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Author Topic: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?  (Read 4280 times)

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Offline LadyMoondancer

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Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« on: February 16, 2015, 07:33:53 PM »
Hey guys, I've been digging out ponies to sell and I wanted to get opinions on checking the gift box on international customs forms versus the merchandise box.

Which do you guys usually do, and does checking the gift box bring any risks as a seller?

Also, I've had buyers ask me to make a $50 item as worth $10 in the past.  Does that put the seller at risk?  And also, if the item is insured, does that mean you can't insure it for the full $50?

These questions apply to stuff sold on the Arena as well as eBay. Thanks for any and all help!  :)
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Offline ponylady

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2015, 07:58:55 PM »
It is a federal offense to mark an item as a gift, if it not truly a gift.  :huh: If a custom's agent wishes to, they can open any package, and then write our state department. I don't think people realize this but it's a fact.  So my advice to you is to not do it..unless you know the person personally.
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Offline bluerose9978

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2015, 08:44:52 PM »
I would definitely not lie on a customs form. And eBay fills out your customs forms for you for a reason: So that you won't get in trouble. DO NOT let your international buyers tell you that you should mark your eBay items as gifts or for cheaper than you sold it for. YOU are the one who will be in trouble if a customs agent decides to be difficult about a package.

Do not mark it as a gift unless it truly is a gift.

Offline lovesbabysquirmy

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2015, 10:06:23 PM »
Do not undervalue - your insurance is only good for what you stated it was worth!
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Offline Skeen

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 10:10:25 PM »
Exactly as stated above, and remember that any import/customs fees are the responsibility of the buyer, not you.  Don't let a buyer bully you into paying for or splitting the cost.  If they don't want to pay the fee, the item will be returned to you. 

Offline Sebby6

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 10:53:05 PM »
Oh I would love to see what these kinds of threads would look like if the shoe was on the other foot ;)
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Offline Ringlets

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2015, 01:24:51 AM »
Aside from the legal thing,you really have to be careful undervaluing the item as if anything goes wrong and the parcel goes MIA then you'll only get refunded what you wrote as the value. Customs forms are different in the UK so I'm not sure what choices you have- sometimes you can actually tick more than one box. I will not put gift for a random buyer on ebay for example. I do put "gift" and "other" on items for friends. :awake:
Buyers have to pay their import taxes/customs fees - don't let someone tell you that its your responsibility - it isn't.  We have horrible crazy high fees in the UK as do many European countries unfortunately -which is why some buyers will ask you to mark the item lower valued so the fee isn't so high.
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Offline Elfpony

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2015, 12:57:42 AM »
Not trying to play devil's advocate here, just genuinely curious, but if you mark "gift" on a customs form how could an official know that something you're mailing isn't a gift?  Or are we just talking in the case of something going lost/missing and trying to claim value?

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Offline CupidStrikes

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2015, 02:27:24 AM »
Not trying to play devil's advocate here, just genuinely curious, but if you mark "gift" on a customs form how could an official know that something you're mailing isn't a gift?  Or are we just talking in the case of something going lost/missing and trying to claim value?

Elf

Stores usually have their name printed on the return address label on the parcel as well as the invoice, etc, sometimes the boxes will have the company logo on, too, whereas from a regular person, the return address is a personal address, labels sometimes hand-written. I have heard cases of people just being charged on gift-marked parcels (some stores just do this) that have had store-stamped invoices and boxes because it's quite clearly not a gift (which is defined as being from one private party to another). I have no idea how someone would be able to tell if a parcel was undervalued, especially for hobby items.

If a parcel is under-valued, you can only claim for the value it was marked at. Gifts just have a higher threshold for the amount you can import before it becomes chargeable (in the UK, goods are taxable after £15, gifts after £36).
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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2015, 08:57:32 PM »
I'm kind of neutral on the gift vs merchandize thing; if you are going to mark something as a gift, make sure there isn't anything in it that could be viewed as an invoice.  No note about ' I hope you enjoy your purchase' or 'contact me if theres a problem with your item' nothing with any kind of eBay store name, etc.  Trades I mark as gifts, since money doesn't exchange hands.  NEVER undervalue an item if you can avoid it, we've seen plenty of examples with how that can become a problem even with awesome people here on the arena!
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Offline LittleSpiffy

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2015, 02:15:24 AM »
My rule of thumb:  if it's an item sold on a site like eBay, mark merchandise and list full value of the selling price.  To alter the form is considered fraud, plus it's traceable.  It's...not the best idea...to commit a crime and provide an online paper trail while committing it. 

If it's a trade/private sale through the Arena: mark gift and list value of what I actually paid for the item (which is like $1 for a pony).  If the need arises for me to file an insurance claim, I'd be getting back what I originally paid for the item, so there's no actual out-of-pocket loss for me...then again, if it's a Nirvana I'm selling: full price listed + insurance (I've only sold one Nirvana in my life, lol)



Offline LadyMoondancer

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2015, 09:07:31 PM »
Thanks for the input, everyone.

One of my concerns is that if I start selling on a regular basis, isn't it going to be rather suspect if I go to the post office every week with a bunch of packages and the international ones are always labeled "gift"?

(In regards to Arena transactions.  Definitely going to check "merchandise" for eBay transactions.)
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Offline lovesbabysquirmy

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2015, 04:50:13 PM »
Oh I would love to see what these kinds of threads would look like if the shoe was on the other foot ;)

I am curious what you mean.  Buyers should be paying all shipping/customs fees to get the item to them.  Fees to accept payments are on the seller as they are choosing to use this payment method and making the item more widely available online. 
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Offline Sebby6

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2015, 09:23:12 PM »
Yes. Buyers are responsible for duties paid on imported goods.

What many people outside of Europe does not realise is the amounts we have to pay and how unfair the system is.
Not only do we get charged a percentage of the item's value. Sometimes they include the postage cost in the value, so you get charged on that as well.
Then you pay a fee to the customers people for charging the fee and then you pay the courier/postal system for collecting the fee.

Now the system is put in place to encourage trading within the European Union. Fair enough - I buy a cheap Ipad from Hongkong - the government misses out on sales tax. I don't disagree with the system as such, although I do disagree with the ridicolously low threshold (it's like $25) but the main point is that this should not even be applied to second hand goods.
They've already had their sales tax when the item was first purchased. They wouldn't get anything out of me if I purchased a second hand toy within the UK - so why should they charge me just because the toy comes from Canada?

The system is grossly unfair and what makes it worse is there is absolutely no understanding for our situation.
Every time a thread like this is started, the Righteous come out in force and and make us feel like criminals.
I'm aware that it is officially a federal offence to lie on a customs form, but if Mimic was purchased from Goodwill for a dollar - then what is the declarable value of Mimic?

I guarantee you that if millions of Americans were affected by this every single day then the internet would be overflowing with "hacks" how to avoid this.
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Offline Vertefae

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Re: Customs forms, gift checkbox vs merchandise checkbox?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2015, 11:30:08 PM »
If you're unhappy with custom charges, take that up with your government or buy within the EU. Don't be mad at Americans if we are not comfortable lying on a customs form. I could lose my job if I lie on federal form and its found out. It's not such a grey area for all of us .
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 11:32:53 PM by Vertefae »