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Customs question

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4 reviews
Customs question

I'm traveling to Africa and stopping for a weekend in Amsterdam on my way home (US). I will be bringing back merchandise from Uganda to sell in the US. Can anyone tell me if these items will be taxed by customs in Amsterdam?

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
41,060 posts
154 reviews
1. Re: Customs question

Yes if the total sum is above 450 euro then everything is taxed. BUT you can reclaim at least the VAT (21%) upon exit to USA though it's a lengthy procedure; import duties, if any, really vary upon the type of merchandise and reclaim might or might not be possible.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
5,004 posts
38 reviews
2. Re: Customs question

The answer to your question is a bit more complicated, and potentially a bit more advantageous, than what is explained above. Since I found it an intriguing question I did a little bit of desk research on the website of the Dutch customs and called the customs helpline.

The €430 exemption is for purchases of a personal nature. In the OP's case, it sounds like there is a very good chance that the customs official will recognize the character and perhaps amount of the goods as 'commercial products' for which there is no €430 exemption. In that case, there would be a VAT tax as described above and import duties the amount of which will be dependent on the type of goods.

The possible positive news is that it may be possible to file a 'tijdelijke invoer aangifte' (temporary import declaration) with the customs official in the red line at the airport. You then pay a 'borg' (security deposit) and when you leave with the goods and complete the necessary paperwork (export declaration) you get your security deposit back.

I do recommend to the OP that she considers calling the Dutch customs helpdesk on +31-45 574 30 31 to discuss the specifics of what the goods are, the potential value, etc. Or you can of course just come with the goods and try to make use of the possibility to file a temporary import declaration and if that doesn't work out then pay the necessary taxes. Of course, if you inform before your trip, you may be able to calculate if the taxes you would pay (if you have to pay) are such that it is all of a sudden more advantageous to ship your goods from Uganda back to the states.

Edited: 7:08 am, February 14, 2014
Milford, Ohio
Level Contributor
1,726 posts
98 reviews
3. Re: Customs question

Why not send it back to the US via UPS or FedEx? Then you only have to deal with US customs....

Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
1,811 posts
1 review
4. Re: Customs question

yes, it doesn't make sense.

i wonder what kind of goods they are..

Level Contributor
3,523 posts
26 reviews
5. Re: Customs question

Are these goods travelliing in your checked baggage or in your hand baggage? If I am not totally mistaken there are luggage lockers airside at Schiphol (there certainly were in the past... I can even visualise them), so if they're in your hand baggage you may be able to leave them airside which means they would never enter the Netherlands. But you would need to check with the airport (www.schiphol.nl) that the lockers are still there and what the time limits are.

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
5,004 posts
38 reviews
6. Re: Customs question

I know many people who buy local handicrafts or similar in developing/3rd world nations and then take them home to sell for fun or more often charity to raise money for the place they have visited. When for fun or charity (and even often if for profit when the quantities aren't large enough to take advantage of partial container ocean freight) it usually doesn't pay to ship with courier companies since the costs from such countries for a suitcase full of stuff (say 20 kg) can be many hundreds of dollars and sometimes more. Often my friends will only take back a carry-on of personal stuff, leaving the rest of their stuff behind with people who can make good use of their clothing, dedicating their entire baggage allowance to such goods for such purposes. My suspicion is this OP may be doing the same thing. Curious to find out.

7. Re: Customs question

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