New Charge Imposed by DHL Express on International Shipments

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Jan 17, 2022.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    After successfully bidding on four lots in the recent Roma Numismatics auction, for a total price exceeding £2,000, I paid Roma the stated DHL Express shipping charge of £63.50 (about $87.00) for purchases in excess of that benchmark. I received the following email from DHL several days ago:


    Hello DONNA
    DHL Express has paid the duty for your parcel with waybill number XXXXXXX from ROMA NUMISMATICS LTD.

    The amount you need to pay is USD 44.75 and you can easily pay online here.

    If the duty is not paid within 5 days, the parcel will be returned to the shipper."

    In other words, demanding an "import duty" payment effectively increasing Roma's shipping charge by 50%. The reason for my surprise was that, as many of you are aware, the USA, through Customs, does not charge any import duty on ancient coins or any other coins made "prior to the 14th century." See Section 9705.00.0001 of the current Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, available online. And DHL's own invoice actually admits that the duty percentage and amount are both 0.00, describing the charge instead as:


    Please Pay This Amount in USD 44.75

    So not really import duty at all, but some kind of processing charge!

    When I complained to Roma about this undisclosed charge -- which I equated to extortion by DHL -- I was told the following:

    "I understand your concern and frustration at this additional charge, however, this is not something over which we have any control and is a new charge that both FedEx, DHL and other couriers have instated as of 2022. We were not informed of the implementation of the charge and it is not particular to shipments going to the US, but is also being charged on shipments to other destination countries. As you have identified on the invoice DHL provided, this charge is not duty (despite how they confusingly categorised it initially) which, as you say, is not payable on ancient coins in the US, but rather it is their processing fee for dealing with customs clearance. Whilst we did not mention this specific charge, as these charges are constantly being updated, we do state on all invoice emails that 'any other costs or charges such as customs or import duties, customs clearance and handling may also apply during the shipment of your lot and will be charged to you [the client] by the relevant courier or postal service at a later stage if applicable.'

    Unfortunately, in the current global climate it is becoming increasingly expensive the ship items securely; the shipping fee that we charge only just covers our freight and insurance costs. If you would prefer for your future purchases to be sent via registered mail, who do not charge processing fees (as far as I know) I can make a note of this on your account, however, this shipping method tends to be less reliable." . . . .

    I apologise again for this situation."

    And, subsequently, when I wrote back that the basis for the charge (a fixed fee or a percentage of value or simply 50% of the former delivery charge) is completely unclear, I was told:

    "I agree, the charges are very opaque and have been raised to us by other clients. I am trying to determine on what basis they are charged i.e. value of package contents or fixed fee, but this has not yet been clarified by DHL."

    Whatever the basis, I'm quite annoyed that DHL (and also Fedex, apparently) have imposed this new processing charge, misrepresented by DHL as import duty. Of course, it will be even more onerous for those who live in countries that do already impose an actual import duty on ancient coins, and will have to pay this new charge on top of that import duty.

    Has anyone else encountered this apparently new policy?
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  3. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    Look for a post from me near Thanksgiving where I ran into the exact issue. Afaict this is a charge for customs just looking at the package to determine there is no duty. More bad luck than any regular occurrence.
    panzerman likes this.
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    But according to Roma, as of this month this hefty additional processing charge merely for getting packages through Customs (formerly included in the cost of international shipping, as it logically should be) now is a regular occurrence. Not merely bad luck.
  5. Restitutor

    Restitutor Well-Known Member

    Delivery services take longer, are less reliable, and now more expensive. Color me shocked…
    BenSi, benhur767 and DonnaML like this.
  6. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    As a data point, I also had an exactly $44.75 DHL "customs" fee, not from Roma but from another auction house, on a ~$9K invoice which had a 50Eur shipping/handling fee. So, it would seem to not be a portion of the shipping charge but rather a fixed fee.
    PeteB, galba68 and DonnaML like this.
  7. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    Ive had several packages come through from Europe, including one via DHL. I also have one from Leu of similar value. None have received a customs charge, though my last Roma package was charged (but the one from the previous sale, of higher value, wasn’t)

    Just last week I had a FedEx package from LAC delivered without problems.
    benhur767 likes this.
  8. Iepto

    Iepto Active Member

    This has been normal for me from DHL for higher value packages (2k+?). I remember doing some research and afaik about half of it is a processing fee (for DHL fronting the customs charge) and the other half is the base fee for higher value individual packages. With fedex I had set up an business account so that they would charge my card on file (and not charge me the processing fee), but I didn't figure out how to avoid this for DHL.
    robinjojo likes this.
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    If so, it makes little sense to pay in excess of $100 for express international shipping (including this new charge) if the total value of the shipped coins is less than four figures. Even then it's pretty steep.

    Also, since when does U.S. Customs itself impose a substantial "processing" charge that the courier services have to advance, in the absence of any import duty? Is this something new?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2022
    galba68 likes this.
  10. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I agree that shipping amount is pretty steep, Donna. I was charged with similar amount last year by DHL. Their customer rep told me that the US Customs required additional paperwork for overseas package valued over $2,000, and therefore DHL charged me $87 for their processing work.

