Shipping expert: Small shipping

Vol XXXIV: I would like ship some boxes by freight and have to pay the minimum though I will probably have less than 10 cubic feet of stuff, more likely 5. Is there a better way to do it?

shipping88 (photo credit: )
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For Shipping resources click here. Shmuel Mantinband works with Unigroup UTS Sonigo, partners in the parent company of Mayflower and United Van Lines. He still remembers with great pain his lifts when he made aliya over 30 years ago. Send us your questions for Shmuel and please leave your comments on the Q&A below. * * *
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  • Volumes XXX-XXXII Vol XXXIV Q: My family is coming to Israel for a year on an academic sabbatical. We are trying to figure out the most economical way to get our stuff (used clothes and books mainly) there. I would like ship some boxes by freight and have to pay the minimum though I will probably have less than 10 cubic feet of stuff, more likely 5. Is there a better way to do it? Also, what do I have to do to get it once we are there? Do I have to pay taxes, customs fees etc? My alternative right now is to pay $150 for each additional piece of luggage I bring on the airplane. Please give me any advice you can. A: Unfortunately, there is no good way to send small shipments. The post office used to offer cheaper sea shipments, but that service has been eliminated. They only offer airmail and it is much more expensive. Even at $150 a package, paying for the overweight on your flight is probably the best way to go. You might want to check with your airline if they offer an air cargo option. The boxes may arrive a couple of days after you, but this may be less expensive. You should be aware though, Customs will charge you Customs Duties on anything that arrives after you. If the packages travel with you, it is very unlikely you will have to pay Duties unless you are stopped by a Customs Official and s/he finds you have taxable items. I hope this is helpful even though there is no good answer. Q: I am trying to find an experienced customs broker to assist me in setting up a precious metals business in Israel. I have thus-far been unsuccessful in contacting a customs official who can provide me with relevant information of customs and tax laws. Can you help me with this? A: As a rule, any licensed Customs Broker can help you with information about importing virtually any item. I emphasize the word licensed. At the same time, keeping in mind there are over 5000 items in the internationally recognized "Harmonized System," no single Customs Broker can know all the categories and all the codes and regulations. However, they should be able to investigate and get you this information. You will be best served by a Broker who specializes in the field you need. For example, at Sonigo, we specialize in household goods, concerts and fine art. We are experts in clearing these types of shipments as we do it all the time. When a new client came to us needing help to import pet food, we learned the field and today have expertise in this area as well. While any of us can learn a new field, I think you would be best served by a Customs Broker who knows precious metals and can help you with all the regulations. Q: Shalom, I read your answer to the question of how one would import a car. You said that due to the value of the dollar now it is very worthwhile to import one. I was under the impression that the cost of upgrading a car to Israeli standards is so great it is not worth it. We were thinking of bringing a Prius. Can you shed some light on this or direct me in the right direction? We are making Aliyah in August. A: As the dollar continues to drop, importing a car continues to be a better and better deal. fair disclosure - I am a shipping agent and have an interest in your shipping more...) Bringing a car up to code is indeed an important figure to add into the calculation to see it is worth importing a car. You will be required to make two changes with a car shipped from N. America. N. America requires "fixed beam" headlights while European code (Israel adopted the European code) requires an adjustable head light. This is to accommodate weight changes in the car and prevent blinding drivers of approaching vehicles. The second requirement is the addition of directional signals (blinkers) on the car's side. A third, rarely required, change is the speedometer, which must show kilometers. Most cars today have both miles and kilometers so this usually does not come up. The cost of the above changes can range from NIS 2000 to NIS 7000 depending on the car model and the garage doing the changes. Finally, you mentioned you are considering bringing a Prius. This is becoming a popular car and in an effort to encourage hybrids, Israel gives a big discount on taxes on hybrids. The current tax rate on a hybrid made in the US and imported from the US (or made and imported from Canada) is about 51%. If made in Canada and imported from the US, the rate is about 61%. This is the tax rate for Israelis. There is no additional discount for olim. Q: I will be returning to Israel in December as a returning resident. I would like to ship my household items...are there any 'benefits' that returning residents are exempt from in regards to shipping household goods? A: Kol hakavod. Making Aliyah and returning to Israel are each a big (albeit important) step and never an easy one. Much good luck on your return home. The Israeli government wants to help you set up your home in Israel and grants you an exemption from