This is an educational document containing some facts, all typed from experience, on how to overcome some problems that may occur when sending goods (and particularly 'Arcade PCB's') to Australia.
If you simply can't read all this, then just read this small summary stating what you have to
do, and also, fill out this small 'official' declaration form
that I've created. But you should probably read this summary anyway.
First of all, let me state that what I am doing here is a service to the emulation community. I am not made of money and as such, can not afford to pay hundreds of dollars in additional and unnecessary fees.
Australian Customs have very random ways of determining if a particular imported item should be charged import duty. There doesn't seem to be any rules they stick to (though there ARE laws and rules, but they don't abide by them). Some packages they will stop, and others containing identical items, they will allow through without a hitch. They will charge me
taxes and import duty if they feel like it, simply for the pleasure of dealing with them, and make me fill out
ridiculous forms, also for that pleasure.
Therefore, it's very important how you send the package to me from overseas.
(This info may change from time to time depending on further research into this matter)
NOTE! Depending on where the package comes into the country depends on the
threshold that is applied by customs, since there appears to be several. So for the purpose of this
document, the threshold used will be the lowest one, therefore, the
official import threshold is AU$200 (approx US$130).
If the item is valued at the threshold or less, then just read the small summary, stating what you have to
do, and also, fill out this small 'official' declaration form
that I've created. If the item is valued at more than the
threshold, read on.......
- (A) Ensure it is sent directly to me. If its sent to a business (such as Filtek Australia), customs will slug me import fees regardless of what you do. This is mostly because our government loves to rip off Australian businesses, and also because they see it as commercial goods being sent to a business. When you have the PCB ready to post, or you have purchased it from the PCB Shop and they are ready to send it, email me for the postal address, or tell the PCB Shop to email me for the postal address (preferred option).
- (B) Ensure it's sent using the general post or a no-frills courier like EMS. This is so that
the item attracts less attention and comes directly to my state, rather than
coming into the country 6000kms away on the other side of the country (as
packages from UPS do). If there are problems with customs, a special door to
door courier will
sort it out, then deliver it to me, but generally with additional fees (which
*YOU* will have to pay). So whenever possible just use the general post, which is MUCH cheaper too! This is mostly because I am located a long way from the airport (and customs) and simply don't have time to make the long trip and haggle with them if they cause trouble by stopping your package. (yes, I work full-time, Monday to Friday, like most people).
In any case, DO NOT EVER send me anything via UPS unless it's
declaration value is very low. See also point (G) below.
- (C) There is a threshold on items sent via air to Australia. The threshold is AU$500 (about
US$250) in one part of the country, and AU$200 (about US$100) in another part. You can read more about that on the Australian Customs web site. Value the contents of the package at
the lowest threshold amount, or less (i.e. US$100 or less). If the package just contains one PCB, then value the contents at half that amount, or one-third of that amount. If the item's normal value is less than that amount anyway, then just put the normal amount on the valuation declaration. If the package is big and contains several items, split it up into smaller packages and send them separately, with at least 1 week in between (otherwise they deem it a consignment and slug me for the total value of all the packages added up together). If the value is more and you have the item in your hand, touch the top of 2 or 3 chips with your 2nd finger. This will **severely** devalue the item to a point where you can be sure it's only valued at the threshold or less. ;-))(sarcasm)
Furthermore, customs will not chase any amounts owing if the total fee is less than
AU$50 (for the AU$500 threshold) or AU$20 (for the AU$200 threshold). The total fee is the package value of the item multiplied by the import percentage fee for that type of item plus GST (10% of the package value). The package value is the value you paid for the PCB plus the postage value. Complicated, isn't it?
NOTE #1: Customs have no idea about the value of any particular PCB. They have no idea if any particular PCB is rare or not.
They also have NO way to test any PCB's, especially if it is not JAMMA. They can not officially determine that PCB xx is valued at
yy dollars. The item is an old used PCB, so the value is based on whatever you assess it to be (though you may be asked to fax them, declaring the contents of the package and it's value
officially, a legal issue, just to passify them, and the Australian Taxation Office).
In any case, only say it's an old arcade game board, DO NOT EVER TELL THEM
WHAT GAME IT IS. When declaring the value, don't put the value too low, or they will grab it anyway, thinking that it is worth more because it looks new (yes really). Furthermore, according to the law, they should not hold or stop any package that is valued at or below the threshold if upon working out the fees, it comes to less than
AU$50 (or AU$20 depending on where it enters the country), but since they are the government, they just do what they please, mostly to annoy the honest, law-abiding, tax-paying public, and there's nothing one can do to stop them, once they sink their claws into your back, other than pay. At the very least, even if nothing is payable, they will hold the package just to cause stress and delays (I have proven this with a PCB I recently received).
- (D) If it's insured, don't put that info on or in the box. In other words, so it looks like it's NOT insured. Why? Customs values the item at it's declared value PLUS the postage cost, but if there's an insurance amount, then its PLUS the insurance cost aswell. Yes that's right, triple whammy!
But, I have received MANY packages so far, none have been lost in the post, so
in reality insurance is not necessary, and is an extra expense to you.
- (E) Declare the items as "Used arcade game board for use with coin operated amusement machine" and if you know it's age, put that on there aswell, for example "Used arcade game board for use
with coin operated amusement machine, 7 years old". If you don't know the age, take a guess. You may also want to put 'Handle with Care' or 'Fragile' stickers/writing on the package.
