From time to time, Yoctopuce support receives emails from international customers rather upset surprised to have been asked for money upon delivery of their Yoctopuce order. As confusing as it may seem, this is a fairly common occurrence. This week, we are going to explain why this happens.
Let's start with the shipping costs applied when you order on Yoctopuce online shop. Several types of delivery are available:
- Swiss Post: the shipment is entrusted to the Swiss National Post, which transports it until the Swiss border before entrusting the package to the postal services of the destination country, sometimes with a transit through third-party countries. This is why you often can track the shipment both from the Swiss Post web site and from the web site of the postal service of the destination country. Postal shipping costs are computed on a flat-rate basis which more or less covers our own charges.
- DHL / UPS / FedEx: the shipment is entrusted to a private carrier which takes care of the delivery from one end to the other. In this case, shipping costs are computed on the basis of the estimated weight of the command and correspond to what the carrier is going to bill Yoctopuce to perform the delivery: Yoctopuce doesn't make a benefice on shipping costs.
Note that above a given order amount, Yoctopuce offers the shipping costs. This amount limit depends on the type of carrier selected. In the case of DHL / UPS / FedEx, only the less expensive of the three is offered for free: you must pay the difference, usually minimal, if you select another carrier.
Taxes, customs fees and duties
Unless otherwise mentioned, all shipments are performed following the DAP incoterm: Yoctopuce assumes responsibility of the shipment until it is made available to the customer, but lets the latter pay for taxes and other fees linked to customs clearance. In other words, when you have paid the bill of your Yoctopuce order, you don't owe Yoctopuce anything else. However, you might owe money to third-party organisms.
These last fifteen years, deliveries of many products bought online were greatly facilitated by companies large and rich enough to have online shops and warehouses in each country. But this should not make us forget the realities of international trade.
Yoctopuce is a Swiss company internationally selling goods made in Switzerland. It so happens that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. Therefore, when the delivery address is located outside of Switzerland, Swiss VAT (7.7%) is not billed to the customer. However, it is highly likely that VAT is applicable in the destination country. If you want to be sure, just check your own country's customs web site, and search for an internet purchases section, here are the ones for France, United Kindom, Germany and Netherland.
When a command is ready for delivery, Yoctopuce entrusts it to the carrier selected when ordering. If the destination country uses a VAT or similar tax system, this VAT is going to be computed and paid by the carrier to the fiscal administration of the destination country when going through customs. But the carrier is obviously not going to make a gift of this VAT to the recipient, it is going to ask for it at delivery. So it's not quite surprising for the delivery person to ask for money upon delivery.
This is also why if you order for the company in which you work, we recommend that you make sure there is someone who can manage this scenario before you place your order. We are regularly contacted by carriers who tell us that a delivery was refused at the reception desk of a company because the person there had no means to pay the VAT immediately.
Note that if the recipient is a company, it can get the VAT back later. Contact your favorite accountant for more information on how VAT works in your country :-)
Switzerland has free trade agreements with most countries, so you should not have to pay any additional customs duties.
If only VAT had to be paid, one might say that it is only a necessary evil. The problem is that the carrier is going to want to be compensated for advancing the VAT to the recipient. That's why it will probably claim a fixed sum in addition to VAT on delivery. This amount depends on the carrier, count between 12 and 16 euros.
The case of the United States
In the United States, there is no VAT or customs duty for electronic products manufactured in Switzerland for deliveries under $800. Beyond this limit taxes apply but the rate is minimal compared to what is practiced in Europe, you will find more details on US customs web site.
How to reduce the fees
If you are an individual and if you want to limit the fees, the best solution is to find a reseller close to you. Resellers usually order large quantities which allows them to smooth out the fixed costs. However, don't forget that resellers need to eat as well, so don't be surprised if their prices are slightly above ours: it's their margin.
If you are a company, you can get the VAT back, but there might be a trick to get rid of the VAT collection fees. In Switzerland, there is a system called "customs account" or "CSP account" which enables the Swiss customs to bill the VAT directly to the recipient. Thus, the carriers can't request VAT collection fees. We don't know if this system is available in other countries, but it may be worth checking with the appropriate authorities in your country.
If you have a customer account with DHL or FedEx, we can use it to send your order. Not only is it interesting if DHL/FedEx offers you better rates than to us, but this can also make delivery easier if the fees are billed to your account instead of having to pay the delivery person upon reception.
And if you don't want to pay?
If you don't want to pay the fees requested at delivery, you can perfectly well refuse the delivery. The goods are returned to Yoctopuce which must then reimburse you. You must however be aware that:
- Yoctopuce will reimburse you only when it has effectively received the package back, and returns tend to take their time to travel, especially with Swiss Post.
- Yoctopuce can legally deduce from the reimbursement the shipping costs, outward and return. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, returns are not free.
Long story short, before ordering Yoctopuce products, we keenly recommend that you anticipate what is going to happen at delivery time and to take the time to calculate whether it would be simpler/more cost-effective to order from a local reseller, it might save you a lot of frustration.