Customs Nightmare

by sumpteretc

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law generously sent us a package via FedEx, as she has done several times since we came to Mongolia. We have had a few situations where the packages got hung up in customs, but it has not usually been a big deal. This time, the package never showed up, even though we were sure it must have arrived, so we called FedEx. They told us they had tried to deliver a notification on Friday, albeit to a different neighborhood. Street addresses here is a wholly other subject. At any rate, the box was now at the customs office near the airport.

So, yesterday afternoon, I went to the FedEx office in town to pick up the necessary paperwork. After about a 45-minute wait, the FedEx guy showed up at the office and gave me the papers. He said I would need to go to the airport and pay the appropriate customs fees. I asked if I could just give him the money and let him pick it up. He said, “sure” and picked up his calculator. After some rapid calculations, he said I would need to pay $48.The items were valued at $85, and he was estimating the shipping at $225 or so. We needed to pay 15.5% of the total of those two. I was incredulous. We’ve never paid any customs fees. He said it was a new law. Any gifts under $1,000 were previously tariff-free but now subject to import taxes.

We decided to handle it ourselves. Tiffany went to the customs office with her teacher. There was a lot of bureaucratic nonsense, but a couple hours later, they walked out with the box, not having paid a dime.