Pays USPS taxes

Some offers are tempting. The smartphone that costs less in the Chinese online shop than in the German market. The CD by a lesser known artist, only available in the USA. More and more people are ordering things from abroad. With technology items in particular, you can either save a few euros or even get something better quality with a no-name device compared to the expensive branded product.

But a low product price does not mean that the costs are really below the German price in the end. If you have something sent to you from a dealer outside the EU, you may still have to pay customs and import taxes. The German customs offices stop more than seven million parcels annually, check them and collect customs and taxes. So if you want to order something abroad, you should first expect - not only with money, but also with additional effort.

What does it depend on whether I have to pay customs duties?

First from the sender. If the is located within the European Union, no customs duties are levied. Second, the value of the goods and the type of shipment. The following applies to the value of the goods: Everything that was actually paid to receive the goods is charged - including the postage costs. If this sum is less than 22 euros, no customs duties are due. If the value of the goods is between 22 and 150 euros, no customs have to be paid, but import sales tax of 19 percent. This is reduced to seven percent for books, for example. However, if the tax amount is less than five euros, customs will waive it. Example: If you order an electronic part for 50 euros plus ten euros postage, you have to pay 19 percent of 60 euros in taxes: 11.40 euros. In total, the item costs 71.40 euros.

What happens if the value of the goods exceeds 150 euros?

Then the tax is based on the customs tariff. This means that the tax rate and duty are calculated individually, depending on the type of goods. For example, a different rate of duty applies to clothing made of textile than to clothing made of leather. There is a table for this, which Customs publishes on its website The following applies to technology: 3.7 percent is due for e-book readers, 4.2 percent for analog cameras - but nothing for digital cameras and smartphones. The import sales tax will be charged in any case, for electronics this is an additional 19 percent. Example: A DVD player ordered abroad costs 180 euros plus 20 euros shipping. The tariff is 13.9 percent, or 27.80 euros. In addition, there is the tax of 43.28 euros. So the bottom line is that the customer has to pay 271.08 euros for the new DVD player.

Can any kind of technology be introduced?

No. If the devices are counterfeit or counterfeit, they may not be imported into the EU - if such a suspicion occurs, customs will confiscate the delivery and contact the public prosecutor. In the cell phone category, for example - smartphones and related accessories - customs confiscated goods worth 14 million euros last year. Smartphones, notebooks and the like must also bear the CE mark. The manufacturer thus certifies that the devices are safe, i.e. comply with the EU directives on product safety. In order to determine this, the customs officers are allowed to open the package without asking the recipient.

What are the consequences if safety labels are missing?

In this case, or if the customs officials have any other doubts as to whether the item being shipped is safe, they will hand it over to the responsible market surveillance authorities. When it comes to electrical devices such as irons or kettles, the measuring and calibration offices or comparable authorities are responsible, depending on the federal state. When it comes to internet-enabled technology, smartphones, notebooks - everything that transmits or uses frequencies - the Federal Network Agency comes into play. Either way, it is the responsibility of the recipient of the shipment: The post office informs him what the problem is and where the package is and must obtain the relevant information. Customs decide whether he can take the ordered item with him.

When do I have to pick up my shipment directly from customs?

The sender of the goods must stick a customs declaration on the package. Among other things, it says what is in the package and what has been paid for. The customs officers use this information to calculate the customs tariff and tax rate. If the sender forgets the form or if his information is inaccurate, Deutsche Post forwards the parcel directly to the main customs office responsible for the recipient's place of residence.

Does the addressee of goods to be declared have a choice?

Customers can either pick up their parcel from customs - usually a deadline of a few working days is set - and present missing documents to the authorities. Or they refuse to accept the package. Alternatively, you can entrust Deutsche Post with the "post-clearance customs clearance" and the company will take care of the process. That makes things even more expensive: Swiss Post charges a fee of 28.50 euros for the service - in addition to the customs tariff and tax rate.