How do avoid paying customs twice on a shipment?
January 26, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

How do I avoid paying customs on a package I'm shipping back home?

I'm in Egypt and I need to send a package home to the States. I already paid customs when the items in it were shipped here, and I don't want to have to pay when I ship them back. They're computer accessories, probably worth around $100-$150 brand new, plus the packaging for a laptop, which I'm worried they might think is in there, ratcheting up the value.

I was thinking of packing it with my clothes and just marking it "personal effects" which it more or less is.

I'm not enthused about the idea of excess baggage as an alternative since that has the danger of being more expensive *and* I'm worried that the contents might get damaged as checked luggage.
posted by Deathalicious to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
If the items were bought "back home", your best bet is to include the sales receipts or other evidence of that, since they were presumably taxed at that point.

Otherwise, I'd go for your "personal effects" plan and just toss them in a mess of socks and other crap that is clearly not new-goods or goods-for-sale. Heck, if you are really worried about things looking too nice and new, take a 'permanent' sharpie marker and scribble the names of rock bands on the shiny plastic parts. Add stickers. Clean it all off with alcohol later when you get home.
posted by rokusan at 12:15 PM on January 26, 2008

Best answer: If you bought them in the U.S., just mark the package AMERICAN GOODS RETURNED and that should take care of it. If you took it out of the U.S., and haven't had repairs or anything done, it's absolutely not dutiable.
posted by oaf at 1:57 PM on January 26, 2008

You're sending this home via mail right? Bend the truth on the customs form. Write "Salvaged computer parts" and put the value down as $10. I've never had a form double checked or a package opened in 6 years of sending mail of all sizes into the US from the UK. Coming from Egypt might be a different matter, but it is highly unlikely anyone will recognize the value of the parts let alone test if they work, even if they do get as far as opening the package.
posted by fire&wings at 2:01 PM on January 26, 2008

Best answer: No need to bend the truth. You don't owe any taxes or duties on this stuff. Listen to oaf.
posted by winston at 7:00 PM on January 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

Yeah, I'd rather not bend the truth if I can avoid it. I didn't know about "American Goods Returned" but that's exactly what I'm going to do.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:04 PM on January 26, 2008

Damages are possible whether or not you check them as baggages or ship them via other means. If customs tax is your main concern, checking them with your airline would insure that you are present with your luggage to clarify their non-taxable status as you pass through the customs clearance once you land.

That said, I've shipped & received items marked 'used personal effects' while overseas, without any customs complications. (I list each item, such as 'used coffee press - $20value', etc. under that 'used personal effects' heading.)

The biggest hassle is when packages are lost, or arrive damaged. If you want to be thorough, you should snapshots of the contents, and pay for insurance and tracking if they're worth it to you.

And, even if you do face a customs tax, you can appeal by letter. I did this once with a gift package that was not clearly labeled as 'gift.' and received a refund. Again, just more hassle.
posted by MD06 at 11:16 PM on January 26, 2008

Response by poster: Update from poster
Found out today shipping to US: 2500LE, or $500

The crap is coming with me in a suitcase. I'll pay excess baggage if I have to and wrap it in lots of clothes to keep it from getting too badly maimed.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:20 PM on January 27, 2008

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