Even though I have been both an avid traveler as well as an avid shopper for decades, the first time I ever bought something overseas to ship home was this year. It ended up being a lot more than I bargained for, and so I thought I would share my experience, in case any of you have ever had the inkling to do the same.
Usually, I take things home on the plane, and you’d be surprised what I have been able to fit, most notably my huge Carnaval costume from when I marched in Rio’s Sambadromo parade several years ago. However, this year, during our Zoom Vacations tour of Cambodia, I became enamored of two six-foot tall Cambodian Buddha statues, and I decided to splurge, and to have something that really makes a statement in my place.
I talked the shop owner down to about $450 per statue, and knew that I would need to have these shipped to me in a crate. Since I was paying for a crate anyway, I bought 6 small statues at $60 a piece to share the crate space, thinking that I could always sell them some day. The shipping charge was $500, so for around $1760, I thought I was done. I was wrong.
First of all, just getting all the paperwork done correctly and sent back, including various power attorney forms was a bit cumbersome, and throughout the process, I wasn’t really 100 percent sure that I hadn’t just given a stranger several hundred dollars for nothing.
My statues eventually made it to a US-based cargo releasing agent (I honestly still don’t really even know what that is) who charged me $252 to do, well, I am not entirely sure, and they told me I would need a customs broker to do, uh, customs brokering, I guess. This was a $252 I was not expecting.
The Customs broker tendered the following charges:
ISF Filing $150.00
Entry Fee 225.00
Customs Bond 125.00
Messenger Fee 27.50
Outport Service 65.00
I was told I would incur these additional charges if necessary:
Exam Processing 75.00
Lacey Act 50.00
FDA Filing 75.00
Customs Duties/Fees ??
My total with them came up to be $685.93, which was a $685.93 charge I was not expecting.
Once arriving in Bolingbrook, IL, the warehouse charged me $85 cash or check, and I had five days to drive my happy ass about an hour and a half from the Chicago to the warehouse to collect my statues. Allowing my items to sit there would have resulted in a storage fee of $25 per day.
Since my grand total for shipping alone was already $1522.93, I drove out there immediately. Once there, I discovered they were in a heavy crate that wouldn’t fit in my car, but here is where the story takes a happier tune, as a young fork-lift operator agreed to help me unpack them, and he was H.O.T., so there’s that. I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.
In the end, my two $450 statues end up costing me $2,782.93. I purchased them on March 30th and received them on June 22nd. Since I know how people (especially gay men) love a happy ending, I will just close by saying that even though it ended up being a much bigger hassle, and much more money than what I was expecting, I will just say that it was totally worth it, and I can’t imagine my life without them. I don’t think I’d be here today without those statues. sniff.