customs duties on most of your household goods. But first, let's make sure you are entitled to this exemption. You must have been out of the country more than 2 years (18 months for a student) and not received "returning resident (toshav hozer)" status previously. If you were previously an oleh hadash (new immigrant) there may be other issues that we will not go into here. If you have been out of Israel more than 6 years you will receive additional benefits that we will discuss below. If you fall into the 2 - 6 year category, you can import, with a tax exemption (ie. tax free), all your household goods for *inside* the home including all kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer. All other appliances and electronic are *not* included in your tax exemption. Please note my emphasis of goods for *inside* the home. Items for outside the home are not included, such as garden furniture. Sports equipment is usually *not* included in the exemption although bicycles are tax exempt. If you have been gone more than 6 years, then electronics such as TVs, stereos, etc are also tax exempt. As a rule you can bring in a quantity of household goods appropriate to the family size. Appliances and electronics are restricted to one of each type except for fans and air conditioners that are restricted to a number appropriate to your new apartment in Israel. I hope this is helpful and much good luck on your return home! * * * Vol XXXIII Q: Is it safe to ship a piano from israel to australia regarding the humidity and salt in the ship. Thanks A: Shipping a piano is always an adventure. Any heavyweight move requires special preparation and extra manpower. I am happy to put your mind at ease...there is virtually no need to be concerned about salt or water damage. Virtually all goods are shipped in containers today. As a rule, all seaworthy containers are watertight. While not hermetically sealed, if they fall into the ocean, they will float for quite a while. A container will not be allowed on a vessel if it has a hole in it - if there is a hole, it will not be certified sea worthy. In addition, depending on the value of the piano, you will probably want to have a custom crate built for your piano. This crate will hold your wrapped and packed piano and provide an additional level of protection against the elements. Since there is a cost to building this crate, you will want to weigh the cost of the extra protection against the value of the piano before deciding to have a crate built. I hope this information will help you decide about shipping your piano to case your Walkman is just not enough... J All the best, Shmuel Q: If I purchase an electric car can it simply be shipped with other household goods? It does not have an engine so it should not be subject to automobile restrictions/taxes...If instead I purchase a Smart car, because it is so small, can it be part of a lift, or must it go as a car? It's engine is 0.7 liters. Thanks A: Shipping a car is always an interesting adventure! And since the drop in the value of the dollar, shipping a car from the US has become very, very worthwhile. I will separate your question into two parts: one - shipping issues and second - Customs issues. From a shipping point of view, we can ship a car, Smart, Dumb, Electric or otherwise in the same container with your household goods. The process: if you ship an exclusive container, first we would load your regular household goods, then build a wall and finally load your car. The car will be blocked, braced and lashed in the container to prevent movement, which would cause scratching and denting. If you are shipping a partial container (a consolidation,) all crates of household goods (yours and other people's) would be loaded in the front(or nose!) of the container. Then your car is loaded last, nearest the door where it is lashed, blocked and braced. Btw, blocking and lashing is of critical importance as waves will rock the container for many days. If the vehicle is not tightly strapped down, it will rub against the container's side potentially sustaining significant damage. Now, let's talk about Custom's issues. The car size makes no difference to Customs. A vehicle (car or motorcycle must always be cleared separately from household goods. In Israel, vehicles are treated as a separate shipment (although it will *not* count as one of your 3 "oleh rights" shipments.) This usually means separate and additional clearing expenses. Electric cars are very rare and potentially problematic to import at this point as Customs and Ministry of Transportation do not have a lot (any?) experience with them. As far as I know, there are no organized codes in effect for purely electric cars. If you are talking about a hybrid car, it is treated the same as a regular car and a Smart is also a regular car as far as Customs is concerned. (Although taxes on a hybrid car are significantly lower than on a regular car.) Age of a car is another area of concern. If you are an Israeli, you can only import a car up to two years old. A returning resident (toshav hozer) can import a car up to four years old. An oleh generally does not have an age restriction on importing a vehicle, but this is worth confirming for your specific model if you want to import an older car. There are also issues of bringing the vehicle up to Israeli code, but we will save that discussion for another column. * * * Cafe Oleh experts have been chosen for their knowledge and reputation. Cafe Oleh does not take responsibility for any advice they offer. Send your comments >>
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