Customs - Perspectives No. 348
Recently we tried to ship a small package of art materials (containing no paints) to a hotel in Italy, where we are holding our watercolor painting workshop starting June 3rd. Although there was nothing in the package which should catch the attention of customs inspectors, it was held up anyway. We need to get this package delivered, but I only speak first year Italian, probably not adequate for a dialogue with Italian customs inspectors. Fortunately the manager of the hotel where we are all staying is very helpful, and she agreed to try to sort it out. She discovered that the inspectors wanted what they called an “invoice” for the contents of the package. This apparently meant that they wanted paperwork for what we had originally paid for each item and from where we had bought them. We think that because the USPS shipping label said that the box contained “merchandise”, the customs agents assumed it was for resale, and therefore subject to import duties. Probably our fault for not stating clearly that these items were in reality, gifts - “regalo”, in Italian. Now, how to correct that mistake in a foreign language? Google language translator has been very useful for the emails so far. But as of this writing, we are still in limbo.
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