughtfully insured the piece for its market value, and I had to pay almost £1,000 in duty to collect the item, as he didn't clearly note "gift" on the customs declaration.

So one off, small monetary value, you'll probably pay zero or not too much to import your clothing in to the United States.
posted by Mutant at 1:55 AM on October 27, 2009

FWIW, just putting "gift" on the customs declaration would not have exempted you from VAT and import duty on an expensive piece of artwork. link
posted by missmagenta at 3:52 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your credit card will likely charge you a fee for 'currency conversion' - approx. 2% of the total transaction.
posted by mattholomew at 5:31 AM on October 27, 2009

Best answer: I bought a $249 ebook reader from the Netherlands that was shipped FedEx. Shipping was included in the price, but not customs fees. FedEx charged me an additional customs fee of $12.67.

I paid for the product using PayPal, which if I remember correctly didn't charge me a currency conversion fee. If I had paid with my credit card, I would have paid an extra 2% or so, as mattholomew pointed out.
posted by PatoPata at 6:51 AM on October 27, 2009

Best answer: I've ordered individual items of clothing from Europe (France) for personal use several times, had them shipped to me in the U.S., never been required to pay duty, at least not separately. Maximum declared value of any given package....top of my head, maybe $150-$200.

From my experience, shipping is a much, much bigger deal to concern yourself with, not to mention the brutal exchange rates currently (at the moment, spending U.S. dollars abroad sucks).

Regarding duty:

This document from the U.S. CBP is actually pretty good (except that it's in .doc format). From the doc:

Sometimes sending textiles can be a little tricky because they are subject to more regulations than other kinds of consumer goods. For example, there may be quota restrictions for importing textiles whose value is more than $250. Formal Customs entries must be filed for all made‑to‑order suits from Hong Kong, no matter what the value, unless they accompany the traveler. Before sending textiles, whether whole cloth or apparel, to the United States from abroad, you should contact your local Customs port (which can be found in your local phone book under U.S. government listings) or the Customs attaché in an American embassy abroad about whether your textile package will be subject to import restrictions. (This is particularly true if the textiles are intended for sale as opposed to for your personal use or as a gift.)

So even the CBP says that it's "a little tricky", due to the maze of legislation and regulation around clothing imports. But further along, they say:

Most personal shipments worth up to $200, and gift packages worth up to $100, will pass duty‑free as long as the recipient does not receive multiple packages in a single day whose cumulative value is more than these amounts.

The doc also talks about the different processes regarding shipments via postal services versus shipping via a service like FedEx. A shipping or courier service may clear the package through customs for you and then bill you for the duty. (There may be direct info on the Fedex website, their site isn't that helpful for individual customers at a brief glance.)

In my experience, it's very possible that I might have been charged an extra small charge for customs, technically, but didn't notice it, because it was rolled up in the shipping charge and the delivery/courier service handled it. Some courier company sites mention a 'clearance fee', for example. In the online shop, it would have just been part of the $29 or whatever shipping fee, not broken out.

Just to restate: for "regular clothes", not too expensive, single items, personal use, I've never noticed where I had to pay duty. I wouldn't bother with "contacting your local Customs port" unless you're bringing in haute couture or something.

One more note: if you do have to pay duty for some reason, and it wasn't paid by the shipper, you pay it on your end. That's one reason the online boutique has the disclaimer on their site (as well as for general cover-your-rear purposes, etc.).
posted by gimonca at 7:09 AM on October 27, 2009

My only advice is to never ship anything with UPS.
My experience is only with getting stuff in Canada, but UPS has to be the worst out of all them (USPS, Fedex, DHL, chinese misc, ect)
UPS uses their own customs brokers and they charge outrageous fees for that service. A $50 dollar handling fee on a $100 purchase that just had like $2 dollars in import taxes.
posted by Iax at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2009

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