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Receiving parcels from abroad

UPDATE Article Ed. 5 2019 - 03-09-2019

Receiving parcels from abroad

From time to time we may decide to purchase items via the internet for delivery to an address in Portugal, or we may have family members and friends who send us parcels with or without our knowledge. Sometimes these parcels arrive seemingly without issue and sometimes we aren"t so fortunate, with either CTT or the customs service requiring information and sometimes even payment of taxes before they will allow them to be released to the intended recipient.

This article isn’t intended to answer all the questions Members may have about why parcels are stopped, but to offer suggestions based on what we have discovered through our investigation into the matter that might help you to deal with any issues more swiftly.

Post from outside the EU enters Portugal usually by plane through the CTT sorting office at Lisbon Airport, where they are inspected and selected taking into account the instructions of the Tax and Customs Authority. Where there is any doubt or lack of documentation, CTT will notify the intended recipient of the package. When purchasing goods from abroad, the seller who posts them to you must include a copy of the invoice outside of the packaging. This invoice will include codes and identifying symbols which will enable CTT to ascertain what is inside the parcel and whether it needs to be stopped and checked.

After the separation, the majority is sorted for franchise (franquia) and goes for distribution to the intended recipient. The remaining packages are sent to the Lisbon Production and Logistics Centre (CPL) in Cabo Ruivo, and CTT sends a notice to the intended recipient to request:

  • proof of payment (invoice, or in case of not being issued, another proof of the transaction)
  • ID number and data
  • the site where you made the purchase
  • correct reference of the products so that CTT and customs can evaluate

It’s essential therefore that you keep copies, either electronically or printed, of the communication that you have with the supplier. Dates, costs, type of goods purchased and the method you used to make the payment. If you keep them in one place when placing your order, you will save a lot of hassle trying to find the information when contacted by the customs or CTT. Bear in mind that if you have to call them because you’ve received a notice to contact them, the phone calls are not cheap and can be lengthy, so be prepared with the information before you make the call.

If the parcel is from a family member, they should also include a document, including invoices if they have them, on the outside of the parcel. Often we may not be expecting a package if it is a surprise gift for example, so we won’t have any knowledge of what is inside the parcel. This is fine for parcels that include a purchased item, but what if it includes drawings that children have done or a painting that a relative has created themselves or any other item that has no commercial value? Well there is a document called Declaração de Valor’ that can be downloaded from the CTT website, a copy of which can be requested from the afpop office, which can be sent to relatives and which can be included with the parcel. Of course if it’s a surprise gift you won’t know in advance, so it might be worth the time to download this document now and simply send it to anyone in an e-mail that might conceivably send you a parcel in the future. If you send it to one family member they can advise others that they have it.

The Declaração de Valor is in Portuguese and English and is a simple, one sheet, document which can be used to identify the contents of a parcel. Of course CTT may still need more information, but it does give the name of the sender as well as the recipient to enable CTT or customs to contact them for more information.

For any information or more detailed information, you can check the website or call the CTT Line 707 26 26 26, available Monday to Saturday from 8am to 10pm (they can speak in English).

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