Paying to receive a parcel in the Netherlands from Australia

I was shocked last year to receive a parcel of gifts in the Netherlands for my daughters from my mother in Australia – and be asked to pay EUR35 to pick it up!  It was just a few clothes and stickers. When she was writing the value of the gifts she sent the girls from Australia to the Netherlands, she was calculating full ticket prices for the clothing she bought, thinking this would assist in replacing them with postal insurance if they were lost in transit.   However with this additional customs charge and BTW (plus what she originally paid for the items and the postage from Australia), this made it an unintentionally expensive gift.

I’ve been meaning to look into this for some time for the official information ,so here is is for others who are considering sending gifts between Australia and the Netherlands.

Today I received this in a Twitter chat from Post NL:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.42.48 Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.42.58

Here is the link they sent me to:

It’s called “Inklaringskosten” and as the information is all in Dutch, I’ve made a (rough) translation here in English for those of you who may find it helpful.  Information can change though, and I am not an authority on this, I’m simply aiming to help others with this blog post, so for the official stance, please always refer back to the relevant organisations (in this case PostNL and Customs).  Here’s my translation with some screenshots and a table from their site (and links back to these)


Receiving goods from outside the EU?

Are you receiving goods from outside of the European Union?  Then you may need to deal with customs duty, BTW (VAT tax) and import charges.  We (Post NL) will organise the customs clearance for you and relevant paperwork.  That saves you a lot of time.  You need to pay clearance fees for this.

The invoice will be on your parcel.  You can pay this in cash to the postman. If you don’t have enough cash to pay the amount, then they can deliver the package at a different time. Or you can pick up the package at the nearest post office.

What does it cost?

You pay BTW and customs clearance charges on any package coming from outside the EU for:

  • Commercial packages with a value above 22 euro.
  • On gifts with a value above 45 euro.


Where are the goods coming from? Value* Customs charge *1

(collected by Post NL for Douane)

Btw 21% *2

(Collected by Post NL for the Belastingdienst)

Customs Clearance Charge*3

(Processing charge by Post NL)

From an EU-country Unlimited No No No
From outside the EU – Up to € 22

– From € 22 tot € 150

– Above € 150










Land buiten de EU / geschenk van particulier naar particulier Up to € 45 No No No

*Not including postage charges

*1 Customs Charge (to find out more about this you’d need to visit the Douane site, click on image below)

*2 BTW 21% on the value of the package (I’m not sure at which rate this is calculated i.e. if in USD it is probably calculated at a standard daily exchange rate)

*3 For EMS shipments (Express Mail Service), you pay the customs clearance charge of 17.50 euros. For other post, you pay 13 euros.

For full information about the Customs, they refer to the website below (click on the screenshot).  This also gives information about what you are allowed to post.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.59.47

Screenshot from:


My personal understanding and summary is:

  • The value is declared by the sender, and is usually shown on the front of the packet
  • If it’s a gift (and this is ticked on the customs form on the front of the packet), up to 45 euros value, coming from outside the EU, there is no charge to receive this
  • If it’s coming from outside the EU and is under 22 euros value, you also don’t have to pay anything
  • Once you go over these thresholds, you will have to pay up to three different charges:
    • 1.  To customs themselves (for anything over 150 value)
    • 2.  BTW (for anything over 22 euros).  So this is 21% and no doubt calculated on the value.
    • 3.  Customs clearance charges to Post NL for processing (13 euros for a regular package and 17.50 for express)
  • I have noticed and heard from friends that you can sometimes receive a packet that is within the amount you are meant to be paying a charge for, but it does seem some packages slip through.

Hope this is helpful to some readers!  Have you ever been charged to receive a package in the Netherlands?  I’ll also need to look into how it works the other way around, when sending a package from the Netherlands to Australia.

**Update 1 March 2016**  Yesterday I spoke to a company with an office in the UK but where the products are coming from the US.  My last order with them was EUR55 and this time was EUR20.  I rang to make sure that they only put the value of the products and NOT the additional 5 euros postage (as they did the first time).  They told me that they take care of the customs & taxes, which is why I didn’t get asked to pay the first time.  So now I’m not clear and how and when the company pays for these charges.  I would like to order a few things online from overseas – but it would be easy for the company to say they would pay the charges, and then for me to discover they hadn’t, or to be charged (again?) on delivery.  I believe you can reject the parcel, but if you’ve paid for the goods, then it may be difficult to get a refund.  And if you reject the goods, I wonder if the company on the other end would have to pay both the postage to send and then again to have it returned? In which case, they would not likely refund.



6 thoughts on “Paying to receive a parcel in the Netherlands from Australia

  1. We used to send Christmass parcels to the Oma and Opa in the netherlands with gifts for all our cousins and nieces and nephews. For years this rule was never enforced, in fact I remember when I lived in Amsterdam, everyone would order huge amounts of CDs from the UK, and the tax due on them was never enforced. About 2009 we got a call from Oma and Opa saying that the postman wanted them to pay 70 euros to accept our parcel. So they had sent it back. Since then we don’t send the parcels anymore.

  2. Interesting Renee, never knew this. My parents always send parcels from Holland to Australia (to my kids) and we never ever had to pay anything extra. The postage my parents pay is quite a lot already. Pakket tot 2kg al 25 euro en tot 5kg iets van 35 euro.
    The only thing the Australian customs do quite a lot is open the parcel to see if nothing illegal is in there, like certain foods, plants etc. We have however received Dutch cheese with no problems, as long as it is vaccuum sealed. Yumm!! Old Amsterdam! 🙂 – Simone

  3. I’ve just received my packages from Australia which was my remaining clothes that I was delivering as I have now moved here, there was a payment of close to €300 euro that clearly I refused to pay, now I’m beside myself in what to do. Any type of help would be great. Thank you

  4. We posted used clothing to my daughter when she moved to NL to study. She also had to pay a hefty charge(not as much as yours Helen A)but still a lot for a student with little money. She needed the clothes so paid up. It seems unfair to charge an ‘import’ charge on old, personal clothing.
    It appears you should under value the items (not thinking of the replacement value) when completing the declaration.

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