Practical Info: Shipping matters!

¤ Shipping from outside EU? Avoid customs fees and VAT.

Since I could not fit all my essential belongings into the 25 kg baggage limit when I moved to Sweden, my folks helped me to ship my stuff over to Sweden. There were usually no complications until one day when I received a postal notice that I had to pay customs duty and it wasn’t a small amount.

The reason was because my family forgot to select the ‘gift’ option on my parcel, the field was unintentionally left blank. The customs assumed it was commercial goods. I had to prove that the consignment were my personal belongings but that was easy. Firstly, the sender’s name was my mother from a residential address (and not a company) and secondly, the customs physically inspected the goods which were my used personal belongings, nothing new and under 500 SEK. Even after fulfilling all the customs’ requirements, I was still charged an ‘administrative fee’, on top of the reduced custom fees. In short, I still had to pay several hundred kronor.

To avoid customs duty or VAT on shipping outside EU, always ensure that

  • consignment is intended for personal use
  • ‘gift’ option is selected
  • gift is received from a private individual/family/relatives/friends (and not company)
  • the value of the consignment does not exceed 500 SEK

For more information, refer to

¤ Proof of ID when picking up parcels and posts

If you do not have a Swedish ID card, always bring your passport for ID proof. This does not happen often but my Greek classmate encountered her parcel being held by the post because they refused to accept her EU id-card. She had left her passport in Greece as it was not required when travelling within EU countries. After escalating the issue to higher authorities, she managed to retrieve her parcel after a few months.

Save the trouble, bring your passport in case.

¤ Name matching

This also happens frequently among my friends. The parcel might be returned if the name on the parcel does not match the ID exactly. Sometimes, the sender may have written the addressee’s nick name instead of full name or sometimes the addressee is known to others by another name which was not officially stated in the ID. In any case, always ensure that the name on the parcel matches the name on the ID.

¤ Online shopping outside Sweden

If you shop online within EU for your personal use, happy shopping, there are no VAT or custom charges. If you shop online outside EU, you must pay VAT and forwarding costs. My advice, it is not worth it. The customs duties and charges usually end up costing more than the value of the goods. Having said that, Swedish postal system is very efficient and I always receive my goods in a very short time. Just take note of some of the minor practicalities and it would be smooth sailing.

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Written by Angelina

23 Jun 2015