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Import Charges on Shipment from US

Yesterday I received a shipment from the US containing a $200 pair of size 14 motorcycle boots that are now a $348 pair of size 14 motorcycle boots.

I knew when I ordered them that shipping was $59 (Priority Mail Express). What I did not know is that when the delivery guy showed up at my door, I'd have to give him 1,648,000 VND in exchange for the package. He was not impressed when I showed him that the boots were MADE IN VIETNAM and, through my local friend who happened to be visiting, tried to convince him that there should not be a duty on a product that is NOT sold in Vietnam and that they already collected taxes on. He's just a drone, so it was a waste of energy.

The reason for my post is that I am ordering more motorcycle gear from the US--stuff that is unavailable in SE Asia, even in Thailand... and I'm hoping to find a way to avoid the 40+% added charge.

Does anyone have any experience with this and/or suggestions? Shipping it to a friend who then repacks it without the tags is not an option.

Thanks!

Go to Thailand and buy it. They will tax everything and apply the highest tax bracket possible if you don't bribe them. This happened to me 7 years ago. Since then I stopped ordering stuff and look for the things i need in Thailand or wait till my friends or relative to visit.

Thank you. As I said in my original post, these things are not sold in Thailand or anywhere in Asia that I can find.

ESL/ ESP Teacher Society :

Go to Thailand and buy it. They will tax everything and apply the highest tax bracket possible if you don't bribe them. This happened to me 7 years ago. Since then I stopped ordering stuff and look for the things i need in Thailand or wait till my friends or relative to visit.

I would gladly pay someone to make this problem go away, though if it's coming by mail, how do I do that?

Hi,

You can give me a link of what motorbike gear or anything you want to buy, I will check if I can book it at cheaper price or not. Normally it takes 15 days to be delivered to Vietnam.

Thanks.

Regards

By the way, I havent tried to argue those deliver men as well as traffice policemen because they are like robots who don't have the right to do anything extra as they are ordered to do.

I know of a freight company in the U.S. where you can have your purchased items sent to and they will forward them here. They charge around $3.5 USD a pound for shipping. Takes anywhere from 5 to 10 days for delivery and it will be delivered to your door by their people. There is no tax on clothes items. I've used them five or six times and never had a problem. PM me if you're interested and I will give you their contact info.

well, it is no use of repacking them as if they are too cheap customs will find a price for them and charge that.
also those delivery guys only deliver, they haven't got anything to say to taxes what you have to pay.
but, sure with motorcycle parts mostly you will pay about 40% tax, but shoes?? that should go different tax rate!

The best option is to hand carry all items! but not let Vietnamese (wife/Gf) bring it as they might get trouble with customs and have to pay, westerners they hardly even search so much better option.

second best is to find some people who can get stuff from "past" customs.

I prefer to carry all my gear and part.. if not then I will order from Japan all the parts that need to arrive fast.

UPDATE

I received a letter on Tuesday telling me that I owe 13,138,000 VND on two boxes of new motorcycle gear shipped from the U.S. with value of USD$1500. I called the number on the letter and was told that if I wanted to talk about reducing the bill, I could meet with him in-person. In HCMC.

On Wednesday, I rode my DR-Z down to HCMC from Da Lat to meet with customs on Thursday. I carried an envelope with three million VND that I thought I would offer as a gift to whomever could help me reduce the bill.

Sparing you the minute-by-minute, in place of my normal Saigon t-shirt and shorts, I wore a collared shirt and long pants (showing respect); I kept my normal "powerful" body language in-check (subtle indication of lower status); I waited patiently until it was my turn; and I spoke to everyone with respect.

The guy I spoke to on the phone who told me that if I came to see him he could help me handed me the paperwork, said, "13,138,000" and indicated, by pointing, where I could pay. I said, "Yesterday you told me that if I came to see you, you could help me reduce the amount." to which he replied, "You want me to help you? Sit over there."

After 40 minutes of sitting in an abnormal-for-me "small" body posture to avoid looking like an arrogant Westerner, I was told to sit at a table where the Customs officer was already seated with my paperwork. Fortunately, he spoke better English than he thought and we communicated easily. During our conversation I learned the following, mostly in answers to my questions:
1) All individually imported goods are subject to 30% duty and 10% customs tax, regardless of intended use (personal, business, or resale)
2) Importation of second-hand goods is prohibited (so my idea of having a friend remove labels and original boxes won't work)
3) Bringing goods in when physically entering the country is the best way to do it
4) My friend who has paid duty and tax on only one shipment of many is very lucky
5) Type of visa or citizenship are NOT considered when assessing duty and tax

I told him that I would not have ordered so many things had I known there was a 40% fee to get it in-country... and in the course of our conversation, I complimented him on his English skills. He demurred and I insisted--all part of the dance. I also showed him, when he asked if I'd taken the bus, a photo of my DR-Z400. He liked it and asked if I could see it; he was a bit disappointed that I'd taken a taxi in the hope that I'd be leaving with my boxes of gear. I offered to bring it by and he said, "Another time."

