World’s Most Expensive Tortilla Chips (or “ridiculous Italian customs”)

Ciao Readers!

Today I am sharing with you (only figuratively, as it’s all for me & Steve!) the wonderfully thoughtful care package my sis-in-law sent (thanks again!!!).  As you may recall, back when, I had a post entitled “Groceries of My Dreams.”  Well, my sis-in-law decided to send some of those things, as well as some other goodies.  Very thoughtful of her, yes?  And I bet she paid alot more to ship it here than the cost of the actual contents of the box….

So, you would think sending it DHL and paying a large fee would get our box here easily.  Ha!  (Have you not been paying attention this past year?)  NOTHING in Italy is that easy.  First came the forms (there are ALWAYS forms).  Since this was “food” (I’m not sure 4 out of 5 nutritionist would agree), it required a Ministry of Health form.  With that, we had to send Steve’s passport and permesso (why on earth would a jar of Fluff require all this?!?!).  And then for the final insult to injury….wait for it….

For receiving a wonderful gift, we had the privilege of having to pay customs 81 euros to hand over the box (about $105.00)!!!   So, I am pretty sure at this point we are now in the possession (though not for long) of the world’s most expensive tortilla chips.  (As I opened the bag and began to eat them I would count with each one, “one dollar, two dollars….”).  But man, are they good!

Some of the goodies we got:

car pack

The moral of today’s post is:  Be careful what you wish for!

Photo Albums and other Forbidden Mail

Answer: Shoes, playing cards and photo albums

Question: What are just a few of the things you CANNOT mail to Italy!?

I would like to avoid any additional complications (and costs) with customs than I already learned to expect from my earlier box-mailing incident.  As I was informed by a very wealthy passenger on my  flight to here (who has a couple of homes in Italy), it is very difficult to get your stuff into Italy (I confess, I used my air miles to fly business class).  At the time I didn’t pay too much attention, because she was talking about the kind of “stuff” we really needn’t worry about – jewelery, expensive art, and other rich people things.  But after I had such trouble with my little box filled with books and green chile, I realized I needed to pay attention.   I have been carefully going through the list of things you are not allowed to send into Italy.  It is truly mind-boggling.  And while you may (as we did) laugh out loud,  this is not a joke….

This is a (partial) list from the United States Post Office’s website:

  • Albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage stamps, etc.).
  • Articles of platinum or gold; jewelry; and other valuable articles unless sent as insured Priority Mail International parcels.
  • Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them.
  • Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof.
  • Clocks and supplies for clocks.
  • Compound medicaments and medicines.
  • Coral mounted in any way.
  • Footwear of any kind.
  • Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.
  • Hair and articles made of hair.
  • Leather goods.
  • Nutmeg, vanilla; sea salt, rock salt; saffron.
  • Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap).
  • Playing cards of any kind.
  • Ribbons for typewriters.
  • Saccharin or products containing saccharin.
  • Toys not made wholly of wood.

SERIOUSLY!!!!!    As you can see, this technically means we can’t bring our photo albums (clearly restricted), our South Park characters (“toys” not made entirely of wood), our jackets (leather), our iHome (clock)… and our hair?!?!?   What I did learn from the woman on my flight is that you can bring many of these things as personal items  (think spare ibuprofen and my running shoes) in your luggage (she was right, they don’t check luggage), just don’t mail them.   While this list seems downright comical, there is (sort-of) an explanation…  Some of these things are just restricted products (saccharin?  [I can’t confirm this]), others are taxed (playing cards), and the majority are things that are or were traditionally manufactured in Italy and they basically use these restrictions to protect their economic interests in these manufactured goods (if you know more about these restrictions, PLEASE post a comment!).  From what I have learned, if you send over your own, personal, used items (pair of shoes), and clearly label every form, box, etc. as “effetti personali” (personal effects), you may be okay.  Then again, there are entire websites lamenting the loss of items (both restricted and not) somewhere in the Italian postal system… (They make this whole process look so much easier on “House Hunters International”).  Will let you know what we roll the dice and send, then what does or does not make it after we arrive!

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