SO AT THIS TIME (UNTIL I CAN FIGURE OUT A BETTER SOLUTION) PLEASE DO NOT SEND KYLE ANY MORE PACKAGES!
I emailed Sis. Hart (the mission president's wife) to find out what's going on with the packages. Here is her reply...
Dear Sister Krause,
I am so sorry for the less than adequate mail situation our mission mother's are faced with in trying to get packages to their missionaries! It is very frustrating. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some packages arrive without problems and why some get confiscated and "held for ransom" at the correiros (post office). One of our Elder's parents sent a part to an artificial foot he wears only to have it taxed over a thousand dollars when it arrived. It really does make me angry! President Hart and I have had to pay our share of these senseless "taxes" on some of the packages our kids have sent us. I really believe it is a matter of corruption in the government here. I'm sorry I can't advise you as to whether it helps to itemize everything that's in the package or if it's better to just give a vague idea, such as "snacks." Our secretary said that one of the things that seems to make a difference is NOT to pay for the most expensive insurance to send the package, or they think it is something very valuable, and decide it needs to be taxed. Another thing that some of the mother's have done that I have noticed is to send the package with a lot of Catholic stickers on it, and I guess they will respect it. I don't know if that's a failproof idea, but it may help. I wish I could give you better answers, but we really are at the mercy of a mail system that leaves a lot to be desired. President Hart told me that when he served a long time ago in Brazil, the parents were told not to send any packages because they were constantly stolen and broken into. I hate to do that, because packages are such a highlight for our missionaries to receive.
I've asked our Executive Secretary to give you a call and let you know the status and cost on your packages right now, and see if you want to pay the fee. He is also going to check to see if he can learn any other information on how to avoid the taxes.
Also, the Executive Secretary told me that the mission President asked him to send out the following guidelines that might help with sending packages. I am going to try these and see if it makes a difference and I will let everyone know when it's ok to send another package.
Some tips to avoid taxes when sending boxes to Brazil:
- Big boxes are usually taxed, but be sure to see if it’s really worth to send everything in small boxes because sometimes it’s more expensive to send lots of small boxes than pay the taxes on one big.
- The cheaper the better, the cheapest freightage used to send the boxes is usually the one with less probability to be taxed, for example: USPS Express has a lot more probability to be taxed than USPS Priority which is also a lot more probable to be taxed than First Class mail or other type of freight that can’t be tracked. If you choose the companies DHL, FedEx ,UPS or TNT the taxing is 100 % sure, due to the Brazilian legislation, those companies must receive the taxes in advance and the sending’s are always taxed, even gifts under 50 dollars, books and medications. Another very important thing is not to put insurance on the boxes, although it’s safer, it also greatly increases the probability for the box to be taxed and sometimes, they even tax according to the insurance, completely ignoring what’s inside the box.
- Gifts under 50 dollars should not be taxed if sent from individual to individual, if you buy on EBay and the sending is from an enterprise to an individual, even if the enterprise mark it as a gift and under 50 dollars it might be taxed.
- Boxes with logos of brands like Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and similar are like flags asking for attention on the customs, if possible, please send the materials in regular boxes that don’t call too much attention.
- Declare everything that’s on the box but don’t be too specific about it, sometimes being specific can raise the price of the taxes, for example, if you are sending a GPS, declare it as a GPS device, don’t waste your time saying brand or model, this can raise the price on the taxes and cause problems.
- The greater volume of boxes arriving the less probability for your box to be taxed, this is due to the big number of boxes and the lower number of inspectors, so it might be a good strategy do send boxes on periods when lots of people are sending too like Christmas and big festivals.
- Please be wise and don’t do things like putting 5 objects in a box and only declaring 2, that is a federal crime and the receiver of the box might be called to explain the situation in the court. That is not worth it and the church does not agree with that kind of behavior.