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Shipping And How Does U. S. Customs Work ?

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What can I expect with regard to an item being shipped to the US from out of the country? Will I be charged customs? If so, how much and how is it paid? Are there any special arrangements that must be made by the seller or by the recipient? Anything else I need to know? Any bad experiences with receiving an international package and was there any way to avoid it?

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I can't answer specifically regarding the US system, but a bit of general advice might be useful towards an imported item getting a "clean" run without actively breaking any laws. My comments are based on many years of sending and receiving instruments by international post, and from information gleened from postal and customs staff.

 

1. Ask the sender to make the package as anonymous as possible. i.e.a legible address in black ink on a brown outer packaging.

Red wrapping paper labelled with a gold felt tip pen is just asking to be given special attention. And don't be afraid to ask the sender to pack to your specifications (nicely, and within reason of course...)

 

2. In most counrties, assessment is made by postal staff on behalf of Customs. The culture in postal centres tends towards the philosophy that if a package is sent by air, then the sender and recipient want the item delivered promptly. So often, to that end, items are not inspected too well and the emphasis is to get the package on its way with no delay in order to meet targets. However, items sent by surface mail come under greater scrutiny as the staff see no urgency for clearance and prompt delivery. So using airmail rather than surface mail is more likely to be ignored for duty/tax/inspection.

 

3. Find out how much potential charges will be and factor that into your decision whether to buy. If you go ahead, then consider it money spent. If it escapes the net, consider it a bonus (and maybe buy a lottery ticket).

 

 

4. You will no doubt hear many horror stories in response to your request. You will probably hear little from folk who have successfully imported and suffered no problems....that's human nature, but don't get too stressed by the negatives.

 

There are many other ways to avoid charges of course; whether you use them is between you and your conscience, and the value you put on your freedom.... :o

 

My 10c worth...

Edited by malcolm clapp

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I have sent a couple of concertinas from here (Canada) to the U.S., and there is no duty payable, however depending on your state you may have to pay your state sales tax. Also, if a courier company is used rather than the postal system, there are often customs brokerage fees (even when no duty is payable) which can be very expensive. (the downside to the post office is that there are often limits on how much you can insure the package for) I always ask people shipping to me to use the postal system, and to describe contents as concertina/accordion.

 

I have had concertinas come to me from the U.S., Italy and South Africa, and have never had to pay duty.

Edited by Bill N

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You might want to call your local CBP (Customs and Border Protection) or the one in Philadelphia and ask. Depending where the instrument is being shipped from it's can be free (No Duty) or about 4%.

 

FRH

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You might want to call your local CBP (Customs and Border Protection) or the one in Philadelphia and ask. Depending where the instrument is being shipped from it's can be free (No Duty) or about 4%.

 

"How does U.S. Customs work?"

 

In the experience of myself and friends... inconsistently. That's why it pays to inquire of the office through which your concertina is most likely to pass.

 

Note that if the instrument can be shown to be more than 100 years old (the official definition of "antique"), then it's duty free into the US. Unfortunately, I've been told by at least one office (in Denmark) of at least one major shipping company that they simply won't accept any "antique" musical instrument for shipping, while another would accept them but not insure them, so it may not pay to declare that information.

 

Then again, these sorts of answers also seem to vary with whomever it is answers the phone. Sigh!

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Receiver owes the duty. For concertinas it is usually not much.

Edited by Dana Johnson

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According to my research, there is no duty on concertinas coming into the United States. You can go to US Customs on the web and look at the category of musical instruments to see what is subject to duty and what is not.

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Check the U.S. harmonized tariff schedule (HTS) on-line for musical instruments and antiques to get the latest info on shipping. Give the shipper the HTS number, and have him display it on the packing to save time at customs. If you have it shipped as an antique, you'll probably be limited as to how much insurance can be placed on the instrument. Post is faster and cheaper than courier - and is less likely to suffer clearance charges.

E.

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Here's an import duty calculator, which proved accurate in the one instance that I had to pay duty: http://www.dutycalculator.com/new-import-duty-and-tax-calculation/.

 

I paid no duty on an antique concertina (over 100 years old). Although age might not have mattered. I don't know how they'd know the age.

 

I did pay duty on a 1974 concertina. DHL handled that and billed me. DHL also just left it outside my double doors, despite a sign saying to put it in my vestibule. I don't think I'd use them again if I could help it.

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