Sharon’s Tips - Buying items outside of Switzerland / Parcels from abroad

I am assuming many of you receive parcels from overseas, or perhaps like me, you regularly order things in the USA, or UK, or Germany.

FYI: The Swiss authorities (the Post in particular) really penalise us when ordering things from outside of Switzerland. If an order comes to more than Fr. 62.50, i.e. the value of the goods AND postage together, then you are billed a customs tax, handling fee, processing fee and anything else they can think of to charge you more. I know people who have been badly burned! Ouch!

So, if the ordered item costs Fr. 50.-, make sure postage does not exceed Fr. 12.50! If you are sent a gift from abroad, the value of the item should not exceed Fr. 100.-. It must clearly state “gift” on the customs form. Anything over this, you will have to pay Swiss customs tax. If a parcel contains just books, its value may not exceed Fr. 200.-, otherwise you will be charged customs. This is good to know, especially if you order from www.bookdepository.co.uk or www.play.com, as they both offer free postage to Switzerland.

Here are some tips to avoid this hefty customs charge:

If ordering several items, order them separately so that each item is shipped individually, and preferably even a day or 2 apart. Each item must also have its own order number, and make sure the item and postage together are less than Fr. 62.50.- per parcel.

Some overseas companies will no longer ship items to Switzerland. In this case, I have my parcels sent to Jestetten, Germany, which is only a 40 minute drive from Uster. There are umpteen parcel services there. I personally use Paketservice www.paketservice-jestetten.de as they are super friendly and there is always plenty of parking! How it works: you register online, and then are free to use their address to have parcels sent to whenever and how frequently you want. They then send me a quick email when my parcel has arrived, and when I collect it, I pay them €5.

These parcel services have sprung up all along the German border – it’s a budding business - Google will help you find any of these companies. Just remember, you are allowed to drive back in to Switzerland with wares not exceeding Fr. 300.- per person otherwise you will have to declare them. Of course there are other laws restricting what you buy, and the quantities, so make sure you know these before you blissfully unaware drive back to Switzerland, and are stopped and fined at the border control!