I received a call from Malaysia Customs (Kastam Diraja Malaysia) while I was in Miri. Unfortunately, a package I was waiting for was detained by them due to import taxes. Despite the package clearly stating that it was a gift, it was still liable for taxes. *sheesh* Has any of you encountered the same? This was obviously my first experience, and I was therefore oblivious to the fact that the onus was on me to pay any import taxes and duties as the so called "importer".
You can choose three options to clear your package:
- Self declare at the customs office.
- Appoint Pos Malaysia as a customs agent to clear the package (RM49.50 service fee)
- Appoint a 3rd party agent as a customs agent (the more expensive option)
I should also state that I was surprised that Customs took the time to call me and inform me of the situation. Typically, they will just send a post you a letter (via Pos Laju) to inform you that the goods have been retained for customs purpose. But since I was in Miri, Pos Laju wasn't able to deliver the letter hence I was actually quite happy that Customs took the initiative to call.
Anyway, I needed the package quite urgently so I decided to self declare the package, so I used my travelling rest day to sort things out. Picked up Aiden from school and drove all the way to LCCT (despite just arriving from KLIA the day before). It was a relaxing drive and Aiden was such great company in the car - he was so excited that he would be able to see aeroplanes!
The Mail and Courier (Pusat Mel dan Kurier) office is located right beside LCCT. There is ample parking within the compound. However, you will need to register (leave your driving license) at the guard post and they will give you a tag in return. You will need the tag to release your parcel, so don't leave it in the car!
|Beautiful clouds. Told you it was a relaxing drive!|
|The office is just after the traffic light.|
First step, head to the Pos Laju office and hand them a copy of the letter stating that your parcel has been detained by customs. I did not have it (I never bothered picking up the letter at the post office collection centre), but the nice customs lady who called actually gave me the tracking number so I just gave that to the office. Note that the office does not practice any numbering queue system - Malaysia Boleh!
|Well at least I had this cheeky boy to keep me company.|
Next, they will ask you to head to Bilik 1 (or was it Bilik 2?) to pick up your package. There must be some voodoo magic happening somewhere because the package was already waiting for me to pick it up by the time I walked there. I only had to hand her my tag (the one I received at the guard house) in exchange for the package.
|So many detained packages!|
|Aiden waiting for the parcel to roll out for pick up.|
Despite the package (a baby monitor) being quite small, the value stated on the package must have tipped them off. Reading online, any declared value above RM500 (merchandise price plus shipping cost) will usually be detained by customs. Oh well, just my luck.
However, certain items are actually duty free. A friend told me that baby items are usually exempt from tax - this is further detailed in the Malaysia Custom Reference Booklet. If that doesn't work, you can show them the receipt to prove the price you paid for the item (sometimes you buy something online at a discount, so it will be cheaper than the retail value).
Next, you take the package to the customs counter. You will be instructed to open the package in front of them. You will have to explain what the item is to the officer (and declare the the value from the invoice and include the shipping/handling for a final total amount - I wasn't asked to do this). For me, it was a blessing in disguise that I brought Aiden to accompany me to the office because the officer struck a conversation with him and during that conversation Aiden mentioned that the baby monitor was for his "baby brother, Ian!" So it was quite clear that the item was for personal use.
|Forms and more forms to fill in.|
|The Customs office. Blurry picture because I wasn't sure whether I could take any pictures there.|
Once I opened my package, the officer looked through the items and then he brought my form to another (probably higher ranked) officer in their back office. He came back once to inquire whether the baby monitor included recording features (like a CCTV digital video recorder), in which I replied none - the baby monitor is meant to be transmit real-time. He returned to the back office and after waiting for about 10 minutes, he came back and handed me my form. Confused, I asked him what to do next. He explained that they will not be charging any taxes on my item. Hurray! When I prodded him why, he said they deemed the item to cost less than RM500. (Hmm, that was slightly confusing because the invoice clearly stated a higher value.) Oh well, rezeki baby, I guess?
Next, I was asked to take my package and backtrack to Bilik 1 (or was it Bilik 2?) and hand over my form. The lady there filled in more forms, asked me to sign something then she gave me back the tag she took from me earlier. And I was done! In retrospect, I think the tag is to ensure that if you run off with your package without paying your taxes, you will be denied exit at the guard post.
(In the event that you have to pay taxes, you will have to make payment at the Pos Laju office (first office I headed to) and only then Customs will release your package.)
In all the excitement, I actually left the package wrapper at the customs office and brought only the baby monitor with me to the car. Upon exiting the guard post, I handed my tag to the guard but he asked for the wrapper! I think he needed to cross-check the wrapper with the item to ensure that I was leaving with the correct item. Thankfully, he took pity on me and let me leave.
Back home, I enthusiastically unpacked the package. Yes, I will be publishing a product review on the Snuza Trio Plus and *drum roll please....* there is also a giveaway! Two units of Snuza Hero are up for grabs for two of my lucky readers. Wait for my next post - tomorrow, okay?
|Snuza Trio Plus.|
|Curious Ian checking out his own reflection in the monitor.|