Belgium Customs and DHL – A History of Legal Thieving
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:
- 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)
- 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
- Look on the DHL website, find out that they are customs brokers
- 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)
- 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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