I'm traveling in Europe and want to have some electronic equipment shipped from home (laptop; camera; audio gear). Can I ship myself used personal goods from the U.S. to Europe and not pay import taxes?

I know that some non European countries try to tax you regardless of whether the products are personal or even used. Will it be a problem for shipping to Europe?

  • I think it's on topic here, but you might find Expats useful as well.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 22:01
  • 1
    I think this is sometimes handled by having you post a bond or deposit in the amount of the import duties, which is refunded when you take the goods out of the country. I don't have any idea how this might be implemented when receiving them by mail, though. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 22:02
  • Just on a tangent, it might be better to carry personal goods with yourselfves so that demo's that you use them.
    – pal4life
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 23:24
  • @pal I'm already overseas unfortunately, but yes that would be ideal.
    – bevanb
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 6:41
  • Are you relocating or staying temporarily?
    – gerrit
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 10:43

1 Answer 1


Unaccompanied Personal Effects

You need to import those items as "Unaccompanied Personal Effects".

When you cross a border with checked baggage, it is assumed that all of the items in your checked bag are your personal effects unless you specify otherwise on the customs declaration form (e.g. USA, Japan, Canada) that you fill out just before entry. Accordingly, by default you are not required to pay any duty on your checked baggage.

On the other hand, when you courier items across a border it is assumed that they are commercial items and you are typically required to declare their value to the destination country. Most countries will grant you an exemption to import duties for Unaccompanied Personal Effects. The key to getting the exemption is to attach to your couriered package the following items:

The easiest way I have found to get the forms for the country to which you are importing is to use the Fedex workflow for shipping (Purolator, UPS, etc might have an equivalent). The Fedex workflow produces the pro-forma invoice with all the appropriate declarations and fields filled out, and points you to the appropriate unaccompanied goods form for the country. Make sure you sign and date the commercial invoice and the declaration form. It is conventional to include 4 copies of all the paperwork on the outside of your package, and another one on the inside of the package.

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