Our Citibox office in Javea, Alicante sent a parcel to the USA containing porcelain plates. It got stopped in US Customs and the recipient was asked to fill out a US Customs form 5106, even though Citibox had charged any import duty to our own account. She refused to do so which meant that the china came all the way back to Spain where it got stuck in Spanish Customs who wanted import tax on a package worth €3,000 from the USA.
Naturally, Citibox sorted the problem out and the package was returned to the USA without clearing Spanish Customs and passed through US Customs without difficulty to a recipient who was prepared to give her US tax# or US ID.
All of this was a great waste of time and money so I decided that the next shipment I would do myself to ensure that all the paperwork was completed correctly. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, this shipment to the USA, worth €4,000 is stuck in customs. Although I had to answer a number of stupid questions such as the name and address of the factory which I had already been careful to put on the invoice they insist on the recipient filling out a Form 5106. FedEx Customs Department in the USA had this to say:
I am sorry the importer of record needs to complete this form if there is someone else who is willing to be the importer of record – that has a US federal Tax ID # (ss#) Then the invoice can be changed to accommodate for that and they can complete the form but the form is needed to make entry into the US. There is no other way around this.
So that seems pretty final, we are trying to contact the recipient in California to ask her to complete the form. The porcelain is a wedding present imported from France and sent from Spain to the USA so it seems to me pretty mean that customs should stop it. And that has got me to thinking why?
Normally, shipments from Spain to the USA pass through Customs with no problems. The FedEx website tells me that this Harmonised Tariff Number incurs no duty on import. So it must be to do with the value of the contents and I can only conclude that US Customs http://www.cbp.gov/ is clamping down on money laundering or tax evasion. I will try and find out the value that triggers the need to complete the form and will let you know.
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