Common questions and answers about VAT on shipment from China
How much is the fee?
For consignments with a declared value of 1,600 SEK or less, the regular fee is 75 incl. VAT. For consignments with a declared value exceeding SEK 1,600 a complete customs declaration is required, and custom tariffs may be levied. The fee in these cases will be SEK 125 incl. VAT.
For certain goods, there are special rules that require a complete customs declaration even if the declared value is SEK 1,600 or less:
- If the shipment contains certain type of electronics, special excise duty must also be paid. More information about this excise tax can be found at the Swedish Tax Agency’s website.
- Dietary supplements. Read more on the Swedish Customs' website about which goods are covered by special rules.
In these cases, a complete import declaration is needed. The fee is SEK 125 including VAT in these cases. Note that VAT is calculated on the purchase price, shipping cost and customs fee. The limit for duty-free is calculated on the purchase price and shipping cost.
More questions and answers about VAT on shipment from China
There is a different regulatory framework for goods sent between private individuals, and this will remain unchanged. The limit for these is currently SEK 500 today, i.e. gifts with a declared value of less than SEK 500 are not subjected to VAT or a fee. However, it is important that the customs documentation states it is a gift from a private individual.
In the media, the discussions about fees have mainly made reference to goods from China, and the absolute majority of all shipments that are subject to a fee originate from China. However, the fee is charged on goods purchased from all third countries, i.e. countries outside the EU Customs Union, if the VAT is not prepaid.
There may be different explanations. If a consignment is not retrieved from a service point within a certain timeframe (14-30 days depending on which service that it was sent with) it will be returned to the postal operator in the country it was sent from.
Another explanation for returning items is inaccuracies or missing information in the customs documentation, see answer below.
According to international regulations, correct customs documentation must accompany all consignments of commercial content that arrive from outside of the EU customs union. For example, information on the country of origin, content description and the value of the goods must be stated on the customs document. In cases where the documentation is incomplete, the customs declaration cannot be carried out, and the shipment will therefore be returned to the sending country's postal operator with the explanation that the customs documents lacked correct information.
If the consignment is internationally traceable, you will be able to see that the letter has been returned. In this case, our customer service can help you see the cause of the return. If the sender sent the shipment with a service, it is not possible to trace, we will unfortunately not be able to see the return cause and we cannot provide information about the item you are waiting for.
Then you will not be affected. If you shop online as a consumer from an EU country, you pay either Swedish VAT or VAT in the country where the e-commerce is registered (depending on the e-merchant's turnover on trade with Sweden). Regardless of which, no VAT or customs declaration is made at the border and no fee is charged.
While waiting for the VAT and fee to be paid, the shipment is stored. If the fee is not paid, the shipment will be sent back to the sender. At the same time, the request for payment of VAT and the VAT return fee will be canceled. You thus do not risk receiving default interest, reminder fees, debt collection claims or the like if you choose not to pay.
Anyone who performs a VAT and / or customs declaration performs a service, something that costs money. The costs consist of salary and taxes, technical equipment, premises for the employees, space to store items pending payment, etc. All this costs money for which PostNord must receive compensation. In this context, it can be pointed out that this change entails a reduction in the fee for items with a declared value of between approximately SEK 220 (EUR 22) and SEK 1,600.
Since the items will be stored pending payment, it is inevitable that it will normally take longer for the items to arrive. Shipments without value, for example ordinary letters, must be distributed directly and in the normal case no delay will affect these shipments.
In the case of e-commerce outside the EU, the consumer protection that exists in the country where the online store is based applies, or a guarantee that the seller undertakes voluntarily. It is therefore always important to carefully examine the conditions that apply, especially when shopping from countries outside the EU.
In some cases, the sender has, for example, stated a 30-day right of withdrawal from delivery, ie. from the day you receive the product, and thus any storage time will not affect this deadline. However, it is the importer's own responsibility to examine the conditions that apply to each individual purchase.
From the time you receive a notification, you have at least 14 days to pay.
In general, commercial mail items with a declared value of less than SEK 1,600 are subject to payment of VAT, but customs duty does not have to be paid.
In such cases, PostNord’s administrative fee is SEK 75, including VAT. However, for certain goods, such as dietary supplements, there are special rules stating that customs duties have to be paid even if their value is less than SEK 1,600. In such cases, PostNord must submit both a VAT declaration and a customs declaration. The fee for this administrative processing is SEK 125, including VAT. Read more at the Swedish Customs' website about which goods are covered by special rules.
For certain goods, such as food supplements, there are special rules that mean that customs duties must be paid even if the value is less than SEK 1,600. In these cases, PostNord must prepare both a VAT and a customs declaration. The fee for this handling is SEK 125 including VAT. Read more at the Swedish Customs' website about which goods are covered by special rules.
A mail item originating outside the EU Customs Union may arrive in Sweden with another EU country stated as the sender, which is known as transiting. A product arriving in Sweden in this way has not been subjected to customs clearance in accordance with current EU law upon arrival in the EU, but instead has customs duties applied when it arrives at the country of destination. In such cases, PostNord has to handle the product as if it had come directly from outside the EU Customs Union, and submit a VAT declaration, as well as a customs declaration when required by the regulations.
However, if your product originated in an EU country or if the mail item has already been properly subjected to customs clearance on arrival in the EU, an error has occurred and you should contact our customer service.
There are different services for letters in the international flows. When PostNord receives mail items transported as letters, these can, for example, be express letters, registered letters or unregistered regular letters. The unregistered letters are the cheapest to send, but this also means they lack traceability. When an unregistered mail item arrives in Sweden, it usually does not have a unique barcode, which results in it not being traceable. However, mail items from certain e-commerce platforms do have a barcode, which make them seem like they are traceable. PostNord does not use this barcode, as it does not comply with international standards for barcodes and, above all, is not guaranteed to be unique.
In order to be able to handle such imported mail items, PostNord must therefore give these a new item ID. If you require better traceability, you should use mail services that are traceable, when available, such as express or registered letters.
If you have received a letter or text message to your cell phone about paying a declaration fee, and you are certain that you have not ordered anything, there is no need to pay the fee. Please note however, in some cases and due to current legislation, gifts will be subjected to VAT and therefore you might receive a notification for a gift that has been sent to you.
Without payment, the consignment will be returned to the sender after the retention period and the fee will be canceled.
As of 1 july 2021 shipments from Wish are handled through the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) regulations. Just like before, you will be able to pay for VAT at the time of purchase and thereby avoiding the handling fee when the shipment arrives in Sweden, as long as the sender has acted according to the regulations for IOSS. However, you will need to appoint PostNord as a direct customs representative. You will receive a notification, either by text message to your phone or by letter, with instructions on how to proceed. After you have approved PostNord as a direct customs representative, the shipment will be delivered to you or to your service point. If the Swedish Customs agency does not approve the customs clearance, you will instead receive a notification to pay VAT and a handling fee. If you have reasons to believe that VAT is prepaid, you are advised to contact the sender for more information.
This only applies to private individuals. Read more about how VAT management is done for companies and organizations.