Our first small shipment of 10 books arrived from Createspace via DHL (2 day service US to Italy) and we had to pay some extra fees when we picked this up. We have no complaints about these as this did not delay the shipment and was not unexpected.
The breakdown of charges is,
4% of item value as a Customs charges (USD is converted to Euro at some spot rate).
7.75 DHL Administrative fee
1.55 for the 20% IVA on the DHL Admin fee of 7.75
The customs charges are made up of IVA/VAT of 4% of the Euro price of the article. This is a special rate that Italy uses for books. This varies dramatically over Europe with mostly low values but can go up to the full TVA/IVA/VAT rates e.g. 25% for Denmark.
There is no import duties anywhere in Europe for books. Import duty is set equally across Europe with different rates on a per item basis (I think there are around 14,000 different item classifications) and decided by the EU every year. I don’t imagine that books will ever have duty on them. Excise taxes are extra taxes unique to a country usually used for high-value luxury items, alcohol or tobacco and I don’t know of any country in Europe that has excise duties for books.
As an administrative fee DHL add 7.75 Euro (plus they add IVA of 20% of that charge). As far as we can see this the minimum charge based on 2.5% of the shipment value. We believe that this minimum administrative charge varies by country and will go up with inflation over time.
Note that the IVA/VAT is not paid on the price you paid Createspace but about 25% smaller value. This suggests that the difference is what is “retained” in the United States and is “detached” from the item FOB. When we receive some more shipments then we’ll be able to build up a more detailed pattern.
So overall physical books are rather simple to ship. The scare stories you hear about shipment of items bought overseas into Europe or Italy is because of the shear volume of rates about the actual duties and taxes that are payable so you would be rather foolish to just assume what any item will be. The pan-European duty rates will also potentially vary from year to year, plus VAT/IVA/TVA rates slowly change and excise duties alter too.