    I was similarly charged for another package via FedEx last year. Its "processing fee" is comparatively lower, at around $47.
    DonnaML likes this.
  11. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    In other words, what I was told by Roma -- that this is a new charge as of 2022 and, therefore, Roma had no previous knowledge of it, explaining its failure to mention the charge to customers -- is untrue.
    TheFinn and happy_collector like this.
  12. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    ROMA switched its shipper to DHL very recently. It is possible ROMA is unaware of the high DHL processing fee.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2022
  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It was about six months ago, I think.
    happy_collector likes this.
  14. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That is discouraging news about DHL slapping additional fees on international shipments, but not surprising, given the disruptions and uncertainty that has been wrought by the pandemic, the climate crisis, supply chain/shipping delays, rising costs of just about everything, and just the dark feelings of things becoming unglued. Maybe I'll feel better when the next Roma shipment arrives. At the very minimum it will take my mind off of other stuff.

    I hardly use DHL or Fedex, mainly because my purchases are relatively low, so for Roma it has been Royal Mail/USPS for me. All shipments have come through, albeit slow at times. I have had a few instances where my mail carrier dropped packages on the driveway rather than in my courtyard (as my old carrier used to do - I miss him!). That is irritating, but nothing so far has gone missing.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2022
  15. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    That is really annoying. I heard from a UK seller recently that he no longer accepts Ebay bids from non-UK bidders, because, Ebay now adds a new charge on sales outside the UK. He directed me to his Vcoins store and I bought the coin there with no additional fee.

    He wrote:

    "Sorry but since Brexit, ebay have started putting 20% VAT on all coins going to Europe. So I do not ship there any more."
    Stevearino, benhur767 and DonnaML like this.
  16. BasSWarwick

    BasSWarwick Well-Known Member

    Not coin related, but DHL even with small value packages have upped their charges considerable.
    Some supplements I order from iherb US originally cost $4 shipped two years ago and that has now increased to $34. Fortunately iherb also provides for free a slower service operated by Aramex/Fastway/Emirates.
    DonnaML likes this.
  17. tenbobbit

    tenbobbit Well-Known Member

    If it was me, the coins would go back to Roma & i would get my money back.

    Let them deal with the drama, not you.

    p.s. IF they had informed buyers on their site about this charge ( instead of hiding it ) would it have had an effect on sales ?
  18. Aleph

    Aleph Well-Known Member

    Same here. I have had a DHL and a FedEx this year from Roma and eurupe; neither had extra charges. Fed ex tends to bill later but dhl demands payment upfront. No doubt this will hit soon though. It is becoming extremely costly to buy from the UK and Europe! Shipping fee and now import duties could now add $100 to a $300 auction win to a US collector from a UK auction?!
    PeteB, happy_collector and DonnaML like this.
  19. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    From a UK perspective we are seeing similar issues buying from Europe and the USA. I tried to buy a Eur 50 book from France and was presented with a Eur 50 shipping cost with the import duties and handling fees to be managed by me on arrival which would result in Eur 10 in import duties plus a "handling fee" of £12 from the shipper. This all made me rethink my purchase completely taking a book with a face value of ~£42 to a total cost of ~£104.

    I have similar issues buying any books from the USA where shipping on a single book has a shipping cost of ~$100 and again with the associated import duties. Buying a $100 simply doesn't make sense any more.

    I have a similar position with coins. Shipping on coins is less but is still getting higher and higher. A single coin from Canada or USA is typically running at £15-20 with shipping of coins from Europe now catching up with those shipping costs. The UK is currently charging 20% import duty on ancients and shippers add their handling fees.
  20. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    To illustrate that this is nothing new under the sun i can show the specimen below from the city of Shafurqan under the reign of 'Ala al-din Muhammad Khwarezmshah around 1200AD.
    The top line on the text side shows what it was used for, it reads "Danganah" in Arab.
    To enter goods into the city, merchants had to pay taxes. The rates for this were fixed by the state. However, on top on this traders also had to pay a customs fee for the processing of their goods. The Danganah fee had to be payed to the city, for official weighing and counting of the goods passing. The privilege to perform this service and set the tariffs for this was owned by some of the wealthy families in the city. Because of the corruption this led to, this tax was abolished in later years when one of the Sultans of Delhi gained control over the region.
  21. DCCR

    DCCR Member

    Import VAT on ancient coins into the UK is only 5%. If you get charged 20% then you can claim a refund of the overcharge. I've heard stories of people being charged 20% (it depends on the code put on the customs form) but it has luckily never happened to me. There appears to be a problem with Ebay in that they can only charge a blanket 20% for everything, but they are aware of the issue and you can also claim the money back.

    Books imported from the EU into the UK continue to be zero rated, so there should be nothing to pay.
    DonnaML likes this.
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