Numismatic and History Discussions > Ancient Coin Forum

International Shipping of Coin???

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Robert D3:
Hello Everyone,

I am new to the board here but I've been collecting Ancient for about 15 years or so. I recently made a purchase of a Gold Celtic Stater from a European dealer (France) on and received an email about having to pay customs on the item. I do not know the first thing about going through this process as most of my purchases have been in the US where I am located. Does anyone have any helpful info for a newbie to the international shipping scene?


Curtis JJ:
Hi Robert,

Yes, I've had exactly this happen a few times. In every case I did receive the coin after paying. Clarification questions: Is the coin already shipped, and has it been stopped by Customs? Who sent you the email: the US Customs, the shipping agent (e.g., DHL, FedEx), the vendor?

(I forget which imports are subject, whether it's over a certain price threshold (maybe >2k or 3k?), but for me it was always gold coins, so it may be a gold import duty?)

In my experience, it's been the shipping agent who contacted me about paying the import duties, usually while the coins were being held by the US Customs. It was always straightforward: they say how much to pay (I think usually like 0.5% or 1%, maybe even less); I pay with credit card; they release it.

The only complication I've had were occasions when the seller didn't provide the proper paperwork to indicate the coins were either exempt from import restrictions or satisfied the legal requirements.

Import restrictions on "cultural property" & antiquities are a different thing from taxes/duties. That probably isn't an issue for you, or they would've said so in the same message (or sent an additional one).

Even if that's an issue as well, it should still turn out OK: I've virtually always been able to get my coins through by asking the dealer for help. (Maybe half a dozen times in the past couple years because the seller forgot to include the paperwork, and many, many more times between the 1990s & 2010s. Only once did Customs fail to release the coins, but that was because the seller -- amazingly -- admitted the coins were illegal! So, in that case, I actually agreed with the forfeiture and didn't contest it at all, and the seller gave a refund. Well, I don't want to scare anyone, but there was also a theft, maybe in the 00s, but it was a very specific situation.)

Joe Sermarini:
Antiques (and thus ancient coins) are exempt from customs duties. If you have the right paperwork and description there are no customs duties.

Hi Joe,


This is a shock to me.

Whenever I receive international packages via mail, I never had to pay a customs tax.

However, when the overseas dealer uses a private courier (DHL, FedEx, etc.), I sometimes must pay a customs tax. This doesn't happen with low value items. I only have to pay a customs tax for high value items. I have had to pay a customs tax maybe 2 or 3 times in my entire life (in 25 years of collecting ancient coins).

When this happens, I usually receive a phone call from the shipping agent/private courier (DHL, FedEx, etc.). I have never been contacted by customs.

The amount isn't much. It is always a small fee, even for high value items. I pay via credit card, and the coins are released.

My experiences confirm what Curtis JJ wrote.


Jay GT4:
Meep you may be confusing customs and brokerage fees.  Companies like DHL and FedEx will charge these fees to process the shipment through customs.  They may also collect any sales tax that is applicable (Canada).


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