Sending electronics per post

I bought new MacBook Pro and now I want to send it to my sister to Poland as a gift. So far I found it impossible to do.

  • first I tried the regular Swiss Post, they said it would be uninsured so they advise against it
  • then I tried with TNT, the company that Apple sent it with. 250 CHF was the cost!
  • then I tried UPS and I found out that sending it from Switzerland, even as a gift, would force me to pay the Polish VAT of 23%
  • so I went to Germany and tried with DHL - they don’t send laptops
  • so I tried DHL express - they said they only deliver laptops inland, internationally not because lithium ion batteries can explode on an airplane!
  • Hermes & DPD only insure up to 500 EUR, and the laptop is worth 1500 EUR

I’m totally frustrated. I planned to bring that laptop to my sister for Christmas, but since Poland is on risk list, I’m not going. Do you have any experience or ideas?

To Serbia I send electronics like laptops via the bus travel companies. I pay something like 20 bucks for a laptop. And it’s picked up by my relative somewhere along the way in Serbia. Any buses from CH to Poland?


So it’s not impossible?

I’m guessing you still have all the fancy packaging that it arrived in from apple?

Given no other option, I would possibly re-bubble-wrap that package in an other package, send it with swiss post and hope it doesn’t break.
(However, I’m not sure if additional diy wraping makes the package safer or not…)

My experience is, that the orginial packaging notebooks arrive in is pretty save.

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250 CHF for the shipment plus 350 CHF duty/VAT. It’s not economically viable. What is your point?

And duty is no problem? They don’t check the bus at the border if it doesn’t “smuggle” any stuff? Sadly, I don’t think there is any direct bus from Zurich to Warsaw. You’d have to switch in Berlin or Prague.

Yes I have the original carton wrap. I’m not so much afraid they would break it, as I am that they would lose it, or maybe an empty box would arrive, with laptop stolen. How am I going to find them then?

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Good point, didn’t think about that.
Maybe the postal gods are telling you to visit your sister in person.

Jokes aside:
Maybe there is some option, that doesn’t insure the package but decreases the risk of loss/theft? Like delivery against signature, or pick up at the polish post office (in a PO box)…

What about Fedex? or taking a plane :grin:

I think it will be much safer to wait until the borders reopen (after Christmas) and then deliver the gift by hand…

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In case you missed it, I can’t fly to Poland because it’s on the risk list.

Sending through any company from Switzerland would trigger duty. It’s really complicated. I need to attach the original bill in 3 copies and then pay the duty. At least that’s what I could find out. It’s mostly aimed at businesses. It’s as if private persons don’t send laptops per post!

good point… I shouldn’t post such stuff online. IT’S JUST HYPOTHETICAL!!!
I never had a HYPOTHETICAL issue, as they deal with it, HYPOTHETICALLY.

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Just some stuff about export/import :
For a 1500 CHF new laptop, you will be legaly obliged to declare it at customs, even if you will bring it yourself. You will be able to get the 7.7% Swiss VAT refunded and on the other hand you will have to pay the 23% VAT of Poland. Some duties might apply. you can check it on the tariq website of the EU

At an airport, they will look for new packages specifically.

You can check the applicable code on this website. you will also need the origin of goods :
TARIC Consultation (

It seems that the tarriff code for Laptops is 8471300000, therefore the duty according to the website is 0% (I assumed origin China).

That would be for the legal side. So in this case, even if you bring it yourself, you will declare export here, get 7.7% back and declare import in Poland, you will have to pay 23%. BTW, the VAT of the receiver is mostly paid by the receiver if you use a forwarder, + a fee for the customs paperwork.

As a general advice, I would like to point out that people often forget that Switzerland is not in the EU, and that in this case customs and tax regulations also apply to private citizens. Especially for valuable items like in this case. In this case, buy the product from a merchant in the EU, even if it seems less expensive. The hassle will be different as you can experience now. (Can you still send it back and buy it from a local merchant in poland ?)


EDIT : BTW, the offers you got until now do not include VAT and Customs, as well as Custom declaration fee levied by the custom agent. Except if they say it is DDP (Incoterms 2020).

EDIT 2 : if you go yourself by car, you might have to declare only at the country of entry. In this case it would be Germany or Austria (most probably). Not sure about that though, could be you have to declare Transit at each different country.


My point is:
It’s obviously not impossible.
It’s just expensive.

As long as you’re following the law, someone has to pay VAT anyway. You or your sister. Even if it’s a gift. So VAT is irrelevant (again, as long as you play by the rules).

That was my takeaway regarding the Swiss Post, about eight years ago. You couldn’t insure its actual value if above 1’500 CHF as a non-business customer. And that’s not even mentioning Li-Ion battery regulations yet.

At least Germany has a simplified procedure below a certain threshold for private individuals - above that, it’s probably normal customs procedures.

In the specific case of Apple products / laptops, you could have ordered them as a gift from their Polish online shop. Apple has similar net prices all over Europe - just adjusted by local taxes and charge.

This is just intended to (maybe) help other, I do realise it’s no helpful advice to you personally at the moment (since you already bought the item in question).

He’d have to declare its contents though, on the shipping box. That might alert and attract potential thieves even more.


Nearly every country got them. However the limits are not in these ranges in general (Switzerland is actually quite generous with the limit being 300 CHF. In Germany it is more like 90 Euros as far as I remember.

I’m not speaking of the “free” traveller’s allowances (300 EUR for most travellers to Germany) but about additional, higher limits for simplified declarations and calculations of duty (e.g. 700€ and 1200€ in Germany).

Ok was not aware of this one. As far as I can see mostly a combination of VAT + custom duty, which makes it easier.
Thanks for pointing that possibility out.

Thanks for the informed post, @Patirou. Just as I suspected, this stuff is complicated. To respond to all the suggestions and “you should have” “why didn’t you”, I need to give more detail.

I purchased the Macbook in intend to use it personally. And I was going to bring my old Macbook to my sister for Christmas. Nothing wrong about that, or? That’s what normal people do, no? I don’t suppose anybody would bat an eye at the airport on me transporting a used 4-year old laptop?

Then after I played with the new laptop, I had a change of heart. I thought I will give her the new laptop and wait for the next year’s models.

So if I understand correctly, in the light of the law, both operations would have been illegal? (not the transport of MY laptops through the EU border, but giving them away without paying customs & VAT?) And what VAT should be paid for the 4yo laptop? Surely not the price I paid when it was new?

In such considerations, we quickly run into some absurd scenarios. By the way, when I was in a German border town on Saturday, there was a long line outside of Deutsche Post branch with people sending big packages. Go figure…

So you’re saying the M1 models are not good? How did you buy it? Any chance the theft/houshold insurance would pay for it if the Swiss Post loses it? I usually buy electronics with my Gold Visa exactly for these advantages (best price guarantee and loss/damage insurance).

Queues are always humungous at Deutsche Post. Still trying to close some saving account over there and it is a nightmare. Mostly local people though.
As long as the package had a value inferior of x euros when it passed the Swiss/German border, there is no problem from the law side (or 300 CHF when going from Germany to Swiss). There is the whole business model of postal addresses in South Germany, so the goods can be sent without custom declaration, and even no VAT declaration in CHF (and if they declare the goods export at the German station, they get the German VAT back…)