Help! How can you avoid customs charges?

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New Member
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I have been sending orders internationally for quite some time now and I recently received a message from a customer saying that they had to pay a fairly hefty customs charge (import fee). They informed me that customs charges can be avoided if the product is marked as a gift. Is there a way to do that on the declaration form? I understand I can't go back and fix this one but I'm trying to avoid future customer frustration for those unaware of these fees. I'm shipping from the U.S. if that makes a difference. Thanks!

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
653 41 98

Hello, there! 

Ren here from the Shopify support team, here to lend you a hand. 

Custom charges are one of the unfortunate realities of international shipping. Labelling a package as a gift when it is in fact a product is considered falsifying and against the law. You can read more information about this at this third-party link

A "gift" option can only be applied when sending personal items to friends or family, not a purchased product. I understand not wanting your customer to be responsible for paying the fee should they incur a customs fee, and in these cases you may wish to refund them or offer them a store credit for a future purchase. 

It's important to outline the details of what your customers might expect on a Shipping Policy page, so the fee doesn't come as a complete surprise. You can read more about shipping etiquette here.

An app does exist for calculating a total landing cost which you can learn more about here and might be worth a shot to help set the right expectations for international customers.

I hope you've found this helpful! Please let me know if I can clarify anything for you.

 

 

Ren | Social team @ Shopify
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Tourist
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I'm hoping if someone from Shopify would actually answer the question because I send promotional gifts all the time overseas and there is no GIFT option that I found. I would have to use Shippo to mark it as a gift or just lower the value of the package which messes with package insurance. So is there a "mark as gift" option for customs or not?

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
653 41 98

Hi @DejaDrewit

Based on personal experience, when I ship internationally from Canada, I fill out a physical customs form that does include a box to check off "gift". The online version of the customs form includes the same area to indicate whether a gift is being shipped. 

So in your case, since you are in fact sending promotional material, you should be able to claim the item as a gift. To be sure though, I would recommend speaking to the individual at the post office counter (or giving them a call) as they deal with multiple instances of shipping/filling out customs forms daily and may have a better idea of what those expectations would be in your individual case. 

Ren | Social team @ Shopify
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Tourist
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Thank you Ren. So Shopify does not have that option? I know Shippo does. I will just ship using Shippo for promotional international stuff in the future. Just wanted to check with Shopify first. Thank you. 

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
653 41 98

Hi again @DejaDrewit

At this time the option doesn't exist in Shopify's admin settings, however, I can submit this to our product team as a request for future consideration. Check out this link for more information on how taxes and duties work when shipping online.

Ren | Social team @ Shopify
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Tourist
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Thank you Ren!

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