Esty sucks for travelers
July 9, 2012 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I made the asinine mistake of ordering something off Etsy to a Spanish address. Very bad idea. How do I deal with Spanish customs? What happens when packages are returned for non-payment of duties?

I'll depart Spain long before they fully process the customs paperwork, but I could perhaps set all the wheels in motion to get the duties paid and forward the item, but that's all quite tenuous.. and involves imposing upon people who didn't make this mess.

Should I simply let Spanish customs send it back and pay for a second delivery? Will U.S. customs try collecting anything from the seller? If so, how much? Just fyi, Spain's various "expenses" add another 14% onto their 40% VAT + duties. Also, does Spanish customs habitually damage packages they return for non-payment?

I've given up wanting this handmade silliness quickly, so realistically I'd simply ask the seller to reship to a U.S. address where I'll turn up in December, assuming Spain returns the item without damage or extra fees.

There is an awful lot of combined stupidity on both my part and the seller's part here. I gave the seller my list of known future addresses for the summer, they unwisely selected the one in Spain. At the time, this made me nervous, but I went along with it. And unsurprisingly Spanish customs has taken much much too long. Of course, there is a deeper stupidity that Etsy just invites these customs disasters, with effective markup for importing can exceed 50% rather easily.
posted by jeffburdges to Shopping (8 answers total)
When did you order the item? Has it already been shipped?

If the item hasn't been shipped yet, couldn't you just contact the seller and give them a different address, and have them wait a bit and then ship it to your new address?

Or, if the package has been sent, do you have any friends/neighbors in Spain that might pick up the package for you and then resend it to your new address (just pay for the appropriate postage/fees)?
posted by littlesq at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2012

If the item is returned to the seller, there shouldn't be any import fees, as it was never actually exported. The FAQs linked here indicate that Spain will eventually return the shipment for non-payment of duty if the value is less than €150. If it's less, it gets delivered automatically, and the addressee owes the duty.
posted by junco at 6:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I lived in Madrid, my mom sent me packages all the time. I never was required to pay duty. They were all marked gift though. The biggest hassle was the PO Office would not deliver anything over 1 kilo. I had to go to the PO with my passport every time (and after awhile they knew me, but still demanded the passport).
posted by daneflute at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2012

I'll clarify that I've already begun the ordinary procedure described by junco's link because the item was correctly marked as costing more than 150€, but the procedure keeps taking longer and longer.

Any idea if they'd charge the seller for return postage?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 PM on July 9, 2012

You have memail.
posted by adamvasco at 6:32 PM on July 9, 2012

I'm an Etsy seller (and buyer) and I've had internationally-shipped packages returned to me from various countries for various reasons without being charged for return postage. However, who knows when your package might actually show up. I sent a three ounce package to Hong Kong at the beginning of November and was stunned when it turned back up in my mail at the end of February because the shipper had given me an inaccurate address.

I also work for a US Customs brokerage, which deals with imports and duty rates and the like. Being that your package consists of US goods being returned to a US shipper, there will not be any duty charged upon your parcel's re-entry to the States.
posted by alynnk at 7:29 PM on July 9, 2012

Any advice on reclaiming import duties I already paid if they return it to the U.S.?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012

Any advice on reclaiming import duties I already paid if they return it to the U.S
It ain't going to happen.
posted by adamvasco at 10:56 AM on July 13, 2012

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