Belgium Customs and DHL – A History of Legal Thieving

Posted by in Random

The other day I ordered an item from Hong Kong, to be delivered with DHL, because DHL would be quicker. So the total cost was:

  • The item: 30.40 USD
  • The shipping: 33.80 USD
  • Grand total: 64.20 USD

The amount of taxes I had to pay for the package was… wait for it… approx 26 EUR!

My first reaction was: What In Earth Is Happening? Same as my second and third reaction. Then I calmed myself down and tried to find out an explanation. Wasn’t easy:

  1. Ring DHL Customer Service. Explain the situation; the answer was: “we only get a list of numbers from the Customs and we apply it. Please find yourself the number for the Belgium Customs and ring them to find out. (aka: don’t know, don’t care)
  2. Look on the interwebs at the Belgium Customs, find a document which gives the rules for TVA and tells you for more details to look at express services
  3. Look on the DHL website, find out that they are customs brokers
  4. Ring Customer Services again and tell them they have the details. At that point, I get a number for the DHL Customs department (02.717.3500) which is for the Netherlands and the person on the other end was kind enough to transfer me to the Belgium desk)
  5. The person at the Belgium desk tells me that:
    • The TVA is calculated for the price of goods AND SHIPPING. Belgium rules!
    • In addition, they have a “processing fee” because they are Customs Brokers. It’s 10€ + a percentage, which looks like 20% from the TVA

Brilliant! So instead of encourage people to use their services, they hammer their customers with high shipping prices (hence high VAT) and a high tax on top of the VAT.

Valuable lesson: use normal postal services, or, better yet, send the package anywhere else (like in Germany or Luxembourg if you can!)


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