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GDL Customs Snafu

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GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Tue May 19, 2015 2:08 pm

Advisors on this forum have been very helpful in us getting to Ajijic a few days ago sin problemas. I guess today is the day of our baptism in Mexican officialdom, and we would appreciate any advice to help us solve this problem:

We shipped 2 boxes of personal household effects with DHL, from Seattle to the hotel where we are temporarily staying in Ajijic until we can move into our new casa. We followed DHL/USA advice exactly to include within the document sleeve of each box copies of our passport, temporary residence visas, and list of items contained therein. We were expecting the boxes to arrive today but instead got a call from a DHL customs agent in Guadalajara.

The agent said that the boxes would not be delivered to us without a US Embassy stamp on our lists of contents, but they could be returned for free to the US--but we no longer have a residence there. She agreed to hold the boxes in Guadalajara for a week until we could solve the problem. I emailed DHL for advice about the situation and should receive an answer tomorrow.

How would you solve this problem and have the boxes delivered to Ajijic? Thanks in advance for all your good advice.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by RVGRINGO on Tue May 19, 2015 3:33 pm

I suggest that you visit the DHL agent in person and ask for specific details, in writing, to show your lawyer. “Embassy stamp“ may be a scam.

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Pedro on Tue May 19, 2015 4:23 pm

RVGRINGO wrote:I suggest that you visit the DHL agent in person and ask for specific details, in writing, to show your lawyer.  “Embassy stamp“ may be a scam.
sounds like it
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by solajijic on Tue May 19, 2015 4:46 pm

US Embassay, or in this case probably Guadalajara Consulate employees are allowed personal item shipments without customs fees. The way you did it by including so much "official" information probably tweeked someone's memory that these boxes are handled a bit differently or differentially than everyday basic stuff shipments to regular expats.

Go there, take the originals of your paperwork an some cash for customs costs.

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Pedro on Tue May 19, 2015 5:03 pm

whenever i had to pay customs fees,the delivery guy for the courier service gave me a bill to pay to him. but in this case i would take some "cash" and do as solajijic advises.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Tue May 19, 2015 6:57 pm

It sound like they want a Mexican consulate stamp for a Menje de Casa to let personal item pass without paying tax. Not a US consulate stamp. You might just have to pay 16% IVA to get your stuff.

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Thu May 21, 2015 3:48 am

RVGringo, your advice to ask for specific details--in writing--as to what is required sounds good. I have done that, both by email, and on the phone. Still looking to receive a response other than a machine generated promise to respond. I googled menaje de casa, and all I see seem to be references to Mexican citizens returning from abroad. Playaboy, I'm not sure what IVA refers to. Still working on it.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Thu May 21, 2015 7:48 am

Mexico wants its money.  Did you pay any import duties or taxes?  Probably not.

IVA is a tax, similar to a sales tax.  In Mexico it is 16% of the value of the goods.  If paying the import duties won't  get you stuff released immediately, than I would follow Spencer's advice and have DHL send it back to the States FAST.  Everything else you would try to do, letter writing, working with DHL,  is a waste of your time. Mexico has your possessions and wants money.

Tombo, If you don't know what IVA is or a Menje de Casa is, it looks like you need to do some homework.  Read up at rollybrook.com or yucalandia.com.  Both sites have great info on Mexico

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Fri May 22, 2015 7:41 pm

I phoned a DHL rep and asked for an email to tell me exactly what I should do to get our shipment released. She said that the menaje de casa needed to be on one list, instead of the two we completed, one for each box. If true, I took this as a face-saving measure on their part.

I made a nice neat list, organized by type--and these are all used household items, no electronics--and emailed it back. The email address the rep sent me didn't work. I kept sending her emails, asking her to forward to correct address. Got another address that did work. Was humble and compliant, blaming my poor Spanish on the misunderstanding, thanking them profusely for their cooperation. Still haven't heard any commitment on their part however.

So, 3 days of emailing and calling, and we find that the place we rented is so well equipped, we probably don't even really need much that we had shipped. It's hard to say what the lesson here is, except don't use DHL, ever again. Anything else?

I'll research IVA, but really don't think that it would apply in our case.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Sat May 23, 2015 8:31 am

If you went to Aduana and paid import duties would that get your stuff released?

