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Thread: Trying to ship a sword to France - HELP!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Exclamation Trying to ship a sword to France - HELP!

    I recently sold one of my katana on eBay to a fellow in France. Shipped it out via UPS last Friday...only to find out that it got stopped by the French customs at the border. Seems like swords aren't allowed to be shipped into France. I got the sword back from UPS today.

    If I knew that shipping to another country would be this much trouble, I would have never consented to international shipping to begin with.

    I'm considering trying again with FedEx, but if it's a customs issue, I think may get the same result (i.e., having the sword sent back to me.

    Anyone else here ever have international shipping problems? What can I do about this? Otherwise, I may have to refund the guy's money...
    "Impossible" is a word that humans use far too often.
    - Seven of Nine

  2. #2
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    Try not labelling it as "sword", but rather something less conspicuous. Try shipping it as an "art object" (which technically isn't lying), "sharp metal replacement tool" or something like that. Einar had the same problem with his Atrim, even though shipping swords is perfectly legal between the US and Norway. I guess certain customs officers freak out, that's all. I know from experience that customs officers aren't always as schooled as they ought to be in customs law.
    Karl A. Eide
    SCHOLA GLADIATORIA
    -------------------------------

    For soldiers other than officers, if they would test their armour, they should test only the front. Furthermore, whereas ornamentation on armour is unnecessary, one should be very careful about the appearance of one's helmet. It is something that accompanies one's head to the enemy's camp.
    -Anonymous general

  3. #3
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    Chandler, Arizona USA
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    Re: Shipping

    Hi Jennifer,

    I would try sending it through USPS priority and not mark anything on the box. I've been told that the quicker it goes, the less likely that it will hang around for inspection.

    Good luck,

    Jeff
    "It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience." Julius Caesar

  4. #4
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    The French government has instituted security measures in response to the rise in global terrorism. I doubt that any common method of shipping will bypass their screening procedures. However, as France is a member of the European Union, it must comply with certain standard procedures for transport of commercial goods between member states. If you can get the shipment to another EU country that allows swords, and then make sure the VAT (value-added tax) is paid, it may be easier to re-direct the shipment to France. No guarantees, of course.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    When I last sent a sword to france, I had it labled as "decrotive metalwork"

    That seemed to work okay, or I may have been lucky.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    France
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    Hi Jennifer,

    Simply put (I checked for myself directly) : neither customs, nor police are to stop your shipment to France. Importation of swords is allowed and legal (and sorry Ty, nothing has really changed here in response to terrorism). In case of problems with the customs, the contact is the following :

    Direction Générale des Douanes
    Bureau E2
    23 bis, rue de l'université
    75700 Paris

    I don't have the phone number, but it should be easy to find though on Internet.

    Now the bad part is : do not forget that your client is to pay french VAT, which is a full 20.6% (and maybe even another 4% as swords are "armes de catégorie VI" - weapons cat. 6). It is quite normal the customs block the shipment as long as these payments are not made. Now of course, when you ship your blade, do not mention "fully edged-katana for war use", but "arme de collection" (art-sword), "replique d'armes anciennes" (replica of old weapons), etc....

    Now Jennifer, would you have details about this shipment such as : was the sword directly sent back to you ? any comments by french customs ? was your client called and asked to come and retrieve the blades ? which are the customs involved (city, adress, phone number ?). I'll try to pass a few phone calls from here (beware though, all offices are closed tomorrow and many on friday still).
    A sword is an item whose main characteristic is to be completely useless in a modern world (and it is costly, too ).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Originally posted by Cedric B.
    and sorry Ty, nothing has really changed here in response to terrorism
    Not true, they confiscated my nail clippers at Charles deGaulle
    Karl A. Eide
    SCHOLA GLADIATORIA
    -------------------------------

    For soldiers other than officers, if they would test their armour, they should test only the front. Furthermore, whereas ornamentation on armour is unnecessary, one should be very careful about the appearance of one's helmet. It is something that accompanies one's head to the enemy's camp.
    -Anonymous general

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    France
    Posts
    27

    Angry

    .... I said : REALLY changed. And sorry for your nail clippers - God only knows what harm you could have done with them though.

    Jennifer, the phone number of the bureau E2 is :
    +33 1 40 04 04 04
    Fax is : +33 1 44 74 48 32

    These are the ones who make the rules. I would strongly recommend to start to call the local custom office though.
    A sword is an item whose main characteristic is to be completely useless in a modern world (and it is costly, too ).

  9. #9
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    Talking

    OMG, Karl is running around France with long hang-nails !!!

    Somebody stop him !!! Hee, hee...

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Land Of Disease & Swamps AKA Eugene, Oregon
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    Post Moderator's Comment...

    Let's keep this on topic, shall we?
    "Swords Are Fun!" - Auld Dawg

    "A Sword For Show, But A Broadaxe For Dough." -
    Hagar The Horrible

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    Originally posted by Cedric B.
    Hi Jennifer,

    Simply put (I checked for myself directly) : neither customs, nor police are to stop your shipment to France. Importation of swords is allowed and legal (and sorry Ty, nothing has really changed here in response to terrorism). In case of problems with the customs, the contact is the following :

    Direction Générale des Douanes
    Bureau E2
    23 bis, rue de l'université
    75700 Paris

    I don't have the phone number, but it should be easy to find though on Internet.

    Now the bad part is : do not forget that your client is to pay french VAT, which is a full 20.6% (and maybe even another 4% as swords are "armes de catégorie VI" - weapons cat. 6). It is quite normal the customs block the shipment as long as these payments are not made. Now of course, when you ship your blade, do not mention "fully edged-katana for war use", but "arme de collection" (art-sword), "replique d'armes anciennes" (replica of old weapons), etc....

    Now Jennifer, would you have details about this shipment such as : was the sword directly sent back to you ? any comments by french customs ? was your client called and asked to come and retrieve the blades ? which are the customs involved (city, adress, phone number ?). I'll try to pass a few phone calls from here (beware though, all offices are closed tomorrow and many on friday still).
    The sword was sent directly back to me, with no comments on the box, except RTS (return to sender). UPS told me that French customs wouldn't allow the shipment, because it was a sword, but didn't specify who stopped the shipment.

    In any case, I think I'm going to try shipping it through the good old USPS. And this time I'm not going to say it's a sword, but use one of your suggestions. "Arme de collection" sounds pretty good.
    "Impossible" is a word that humans use far too often.
    - Seven of Nine

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    France
    Posts
    27
    Just let me know if you want me to let a hand by passing a few calls (I'm actually personnally interested as I will have two Lundemo's blades to pass through in a few months - I prefer to smooth them beforehand). The only alternative for me will be a week-end in NYK with my wife to take them by hand - I don't mind, it's only another cost to be included
    (and meeting a nice guy like John is OK to me). Try expressions such as : "répliques d'armes de collection anciennes" (replicas of old collection arms ? ahem, my english is not that accurate), that sounds harmless enough. Or "objets de décoration d'intérieur" (objects to decorate your in-house ?).

    If you do have a problem though, I have a contact at the bureau E2 (but I will need to know where your blade lies, so they can call their local office).

    As always with administration stuff, good luck !
    A sword is an item whose main characteristic is to be completely useless in a modern world (and it is costly, too ).

  13. #13
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    Oct 2003
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    4,308

    Shipping, take two...

    Okay, I sent out the sword today via USPS Global Express. I said it was a decorative sword...hopefully, I'm not going to get a lot of static this time around...
    "Impossible" is a word that humans use far too often.
    - Seven of Nine

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