To purchase goods from companies outside of the European Union, and thus import them into the European region, some taxes in addition to VAT must be paid based on the percentage provided in the country that the goods enter.
These fees to pay, commonly known as duties, are in proportion to the commercial value of the goods purchased. Normally, extra costs over the value are borne by the buyer. In some cases, upon specific agreement, fees constituting customs duties and other costs may be the responsibility of the vendor; most often, when the price of the goods purchased is established to include costs for clearance, this means that the seller has raised prices to cover the costs of sending the purchased merchandise.
Calculation of customs duties and practices
The duties to pay on importing goods from other countries outside the European Union are calculated based on a percentage in proportion to the value of the goods purchased. The calculation is made based on declarations attached to the shipment and the invoice issued by the seller. All the other expenses indicated as administrative costs should be added to these costs. These are usually amounts prescribed by current regulations.
It may be that a declaration made on the goods for clearance or the attached sales invoice does not convince the official on duty during the customs procedures. In this case, at the official’s discretion, the packaging or other containers are opened for further inspection. If the official’s intuition indicates an irregularity between the declared value and the irregularly presumed one, automatic reassessment of the value of the goods takes place, with consequent re-calculation of the amount of duties to pay.
Various European Union countries, including Italy, provide for payment of a commonly known tax called VAT: Value Added Tax. This tax is applied on the invoice and is calculated at a variable rate established by the country receiving the goods in transit. In Italy, the VAT rate has reached 22 percent. Thus, if the goods are valued at 150 euro, VAT calculated at 22% corresponds to 33 euro, which, added to the 150-euro cost of merchandise, equals 180 [sic] euro.
Because knowledge of the regulations affecting the amounts of taxes and customs duties is very complex, companies and private individuals who must purchase goods from outside the European Union must be able to trust the experience of specific shipping companies that, on payment of commissions for transporting merchandise and for fulfilment of all customs procedures, release the seller from any liability.
Specialized companies handle practically everything necessary to allow completely secure transportation of the goods. The chosen shipper gives the client a budget including all cost items to be borne. While calculations of the costs of customs clearance, duties, taxes, etc. are made based on the declared value of the goods, which can be found on the attached invoice and seller’s declaration, particular attention is paid to the administrative costs item. This item, while generic, refers to the cost established by the shipper to fulfil all administrative actions necessary for customs release.
At the shipping company’s discretion, these costs may vary according to the service performed, but also the type of client using the shipment and clearance service. A large company that sends its products around the world every day will certainly have a report of expense items for each shipment that is lower than the one applied to a private citizen or company sending its own goods one time.
Obviously, the company taking charge of the shipping to be performed on behalf of the client in a country outside the European Union must take all the steps necessary for good performance of the work assigned; therefore, they may have access to the content of the client’s package at its own discretion or on imposition by the competent authorities