Asking seller to mark as "gift" to avoid customs charges

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Original Post

This is very interesting... I picked this up from the HM Revenue and customs site tonight. I always assumed the seller would be held responsible for incorrectly marking an item as a "gift".

" law you are the importer of the goods and are legally responsible for the information on the Customs declaration made by the sender and for any charges due. If you buy goods and the declaration is found to be incorrect, you may be liable to financial penalties or prosecution. In addition, the goods may be seized. It is in your interest to ensure the sender completes the Customs declaration accurately"

Food for thought... and definitely worth informing any buyer who asks you to misrepresent the contents of their parcel.

I'm in the UK, by the way. :)

Posted at 7:42pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT


Yes, I never mark items as gift, and when I order out of USA, I request they be marked and proper customs papers come with it. If they refuse, I cancel my order.

Posted at 7:45pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

I always fill in my customs forms honestly. Occasionally I buy from a supplier in Thailand, and they always mark my parcel as a gift even though I don't ask them to. I didn't realise I would be responsible and even liable for a fine. Next time I'll make sure they mark it correctly.

Posted at 7:54pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

They can ask and I'll say no. No one has yet. I think little cheats lead to bigger ones, I just don't like being dishonest.

Posted at 7:56pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

I'm always surprised when I am occasionally asked outright to lie on the customs form. I don't think some buyers understand the penalties involved.

Posted at 7:57pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

Penalties aside, i can't imagine asking someone to be sneaky. That's just so yuck.

Posted at 7:59pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

I was asked by a buyer on ebay to do this and she wasn't aware of the penalties involved, she had just heard of other people doing it :/

Posted at 7:59pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

Agreed, goatmountainarts. I've never been asked (yet), but if I ever am, I'll make sure to refuse, and to point out to the buyer that THEY would be responsible if the parcel was checked - so actually, I'm looking out for them and doing them a favour by refusing ;)

Posted at 8:02pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

In the US I thought the sender was responsible, but I could see why they might want to be able to go after both people. Even though, IMHO the person recieving a package may not have much control over how the customs form is filled out.

Posted at 8:03pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT

Mocahete says

Yes, it happens frequently. Many times possible buyers say that other Etsy sellers mark as a gift or lower the value. Best advice, do not do this. You are putting your business at a risk. Why risk you hard earned work. We always explain very politely why we can't do this. Best of luck.

Posted at 8:07pm Sep 3, 2009 EDT