After about 10 minutes, he introduced his boss. She sat down, looked at the paperwork, asked him a few questions, and left.

Finally he asked how much I could pay. I hesitated, then said that I had an envelope with three million... and waited...

No reaction.

After maybe 20 seconds (a long time if you're just sitting there waiting), I said that I could probably pay four million. He immediately responded, "Four million" and we had an agreement. We talked for another minute or so before he excused himself and tasked someone else to do the paperwork. Fifteen minutes later, I had my boxes--they insisted that I verify everything was accounted for--and was walking out the gate.

On my way out, I saw my new friend standing outside, apparently waiting for me. I thanked him again and again offered him the "gift" envelope that now contained one million VND by pulling aside some papers and revealing about half of it. He told me to "save it for petrol on your ride to Da Lat." WOW!

I took this opportunity to mention that there were a few things that were out-of-stock when I placed this order and that I was going to place another. I asked him if he would be able to help me next time and he said, "I like the way you talked to me. You are my friend. Next time, ask for me and I will be glad to help you." Then he asked if I drink beer and we agreed that next time we would have a few together.

Bottom line: the duty is 30%; the tax is 10%; anything less is a gift.

Suggestions for reducing the costs of your next shipment:
1) Show respect
2) Ask for help
3) Take your time
4) Be thankful

I am most thankful that my very jaded view of Vietnamese (and other) government officials and the need to offer monetary "gifts" to game the system was wrong. Sometimes you can get what you want with simple courtesies and respect.

wau! you just got very lucky!

I also did find out that no secondhand parts can be delivered by mail, I got front calipers and fender from a friend in Malaysia. just to get letter from customs that secondhand parts are not allowed to enter the country and they would be confiscated (to be sold by some lucky custom official)

but I went to customs at Noi Bai, Hanoi. End result was that I got my stuff, but that I could not order secondhand parts with EMS anymore as then they would take them for sure.

I have been here a year. I regularly have things shipped from home in US by my wife. EVERYTHING I get, has an import tax. I am waiting for Customs clearance on a box containing motorcycle parts and personal things right now. Can"t get until May 4th because of the holiday.
It is frustrating that things bought back home get taxed again upon arrival here. Even my much needed medications.
Just fork over the Dong, or you wont get your package!

tthuff :

I have been here a year. I regularly have things shipped from home in US by my wife. EVERYTHING I get, has an import tax. I am waiting for Customs clearance on a box containing motorcycle parts and personal things right now. Can"t get until May 4th because of the holiday.
It is frustrating that things bought back home get taxed again upon arrival here. Even my much needed medications.
Just fork over the Dong, or you wont get your package!

Have your wife ship through a Vietnamese shipping company. The only tax you'll be charged is for electronics, but at a lower rate. Your items will also arrive faster and be delivered to your home. Every major American city has at least one. If you need help PM me the city where your wife lives and I'll find you one.

tthuff :

I have been here a year. I regularly have things shipped from home in US by my wife. EVERYTHING I get, has an import tax. I am waiting for Customs clearance on a box containing motorcycle parts and personal things right now. Can"t get until May 4th because of the holiday.
It is frustrating that things bought back home get taxed again upon arrival here. Even my much needed medications.
Just fork over the Dong, or you wont get your package!

Hi Thomas. I can provided the service which shipping many thing from US to Vietnam at $12/kg, included the import tax and VAT. I am waiting you have a free time to delivery your model train.
Tuan Anh

Adhome01 :

I know of a freight company in the U.S. where you can have your purchased items sent to and they will forward them here. They charge around $3.5 USD a pound for shipping. Takes anywhere from 5 to 10 days for delivery and it will be delivered to your door by their people. There is no tax on clothes items. I've used them five or six times and never had a problem. PM me if you're interested and I will give you their contact info.

The shipping charge is $3.5/lb++ . Actually, you must pay for Handling fee, Consolidate fee. The chargeable weight will be the large number of actual weight and dimension weight (Lbs= Height x Long x Width cube feet/166).
Most of products will have extra payment.

