Tag Archives: freight

Practical Info: Shipping matters!

¤ Shipping from outside EU? Avoid customs fees and VAT.

Since I could not fit all my essential belongings into the 25 kg baggage limit when I moved to Sweden, my folks helped me to ship my stuff over to Sweden. There were usually no complications until one day when I received a postal notice that I had to pay customs duty and it wasn’t a small amount.

The reason was because my family forgot to select the ‘gift’ option on my parcel, the field was unintentionally left blank. The customs assumed it was commercial goods. I had to prove that the consignment were my personal belongings but that was easy. Firstly, the sender’s name was my mother from a residential address (and not a company) and secondly, the customs physically inspected the goods which were my used personal belongings, nothing new and under 500 SEK. Even after fulfilling all the customs’ requirements, I was still charged an ‘administrative fee’, on top of the reduced custom fees. In short, I still had to pay several hundred kronor.

To avoid customs duty or VAT on shipping outside EU, always ensure that

  • consignment is intended for personal use
  • ‘gift’ option is selected
  • gift is received from a private individual/family/relatives/friends (and not company)
  • the value of the consignment does not exceed 500 SEK

For more information, refer to Tullverket.se.

¤ Proof of ID when picking up parcels and posts

If you do not have a Swedish ID card, always bring your passport for ID proof. This does not happen often but my Greek classmate encountered her parcel being held by the post because they refused to accept her EU id-card. She had left her passport in Greece as it was not required when travelling within EU countries. After escalating the issue to higher authorities, she managed to retrieve her parcel after a few months.

Save the trouble, bring your passport in case.

¤ Name matching

This also happens frequently among my friends. The parcel might be returned if the name on the parcel does not match the ID exactly. Sometimes, the sender may have written the addressee’s nick name instead of full name or sometimes the addressee is known to others by another name which was not officially stated in the ID. In any case, always ensure that the name on the parcel matches the name on the ID.

¤ Online shopping outside Sweden

If you shop online within EU for your personal use, happy shopping, there are no VAT or custom charges. If you shop online outside EU, you must pay VAT and forwarding costs. My advice, it is not worth it. The customs duties and charges usually end up costing more than the value of the goods. Having said that, Swedish postal system is very efficient and I always receive my goods in a very short time. Just take note of some of the minor practicalities and it would be smooth sailing.

Image credit from Wired.co.uk.

Moving to Sweden with Less-than-Container-Load Freight

Congratulations to all of you who were offered a placement in a Swedish school!

Exciting! I hope you have packed your bags and ready to jump on the first plane to Sweden…wait

Now, “packing” is quite a dirty word! I recommend packing an efficient suitcase and buy things as you need locally. But see flowchart below.

moving to sweden flowchart

I was in a different situation. My family didn’t live in Canada while I was planning my move to Sweden (rather silly… right after I settled my move, my father got a job transfer to Canada. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog now). Så, I had no where to store my stuff…

I have a ton of stuff (literally, 102kg): snowboard, 2x skis, car, 4 winter tires, kitchen stuff, desktop computer, bedding, sleeping bags, books, camping stuff, bike (got stolen, thank you thief)…a lot of cloth for 5 seasons and apocalypse…


Medium value goods:

It would cost approximately the same as buying it in Sweden.

After a few hours of detailed MARR (Minimum Attractive Rate of Return), Engineering Economics, and beer drinking (mostly beer drinking), I came up with three solutions.

1/ Throw away all my stuff & buy new in Sweden.

2/ Drive to Sweden with a fully loaded car.

3/ Ocean Freight (like the big containers you see trucks hauling around, yep)

4/ Pack dense things into boxes and mail it to myself.


Ok, I had at least $2000 worth of goods. 1/ Throw away all my stuff & buy new in Sweden. I don’t want to have a car in Sweden. Period. 2/ Drive to Sweden with a fully loaded car. Mailing it to myself? The cost is a function of volume. I have too much low density stuff (like cloth and blanket, etc.) The size of boxes is too large… not cost effective. 4/ Pack dense things into boxes and mail it to myself.

My Spanish and Italian housemates all mailed stuff from their home countries.


Upon research, I found this thing called Less-than-Container-Load (acronym LCL Cargo). Terrific. That is EXACTLY what I am looking for.

Definition: Less-than-container load


How to LCL Ocean Freight?


Step 1: organize

Figure out how much stuff do you ACTUALLY need to ship. Ie. Volume, weight

Then get an instant quote from a local shipping company. (google it)

$250 bucks for 1 cubic meter 100kg of stuff, DEAL!

canadian shipping lcl cost

Step 2: find a skid

Usually around supermarket…

NB! Make sure it has a “HT” (heat treated) mark on BOTH side of the skid. Otherwise they won’t allow it (preventing bugs from traveling without visa).

Step 3: pack & play Tetris

Get some big plastic container and start filling it up.

Get all your boxes to fit within the volume given in the quote.


Step 4: book your shipment

Inform your shipping company about 2 weeks ahead is fine.

Step 5: pay

Swedish side: cost depends on the receiving company in Sweden. The shipping company in Toronto was not be able to tell me. Ok, can’t cost that much € I thought.


Step 6: fly to Sweden

It took about 2 weeks to sail across the ocean, but it took about 4 weeks from handing over to the company in Toronto to receiving it in Sweden.

Step 7: the company will contact you once your stuff is here, but your phone number is…

No worries, once I received my Bill of Lading, I called the Swedish shipping company to update my phone number to the Swedish one.

Step 8: pay the Swedes

Så, about 400 SEK terminal fee, 500 SEK handling fee, if you want them to deliver it to your doorstep: 600 SEK (I didn’t have a car, I could have called a taxi and saved a little bit there…not worth my time)

That is almost as expensive as shipping across the Atlantic.

If you want the shipping company to do your “import customs” work that is another 500 SEK. Nej tack!

Step 9: customs & import tax

Since these are my personal effects and I am a student, I brought proof of my residency and student status to the custom office. The office is difficult to find, it is about 45 mins outside of Göteborg, near the Volvo museum. Cliché.


Step 10: wait for delivery

Welcome to your new home swede home!



Since I used my airline points and paid only €2 for my flight from New York City to Stockholm, the LCL freight cost was neutralized.

I hope I will NEVER have to move again.


see you soon!