International ProofgradeTM shipping

Instead of opening a support email I thought I’d post to the forum as I’m sure it’ll affect others in the same situation.

The Glowforge is coming to the UK (and EU) soon. Just got an email saying my proofgrade stuff is being dispatched, which is making this even more real now.

On the UPS tracker it states the following:

London, United Kingdom 27/02/20 18 11:54 The receiver must pay the duties or taxes due on the package.
27/02/20 18 11:54 Import C.O.D. (ICOD) charges are due for this shipment.

I know I’m not being charged for the goods or the shipping on the proofgrade materials as they are literally a gift from Glowforge. Can Glowforge tell me/us if there’s going to be something saying ‘gift’ on the package or some separate info that lets it breeze through customs or is UPS going to deal with this or do I have to do/pay something?

And why is this suddenly so exciting?


The problem is UK customs don’t recognise gifts from companies, so are likely to charge VAT on the value on the commercial invoice plus the shipping. GF have refused so far to say what the will put on the invoice so who knows. Also UPS charge a brokerage fee on top.

To make it right GF could put the market value on the PG and state the correct shipping. Then they could subtract that from the invoice they send with the GF. Then you would pay the right tax for the total you paid, the only loss would be the extra brokerage charge which might be substantial on the GF.

I recently got a free spool of filament from Makerbot for filling in a questionnaire and IIRC they marked it as warranty replacement so I didn’t get any import charges.

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Are you signed up to UPS MyChoice? I have a package from China in transit and it has just notified me how much the duties and taxes are: £31.13 on something worth £74.69, robbery! This generally happens with free postage . Customs don’t accept free postage either.

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Hey @palmercr,

Thanks for the insight. Signed up to MyUPS, but the only info was the stuff about the duties and COD being due, no amounts. I’ve had a few stateside and Chinese shipments of “samples” listed on the customs docs that didn’t attract any duty or charges. Maybe this is the case with this?

Would be nice to get some free stuff for free.

Will wait and see what Glowforge say, fingers crossed!

Yes they might be able to label it as commercial samples, that is more or less what they are really. The fact your tracking says money is due makes me fear they haven’t done that.

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Just got this update:

London, United Kingdom 28/02/2018 5:26 Out for Delivery
28/02/2018 4:00 Arrival Scan

Guess we’ll find out the answer to the original question soon enough! :wink:


As an aside and for the curious, this is the route and times that ProofgradeTM took to get to London apart from final delivery. International postage absolutely fascinates me in terms of scale, cost and speed.

London, United Kingdom 28/02/2018 5:26 Out for Delivery
28/02/2018 4:00 Arrival Scan
Tamworth, United Kingdom 28/02/2018 1:38 Departure Scan
28/02/2018 0:23 Arrival Scan
Castle Donnington, United Kingdom 27/02/2018 23:50 Departure Scan
27/02/2018 22:46 Import Scan
27/02/2018 21:01 Arrival Scan
Philadelphia, PA, United States 27/02/2018 8:28 Departure Scan
London, United Kingdom 27/02/2018 11:54 The receiver must pay the duties or taxes due on the package.
27/02/2018 11:54 Import C.O.D. (ICOD) charges are due for this shipment.
Philadelphia, PA, United States 27/02/2018 5:59 Arrival Scan
Louisville, KY, United States 27/02/2018 4:17 Departure Scan
27/02/2018 8:53 Your package was released by the clearing agency.
Louisville, KY, United States 27/02/2018 2:00 Origin Scan
27/02/2018 6:01 Your package was released by the clearing agency.
27/02/2018 6:01 Your package was released by the clearing agency.
United States 26/02/2018 21:04 Order Processed: Ready for UPS

This video by Wendover Productions touching on the subject is totally my jam!


I had not connected the proofgrade parcel to customs fees yet. That’s another import tax and handling fee I’m going to have to pay. Whenever that inventables certificate comes in the mail I’m going to sell it to try and cover the fees.

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So I’m now able to answer my own question ahead of Glowforge!

£31.72 GBP (around $44 USD@0.72)

Was broken down as the following:

Import VAT £20.47
Brokerage charges £11.25

The value of the goods as listed is $73.23 and UPS have used an exchange rate of 0.703(and lots more numbers after).

So as things stand the free proofgrade materials for the UK will cost you £31.72.




May I go so far as to say:


I know, I know, double thumbs down is quite strong, but with the “beast from the east” and now these “rates from the States”, I feel the occasion warrents such response :wink:

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GF really need to change what they put on the invoice or compensate on the GF invoice. It makes no sense that you pay VAT on more than the total price you have paid. If GF have given you free PG then effectively they have discounted the GF price because for the original price you paid you have got both a GF and the PG.

Or maybe as you suggested the PG could be marked as commercial samples.

The only extra you should pay is the brokerage charge. I think that could have been avoided by shipping the PG with the GF as a three package consignment.


I honestly have no answers of what if anything can be done going forward. I’m personally not bothered by it and should be able to reclaim the VAT element and write off the brokerage fees.

Would be nice with these shipments and units going out in the not too distant future to get some resolution to the other post on a similar matter to this:

Don’t think we ever got a reply to the above, unless I’m mistaken?

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Yes if you are a VAT registered business it doesn’t really matter but for the rest the EU customers it does. I was VAT registered when I bought it but not now.

£20 is too much on VAT on $73.23, so I expect you have been overcharged. There is a form for correcting it but the last time I looked at it I decided my time wasn’t worth it.

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The VAT doesn’t add up @20%, maybe there’s something missing from the invoice that was presented, such as shipping etc. I’ll have a look into it later.

I can see how the charge for the proofgrade is going to be irksome or other descriptors for Glowforge customers. Would be nice to have another view on this, cough @dan, cough cough @Rita, cough cough cough, Glowforge………….

What usually happens is the shipper omits the shipping from the invoice. Then customs make up a fictitious value based on weight and charge VAT on the invoice value plus that.

Just uncovered some secret footage of the clearing house where they decide on the duty amounts…

Wow. Big if true :wink:


Thing is in NL I get charged roughly 21% import fee over product+shipping cost and an €11 brokerage fee.

With $73.23 = €59.99 I’ll be looking at in the range of €25,- depending on the shipping cost.

Just looking at the paperwork that came with the shipment it says on both the packing list and commercial invoice Inco Term(s): DAP Delivered Duty Paid.

Having a quick google does this mean that Glowforge thought they were paying for the duty and other charges?

If it says Inco Terms DDP then it should be duty paid and you don’t need to pay anything.