ModeltrainVN :
Adhome01 :

I know of a freight company in the U.S. where you can have your purchased items sent to and they will forward them here. They charge around $3.5 USD a pound for shipping. Takes anywhere from 5 to 10 days for delivery and it will be delivered to your door by their people. There is no tax on clothes items. I've used them five or six times and never had a problem. PM me if you're interested and I will give you their contact info.

The shipping charge is $3.5/lb++ . Actually, you must pay for Handling fee, Consolidate fee. The chargeable weight will be the large number of actual weight and dimension weight (Lbs= Height x Long x Width cube feet/166).
Most of products will have extra payment.

I've shipped clothes (new and old), medicine, food products, children toys, household appliances and never paid more than $3.5 per pound total (not charged dimensional weight). The only thing I paid an extra fee for was an iPhone and that was a $50 tax/fee. The products were delivered to my home by a representative of the shipping company.

Adhome01 :
ModeltrainVN :
Adhome01 :

I know of a freight company in the U.S. where you can have your purchased items sent to and they will forward them here. They charge around $3.5 USD a pound for shipping. Takes anywhere from 5 to 10 days for delivery and it will be delivered to your door by their people. There is no tax on clothes items. I've used them five or six times and never had a problem. PM me if you're interested and I will give you their contact info.

The shipping charge is $3.5/lb++ . Actually, you must pay for Handling fee, Consolidate fee. The chargeable weight will be the large number of actual weight and dimension weight (Lbs= Height x Long x Width cube feet/166).
Most of products will have extra payment.

I've shipped clothes (new and old), medicine, food products, children toys, household appliances and never paid more than $3.5 per pound total (not charged dimensional weight). The only thing I paid an extra fee for was an iPhone and that was a $50 tax/fee. The products were delivered to my home by a representative of the shipping company.

Adhome is correct. That is the average price you will have to pay. Other "restricted" items will cost more. It is always better to go with a shipping broker than to pay custom direct. The last time I DHL an iPhone to VN I had to pay $75 to custom and $55 to DHL for the service. The shipping broker would only charge $50. I live in Philadelphia. Each time I have to ship I send to CA then to VN via broker. It takes about a week to get to VN from CA. If you or anyone interested, I can provide the info of the broker I use. Good luck!

Isn't $135 for shipping and customs more than the premium for an iPhone from an Apple authorized dealer.  I would never buy an iPhone from most places in Vietnam but there are three of four authorized outlets in HCMC and Hanoi that sell real Apple products with real warranties.  You can find them on the Apple website.  They are more expensive than an unlocked phone in the US but I am told cheaper than AU.

True!
I have shipped a great many comfort items right to my wife's door when she lived in HCMC. I costs about $4/lb from most shippers in Houston. There are at least a dozen of them located in Little Saigon here.  Never a problem...

What shipping are you using? I am looking to get some books sent over in a large box. Thanks!

Hey I'm curious as to what broker you use to ship items. Is it through a shipping freight company or airliner?

I only pay 10% duty. Have never been ripped off at all and have a very good shipper in the USA. The shipping cost from there place in the USA door-to-door HCMC is $4.00 a pound,$5.00 door-to-door to Dalat.

Does anybody have any knowledge or experience about shipping musical instruments and music books/study materials to HCM?  I would like to ship a moderately large set of drums/cymbals/stands and four rubber storage tubs full of books and papers sometime next year when I make the move from US.
Thanks, in advance...

What may get you is demential weight. It can get expensive if you exceed the limit. My shipper is in Dallas I can get you in contact with him if you PM me. His shipments arrive in less than 7 days and he really knows his stuff.

I will recommend Golden Freight in San Jose CA again. See other recommendations in expat.com.  Google it. My shipment was fine. No weird charges, just flat rate $2.50/lb if no electronics. Ship on Fridays, deliver on Tuesdays. Door-to-door service bc they also have employees who escort and deliver the stuff at Saigon end.

@gobot, thanks for the recommendation. I have contacted them for their fees. Are you saying you have to pay no customs duty on this end either?

Vagabondone :

@gobot, thanks for the recommendation. I have contacted them for their fees. Are you saying you have to pay no customs duty on this end either?

Correct. There was no payment on delivery because she calculated the total charge, and I prepaid. I was shipping household goods like kitchen stuff, clothes, books, tools, pharmacy items. Some new, some old. (No electronics which has some surcharge or higher rate.)  If there were customs fees or bribes, they were included in the flat rate.

Please report back your experience which ever way you ship!

Great. I did contact hem via email and they said I would have to call them....odd.

gobot :

I will recommend Golden Freight in San Jose CA again. See other recommendations in expat.com.  Google it. My shipment was fine. No weird charges, just flat rate $2.50/lb if no electronics. Ship on Fridays, deliver on Tuesdays. Door-to-door service bc they also have employees who escort and deliver the stuff at Saigon end.

