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Old 2011-11-08, 15:50   Link #1
Puddingman
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Question Huh? Problems with customs when ordering online?

Hey all, I've been reading random forums on the internet and apparently some people have had problems when ordering Japanese things online. Their products have been damaged/defaced, or sometimes not even received. They've said it's due to some people at customs messing with their material. What's the deal with this? Is this a common thing that's happened, has anyone had experiences with this? Are there certain types of items that get messed with more than others? I saw some messages way back on this forum but I thought it'd be cool to have a section to compile everything. What do y'all think?
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Old 2011-11-08, 19:29   Link #2
Akemi Homura
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This is probably more related to the country in question than what the products are. I live in Canada and personally I have never had any issues like that when importing things from Japan.
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Old 2011-11-08, 19:48   Link #3
Demi.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puddingman View Post
Hey all, I've been reading random forums on the internet and apparently some people have had problems when ordering Japanese things online. Their products have been damaged/defaced, or sometimes not even received. They've said it's due to some people at customs messing with their material. What's the deal with this? Is this a common thing that's happened, has anyone had experiences with this? Are there certain types of items that get messed with more than others? I saw some messages way back on this forum but I thought it'd be cool to have a section to compile everything. What do y'all think?
If you live in the US, you won't have any problems with customs. If you live elsewhere, I'm not sure. Customs are especially bad in certain countries...
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Old 2011-11-08, 20:59   Link #4
gsilver
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I'm in the US. In the 10 years I've been importing stuff, I've had a total of one item opened (an issue of Afternoon), which took a few weeks longer to receive. Everything else has been fine.
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Old 2011-11-08, 22:23   Link #5
Vexx
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US, never had or heard of a problem in the US or Canada... I *have* heard of one or two in the UK having problems -- but at the local level with particular postal inspector twits rather than some policy.

There's simply too much traffic for them to exhaustively review every single box in all those Sea-Land railcars. They look for outliers, unusual clues..... stuff from Japan generally not an issue.
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Old 2011-11-09, 10:26   Link #6
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In response to the opening post of this thread.

I've come across a problem only once with customs.. The EMS man come to my office with disturbing news, that my package has been marked for "taxation". To make things short, I had to employ the help of the husband (a policeman) of one of our employees to get the item. He show his badge at the customs office and I was finally able to get the item (Heartcatch Puzzle). Thank goodness they didn't open it for inspection.
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Old 2011-11-09, 10:30   Link #7
hyl
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The only problem that i might have are paying the customs because of the VAT in my country
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Old 2011-11-09, 17:16   Link #8
Puddingman
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Ah interesting, so it seems like a safe investment. Does anyone have an idea about how the customs procedure works?
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Old 2011-11-09, 19:22   Link #9
Kirarakim
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The only problem I have is having to sign for stuff and not being home when they deliver it.
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Old 2011-11-09, 19:54   Link #10
relentlessflame
 
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Originally Posted by Puddingman View Post
Ah interesting, so it seems like a safe investment. Does anyone have an idea about how the customs procedure works?
As was said, it depends a little bit on your country, but in general terms the shipper will indicate the type and value of the goods in the package, and upon entry in the country Customs Agents will inspect your package (usually just the description on the outside, but sometimes the contents) to determine if it is subject to duty and taxation. If so, they will generally prepare an invoice, and when they arrive at your door to deliver the package, they will ask you to pay the taxes due (plus any applicable processing fees). Some countries have minimum thresholds that allow people to import up to a certain value of merchandise before being subject to taxation. Other countries have no such minimum. The amount of taxation also, obviously, varies according to the country according to something known as the "Customs Tariff" (which determines the rate of taxation for each type of merchandise imported).

I don't normally do this, but I wrote a Guide to this issue that might be helpful to you, as it explains a lot of the details about how this works. I hope it will be helpful!

