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Tip from Customs: A gift from Santa isn’t always free of charge

4.12.2018 8.00
Press release

Christmas is in many ways a time of unexpected surprises. The joy of receiving a gift from outside the EU, can turn into confusion when you receive a notice of arrival from Posti stating that the gift must be cleared through customs. The gift is usually a surprise and the recipient doesn’t know the content or its value. However, without this information, the recipient cannot clear the gift consignment, nor can it be handed over to the recipient.

It may come as a surprise to the recipient that only gifts worth less than 45 euros that are delivered by post, can be free of customs duty and taxes and don’t have to be cleared through customs. The recipient is responsible for finding out what the gift contains and what it’s worth, to be able to prove that the gift is free of taxes.

- The recipient may feel bad about having to ask the sender what the gift consignment contains and what the gift is worth.  We, at the Customs Information Service, understand how the recipient feels, but without this information the gift consignment cannot be handed over to the recipient, instead, Posti must return the gift to the sender, says Nadja Painokallio from the Customs Information Service.

How do I know if my gift is free of duty and taxes?

The gift is free of duty and taxes if all of the following five conditions are met:

  1. The sender is a private person from outside the EU and they have sent the gift directly to the recipient, i.e. the gift has not, for example, been ordered from an online store to be sent to the recipient.
  2. The gift is to be used by the recipient of their family, not for resale.
  3. The gift consignment is occasional.
  4. The value of the gift when purchased was no more than 45 euros.
  5. The gift does not contain tobacco products, alcohol, alcoholic beverages, perfumes, coffee or tea.

However, if you have received a notice of arrival from Posti regarding a gift that is free of duty and taxes, Customs will release the gift when you provide further information by email to [email protected]   

If your gift doesn’t fulfil all the above mentioned conditions, it is not free from duty and tax, and you will have to clear the gift through customs as if you had bought it yourself. Exceptions are consignments containing e.g. Swedish snus, which you are not allowed to receive at all. Further information on exceptions is available on the Customs website.

All goods have their own commodity code, this includes gifts

All around the world, goods have their own commodity code. It can be hard to find the right commodity code for customs clearance, still it’s not impossible. If your find the product on the list for Customs online clearance, you don’t need to find out the commodity code. If your product is not on the list, you can search for the commodity code on the Customs website or in the commodity code service Fintaric. If you do not succeed in clearing the product, the Customs Information Service can help you free of charge.

- Ask for the commodity code to avoid getting lost searching through all the numbers. This way, clearing the gift consignment will be easy and the gift will end up under the tree for Christmas, says Painokallio.


Press Release