Expats in the Netherlands can make purchases from non-EU web shops. Several large American retailers deliver to Holland. But be aware there are added costs to consider…
The ‘import duty’ can be rather complicated to figure out since it is not a fixed percent but varies by product category. One item in your order may fall into a 10% duty rate while another may have a 25%. The good news is that shipments incoming to the Netherlands from outside the EU which have a declared value less than €150 are excluded from import duties.
Also, if the merchandise value IS over €150, but the duty amount would be less than €10, NO duty will be charged (an example would be if an item cost €250 and the import duty which applied to that merchandise category was 1%, which equals €2.50, NO import duty would be charged).
In addition, there are several large American retailers that accept international orders and ship to the Netherlands. During the checkout stage, the order is processed by a firm called Border-Free which specializes in import duties and fees charged by various countries. When an order is placed from the Netherlands, Border-Free applies the relevant Dutch duty rate for each product being ordered as well as the local sales tax (most products fall into the 21% category). Because all import charges are paid at the time of purchase, the package will be delivered with no additional fees needing to be paid by the recipient. This is only the case for retailers that partner with Border-Free.
Here are some non-EU retailers which accept international orders and deliver to the Netherlands:
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Helpful Tips When Purchasing From a Non-EU Webshop…
Shipping Costs – Since most overseas retailers ship by air, both the weight AND volume should be considered. A relatively light shipment which requires being packed in a larger box is likely to have a higher shipping cost than a smaller heavier package.
VAT Sales Tax (Dutch BTW) – Although the rate will be no different than if you bought a similar item in a local store (most products are taxed at 21%), for an international shipment, the tax rate is not applied to just the value of the item/s in the order but on the shipment invoice (i.e. product cost + shipping cost + insurance cost). It can be extremely advantageous, therefore, to make a purchase when the retailer is running a ‘free-shipping’ promotion.
When are import duty and sales tax paid?
If you buy from a webshop outside the EU that does not partner with Border-Free (i.e. the import duty and sales tax are added at checkout), you will need to pay the delivery fees to the courier when they come to deliver the shipment. These fees typically need to be paid in cash. The courier will not give you the package without collecting the charges due. The reason for this is that the shipping company (for example, UPS or Fed Ex) has already had to pay those charges to Dutch customs authorities to bring the package into the Netherlands. They will not give it to until they get reimbursed for the import fees they have paid.
Buying from an American retailer that does not offer international shipping…
The majority of American retailers do not accept orders that require international shipping. But many will accept an order placed from abroad (such as here in the Netherlands) that is to be shipped to an address within the United States. This scenario led to the development of a new intermediary shipment forwarding service.
One example is the service offered by MyUS (based in Sarasota, Florida). It is a business-to-consumer freight forwarder. MyUS operates warehouses that have been assigned hundreds of street addresses by the U.S. Postal Service (not PO Box addresses). When you subscribe to MyUS service, you receive a unique Sarasota street address which you use for placing an order with the retailer.
The order is processed and shipped to ‘your’ U.S. address. MyUS receives the package sent to your address and either forwards it on immediately or holds it for consolidation with other orders you may have coming. When they prepare the shipment to you, the necessary American export documents and Netherlands import documents are included.
Two points to be aware of: 1- there are certain merchandise categories which may be restricted from international shipping (for example, flammable items). MyUS is aware of product categories that are barred from U.S. export or Netherlands import. 2- the import fees will need to be paid when the courier arrives with the package.
This type of intermediary shipping service can be extremely beneficial to international consumers as well as American expats living here in the Netherlands. Two major American retailers that partner with MyUS to ship abroad are Kohl’s and Best Buy.