What are Duties and Taxes?

When transporting goods across international borders, shipments are subject to duties and taxes as determined by customs in the destination country based on value, origin and commodity type.

Shipper’s Guide to Duties and Taxes

When shipping internationally it is important to understand duties and taxes and that these may apply to your shipment.
All types of shipments (including gifts, samples and goods for repair) go through an import clearance process as determined by custom’s regulations in the destination country. The shipment is cleared through customs based on the type of goods, origin country, the value and quantity. Dutiable shipments are subject to a customs duty, which is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders.
The calculation of duties depends, in most countries, on the assessable value of a dutiable shipment. For the purpose of this calculation, dutiable goods are given a classification code that is known as the Harmonized System code, which determines the applicable duty rate.  This system is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization and continues to evolve.
The payment of duties, taxes and other fiscal charges are typically the responsibility of the receiver, although DHL Express does offer the opportunity for DHL account holders to pay for them.
In that case, after shipment delivery, DHL invoices customers for the duties and taxes we paid on their behalf at destination, plus a small administrative fee.
Taxes are imposed on goods when they are moved across a political boundary (although some free trade zones exist around the world).
Taxes are usually imposed on imported goods, although at times may also be imposed on exported goods.

Receiver’s Guide to Duties and Taxes

Did you receive a package and need to understand your obligations to pay duties and taxes?
You may be charged customs duties and taxes for products purchased online because:
  • Duties and taxes may not be included in the price of the goods you purchase online, and therefore might not be included in the overall shipping costs you pay to the online retailer. Check retailers’ websites as to whether purchase prices already included duties and taxes.
  • When purchasing goods online, some or all of these goods may not originate in the country you reside in, therefore are subject to a customs duty and/or taxes, which is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders.
  • When goods are not shipped domestically (within your country) or within a single customs union, such as the European Union, you are liable to pay any inbound duties, taxes and other fiscal charges which your local customs authority deems appropriate and as mandated within the legislative framework in the country of import.
  • To ensure the DHL courier can deliver your goods in shortest possible time after entering your country or customs union, DHL pays the customs authority on your behalf for any duties and taxes that are due on the goods (and charges you).
  • DHL will typically notify you about payment of duties and taxes (to DHL), such as send a link to pay online. Prompt online payment ensures a smooth delivery of your shipment.
  • What is payable, if anything, depends on where the goods are sent from, the type of goods, their transactional value and the weight of the package, and other costs that the customs authority determines must be added to the value of your shipment for such calculations.
When buying goods online, you should always check whether they are either being sent to your address from:
  • Your country
  • Another country
  • 3rd Country (outside your customs union country)
  • Note: Different rules apply when buying goods for commercial use.
A gift is defined as something sent directly by one private individual to another and such goods do not attract import tax if the value is below stated local thresholds.
Ordering and paying for goods that originate outside of your country or customs territory for shipping to a person other than the purchaser, does not meet the customs definition of being a gift.
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