We had previously written a article on USPS which is claimed to be the Best Postal Service for Worldwide buyers & sellers of products. Hence, this is the very same reason every year millions of shipments are sent and received. Now when someone sends a shipment to India, the problem starts because the products gets into the hands of the Foreign Customs Department located at different cities who would take a minimum of 1 week’s time for verification & approval to a no limit on the maximum verification because there are reports that some of the customers are waiting for shipments from over a years time.
USPS Tracking is quite easy through their websites though these updates stop when the product reaches India, as shown in the following example –
Class: Express Mail International®
Status: Into Foreign Customs
Your item is being processed by customs in INDIA. No further information is available for this item.
Into Foreign Customs, April 11, 2010, 2:48 pm, INDIA
Arrived Abroad, April 11, 2010, 9:03 am, INDIA
International Dispatch, April 08, 2010, 11:47 am, ISC CHICAGO IL (USPS)
Arrival Acceptance, April 07, 2010, 4:28 pm, SUGAR LAND, TX 77479
The above is a example of a USPS Shipment which was sent from the US to India and which got struck at the mumbai customs department. Following this you need to either visit the respective Foreign Customs Department office or else give them a few hundred calls for actually getting the shipment confirmed. The department would give you a Indian Code of the same USPS Label/Receipt Number in the form of a BL number, something like BL 4551. The BL number is generated by the Customers Department for recognizing all the parcels and you can get these from the Customer Support Department.
You can check out the Contact details of Custom offices in India available at different Zones or cities and contact them for the status of your shipment. First you need to contact them and tell them to generate the BL number. Next request them to give you the status of the shipment and also approve the parcel so that its next passed to the Indian Postal services who will deliver it to you.
The Customs Department would charge you with a Duty Fees which ranges from 4% to a unknown percentage because sometimes the department would hold the package claiming that its under valued when compared to the market rates of the same product. Hence the overall cost increases because if you purchase a computer item like Digital Camera, LCD Monitors, RAM, Processors etc through Online Stores like ebay, amazon and the seller sells you some Digital Camera at 300$, the customs department would revalue it at Indian Products Price Lists and then levy a duty on the price. Most of the times the Indian Value is very high compared to the US prices and this includes purchases of refurnished models, seconds offers, bulk deals all of which are ignored by the department while valuation.
If a product is marked a GIFT, while making the shipment then there won’t be any actual verification if this was really a gift or not and if the value of the product is less than Rs 10,000 then there won’t be any duties on the same. Also the seller should not be shipping the product along with the Invoice while sending the package because that would clearly say that this is a purchase and not a gift and would override the Duty Free option and make the department to charge you. Gift is actually a trick used by many buyers to Avoid taxes.
If you are going to regularly import products from different countries through USPS or other courier services like Fedex, DHL, UPS etc, then you need to setup a firm and also get a Import Export Code for the same because its very important to show all these transactions in your books and pay taxes at the end of the year.