Postal traffic means the transportation of goods by any of the postal administrations of the European Community; in Austria this is Österreichische Post AG. If goods are imported via postal traffic from third countries or exported via postal traffic out of the European Community, respectively, there are special regulations for customs clearance.
If goods are imported by postal traffic from third countries, Österreichische Post AG issues a customs declaration for the individual consignments. For this purpose, it requires relevant documents and information such as order confirmations, invoices, payment receipts, import licences, import certificates, etc. (see also FAQs 4, 5 and 6 on the new e-commerce regulations from 1 July 2021 on).
Payment of duties
If the foreign trading companies do not charge the VAT directly to the customer (use of the Import One Stop Shop, IOSS), the import VAT is billed by the customs administration to Österreichische Post AG, which charges the costs for this to the recipient when the consignment is delivered. The Postal Service also charges a fee in the form of the customs clearance fee for the effort involved in collecting and providing electronic data.
Export of Union goods
If Union goods are to be exported by postal traffic to a third country, the consignment may be handed over to Österreichische Post AG (for short: Postal Service) without prior customs clearance up to a total value of € 1,000, provided that they are not subject to any export prohibitions or restrictions. Also excluded are goods for which an application is made to the customs administration for a refund of import duties in the case of defective goods or goods that do not match the order when ordered and already imported goods are returned to a third country.
A formal export declaration is required in any case for goods whose total value exceeds € 1,000, or irrespective of their value if they are subject to prohibitions or restrictions on export. This means that when the consignment is handed in at the post office or at a postal partner’s, either the consignment has already been cleared at the responsible export customs office and the corresponding export certification document is presented or – if offered by the post office – the export clearance is arranged by the Post.
In the case of delivery of already cleared export consignments to the Post, the export certification document confirming that the goods have been accepted by the Post is also to be presented to the latter. Together with the export certification document confirmed by the Post and the corresponding dispatch note, the customs exit confirmation can be requested from the competent customs office.
Duty-free shipping of goods to Austria
Whenever you receive a parcel, the customs rules and formalities are as a rule determined by whether you are sending it from a Member State of the European Union (EU country) or from a non-EU country.
Important: It makes no difference to the exemption from duty whether your parcel is transported or delivered by the Post or other services.
Which consignments of goods from non-EU countries are duty-free?
Duty exemptions exist for consignments of goods from non-EU states.
Until 30 June 2021, no import VAT is payable for consignments up to a merchandise value of € 22. This exemption will cease to apply on 1 July 2021, so that import VAT, apart from the use of the IOSS, will then have to be paid for every imported consignment/goods from the first cent of merchandise value.
No customs duty has to be paid for consignments up to a merchandise value of € 150 (but import VAT does have to be paid, see the previous paragraph). The consignment must be shipped directly from a non-EU country to a recipient in the EU. The sender may also be e.g. a trading company (see also Internet Shopping).
For private gift consignments, duty exemption applies up to a value of € 45. Private gift consignments are consignments of goods from one private individual from a non-EU country to another private individual in the EU if they are
- performed occasionally,
- consist exclusively of goods for personal use and do not, by their nature and quantity, give rise to a presumption of importation for commercial purposes, and
- received by the recipient without any payment.
This exemption does not apply to consignments from the island of Heligoland.
To which goods do exceptions apply?
In general, the following applies: No import prohibitions or restrictions must preclude the importation.
In the case of consignments up to a value of € 22, the duty exemption (which exist until 30 June 2021) does not apply to alcoholic products, tobacco and tobacco products, perfumes and eau de toilette.
In case of private gift consignments (up to € 45), the following maximum amounts apply:
50 cigarettes or
25 cigarillos (cigars with a unit weight of no more than 3 grams) or
10 cigars or
50 grams of smoking tobacco or
a prorated assortment of these goods
For products of the category "tobacco for heating" the duty-free limit applies up to a total value of 45 Euro per consignment.
1 litre of distilled beverages and spirits with more than 22 % v/v, undenatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80 % v/v or
1 litre of distilled beverages and spirits, aperitifs made from wine or similar beverages up to 22 % v/v; sparkling wines, liqueur wines
or a prorated assortment of these goods
and in addition
2 litres of non-foaming wines
Eau de toilette
Important: These maximum quantities apply within the € 45 limit. This means that it is not possible, for example, to receive 200 cigarettes duty-free by post from a non-EU country, even if the value of the goods is less than € 45.
What about baggage sent ahead or on?
If you send ahead baggage to your holiday destination in Austria or from your holiday destination outside the EU to Austria in advance or have it sent on to your holiday destination in Austria or from your holiday destination outside the EU to Austria, the provisions on shipping goods also apply. Please note that for private shipments (value of goods up to € 45), the sender and the recipient must not be the same person.
An exception exists only for checked baggage that you have checked in upon your departure as baggage with the transport company with which you personally enter Austria or the EU. You can learn more about this from your rail or air transport company.
What should I pay attention to when sending goods from abroad?
There is no provision for duty-free mail order sales of alcohol and alcoholic products.
There is a general ban on trade in tobacco products (including snuff and chewing tobacco) due to the Austrian Tobacco Monopoly Act. The Austrian Tobacco Tax Act likewise prohibits mail order sales of tobacco products. This means that ordering of tobacco products via the internet or other means of distance communication such as telephone, teleshopping, email and the like is prohibited. This applies both to purchases from non-EU states and to purchases from EU states.
For tobacco products ordered and delivered abroad, the tax liability arises in Austria, whereby the acquirer becomes the tax debtor in addition to the mail-order company. A prohibited order may result in financial criminal proceedings.
Community territory under VAT law (§ 1 III 3 of the Austrian Value Added Tax Act 1994, point 146 et seq. of the Austrian Value Added Tax Guidelines 2000)
The Community territory under VAT law is identical neither with the area of application of the EEC Treaty nor with the customs territory of the EU.
The Community territory comprises the following:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (including Monaco), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the Balearic Islands), Sweden, and Northern Ireland.
Third-country territory comprises all territories that do not form part of the Community territory. International waters are also part of the third-country territory.
Third-country territory includes the following:
Andorra, Mount Athos, Büsingen, Campione d’Italia, Ceuta, the Faroe Islands, Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Gibraltar, Greenland, Heligoland, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), the Canary Islands, Livigno, Lake Lugano, Melilla, San Marino, the Vatican, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain (including the Isle of Man, except Northern Ireland).