Customs import changes parcels on a conveyor belt

Customs import Changes effective 1 July 2021

Effective 1 July 2021, the duty and tax-free allowance for merchandise imports under EUR 22 from third countries (non-EU countries) no longer exists. This means that all merchandise received from third countries will be subject to import turnover tax, independently of the merchandise value. This change goes back to a decision at the EU level that aims to create more fiscal fairness on the national and EU market. So-called “good deals” in third countries (non-EU countries) are now also subject to taxes and will ultimately be more expensive. Customs duties will only be charged for a merchandise value of EUR 150 as previously.


Customs example purchase of a mobile phone cover in China


Purchase of a mobile phone cover

Effective 1 July 2021, even a mobile phone cover that retails for EUR 3 is subject to the 20% import turnover tax. Due to the low merchandise value (blow EUR 150), no customs duties will be charged. The calculation basis for the import turnover tax (merchandise value + postage + customs) is EUR 6. The import turnover tax is EUR 1.20, which is 20% of the calculation basis. The import fee for third countries in this case is always EUR 5. The overall import costs (merchandise, shipping, import turnover tax and import fee) for the mobile phone cover ultimately add up to EUR 12.20 in this example.

Exception IOSS (Import-One-Stop Shop): If the online retailer charges Austrian VAT at the time of purchase, it can be assumed that the retailer has an Import-One-Stop Shop (IOSS) number and pays taxes.* In that case, no import turnover tax or import fee will apply to the item.

*We accept no responsibility for the correctness of this information. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with the online retailer in question.

The role of Österreichische Post in imports

Österreichische Post is in charge of operational processing for import registrations (processing, determining and collecting import duties). Customs authorities perform random checks, which in exceptional cases can lead to delays. 

Unless the international retailer charges the import turnover tax directly to the client, Österreichische Post will first pay the amount due to the customs authorities and will then charge is to the recipient of the item at the time of delivery. Österreichische Post charges an import fee for the additional workload of recording and providing electronic data. If Österreichische Post does not receive all documents needed for determining the import duties, this will create a so-called customs impediment. We have to get in touch with the client and ask them to submit the required documents. 

Here are examples for customs impedimentsmissing proof of value for the item, implausible merchandise value, missing authorisations, etc.
Customs impediments create additional administrative work. We charge a processing and storage fee to cover that.

Please note! Even if you order from an online retailer in the EU, your merchandise might come from a third country (e.g., China).

What can you as a client do to ensure that your import item is processed smoothly? When placing your order, make sure that your address data are correct and complete (e.g., postcode).
Customs example purchase of a leather jacket in the USA

Calculation example

Purchase of a leather jacket

The leather jacket retails for EUR 1,000 and shipping is EUR 100. The purchase price and the shipping are the calculation basis for customs duties. The customs rate for leather clothes is 4%. In this example, the customs duties are EUR 44 (4% of EUR 1,100). 
In Austria, the import turnover tax for clothes is 20%. To calculate the 20% import turnover tax, the merchandise value, the shipping and the customs duties are added. 20% of that are EUR 228.80 in import turnover tax. In addition, there is the import rate in the amount of EUR 10, which is the fee charged by Österreichische Post for customs processing. The overall import fees add up to EUR 282.80.
Ultimately, the total cost of the leather jacket purchased in the USA including shipping and import duties is EUR 1,382.80.


Delivery of import items 

These are the options if you expect an import item:

  • Receive the item after delivery or pickup at your postal branch and payment of any import duties (customs duties, import fee for third-party imports, import turnover tax, excise tax, any applicable processing or storage fees)
  • Refuse receipt: there will be no additional charges and the item will be returned to the sender
Customs impediment


Customs impediment

If you expect an item from a third country (non-EU country), not all required documents for the proper customs declaration might be available. In that case, we would have a customs impediment, for example:

Clients will receive information about any customs impediments in the item tracking overview (after entering the tracking number on We need the recipient to submit the missing documents to ensure smooth item delivery.

Submit documents for customs impediment

If there is a customs impediment, we will let the client know.
We will get in touch:

  1. via letter,
  2. via e-mail, or
  3. via the Österreichiche Post app

In any case, you will have the option of submitting the missing documents to allow for smooth customs clearance and item delivery.

  1. Item tracking

    Customs impediment during item tracking

    The customs impediment will be displayed in the item tracking overview. Clients have the option of uploading any missing documents by clicking on "Edit customs impediment. Submit documents".

  2. Customs impediment

    Upload missing documents online

    On the next page, you can edit your customs impediment. You also have the option of uploading the missing document.

  3. Customs impediment

    Eligible for delivery

    As soon as all missing documents have been submitted, we can proceed to customs clearance, after which the item will be delivered.

FAQ customs import

This regulation is based on an EU decision and has been introduced to create more fiscal fairness among international retailers and retailers in the EU and, ultimately, Austrian retailers. After all, clients who buy at retail stores in Austria have to pay VAT for the merchandise they purchase.

Personal gift parcels are merchandise items sent from a private person from a non-EU member state to another private person in the EU, as long as 

  • such parcels are sent only occasionally
  • such parcels include exclusively merchandise for the recipient’s personal use and their con-tent and volume does not lead to assume that they will be used commercially
  • the recipient does not receive any form of payment for such items.

These gift parcels are exempt from tax for up to a merchandise value of EUR 45.

Due to the required electronic data recording, we charge an import duty for third-country items in the amount of EUR 5.

The contents and value of the goods must be proven by means of proof of value and clearly displayed on the outside of the shipment. Please note that documents in Chinese, Cyrillic or similar characters cannot be accepted. 

If not all documents, records, etc. required for customs treatment are available, Österreichische Post AG will contact the recipient. This may result in additional costs. 

Items with a merchandise value of more than EUR 150 are subject to customs duties. The amount of these duties strongly depends on the merchandise itself and will therefore vary. 
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