Organising a small shipment of personal effects to Hanoi


I realise there are a few threads with similar questions, but some of them are quite old, or asking for slightly different information. I was hoping someone with recent experience can perhaps help.

My partner and I will relocate to Hanoi in May. We are considering a small shipment of personal effects. This would ideally include some clothing, shoes, one laptop, one XBox, and perhaps some academic textbooks. It's likely to be a medium- to large-sized suitcase/box full of personal belongings.

Now - I have read that importing used items is illegal. I have also read that importing personal effects (which by definition are used?) is possible if done so within 30 days of arrival and may be tax exempt. I am finding this all quite confusing, and would be grateful for any advise on what may be the best thing to do. I can arrange to ship from UK, Netherlands or Germany, in case anyone has any recommendations for companies to use. Prices for parcels with DHL from Germany seem okay, but will it arrive within 30 days? Will I be hit with high taxes?

I realise the best thing to do would be additional checked in luggage on our flights, but we are going travelling for several weeks prior to reaching Hanoi so unfortunately this is not feasible.

Many thanks in advance for your help.

Is it workable for you if you ship from your country to China, then from China to Hanoi?


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If import duty is applied, it can be up to 40% of the items value.
I haven't done it myself but some colleagues and friends have. Most have had no problem but occasionally, a shipment goes missing. You'll have a higher success rate if the shipment is tracked and has to be signed for by you on arrival.
Please keep in mind that everything is opened, inspected and sometimes items (particularly electronics)  may get "lost" and the chances of them turning up again are rare.
You had the right idea at the start - bring them in as excess baggage but I guess it depends on what is more important to you; a bit of travelling or your possessions.
If you intend to bring electronics like laptops/tablets/phones, put them in your carry-on, not your suitcase, if weight permits it.

With regard to things being delivered on time - probably not. Some shipments arrive on time, mostly they are late but it varies depending on national holidays, time of the year etc.
I regularly get shipments from Singapore - they arrive in VN the next day and then it takes between 10 and 20 days to get to my door.

Thanks a lot for your reply! I thought I'd briefly report back just for anyone encountering a similar situation.

I ended up using SendMyBag to send a large suitcase full of clothing, shoes, accessories and books from the UK to Vietnam. Their customer service is exceptional and prices reasonable for fast door to door service with full tracking. I did not end up sending any electronics. SendMyBag does not offer any insurance for electronics so they are posted at your own risk.

I went travelling for five weeks so chugging two large bags along was unacceptable and this was a good solution.

Customs did cause problems. The bag arrived in Vietnam two days after collection in the UK and was then stuck in customs for two weeks. Personal effects apparently are generally exempt from import tax if they arrive within 30 days of your arrival in the country AND YOU DECLARED YOUR STILL TO COME UNACCOMPANIED BAGGAGE AT THE AIRPORT UPON ARRIVAL. Customs will then issue you an arrival card with the appropriate stamp and signature which you will need when the bag arrives. Thankfully, I did know about this, but then customs needed the original arrival card to clear the bag and it got lost in the post. Getting a new arrival card was what caused the problems.

So the advice is to make sure you speak to customs, get the arrival card with stamp and signature, and if the original needs to be seen, spare some time to bring it to the airport in person.

It maybe wise keep your laptop and other valuable items with you if possible I understand you are travelling prior to coming to Hanoi but it may be worth it.

Cheers for the reply but I have now already arrived in Hanoi so this thread is outdated.

We did indeed end up taking valuables like laptops with us, which was annoying but seemed the most reasonable thing to do.

Hey, thanks a lot for posting your experience. I want to do a similar thing to send some personal items too (electricals are coming with me). Its hard to weigh up what to leave (due to the possibility of them being 'lost'!). It's great to know about the on arrival extra info/card I would need to get. It's a weird one because I'm flying into HCMC initially and then to Hanoi after two weeks. Reckon it's best to have them sent asap and to HCMC so that it's within the 30 day window? Hope you had a good trip.


Hi Liz

Glad I could help.

Where to send it to depends on which company you use as well. I used SendMyBag and they tell you when it will arrive when you book, it usually just takes a few days and I found them very reliable. I am pretty sure that arrival at the airport has to be within 30 days rather than customs clearance. Perhaps you can send it to Hanoi and time it to arrive soon after you get there.

Make 100% sure you get the arrival card. Opposed to other countries they do not routinely give these out at airports (at least not Hanoi), so you do not get it unless you ask at customs and state you will have unaccompanied luggage coming.

Hope it all goes well.

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