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Rules of International Shipping

An important and often lesser-known part of online shopping is International Shipping. There are rules and policies many people do not know or understand, but still apply to them. In this post, we attempt to help clarify some topics in regards to how International Shipping works.

Information covered:


Courier Services and Shipping Costs

The first topic that arises when talking about International Shipping is about shipping costs. There are many different courier services available to ship internationally. We work with the following air delivery services:

Based on the quality of their service, delivery time and the receiving country, the prices of these courier services can differ greatly.

Please note, that each courier service has a list of countries they deliver to. Some countries do not accept all these services.

Delivery time is another important factor. When a service promises something like “overnight delivery” it is important to know, that that is only about the delivery itself and does not include the time the seller needs for preparing the package (in the case of Sazen Tea that usually takes 2-5 days, but in very rare cases could go up to 10 days) and the time needed for customs procedure after the package has arrived at the receiving country.

So, the time needed for delivery is as follows: Preparation of package (up to 10 days) + courier service delivery time + customs procedure.

It is also possible, that natural disasters or especially busy time periods (around holidays) cause a delay in the delivery.


Ways to send a package - B2B and B2C

There are several ways a package can be sent, that have different ways of processing. As a business, the following two are relevant to us:

B2B – Formal Clearance – A business selling to another business for reselling purposes. Since the merchandise sent in this case is for reselling, the import of it always requires customs fees to be paid. These packages are usually quite big and high valued. Packages over a certain value also fall under this category, no matter if the recipient is a business of a private person. This amount varies by country.

B2C – Express Clearance – A business selling to a customer, not for reselling, but to end user. This method is most commonly used in online shopping and is (usually) a fast process of customs clearance. Under a certain value, this is the go-to method used by companies sending packages internationally to customers.

When sending a package, as a business, these are the two options we can take. Based on these, the processing time and the chances of customs fees being charged might be different. Unfortunately, this also depends greatly on the receiving country.


Extra fees that might be charged

When buying a package from Sazen Tea, the payment made to us contains the following:

In most cases, this is all a customer has to pay. But every country has their own policies and depending on those, additional fees might apply. These charges are fees the receiving country’s authorities might issue.

As soon as someone buys a product from abroad, they effectively become an importer and become liable to Customs and Excise Duty as well as Value Added Tax (VAT) payments. So, additional to the charges paid to Sazen Tea, the receiving country might charge for the following:

Once again, these might differ greatly in different countries policies, and in many cases, some or none of them apply.

Customs officers of receiving countries examine packages in order to:

After examining the package they:


Please note, that none of these charges are paid to the seller, but to the local authorities.

When shopping international items locally, these charges are also there, only they are invisible charges, already calculated into the price. The difference between international or local shopping is that with international, the customer can see the fees separately, not just the end price.

DDP service

In case of DHL and FedEx courier service, we offer the option of DDP (Delivered Duty Paid), when duties and taxes are paid in advance, when placing the order. When choosing DDP the "Package fee" contains the shipping fee, handling fee, fixed rate for duties and VAT of receiving country. With this option, the recipient does not have to pay any extra fees when receiving the package. Sometimes the courier company requires some information from the recipient, so they might contact you by e-mail, such as proof of value of package (confirmation e-mail of the order), description of ordered items or official address of the recipient.
DHL DDP shipping service is highly recommended for Europian customers!


Responsibility for the package

All our packages are sent as FOB (Free on Board), which is a term in international commercial law meaning that as soon as the package is ”on board” and leaves Japan, the responsibility for anything regarding the package shifts from the seller to the buyer. Therefore, even in the very rare occurrence of the package arriving damaged or getting lost, the responsibility falls on the buyer, not the sender. In the unlikely case of damaged or lost packages, please turn to the courier service provider for a refund.

This is the reason we send tracking links and information after posting every package and why we ask everyone not to accept damaged packages. Naturally, we always try to do everything in our power to help if there are any problems with packages, but it is very important for the recipients of the packages to be as well-informed and conscious, as possible.


Recommendations to avoid high customs charges

In every case, we strongly recommend contacting your local authorities to get informed of the policies effective in your country. The requirements for international shipping is for the receiver to be well informed on their local policies. Most of the time local post offices are happy to answer questions regarding customs policies. Based on this information, it is much easier to make educated decisions, for example: In some cases, it is better, to order the desired items in two, or even three separate packages, under the value over which customs charges would be due. In many cases, the extra shipping fee is still way under the customs fees.

Also, it is best to know, that the courier services also have different policies in place as to how to handle customs procedure. For example, as a private company, DHL examines every package without exception to see, if customs charges are due, but on the other hand, EMS does not examine every package and might let some through.


Our purpose for this article is by no means to dishearten people, but to encourage them to look into the matter further, make well-informed decisions and thus have a calm, peaceful experience with no unexpected, unpleasant surprises.


We trust you will have good experiences with shopping online and enjoying our products!

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