Understanding Customs & International shipments

Terminal Africa is dedicated to making it easier for Africans to ship internationally, and an essential aspect of international deliveries is customs duty. In this blog post, we will explore the subject of customs duty and how it can affect your international shipments. From what custom duty is, how it is calculated, when you can expect to pay and how you may avoid it. We've got you covered!

What is Customs Duty?

Customs duty is a fee levied on items being shipped across international borders. Costs can vary depending on the items or the country; however, it only applies to physical goods and not services.

Custom duties are quite common globally, as most governments use them to protect their local industries from foreign competitors or regulate the inflow of certain products. The term for the fee might vary between duties, fees, or taxes. Import duties are for imported items, while exported duties are for exported goods.

How is customs duty calculated?

The customs authority in each country oversees the collection of duties on both imported and exported goods. In most countries, imports must be declared and inspected before being delivered. At this point, the checked items have fees based on countries’ HS codes, the value of the goods, descriptions, or international trade agreements.

Since every country has unique laws/regulations regarding duties, bans, and restrictions on imports or exports, it may be worth some quick research before purchasing or sending certain products internationally. This way, you’ll be aware of whether or not your item might incur extra charges and can adequately prepare to pay for them.

When should you expect to pay customs duty?

If you have made or are expecting an international delivery, there’s a chance that a customs duty will be required after it reaches the destination country.

Duties are usually expected to be paid before the goods are delivered to the end consumer. In some cases, the courier company can offer to pay for these charges, so your goods are not delayed at customs, but they will subsequently charge you the service.

Note that customs duties can be separate from tariffs which are more specific fees placed on items that the government classifies into a particular category of imports.

What can I do to avoid paying customs duty?

Depending on the quantity or value of the item being shipped, you may not have to be any customs duties, fees, or taxes. Nevertheless, if there are going to be levied, either the seller or the buyer of an international shipment will have to pay. In most cases, these fees usually fall on the item’s buyer, but occasionally, the seller might include these charges into the product or shipping costs.

Suppose you’re considering purchasing an item that will involve international shipping. In that case, you should clarify from the seller whether or not the goods already have Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) or if they are Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU). The former means you won’t have to pay, while the latter means you’ll have to pay.