|Calculating import duty the US seller's job?|
Occasionally I will get people requesting quotes for stuff coming from us in the US, to them in whatever country they're in. Sometimes they request the duty amount. I usually just tell them I don't really know for sure what it will be. I sort of feel like that goes past my responsibility. I actually would have no problem telling them, if it was very predictable, but it doesn't seem to be. Many countries seem to sort of wing it, and I would rather not say anything, than be wrong. I've sent stuff to the same country and had people say they were charged everything from zero, to numerous different amounts. I'm assuming most of the guys in Europe probably do include the duty amount, but just curious what guys in the US do, when people ask what the duty will be on something.
Isn't Duty typically just a few percent, worst case? Compared to VAT or HST, it doesn't seem like a huge deal.
Since determination of Duty is out of your hands, you could offer a worst-case scenario, but I'd suggest you simply defer to their customs service, and not get involved.
I consider this is the recipient's job. Sometimes customers ask me if a specific item is allowed into their country. I tell the truth--I don't know. That is something they have to ask their Customs department. I do tell them what I mark on the exterior of the package on the US customs form.
That's the problem, it can be anything from 45% to zero. It all depends on the country, what the product is, the amount, and as far as I can tell... what mood the receiving authority is in. For instance, some of my products can fall into a lower tax category. But even if you give them the right code, sometimes they just deny it. Other times they tax nothing. It's a crap shoot. So yeah... Pretty much impossible to tell anybody what it will be. I'm not going to tell somebody $20, and then it ends up $40, because then... guess who is going to get yelled at. And if you tell them the highest possible, they might not buy it.
And there's some countries out there, that are a bit corrupt... and then who the heck knows what they will do.
So yes, I think just playing dumb is best. And probably more honest anyway.
My customer service page and my email on ship quote to customers states ....for all international orders : Please note shipping costs do not include duty or tax as may be charged by (insert country here) if applicable. So many countries... so many laws. Their responcibility.
But .... for one exception. One of my products includes a very few small pine cones. Price range of the item 46.00- 198.00 USD. On a larger (198.00 item ) Australia charged a customer $98.00 for fumigation because of the pine cones which are a "very" small decorative portion of the overall item. Now, for international customers, I do check the import issues and let them know we are excluding it from the product. They are always happy to have us leave them off.
Australia has a lot of problems with any plant or animal materials. I tell my customers who want to order certain plant materials to go to Australia to just forget it; it will get seized, period. NZ same thing.
I have had more problems with people just not getting something in another country than with duty. One person in the Czech Republic never got anything and when she would go down to the post office to ask about it, they would snicker. They were just stealing all her stuff from the US. I quit sending things there for a long time because of it. Now it is supposedly better.
Yeah, there are many countries that are potential problem areas. There's very few that I will flat out say no to, but ironically... one is Mexico. Kind of sad, considering it's 175 miles from here, but wow do they have issues. There are some countries where, if they don't pay the duty or something, you will never see it again. It will definitely not make it back here, that's for sure. Had one like that to Dominica a while back. They wanted a $60 fee for a $120 item. The guy refused it, and it was never seen again. They probably just figure... 'OK, then it comes home with me if you don't want it.'
Also, Australia is the one progressive country that has the 42" postal length limit, which is weird. Even NZ has the 60" limit, as do most progressive countries. But not Australia. Apparently their sorting systems are still designed for the shorter limit.
I basically just force people to take the full insurance on any non progressive locations.
The one place I am very paranoid about is China. I have had numerous requests by these nondescript "LTD" companies in North America, contact me and try to purchase random things that they want to send to China. They will say... "Don't worry about shipping, our people will pick it up from you". I have turned those down, because I was about 95% sure they were collecting products for copying back there.