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Tue May 26, 2015 3:41 pm

UPDATE: From the info described below, Playaboy, I don't think we're at the point of paying import duties. The first interlocutor from DHL responded yesterday to my nudge that she move things along.  She had received the nice neat list (described in my last post), as originally requested by the Sra Cruz, also of DHL. Sra de la Torre sent me a short message asking that I include, on the list "el sello del consulado Americano" which Google Translate and I interpreted as "a seal from the American consulate". When I called the consulate I found that it was closed yesterday in memory of those who have passed.

After numerous attempts to negotiate the canned menu at the American embassy in Guadalajara, I sent them an email inquiry to which they promptly responded that they do "not have interference with the processes at the Mexican or American ports of entry" and referred me to the appropriate Mexican authorities or aduanas.

I forwarded this email Yessica (she and I were now on first name basis), and I had evidently misunderstood her previous request. She advised me that what I really needed was a seal from a Mexican consulate in the US. She acknowledged that, in this case, that would be difficult to obtain. Perhaps, she suggested, I would like to give her an address where our goods can be returned in the US. Until then they will remain "en abandono"--don't need Google to tell me what that means.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Pedro on Tue May 26, 2015 4:26 pm

bullshit! talk to somebody really in charge at dsl and request your money back and tell them the address for fedex in el paso so that you can get your possessions delivered by real professionals. it's fekking used household goods fer fekks sake. embassy stamp my arse. never had this much trouble even from dsl when i had a brand new motorcycle seat shipped to me from india. do you have a friend here who's voip phone you can use to call somebody in the excited states dsl.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Tue May 26, 2015 7:30 pm

I have been there and done this before.

Probably the only thing holding you up now is the need to pay the import duties. The menje de casa allows you a one time tax free import of personal property. If you don't have a valid menje de casa, from the Mexican consulate, than you have to pay tax.

Pay tax or send it back to the USA.

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Tue May 26, 2015 7:52 pm

If you can find out with certainty who is holding your packages, DHL (pending Aduana release) or Aduana itself. I would also ask your DHL contact how much money it would take to get your packages.

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Tue May 26, 2015 9:07 pm

I'll try that Playaboy. Thanks.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Playaboy on Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:41 pm

tombo, did you ever get your items released?

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:58 pm

You can consider this thread closed. I've been calling or emailing someone--at DHL/USA, DHL/MX, the American consulate in Guadalajara or the Mexican consulate in Seattle--every day for the past 2 weeks. Today, when I called the MX customer service number I was told that our boxes were being sent back to the US later today or tomorrow. No prior notice. Aduana's orders. No seal from a Mexican consulate in the US on or Menaje de Casa--case closed.

Needless to say, we will never--ever--consider using DHL again.

From now on we'll carry excess baggage on our flights. Thanks, all, for your advice and interest.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by tombo on Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:14 pm

Well, the only case that was closed was our effort to get delivery here of our household goods. Both boxes arrived 3 weeks ago back in the States. Boxes were in horrible condition, but nothing seemed broken or missing, thanks to an excellent packing job by wife. Made a claim for full refund from DHL which took 3 weeks to resolve. Initially the claim was rejected because DHL said they could not be responsible for customs snafus. The adjuster agreed to forward claim to her supervisor, along with picture of box's condition when returned, and a 2 1/2 page summary timeline of my email and phone efforts to solve the problem at customs. Two days ago, I received email that DHL had reconsidered and would send me a check for $617--the full cost less $22 nonrefundable.
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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by Rubia on Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:47 pm

Tombo, I know you want the case to be closed, but did you have to pay the return postage on your items? I just ran into a similar situation with fedex and had to pay an additional 90 bucks for them to return an item that was stuck in customs. I got a new tracking number and paperwork. Then I realized they sent the item back on the old tracking number. I wonder if someone pocketed my 90 bucks?

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Re: GDL Customs Snafu

Post by brigitte on Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:32 pm

The same thing happened to artisan friend of mine with UPS, They returned 2 boxes out of 4 and stole all of the merchandise out of one of the 2 boxes.
He did not have to pay for the return but lost 2000 dollars worth of merchandise.

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