Custom clearance EU, especially L5

@Dwaff @irvinewade @lemx :

I understand your remarks. This above quote is the important nuance of my complain. Indeed, what is legal (VAT, etc.) is incompressible, but the carrier administrative cost are.

Also, I would have appreciated an estimate of the VAT costs at the time of funding (like it is done in some websites) in order to estimate the total cost. My Librem 5 is coming, and I don’t have such amount to pay, unfortunately.

The added taxes are unfortunate, but the first item in the FAQ from the funding campaign reads, in part:

Do I need to add the cost of shipping to my pledge? What about taxes?

We offer free worldwide shipping on orders, so there is no need to add the upfront shipping cost to your preorder (we pay for it).

Please note, however, that shipping insurance, local taxes, customs fees and import duties are still your responsibility as customers. If your shipping address is not in the USA, depending on your country, you may have to pay local import taxes/customs/duty fees, for example; those are imposed by your local government and Purism has no control over this.

FAQ starts about 2/3 of the way down:

That said, I hope you can somehow find a way to cover the import duties. As an alternative you could ask Purism to refund your money when your shipment is about to happen; then you could get all your money back without having to pay anything else.

If not, and the phone gets returned to Purism (i.e. if you don’t/can’t pay the import duties) you won’t be able to get a full refund, because:

While we cover the initial shipment cost, if you refuse to receive your package after it has shippped (due to duty fees or any other reason, and therefore the carrier sends the package back to us) and you request a reimbursement from us, we will deduct our initial shipping cost (the cost we paid for you as part of the “free shipping”) plus a 10% restocking fee. This includes refused shipments, shipments unclaimed or shipments with issues arising from someone other than original purchaser signature on delivery.

(From the same linked site)

P.S. That snapshot is from September 2018, but you can choose another date in the calendar of snapshots here:*/

…in case there was a different version of the FAQ on your order date. Looking at some earlier snapshots, it does appear they were worded differently. The FAQ probably got refined along the way, maybe as Purism started receiving customer questions…?


Of course, EU-customers have to pay VAT, but custom fees are another thing. Since purism clearly stated and advertised during the campaign that they will ship the phones from Germany - quotation: “we will be shipping all German (and hopefully EU orders in general) from Germany.” - there should be no customs and especially no customs fees for German (EU) orders for passing the package through customs, because if they were shipped from Germany they would not be any customs for german/EU destinations.

But instead of establishing an EU distributor for librem5, purism ended the collaboration with the german reseller floss-shop.

And since July 27, 2019 @nicole.faerber is silent concering EU-shipping, although they promised to ship so.


Indeed. The 2nd question in the archived FAQ reads:

Do you have a German or UK/EU Reseller?

Yes, we have partnered with a German reseller, and will be shipping all German (and UK/EU orders) from Germany.

It’s regrettable that they didn’t, or couldn’t, follow through with that. I remember reading here that it didn’t happen, but I’ve forgotten why.

Edit: I found this comment from @nicole.faerber


That would be an improvement, in principle. However there are two challenges.

  1. Purism would have to be across every country in the world’s VAT regime. (The EU could make things easier by introducing uniform VAT rates across the EU rather than a crazy mix of rates.)
  2. Who is liable when Purism gets it wrong? I can see that you wrote “estimate” so in theory one can say that it is only a “best effort” estimate from Purism, but we have seen time and time again how people in this forum will belly ache about absolutely anything and everything. So for sure some customers will think that Purism’s estimate is a binding commitment and that Purism has to cover any shortfall.

As far as customs charges go, again you should complain to your government. “Customs” is a problem that government has created. (Not only that but because of the political and rent-seeking reasons for customs tariffs etc., the regimes are usually ridiculously complicated and opaque, worse than VAT.)

I’m not having a go at France or the EU specifically. My country (Australia) is as bad as any.


