Shipping Impossible

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by John Conduitt, May 19, 2022.

  1. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Shipping from overseas can be slow. But new tax collection rules in the UK, EU and US have made buying some coins impossible. Dealers must now do more paperwork to ship overseas, which was already unattractive with the cost and the risk of shipments going missing. Some dealers, particularly (but not only) in the US, have simply stopped shipping overseas.

    As some collectors have found, such as @maridvnvm, this means the entire inventory of many US dealers is trapped. Coins just can’t get out of the US, even to their countries of birth. It’s a sad, cruel situation. We in ‘World’ lands must paw at the bullet-proof window and pine.

    The error message on VCoins if you dare order from many a US dealer from beyond the wall

    But there is hope. VCoins suggests, ‘Please use a different address’. So, I enlisted the services of a freight forwarder. They receive orders you place with coin dealers or any other retail establishment, consolidate them, hold them for free for up to 45 days and ship them to you when you’re ready. They only charge when you ship.

    To test this system, I ordered 2 relatively inexpensive coins from different dealers, using my new ‘US address’. They both charged $4 for shipping within the US. One coin arrived with the forwarder (Stackry) after 2 days, the other after 6 days. I asked for the orders to be consolidated and declared their value and contents (‘copper coins over 100 years old’). They were shipped the next day. 15 days after placing the original orders, the coins were safely in my hand in the UK. In this case, no extra customs fees or taxes were charged.

    Antoninus Pius As, 154-155. One of the escapees
    Rome. Bronze, 26mm, 10.4g. Laureate bust, no drapery on left shoulder; ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XVIII. Felicitas standing left, holding corn ears and winged caduceus; FELICI-TAS COS IIII S C (RIC 937). A ‘Coin of British Association’.

    The forwarder charged £13.90 for shipping and insurance, and £3.27 for consolidation. The total cost (including the dealer shipping charges) was £23.77. Since the dealers don’t ship to the UK, there isn’t a cost to compare against. But over the last year I’ve been charged an average of £13 by US dealers for direct shipments of similar value, which would’ve been £26 for the two coins. With more coins, the saving could’ve been significant (and the cost per coin much better).

    Now, I’ve only done this once. I’d been told such a foolhardy venture would not end well. Perhaps I got lucky. There are a few things to bear in mind:

    - The forwarder may not package your coins as well as the dealers did. Mine had been removed from their original outer envelopes (presumably for customs inspection) and placed in a flimsy DHL plastic bag. But both coins were still protected in their flips, which were themselves inserted into corrugated cardboard ‘sleeves’, and arrived in perfect condition. You can pay the freight forwarder to improve the packaging.

    - Some retailers won’t ship to freight forwarding companies. Some freight forwarders need notification if you're sending coins, especially if they're high value. So you need to ask.

    - You need to make sure your reference number is included in the address, as this is all that identifies it as your package. This can get lost e.g. when using Paypal. Make sure the dealer knows to include it, otherwise you might get charged another fee by the freight forwarder for working out whose package it is.

    But not only is shipping tax-trapped coins possible, it can even be cheaper. Coins of the world, be free!
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  3. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    That stinks. Can't they just package it as a small package? Or are small non-coin packages taxed?

    Dumb rules are rife to be broken.

    Because of Italy's dumb laws, I'd have to find someone in Europe to forward it, if I ever purchased from there. Would such a service work for shipping to the United States?
    John Conduitt likes this.
  4. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    An enterprising coin dealer in the US could make a killing offering a coin-specific forwarding service I'm sure. Probably the same in the EU. Early on around the time of the initial COVID lockdowns certain European dealers stopped shipping to the US for a while but I had good luck having my packages sent to a friend in an EU country and forwarded to me and likewise returned the favor for a few coins he couldn't get shipped to him. If I were a coin dealer in the business of shipping coins daily already it would be tempting to offer that as a service.
    John Conduitt likes this.
  5. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info! I never heard of a freight forwarder before. And to fully understand this: so the freight forwarder does ship from the US to, in this case, UK, and charged you with shipping, insurance, consolidation, but not tax fees? How does this work?

    I recently won a coin in a UK based auction. It shipped the coin to it's EU based location, and from there it's on its way here, the Netherlands. 6% import duties apply. Is it wrong to conclude that, had I used a freight forwarder based in the UK, no import duty would apply?
  6. Kaleun96

    Kaleun96 Well-Known Member

    I've used a particular freight forwarder in the US (Vykingship) to ship maybe 6-8 coins from the US to the EU and I've never had a problem so I think you should be fine as well. I've even shipped some fairly expensive coins this way too. Mainly I do it to avoid Heritage Auctions outrageous shipping fees. I could have the shipping forwarder send it via FedEx for less than Heritage wants to ship it via USPS.

    As you say though, there are some risks. Once the coin is delivered to the forwarder, the dealer/auction house has done their job so any subsequent issues (missing or damaged items) may only be able to be resolved through the shipping forwarder.

    That being said, the reason I use Vykingship is because their product is simple and their customer service is amazing - they're very responsive, helpful, and friendly. In total I've used them for maybe 3 dozen shipments over 3-4 years. The one downside is that they're based in a sales tax state (Minnesota) so if you do have Heritage ship items there, you get slapped with the sales tax. Still, it works out much cheaper than Heritage's shipping...
    DonnaML and BasSWarwick like this.
  7. BasSWarwick

    BasSWarwick Well-Known Member

    You could check if the Post Service in your country has a forwarding agreement available from other countries. In New Zealand the NZ Post service has 'YouShop'.
    I can purchase goods in the US or Europe and have them shipped to the YS freight forwarder in either Portland or London who re-label them and send them on to NZ. See link here.
    DonnaML likes this.
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