- (F) Be very clear to ensure the package is sent as a GIFT, which in reality it is. You must state this clearly on the package or declaration sticker/form. If it's sent as a gift, it's more likely to be released, rather than sending it as commercial merchandise, which will surely attract
- (G) Ensure you fill out the small 'official' declaration form
that I've created. Put this in an envelope and stick it to the
outside of the package. On the envelope write 'Customs Declaration Enclosed'.
If you are sending something directly from a shop, send this form to the shop
and tell them to fill it out and sign it. Or alternatively, you fill it out,
scan it, and email it to them, who then print it and attach it to the package.
Put a copy of it inside the package aswell.
IMPORTANT NOTE: YOU MUST FILL OUT THIS FORM AND SIGN IT SO THAT CUSTOMS
WILL BE SATISFIED WITH THE DECLARATION VALUE. IF THERE ARE CUSTOMS PROBLEMS
AND YOU HAVE NOT INCLUDED AND SENT THIS FORM WITH THE PACKAGE, THE GOODS WILL
BE RETURNED TO YOU AT YOUR EXPENSE.
Also note, with regards to the name/address/phone number etc on the form,
I don't particularly care if the information you provide is true or not. It's
only there to give customs some reason to NOT doubt the package contents and
hopefully send it on to me with no further fuss from them. If they do doubt
the info you provide, they will likely just not bother since it's all too much
work for them to contact you and verify everything. That's the idea, anyway.....
- (H)(i) If sending from a PCB Shop, put the payment invoice in the box, or stick it to the outside of the box. This must be some sort of official document to prove it's value (such as a credit card statement, or other official shop sales receipt). They will be especially satisfied to the value of the goods if you include the credit card statement, since that proof can not be doubted, even by them. But, here's the important
bit, only do that if the value is less than the threshold, otherwise it will surely attract
attention. In that case, refer to item (I).
Also, if possible dont put any 'From: company name' on the box. Put only 'From: (your name and address etc..)'. This will enhance the fact that it is a personal gift, again, which it really is.
(ii)If you are sending it yourself, then make sure you include this signed statement stating your name & address, and saying what the item is and what it's worth. (refer to point C, NOTE #1
and point G above, and especially the summary, which includes more examples). As long as customs can see evidence that the item is what you say it is, and it's value is declared at less than the threshold, they will allow it onwards.
- (I) If you can not do all these, you will have to take delivery of the items, relabel/repackage/revalue them/it to comply with the above, then resend it to me. In which case, refer to the summary at the top for more specific info.
- (J)(i) If you do not do this and I get slugged for a lot of import duty and fees, I may not take delivery of the item (meaning it will be sent back to the PCB Shop, or destroyed by customs) or I may
keep the items and sell them to recover the fees and/or not send you back your PCB unless you repay me the extra charges. AND, thats *IF* i get time to drive 60km to the airport to pick it
up and haggle with customs!
(ii) Furthermore, if customs stop the package, they will ask me for official documents from the PCB shop requiring them to officially declare the package contents and the items value, even if it is written on the package.... yes that's correct, they will demand a second declaration, which *YOU* will have to provide. Having said that, never, ever send me anything without notifying me of where it's coming from, because if I have to supply that information to customs, I will obviously be unable to do so.
(iii) Furthermore, while all this is going on, demurrage (their wording not mine, a complicated way of saying 'storage fee') is being charged for storage of your package in customs, which will also be payable upon taking delivery of the item.
- (K) If you are not willing to comply with at least some of the above, then PLEASE!
DO NOT send me anything. There are some things that are not *that* critical, but whenever possible try to adhere to these points. If in doubt, email me.
- (L) NOTE! Disregard all the above if the item is coming from a PCB shop in Australia. You can just get them to send it to me or Filtek Australia and not worry about the declaration value etc. since items sent within Australia are not subject to customs inspection.
- (M) I have no problem about sending back your PCB once it's dumped, however please remember a few things.
(i) If the PCB needs to be re-dumped for some reason, then you would need to re-send it to me. If I still have the PCB in my possession, then it's a simple matter to do this.
(ii) If you really need the PCB returned immediately upon dumping it, then I will do as you request.
(iii) If you need the PCB returned, but there's no rush, then it's advisable to at least allow me to keep it until preliminary emulation begins, so that we can be certain the dump is good.
(iv) If preliminary emulation begins and the developer needs more info from the PCB, or needs to run some code to obtain some hidden information, then you would need to resend the PCB to me, or the whole development becomes a waste of time. If I still have the PCB in my possession, then it's a simple matter for me to
help the developer with any extra info that is required.
(v) I would appreciate it if you can send me the funds (separately from the PCB package) to cover return postage. You may say "It's only
US$20 to US$30 to send it back". Yes sure, but that amount multiplied by 200 loaned PCB's ends up eating into my wallet in a very nasty way indeed!
- Lastly, you may say this is all total crap. Let me assure you it is not. As an example, I was sent a PCB valued at US$395 (around AU$800), there was a 2 week delay and it ended up costing me
an extra AU$270 to get the package from them. Fortunately the sender agreed to repay me since he had a credit with me anyway, so all ended well (and I sincerely thank that donator for his help and dedication).
Above all, remember that I appreciate your support which ultimately benefits the whole of Mamekind. ;-)