(Incidentally, the "horror stories" you've heard about merchandise being defaced by Customs only happen rarely in certain countries in central-Asia where there are strict regulations about content and art. But most countries do have some content regulations that you need to be aware of, particularly regarding adult/pornographic content. Importing forbidden merchandise is a crime, so if you are thinking of importing adult goods, you might want to spend a few minutes doing a bit of research about what is permitted in your country. (In most countries, even a lot of "adult" goods are okay too... but you need to know where they draw the line.) All-ages products of all kinds should be permissible without much restriction in most countries.)
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Old 2011-11-09, 20:35   Link #11
Puddingman
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Wow wow! So thorough and indepth. Thanks so much, I'm gonna read your guide right now!
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Old 2011-11-09, 21:35   Link #12
Coldlight
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
and when they arrive at your door to deliver the package,
A further example of "depends on the country", in my country most of the time it's the person who goes to the EMS Customs office/Customs officer in the Post Office (depending on the shipping method) to claim the package and pay the "appropriate" amount of taxes. Getting packages from overseas delivered to your doorstep here is not common, even with EMS because you have to pay tax and duties over at their offices. The mailman will arrive to give us a parcel notice card (which usually arrives days after the package itself has been sitting in their office) to let us know that a package has arrived.

Sometimes, we get lucky and our packages aren't taxed, but we still have to pick them up (for Surface/SAL/Airmail), while the only time we get EMS delivered to our doorsteps is when the package slips past Customs (either they deemed the value too low, it was marked as a gift, it contains used personal items, or they decided they didn't want to bother).
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Old 2011-11-09, 22:39   Link #13
Puddingman
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Would they allow you to address the package to your local post office to pick up from there?
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Old 2011-11-09, 23:24   Link #14
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Originally Posted by Puddingman View Post
Would they allow you to address the package to your local post office to pick up from there?
Well, you'd have to go to the post office and get a Post Office Box (you can't just randomly have packages shipped there ). Commercial couriers won't ship to post office boxes, as they have to be signed directly by the recipient, but if it's being shipped via EMS (or SAL, etc.) then it'll be transferred to your country's postal mail service, and they can generally do that. When you go to get the P.O. Box you might want to discuss with the rep there what they'll do in case there are taxes/duty owing on the package (I imagine they'll just hold it for pick-up instead).

At the end of the day, if it's going to be EMS/SAL, if you're not home when they attempt to make the delivery, they'll just hold it at the post office anyway (at least in most countries AFAIK), so there probably isn't much point/benefit.
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Old 2011-11-10, 00:09   Link #15
Puddingman
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Ah I see. Kinda a complicated system. Haha, I'll have to put a lot more thought into this, I think for now I'll stick to amazon lol. Thanks for your insight into this process!
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Old 2011-11-10, 03:42   Link #16
Liddo-kun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
At the end of the day, if it's going to be EMS/SAL, if you're not home when they attempt to make the delivery, they'll just hold it at the post office anyway (at least in most countries AFAIK), so there probably isn't much point/benefit.
In my experience, with EMS there's always the receipt that needs to be signed (40 pesos delivery fee). However, since the EMS delivery man is already familiar with people at my workplace. He's ok with others signing the receipt if I'm not around at the time he delivered it.

Last edited by Liddo-kun; 2011-11-10 at 09:56.
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Old 2011-11-10, 06:56   Link #17
Coldlight
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Originally Posted by Puddingman View Post
Would they allow you to address the package to your local post office to pick up from there?
In my case, all my packages are addressed to my house, but they always end up waiting for me at the post office, anyway. Mailmen here are usually ill-equipped to deliver packages, so I believe that's one reason why they resort to sending parcel claim notice cards instead. This is for SAL shipping.

I've only tried EMS once, but the EMS package had to be taxed and picked up at the EMS facility much farther away from the local post office. Talk about inconvenience. I'm sure in most countries EMS would be delivered door-to-door though, regardless of Customs duties.

The one shipping option that would always deliver to door-to-door over here would be commercial couriers like FedEx, etc, though in return for the speed and convenience they're usually the most expensive option.

Well, best of luck to you and your online shipping experiences.
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