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Our family has sent us a (Halloween...) parcel to Spain from overseas. This parcel contains a collection of our own things from before we moved to Spain, each of insignificant value. Unfortunately, it has been delayed in customs, and it appears we are due to undergo a complex procedure with the goal of paying import tax or something like that.

We are confused. The parcel is already ours, we're not buying it from overseas. Worse, we're required to provide receipt and proof of payment, even the approximate cost of the package would be difficult to evaluate. We bought some of these things years ago, so these documents are very much lost.

And the instructions are very confusing. We essentially must:

  1. Fill in the form on paper.
  2. Scan it with the receipt and enter into the specified website.
  3. Receive a quote by email.
  4. Walk to the nearest Correos office and pay it.
  5. Go home and wait for the parcel.

Did anyone encounter something like this in Spain? Is this supposed to happen to personal things? Would it be possible to explain to the post office that the parcel contains personal things? What would be the best course of action?

Below is enclosed the original letter from Correos, with the personal information removed:

Page 1 Page 2

  • If these are all used items, you might go to eBay, check out what each sells for, and print it out. They say they want an invoice, in reality they want evidence of the value. Would be worth a try. – gnasher729 Nov 8 '15 at 9:45
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I cannot read Spanish very well and I have no first-hand experience with this in Spain so I cannot tell you exactly what to do in this case but note that:

  • There is no allowance for parcels like there is for air travel. If you carry things for your personal use with you by air, even things you just bought abroad, and they are worth less than €430, you don't have to declare them. Under EU law, if you get the same things sent to you by post, you can be charged VAT and/or customs duties, even if they aren't worth much. It happened to a friend of mine in another EU country for a single book!
  • You can typically import many things without paying any taxes or duties when you move to the country from abroad but usually you have to import all your belongings within a specific time frame (e.g. within one year of becoming a resident) and/or submit a full list to the customs when entering or importing things for the first time (i.e. you can finish moving later but you can't add things as you go). I don't know the exact rules for that in Spain but that's the way it works in several other EU countries and I expect Spain to be broadly similar in this respect.

You do not have an unlimited right to import things that belong to you but were left abroad. It does not really matter that you bought them years ago or before your move to Spain, if you did not import them as part of the move then they would be treated exactly like things you bought later or completely new goods you are having delivered to you from abroad (with the caveat that something old would typically have lost some value).

Of course, since you haven't ordered these things recently and don't have an invoice, it's much more difficult in practice so I don't know exactly how you should proceed now. But, legally speaking, I think the Spanish customs administration would have solid grounds to demand some documentation and/or payment as applicable.

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