Maltapost explains processing fee on packages requiring further scrutiny by Malta Customs

MaltaPost is charging a fee for packages that either include medicinal products or when the packages delivered require further scrutiny by the Customs Department, MaltaToday has learned

MaltaPost (File photo)
MaltaPost (File photo)

MaltaPost is charging a fee for packages that either include medicinal products or when the packages delivered require further scrutiny by the Customs Department, MaltaToday has learned.

A number of MaltaToday readers complained about being charged a €5 processing fee for some packages ordered from abroad and collected from MaltaPost. Others pointed out that they were charged VAT even though the online seller they ordered from had added VAT to their original purchase.

One reader said that when he went to collect a €6 package from MaltaPost he was told he had to pay VAT again, as well as a €5 processing fee. When he complained, he was told that this was a fee rqequested by Customs. But, when contacted, the Customs Department categorically denied charging any fees for people to retrieve parcels ordered.

“Customs does not charge any processing fees,” a spokesperson for the Customs Department told this newspaper. “Processing is done by agent/courier and such fees are imposed by agent/courier (in this case Maltapost) at their discretion.”

A spokesperson for MaltaPost said that the processing fee was only applied in a couple of instances. This fee may apply if the item purchased from  outside the EU is excisable or if it requires further clearance from any government border agencies other than the Customs Department.

A case in point are medicines imported from  countries outside the EU (such as the UK)  and which require the clearance of the local Port Health Office to be allowed to be imported into Malta.

In most cases of items not including medicines, when the item arrives in Malta, MaltaPost performs  all the required customs clearance processes and delivers the package to the client without any processing fees being charged.

A processing fee may however be applied if the value of the item purchased upon declaration is not accepted by Malta Customs and the client is requested by Malta Customs to provide supporting documentation including the proof of payment. “In such cases MaltaPost provides additional services at a reasonable cost to have the item/s cleared,” the spokesperson said.

Paying VAT twice

When Maltese consumers purchase a product from a non-EU country, they effectively become an importer and are consequently liable to pay Customs and Excise Duty as well as Value Added Tax (VAT) on the same items they purchased.   

VAT applies to all digital and physical goods or services sold in the EU. “The VAT rate applicable in all cases is the one applicable in the country where the item is being delivered ie in our case, Maltese VAT rates apply,” MaltaPost said.

“It is important to also note that VAT is not paid solely on the purchase prices but is calculated on the actual price of purchase, any duty paid (if the customer paid duty on the item, then VAT must be paid on the duty too), the cost of freight or postage paid and any insurance costs up to the first place of destination within the EU.”

The spokesperson said that there may also be items which are purchased by clients from outside the EU and which are subject to further Malta Customs inspections prior to their release.

Such items would require further processing and handling by MaltaPost on behalf of the same customers. “In such cases, a processing fee is applicable for the additional services provided by the company,” the spokesperson said.

“This processing fee has been charged for many years by all Maltese and non-Maltese courier companies and all customs’ brokers for services rendered to clear such items through customs. They are not related to the cost of conveyance or the cost of the postage.”

As to customers’ complaints of having to pay VAT twice, MaltaPost explained that if customers purchase their items from sellers outside the EU who are registered with the EU’s Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) system, and provided that the same customers pay the VAT due at checkout to the sellers, they are not charged any processing fees by MaltaPost.

In these cases, the applicable VAT is paid directly by the client  to the seller and the VAT collected is passed on directly to the  Customs Department directly from the seller.

Customers may decide to undertake the customs clearance processes themselves, or to appoint their own customs agent  (other than MaltaPost) to handle the clearance process on their behalf.

In such cases no MaltaPost handling or processing fees are charged.