Tag Archives: iceland

Protecting the domestic LED strip industry – Icelandic super taxes

Blah, another post about excessive import duties.  Boring, sure, but as heavy and obnoxious as always, and writing them all down gives me a nice record of them.


73% net import tax on 1480kr purchase price.

Bought a 1m strip of WS2812 led strip lighting.  $11.11, including shipping, or 1480 kr at today’s rates.  10% import duty, not sure why _this_ gets a duty charge, and not other electronics.  It can’t be an ewaste tariff, because none of the other electronics I’ve imported gets it, so I can only presume it’s protecting the nascent (non-existant) icelandic led strip manufacturing industry.  25% VSK,  Ok, expecting this, that’s just what VSK is.  and then the glorious 550kr fixed handling charge.  Some parcels get this, some don’t.  No way to control it, so no way to know in advance whether you should buy more on an order or not.  Hooray for consistency.

Total sum of charges: 550+386+146 = 1082 kr giving us an effective net import tax of just over 73%.  Excellent.  I love inconsistently applied regulations.

Who pays for shipping? FedEx, TI and overseas agents

Update: I lost this in my drafts folder for over a year!

I live in Iceland. It’s a nice place to live, but it’s small, so I often have to buy things from overseas, particularly in for hobby electronics gear, but anything small and cheap has this problem.

Now, let’s get this straight, I’m not complaining about customs or VAT. (Not today anyway) VAT here in Iceland is 25.5%, and is applied at the end, on top of shipping charges. Customs rate isn’t always as easy to work out.

Now, in this example, I bought a device from Texas Instruments, for $US4.99, or about 630 ISK. This was advertised as shipping included, worldwide. Add 25.5% VAT, 790 ISK. Not bad. So it arrived yesterday.

Now, what does that even mean? They’ve charged me ~473 ISK for “customs handling” It doesn’t seem to be anything like the VAT rate, or the VAT rate plus the customs rate. (FIXME – finish getting customs rate)

Customs officially don’t collect anything like this, they simply say that agents are allowed to charge for filing paperwork.

So, this seems to be some arbitrary amount they just felt like charging. Next we have 750 ISK for being “an unregistered customer.” Well, that sounds awesome. I didn’t choose this company, I ordered a product from Texas Instruments with shipping included. Who knows if it’s even possible to become a registered customer.

Then there’s VAT on those charges. So, a whole 120% charge (of original purchase) on being the wrong sort of customer and another 75% (of original purchase) for “handling”. I can’t actually see where they charge the VAT/Customs on the product itself, but the end result is that I’ve paid 170% of the original purchase ON TOP of the basic vat rate + the product price. (1345 ISK + 790 ISK)

How is this remotely reasonable for “shipping included” ? And who’s responsible? Texas Instruments clearly believes they paid FedEx, (or presumably FedEx wouldn’t accept the shipment?) I can only assume that FedEx delivers the package to Iceland, believing that they’ve been paid, but I have zero insight into what the deal is between the local agent (Hraðflutningar ehf)

I believe the party responsible is IceTransport. As they said earlier, local customs agents, defined here, are allowed to charge basically whatever they like. So they do. I presume they treat customers shipping outbound through them quite a lot better, but what are my options at the end of the day? I refuse to pay their arbitrary charges, they hold the parcel, and they’ve already been paid by FedEx/Texas Instruments? So they bin the package, and are already in front? Or do I just suck it up, and pay through the nose? They’re both distasteful.

Customs official answer on handling charges:


Review of Íslandsbanki Android App

Íslandsbanki has started offering a smartphone app, with access to your accounts, make transfers, and a bunch of things they probably shouldn’t have bothered with. Having ran into issues once or twice where I wished I could just transfer some money on the spot, rather than having to find a computer, or remember some account numbers, I thought this had potential. Here’s my review of the android version, version 1.1.0. I wrote a review for the android market, or at least started to, but it requires reviews be twitter length. Here’s the full review…

Things that are just bad, silly or outright wrong

  • Requires camera permissions. This seems to be for the built in QR code reader.
    1. There’s no need for building in a QR code reader! I have a separate app for that! This is a banking app!
    2. It crashes on my phone, (vodafone 845, android 2.1)
  • Requires directly call permissions. This seems to be for the “connect me to a branch” feature. This is a common feature, that is commonly done badly. Instead of requesting permissions to directly call numbers, (which allows you to call any number anytime) the app should simply fire the android intent to request a call. This has the benefit for the user that a) they see what call is about to be made, b) they can choose to complete the call with a different service, such as skype, rather than the regular dialer, and c) it properly integrates with any other phone call apps, that might record, or track for the user.
  • It’s an iPhone app? This is my only explanation for the UI. The back button and the menu button do nothing at all. There are UI buttons if you scroll down, and a cog wheel settings type icon that you have to press. Likewise, the currency converter section uses a custom built UI, rather than the built in android input methods. This means it looks different, the cursors are messed up, and the backspace button behaves weirdly. Really, use the built in input methods! Just make it a text box, with the numeric hints!
  • The login screen has a font problem with the password
  • The login screen doesn’t switch to numeric for the “auðkennisnumer” field
  • Not all my accounts are shown! “Mína siða” only shows the top 2 accounts, plus the first credit card account. I have an empty account in position 2, so it doesn’t show the main account. (It does show up in my list of accounts)
  • The screen showing the list of transactions is badly scaled and centered.
  • The list of transactions doesn’t allow showing the full transaction details

The rest

Well, it does mostly work though. That’s something I guess. However, a half decent mobile stylesheet for the general website would probably have done just as well or better, and been a whole lot less work. If you’re going to make it native, it should be done properly.