Customs trouble when receiving rewards


Anybody else in Germany having trouble with Customs when receiving their physical rewards? The poster (in a separate shipment) got through because according to them its values (as declared) was below the limit of, I think, 25 Euros. The second shipment with all the rest was withheld by Customs in my case. According to them its declared value of 60 USD is above the limit. For it to be a tax-free gift it must be sent from a private person to another private person which is clearly not the case since, well of course, it’s not a personal gift and it’s additionally labelled “commercial”.

So now I have to pay about 10 Euros in taxes and fees which is not much, not enough to let it trouble me, even though I was not meant to pay anything for it at all. But I’m still puzzled whether I’m really the only person in Germany who’s given BS by Customs. According to Jenn Sandercock I am.
@Jenn: Thanks again by the way for your quick response. Of course, I’m very much aware that YOU can’t do much about German Customs. I did not expect that as you might have guessed. The guys at Fangamer who I CC’ed in each of my emails are the ones who should know what’s going on. They haven’t responded ever since.

In case German Customs in my home town are working kind of randomly in interpreting their own laws, I guess I simply bite bullet. Although the way they explained it to me (personal gift vs. commercial shipment, the limits etc.) very much makes sense. That still keeps me wondering why I’m supposed to be the only person in Germany having to deal with this. THAT does not make ANY sense at all.

Looking forward to hear about your experience.


Yes, I had similar troubles (@jenn). I wrote about it in this thread:

My summary is here:

The problems seem to affect the backers who got more stuff than the box. And yes, I’s not the fault of Terrible Toybox. :slight_smile:

/edit: And here are some other experiences I had with Fangamer (maybe they are interesting for @jenn):

Why would you think that?
When importing goods into EU you have to pay customs duty (Einfuhrzoll) and VAT (Umsatzsteuer).

You don’t have to pay customs duty if the value doesn’t exceed 150€.
You don’t have to pay VAT if the value doesn’t exceed 22€ (Germany).

For details see Buying goods online coming from a non-European Union country

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Including shipment costs.

No: This threshold applies to the value without shipping costs and without customs duty.
The VAT itself is then calculated from the value including shipping and customs duty.

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No, cite (in German): “Entscheidend ist, welcher Betrag tatsächlich gezahlt wurde, um die Ware zu erhalten. Sollten im Rechnungsendbetrag Portokosten enthalten sein, werden diese nicht herausgerechnet.”


That´s right.
Pain in the a**, but right.

If you look at it closely, every Kickstarter item is a reward. You didn´t exactly buy them, you invested.
But still, you have to pay VAT (Einfuhrumsatzsteuer) and the customs fee, depending on the value.

And ridiculous but true too, the shippig cost is added to the value anf fees and VAT are calculated from that.

That´s why I´m holding back in ordering a lot of TWP stuff from Fangamer.
I would like to order every single Item at ones, but this get´s really expensive.
A lot of shipping cost by itself and added to the value too, makes that much more expenive then I´m willing to pay.

Making several single Orders adds to the same. Maybe there ist no customs fee but you have to pay shipping cost every time and that´s much more as if you made one single Order.
It´s a pitty there is no German or at least European Store that offers that stuff too (hint, hint :slight_smile: )

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I don’t complain about paying duty and taxes. :slight_smile: It would just be great, if
a) Fangamer could list correct prices on the invoices
b) the stuff listet on the invoice would correspond to the contents of the parcel
c) tell people out of the US in the e-mail confirmation that they have to pay duties

That would make it much easier, especially to instruct DHL to do the customs for you (you can do this with the form DHL sends you).

Regarding the Kickstarter it would be useful to get an invoice via e-mail too, because the German custom office likes to have a printed(!) version of the invoice.

I second this. :slight_smile:

For me it worked in the past as described in the link from European Commission:
When there was a proper import declaration on a package (which lists value of goods and transportation costs separately) checking this threshold only included the value of goods.
But if the only thing you have is some invoice (e.g. from online shopping) then this is the value used like described in your link.

It’s strange that Germany would do it differently in the first case, I’d assume that the description on their web page just isn’t specific enough because often you just have such invoice only.

I know, I heard of a lot of problems in some EU countries (but especially Germany) with Kickstarter rewards when the package wasn’t properly declared. In such case you only have the pledge amount which is often a lot higher than the value of actual goods.

Sometimes such goods were sent as gift (which may work in some countries, but I guess especially in Germany not so well), sometimes the sender specified the pledge amount or fictive end consumer costs (-> expensive fees) or if you are lucky it’s actual production costs of those items and fees will be minimal.

Yep, that’s what I did with my recent TWP orders: “optimising” shipping costs and ensuring I don’t have to pay customs duty.

Fortunately, I don’t have to explain to more people here the meaning of a free thank-you gift and how it feels to learn in hindsight you won’t get it unless you pay extra money for it. :wink:

It’s a bit of a pity that Fangamer (and in a way TWP support as well) kinda ignore the fact that their thank-you-rewards are no free gifts at all when shipped outside the US (and sort of keep claiming to not know about it despite threads like this or the ones linked here) and that most likely they can’t do anything about it either. Would have been nice to get a hint about that in advance or at least a response of any kind from Fangamer now that I told them.


It’s inexcusable that these packages were not delivered by Ron Gilbert in person together with a cappuccino.


Maybe it’s time for the TTIP.

True about reducing the shipping costs by grouping orders. Although I wonder what will happen with the two items I have pre-ordered: one will ship mid-october, the other end november. If they get shipped separately, I might get lucky with customs and with shipping (as it is pre-paid). Although, since both items are over 22€ worth each, I doubt that.

I had a similar situation: Fangamer asked me (in my case via e-mail) if they should send two parcels or only one. So I had the choice. :slight_smile:

They will not.
In your specific case, Fangamer will ship the entire order when all the items will be available. (Source)

I actually did split my order to reduce shipping costs (and so I don’t have to pay customs duty).
The reason shipping was cheaper this way is that due to some factors (item count/weight/volume/value?) it switched to a more expensive shipping rate.

Now with two orders I had to pay $26.52 for shipping in total vs. $42 when shipping as one order.
Plus they now stay below 150€ so no customs duty.

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Yeah, I saw and read that before. But it is not very clear to me how they handle 2 preorder items that are not available within two weeks of eachother and that will ship internationally through DHL (instead of UPS). Anyway, I will see and post the outcome for others.

In my case it was $10.50 (box) and $14.50 (artbook) versus $19.99 for both. I checked the prices for some other EU countries (+Switzerland) and it does vary a lot, both individual and combined prices. Of course that is not Fangamer’s fault, but DHL’s.
Bottomline: always calculate all scenarios to save some extra money on shipping and duty (to spend later on the Ransome uncensored upgrade for example). :ransome:

Side note: If we talk about Germany as a destination, you still have to pay taxes (“Einfuhrumsatzsteuer”). So each parcel could still be held at the customs office. (But indeed you don’t have to pay a duty.)

Side side note: This applies to EU.

Since you always have to pay VAT unless it’s a really low amount (those 22€ in Germany, but it’s a similar amount in other EU countries) it doesn’t affect splitting packages.