Buying stuff for friends from US and sending to Taiwan

Since my wife does not have a work visa, she’s moved here to TN from Taipei since last year and is bored out of her mind… so my wife jumped at the excuse to keep herself busy when one of her friends asked her to buy ‘stuff’ (read name brands) for them and then send them over to Taiwan for them as a number of businesses here will only send to a US address. From there, other friends followed. Uggh.

Although we get reimbursed, I didn’t like the arrangement as we had to spend our own money first and some of the items that these people want to buy are not cheap. Not to mention that we’re on the hook for any shipping problems (despite telling her friends that we will not be responsible after sending the items by post) if anything should happen as we were the sender on record.

Any way, I’d like to know what kind of problems would occur if we started (we haven’t yet and I am anticipating that it wouldn’t be long) shipping computers (ie. iPAD). I know that if you ship any computer to Canada, there are a whole bunch of forms to fill out for customs and you have to pay duty and possibly HST (GST and PST).

Your wife should have an auto green card with work rights IIRC.

I find Taiwanese customs will check nothing in an Amazon box but will inspect about 50+% of my shipments in Changhua, but still not open anything shipped to me in an Amazon box. I’d be more concerned about insuring them and not losing anything. I know Fedex and UPS are strict on custom duties, but the post office isn’t. From my experience, Taipei is pretty nonchalant about packages, but Changhua customs are a bunch of hard asses on it for some reason. Out of 8 years, Taipei customs only searched one of my packages and I admit that it was a suspicious package.

I think custom duties are usually paid by the recipient if the declared value is lower than the assessed value by the customs office, so not really your problem but your wife’s friend’s in Taiwan.

Electronics with batteries I believe have to be shipped without the batteries or else the customs office will open up the package and inspect it (and possibly slap a tax on it), according to some of the folks at when I was trying to figure out how to get a Nexus One.

I’d be very cautious of the whole being on the hook for the expenses of others thing. Why can’t they simply order online, ship to your wife’s address and then she can forward it from there? Well…that is a bit rhetorical actually, just an observation.

Might be on the visa that allows her to live in US while green card is processed.

Customs duties are paid by the recipient in Taiwan, period. Not just if the declared value is lower than the assessment, but rather, if the declared or assessed value exceeds a certain amount for certain types of goods. I think it differs by category, too. But anyway, that would be the wife’s friend’s problem, yes.

I think if they want the stuff, the should order the stuff themselves and send it to your wife’s friend for delivery, or pay for the item ahead of time if they do not wish to do that (some companies only take US credit cards for example). Or else use a shipping forwarding agency. Not all sellers are adamant about only selling to the US so if they want the least amount of risk, they should look for sellers that sells worldwide but will use reasonable shipping methods. I’d only do it for items you really can’t find in Taiwan for whatever reason, or items that suffers a 300% markup compared to the US (like Levi jeans).

Some (many?) online vendors in the US won’t take non-US credit cards. Some do.