Will a currency note be detected in a gift shipped internationally?
December 17, 2018 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I am posting a Christmas gift to a friend abroad, and would like to include a €50 note in the parcel as a reimbursement for something they picked up for me in my absence. However, if the note will be detected during the shipping process I would prefer to wait, so that the recipient doesn't have to pay gift tax on the currency.

I'm shipping a gift from the US to Finland (under the €45 gift tax threshold). Part of the gift is a small book, and as I recently found a forgotten €50 note I thought to slip the note into the book pages as a fun surprise. But as this would bring the total value over the gift threshold, I would prefer not to do it if there is a decent chance that the note would be detected and the recipient would be penalised for it. (I've found Tulli to be pretty reasonable in the past, waiving tax on valuable parcels of personal items I've received from outside the EU, but none of those contained hard currency.) How likely is it that a single note, in the pages of a book, within a larger parcel would be noticed?

I realise to some extent it's up to chance, but if anyone has experience with such situations their feedback would be appreciated.
posted by myotahapea to Law & Government (8 answers total)
 
I've done this twice recently (although not ex US) and had no trouble. I put it inside a CD.
I think inside a book is perfect.
posted by Tunierikson at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2018


It's fine, just put it in a card.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:07 PM on December 17 [1 favorite]


I might also let the recipient know where you're hiding it, even if it's meant as a surprise -- I'm sure the book you picked is magnificent, but what if they look at it, put it on a shelf for later, and never get around to opening it?
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:21 PM on December 17 [10 favorites]


No. Detecting a single piece of currency inside a book, even with a good backscatter machine, would be challenging. Unless the package was opened as part of some weird random check (which the USPS doesn't typically do, but I have no idea about Finland's postal service or Customs) it's almost certainly fine.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:06 PM on December 17 [3 favorites]


Not detectable except by physically searching the package, and they'd need to be pretty thorough about it too.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:17 PM on December 17


To be clear, although I guess the point is slightly moot, the €45 value threshold is an exemption from import duty on goods which are gifts, so the €50 note wouldn't count towards that anyway. So, while many postal services (including Finland's) forbid sending cash through the post, if you are breaking any rules, it's the postal service's rules you're breaking, not the tax authority's.
posted by ambrosen at 3:55 PM on December 17 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the feedback, everyone -- particularly ambrosen, as this sort of hair-splitting pedantry is right up my street. Popped the note inside the book and shipped the parcel off this morning*. If no further updates, presume method to be successful.

*Of course, not two hours after posting said parcel the friend in question finally sent me bank details so I could reimburse via bank transfer. Hopefully we'll have a good laugh about it ...
posted by myotahapea at 8:46 AM on December 18 [1 favorite]


Just had to address this:

fiercecupcake: I might also let the recipient know where you're hiding it, even if it's meant as a surprise -- I'm sure the book you picked is magnificent, but what if they look at it, put it on a shelf for later, and never get around to opening it?

Anyone who receives a copy of Gorey/Updike's The Twelve Terrors of Christmas and doesn't immediately read it cover to cover deserves to not find €50.
posted by myotahapea at 8:53 AM on December 18 [3 favorites]


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