I looked up my case. The carriers “administrative cost” amounted to about 10% of the sum I was asked to pay. I guess this cost has been calculated by the carrier through a fictive labor cost (time) of someone looking through documentation and notifying customs + some gain on it + taxes for the service of labor cost.
In my case, even if I didn’t have to pay this “administrative cost”, my total expense would have been only little lower.

In any case, I hope you can figure out a solution!

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At the beginning of the campaign in 2017 there was the hope that Purism could deliver from some EU based reseller. At the end in 2021 I paid some €93 VAT and €20 DHL handling fee, which is fine.

And to be fair, even if they had shipped from within Germany/EU, the VAT would still have to come on top, as it has to be paid in any case on import independent on who imports it. The only saving would be that the importer deals with the customs once rather than every backer individually.


@amarok @irvinewade @pit @lemx @guru @spaetz

I hope the next funding (Fir ?) will be more transparent from the funding page.

As it is a funding, a VAT estimator is sufficient, there is open-source projects like here so it could be integrated in a web page in my opinion through API or else.

Also, transport estimation shall be estimated too based on the transporter chosen, and if the logistic is not yet frozen, then just a mean cost estimation with the presumed carriers to be selected can be done too.

Just as a transparency matter, well appreciated. In any case, thank you all for having shared your opinion.

As that page says, “international tax is hard”.

The underlying data file appears to be assuming that every jurisdiction has only a single VAT rate. That is known to be false.

However if the rate present in the data file is the highest rate in use in that jurisdiction, I guess it is “failing safe”. The true amount should not be greater than the estimated amount (unless the rates change between the time of ordering and the time of delivery, and depending on how the tax legislation in a jurisdiction handles that scenario).

Of course. My example was just an example among many, I do remember myself buying products on e-shops and they have VAT estimator, so I kindly ask why it should be so hard to get when e-shops could propose it ?
In any case I don’t want to troll, this was just to share my arguments.

I do not fully understand your complains. What the VAT rate is, everybody knows of his/her own country (in Germany 19%). The shipping was paid by Purism. What you paid in addition to the carrier (in my case DHL in Germany) have been handling fees for customs clearing, which are totally unknown to Purism and as well best to ask locally.


Same as @guru I like it the way it is, anything else would add costs for Purism to handle dev work / country rates etc
But maybe I just got lucky with my order, DHL Fr handled everything smoothly =}

Given that even multiple backers paid different amounts in the same country shows that the amount to be paid also depends a lot on the mood of the customs officer on that day. It is really hard to be predict precisely. A rough estimate should be possible though. (I hear the mad howls of " but purism said I would only be paying X dollars in taxes, they cheated on me again" already though)

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… and there are three different amounts involved.

  • VAT (a government charge, if it applies - relatively easy to deal with)
  • Customs tariff (a government charge, if it applies - utterly opaque)
  • Customs handling fee (a commercial charge by the handler - somewhat unpredictable)

and in my country there is VAT on top of the Customs handling fee :open_mouth:

but for some reason the government ‘forgot’ to do any of that with my Librem 5 and it just came straight to me without the usual demand for money. Maybe something to do with COVID.

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Finally I got my L5 yesterday. It was lost for a a few days after it entered Sweden and had been scanned at the DHL Express logistic center. I called them, and they confirmed that there was no problem with customs. They had already handed over the package to a third party partner for delivery… Anyway, the packege looked ok, and seemed to have been unopened. And I was surprised DHL Express did not contact me in advance regarding any customs fee. I had to give them the “power of attorney” to handle customs. But who knows, maybe there is an invoice coming up afterwards. If not I am happy I got the L5 discounted :wink:


Nice, congrats. Could you please provide your order date and the shipping date, in order to update this table and graph?

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Also @spaetz
L5 order acknowledged March 14th, 2018
Shipping adress e-mail June 13th 2022
Dispatched from the US June 28th 2022


@LackiLok Received yet?

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Yes, unfortunately there was an invoicecfor customs handling and national VAT sent :sleepy:. But I am happy anyway :smile:

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