Thanks for the recommendation, but the owner of this business is some character. I currently have a shipper, which I mentioned earlier, that just turns in a GREAT performance. The lady that I have corresponded with with Golden Freight is far from great. Allow me to share our email interchanges so all can get a feel for how Golden Freight treats potential customers:
1. When I first emailed them wanting to gain information I got no reply. When I followed up with another email they told me I must call their stateside phone number. I wrote back and told them how difficult it would be for us to do business by phone and that my current shipper does everything vis email and promptly I finally received and email response from Golden.
2. ) When I asked about the cost to ship to my Vietnamese city they told me $5.00 a pound. Which is what I currently pay shipping from Dallas with great service. I should add as a sidebar that Golden advertises shipments to HCMC for $1.25 a # or $2.50 a  # door-to-door. And they want to tack on another $2.50 to ship an additional. 180 Km to where I live. I wrote back and explained that is what I pay now. Again no reply. So I wrote and told them they are not being very responsive to my emails. Then and only then did they reply and apologize for the delay and said they could ship to my city for $4.00. So I thought I would give them a try.  Heck I would be saving $1.00 a pound.
3. I had  neglected to ask how they make payment settlement. They wrote and asked how I currently paid. I told them Paypal. To which I again received no reply for days. Then I wrote again and explained that perhaps it would not be a very good fit for us to do business together as they were so slow in replying to emails. To which they finally replied and said I would have to make a bank transfer to their Wells Fargo bank account. Which I thought was an odd way to address customer service... I would have to do as they say if I wanted to be their customer. My word it takes all of 5  minutes to set up a Paypal account. And both are far better protected using Paypal then me sending money to someone I do not know bank account.

4. To which the final wonderful customer service oriented exchange transpired:
  Me..."You never got back to me on wether payments by Paypal would be okay with you. Maybe going with you guys will be a mistake. With my current shipper they are very prompt to answer me, even with a 12 hour time difference. You, I have to keep writing you again and again. Do you just not want my business?
Golden....Good luck with your choice. We are professional freight forwarder around the world so if your shipment is to small for us to handle back and forth with stupid email like this way (mind you we have yet to speak about size of shipments )it's really a waste time for both. ( I kid you not this is the grammar and the way she actually writes) Where are you coming from? America? I don't think you are a real person want to do business even you never dare to give us a call. Time is more important to us so we don't need to waste time with fake guy like you. Don't waste your time and remember you are living in my home country so watch your mouth!
Me... That is okay. I think I have a better shipper than your firm is setup to be. I do a lot of shipping from there to here. I need a firm who is equipped to perform well and provide great customer service. Sorry it has not worked out.
Me....Thanks for your unprofessional email. I will make sure it is posted to the appropriate sites here in Vietnam.
Please don't be so offended when people offer constructive criticism. From my viewpoint you conduct business in away the Vietnamese do here, where the customer is beholding to the business. My word it takes a couple of minutes to set up a Paypal account and expand your business. Yet what is your reply... I must make a transfer to your bank account. With my current shipper very single email is answered within an hour. With you every single email has gone unanswered until I followed up with additional emails.
  Then you cap it all off with a denigrating email suggesting I am not a real customer because I find your company completely non-customer oriented.
  But I am so happy we have had this exchange. Indeed, it would have been terrible to jump into a business relationship with your company.
Golden.. Hey tell Ha Tuan ..... (omitted last name intentional) & Ngoc ....face me, don't be just a coward.
Golden... Hey (my first name) I heard Ngoc..... slept with my friend's husband, that would be a shame huh? How do you think?
Golden....ha ha now shut up dear.

I think this lady might have a vendetta going with someone here in VN and she fears robot mail or something. I have no clue who these people are she is talking about sleeping with whomever. What a way to conduct business.

:o Whoa Vagabond! Now I want going to curl up under my bed and never make any recommendations anymore! My fault!

Nah just kidding. Sorry you wasted your time. That is some bad customer service. I believe that I read 2 older recommendations from this forum before I tried them. My transaction with them was the old way, phone then visited to drop off boxes face-to-face in San Jose. There are a lot of mom and pop businesses that haven't figured out internet, email, payment options. Drives me crazy too.
Thanks for the report though. I wish more people followed up on this forum.

Hi John,

My partner and I are trying to figure out how to ship my arts and crafts supplies to Da Nang, plus a few household items. We are stuck with the requirement for a work permit.

