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Mailing Things Home
bson23
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I tried searching for methods in sending things home…but couldnt find anything. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on sending things (i.e. souvenirs) home.

One option I thought of was to send any items back to Frankfurt, Germany (where I am leaving from back home). Either I mail everything to a certain hostel that I will be staying at or maybe a post office in Frankfurt. Once there I could just combine everything and carry it on the plane as a carry-on.

Anyone else have an idea? Thanks!

I am leaving from California with $2000 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Geneva, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Frankfurt
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oldlady
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If you’re buying anything very expensive, the shop will usually ship it for “free” which is really great for bulky or breakable stuff. It’s kind of a scam as the there’s no Value Added Tax on items shipped out of Europe. The marked price on the item includes the VAT which is usually more than the cost of shipping. You’re eligible for a refund of VAT on items you take home, but it’s pretty difficult to actually get the refund, so “free shipping” isn’t necessarily a bad deal for you, either.

mb
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It’s definately a pain to carry things around with you. You may or may not like this idea.

Instead of throwing away old clothes like t-shirts, underwear, socks and such, keep them and take them on your trip. As you use them on your trip, throw them away. This leaves extra room in your luggage to carry items around.

I just learned about the VAT refund. You keep your receipts and then go to the customs office at the airport. Supposedly you get a check in the mail.

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

TooSlick2k
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Can somebody explain what VAT is?

I am leaving from Orlando MCO with $6500 for 59 days
Dublin, Belfast, Cardiff, London, Salisbury, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ghent, Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Munich, Füssen, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Kraków, Budapest, Zagreb, Dubrovnik
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I am leaving from Croatia with $6500 for 53 days
Ljubljana, Venice, Vatican, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Berne, Fribourg, Geneva, Lyon, Nice, Marseilles, Barcelona, Sitges, Valencia, Madrid, Segovia, Lisbon, Paris
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elly_mac
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http://en.wikipedia….

got the info on there

I am leaving from Australia with $5000 for 26 days
Leighton Buzzard, Bucharest, Deva, Sighişoara, Braşov, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Banja Luka, Mostar, Sarajevo, Neum, Split, London
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Don
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Value Added Tax. It’s like a national sales tax. In Canada, I think it’s called GST (Goods and Services Tax?). VAT can vary by country. It’s generally 19-25%. The idea of VAT is being floated as a way to pay for the new health care scheme in the US.

mb
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Can’t you go to Customs at the airport and get a VAT refund if you’re a tourist?

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

Don
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On some things, yes. Generally they are “luxury” goods above a certain price point (varies) in shops that participate in the tax refund scheme. They should have flags or banners showing if they participate in it or not. You need to keep the receipts, and have your passport ready to show at the VAT refund windows at the airport before departure. It only works with tourists—not if you have a residence visa (so I learned in Norway…).

TooSlick2k
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Great info! thanks for your help. I got lots to consider now.

I am leaving from Orlando MCO with $6500 for 59 days
Dublin, Belfast, Cardiff, London, Salisbury, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ghent, Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Munich, Füssen, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Kraków, Budapest, Zagreb, Dubrovnik
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Sights
I am leaving from Croatia with $6500 for 53 days
Ljubljana, Venice, Vatican, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Berne, Fribourg, Geneva, Lyon, Nice, Marseilles, Barcelona, Sitges, Valencia, Madrid, Segovia, Lisbon, Paris
Requesting help with Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
jhnrbrts
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VAT i think is a value added taxes

Crystal
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I don’t get the impression that European mail service is as reliable for the date of delivery as you will need to depend on with the idea to ship to your last hostel. With more bag fees being charged by the airlines, shipping home might be the better option. My mom recently returned from Paris with every intention of carrying on her bag of souvenirs. The airline made her check the bag and charged her 50 Euros. Some countries offer flat rate shipping boxes where you can cram all you can into the box and it ships for a flat rate. The rate, of course, varies on the size of the box. Germany and France postal rates are pretty decent, as are rates in the Netherlands. I’ve never been charged more than 30-40 Euros for shipping a box home. We’re talking a decent sized box of maybe 18“x12” or maybe larger than that (probably near 6” deep). France uses the flat rate boxes. Last I shipped from Germany, they did not, but I made certain to tell the postmaster that I wanted the trip for my shipment “long and slow”. If you want to be sure that you’ve got breakables with you in your carry on, then ship home some of your clothes, or pitch socks, undies, hygiene products, etc., to make room in your carry on. Or, buy souvenirs that double as packing material (like tea towels, down throw pillows, or a Pashmina) to protect more fragile items during shipping.

As for VAT refunds, depending on where you fly out of for your return home, it may or may not be worth the hassle. Standing in line at Heathrow for a VAT refund resulted in my nearly missing my flight. Prague airport had no line, but I think I somehow got screwed on my refund. You have to claim the VAT at your last European customs point. So if you’re flying Frankfurt to Paris and then on to LAX, you have to claim your refund in Paris. You must have your receipt and the merchandise with you. The merchandise should be in it’s packaging. I’ve never been asked to show the merchandise. I suppose if it’s something uber-expensive, you might be asked. There is a requirement that you spend a certain amount, maybe 75 to 100 Euros to qualify for the VAT refund form from the shop. The shop has to fill out the long form with the appropriate stamps and receipts attached. Expect irritation from other customers if the shop is busy. Someone here mentioned that the shop might ship for free in lieu of the VAT refund. That’s true and a very nice option for anything super fragile, like Austrian crystal or Czech glass. For the refund itself, you can either get cash on the spot (the VAT refund vendors will then take a cut of the refund), or you can elect to have the money credited to a credit card, or have a check sent to your residence. There’s no guarantee with the last two options that you’ll actually get your refund, and trying to grieve a missing refund is likely a big hassle. With that said, I got my VAT refund credited to my credit card via the Heathrow vendor rather quickly, maybe within 2 weeks; I think the Prague vendor took a larger cut than agreed. Since I’ve gotten into the habit of sending a lot of souvenirs home via post, I haven’t gone for the VAT refund as often in my recent travels. If you’re only buying small ticket items of 75 Euros and less (or equivalent in non-Euro countries) you don’t qualify for the VAT refund. Look for signage regarding VAT at the shop entrance or near the register. Oh, and don’t forget your Duty Free options at the airport!