We are self-employed with an online business that will sustain our financial needs. We've been granted One Year Multiple Business Visas. and are self-employed with an online business. Our programmer is Vietnamese and lives in Hanoi and we will be collaborating with him on new projects and hiring Vietnamese people when we need additional help.

Both of us are of retirement age and are also receiving US Social Security retirement monthly benefit payments. So, there's no logical need to have a work permit as we are not looking to be employed, though we will be setting up a household and would really love to have some of our own things with us.

I'm planning to check into the Golden Freight in San Jose. I'm curious to know if a work permit was required for you to ship the items from California. We're about 2 hours or so from San Jose, so it's feasible for us to take items there to be shipped. We will be flying out of SFO to Da Nang.

It's all very confusing and nobody seems to have a straight answer. If you have any insights, I'd appreciate your sharing them with me.

In Gratitude & Appreciation,
Elizabeth

How big is the size of your total shipment? Will you need a partial container, pallet or just some large boxes?

Probably 20 large boxes at the max. One will contain our (compressed) memory foam queen mattress topper) as it makes all the difference for my back and legs. We are about to start boxing things, but all my art supplies are in plastic bins/drawers that will be placed in boxes. It's probably going to fit on a pallet...just a guess at this point.

To answer one of your questions, a work permit isn't required to send something here, at least no one has ever asked me for one.

If I were you, I'd bring any important art supplies with me when coming. The airline will let you bring two extra check-ins. I believe it was $100 per box and weight limit was 70 lbs. Just buy some big boxes at U-Haul and fill them up, no need for the extra weight of the luggage. You'll see this is what most Vietnamese do when coming here.

To me honest, most of these Viet shippers are about the same. They charge about the same and the shipping times are also abut the same. Most just ship small packages and are very reliable. Shipping to Da Nang might cost a little more and take longer as most people ship to Sai Gon. Have you contacted Golden Freight yet?

Have you bought your tickets yet? If not, make sure to get them from a Viet travel agent. It will save you a few hundred dollars. Sorry if these questions have been asked/answered already, I'm pretty busy and just skimmed through the posts.

Thanks for taking the time to offer the suggestion about bringing the boxes. That will help somewhat, though won't handle the entire issue.

We already purchased tickets and all our entry docs have been handled. Thanks for telling me about the lower prices by going through a Vietnam company. Perhaps in the future we can take advantage of this for other travels in SE Asia.

Since we have economy seats, they only allow us one 50 lb checked bag each, so it's been a bit restrictive (Asiana Airlines). Business class gets 2 bags (70 lbs each) I believe. The cost per ticket is quite a bit higher though, so it's still probably best to pay the extra $100 each for the boxes. With two of us, we could conceivably each have a box.

At Golden freight one year ago, I shipped 76 lbs in 3 boxes, paid $2.50 / lb = $190, San Jose to Saigon. Sounds like airline shipping is better, simpler.

John,

As a fellow American in HCM thanks for sharing that story. We have lived in Shanghai, Singapore and now HCM. I have estensive travel in Asia and am use to getting it in the backside...maybe I can return to them someday. We bought or motorbike helmets back from Largo.

Good Luck

Elizabeth
Hope you have better luck with Christina at Golden Freight in San Jose than I have had. Not sure if this women just has problems/enemies here in Vietnam of she is just plain wacko. But I live in Vietnam and have a shipper in Dallas. I saw this thread and thought I would try Golden. Did not go well at all. She started calling me all hours of the night saying I was F...... my grandmother and all sorts of choice words. I begged her to stop as I no longer wished to use her and it kept up for months. Maybe if you live in the USA she will work with you. She does have good rates. Be aware of dimensional weight though. It can drive the cost of shipping through the ceiling in a hurry. I once bought a American step ladder, that cost, I think,$100 but the shipping cost due to dimensional size was going to cost me $400. Your shipper can inform you how to compute DS. Good luck.

For international dimensional weight: Length X Width X Height
                                                                                      139

Hi there,

I simply had to concede to the fact that shipping the items I'd wanted to take with me was not feasible. Instead, I'm selling them or giving them away...oh well. The solution was to take the most important items via luggage boxes from UPS as extra baggage on the plane. So that's what I'm doing now.

The minimum shipping cost being $2.49/lb and the extra time/expense/energy to get them to San Jose was just too daunting. So we've decided to cough up the $100 each per extra baggage container (the size of a large suitcase) and pack them to the max (weight).

Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions. Just another step in the process of letting go.

Elizabeth

Does anyone import material/ fabric from Indonesia? If so... can you supply the name/contact details for a few reliable companies please.

Would be interested in both shipping agents and airline freight forwarders.

Much appreciated.

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