Photo via The Odyssey Online

As you may know, door-to-door delivery of items purchased from abroad is back! In fact, the Argentine tax collection agency (AFIP) published two resolutions in the Official Bulletin with details on how to purchase items from abroad.

Wait. We’ve already been told a bunch of times that online shopping is back. Why should I believe it this time?

You’re right, you’re right. There’s been a lot of confusion, but here’s what’s up: when President Mauricio Macri took office in December, he lifted the restriction on foreign imports that had been instated under the previous Kirchner administration, and people started ordering items online. The problem was that Argentine Customs and the postal service were not ready to deal with the influx of goods and the system basically collapsed. So back in March, Alberto Abad, the head of AFIP, promised to reform the online purchasing system. And now, at long last, the reform was made official (it’s actually in the Official Bulletin). Also, AFIP released a video. It doesn’t get more legit than that.

So… It’s real? Door-to-door service for items purchased abroad is back?

Well, it’s not fully in force yet. But it will come into effect within the next 30 days!

Fine. What are the rules for buying stuff from abroad?

There are quite a few rules to comply with, for example, people will not be able to buy items for commercial purposes (i.e. resell them here in Argentina) nor will they be able to buy three of the same product. However, there are allegedly little to no restrictions as to what can be imported: iPhones, toys, food and textiles have all been authorized.

Is there a difference between using postal service and courier service?

Good question: that’s why there are two resolutions. Door-to-door courier service (i.e. it arrives at your house) will have a maximum of five purchases a year (maximum US $1,000 and maximum weight 50 kilos) according to Resolution 3916. Remember that courier service is more expensive.

If you opt for the postal service, Resolution 3915 outlines that you will be able to buy up to five items, with a maximum price of US $200 and maximum weight of 2 kilos.

What happens if I order something that’s over the maximum price or weight?

Really? They’re only just bringing online shopping back and you’re already too trigger happy to respect the initial guidelines? Calm down, Amazon Prime.

In all likelihood, you’ll have to go to the Customs Office in Retiro to pick up whatever it is you bought. However, there are subtleties depending on the case so make sure to ask/Google around before ordering.

How is it going to work?

Supposedly, from now on there will be five easy steps:

  1. Buy the product online. That’s fairly self explanatory.
  2. Complete a “Simplified Declaration of International Deliveries” with a tracking number for the purchase. With that number, you have to generate an Electronic Receipt (VEP) of the payment due, which is valid for 24 hours. You can pay via home banking or at the bank.
  3. Your item is sent after authorization. Once the item is authorized, it is assigned a tracking number that allows you to follow its route from abroad to Argentina.
  4. You receive the item at home. Remember you have a maximum price of US $ 200 and a maximum weight of 2 kilos if you do this via the postal service
  5. Notify the AFIP that you received your purchase. AFIP will inform you how many purchases you have left and block you from making more if you do not notify it.

Do I have to pay taxes on the items I buy?

Yes, although you don’t have to pay taxes for the purchase of up to US $25 a year. Once you’ve crossed that threshold, you have to pay a 50 percent tax.

To pay that tax, AFIP will create a “Simplified Declaration of International Deliveries” with a tracking number for the purchase. That will in turn create an Electronic Receipt (VEP) of the payment due, which is valid for 24 hours.

What happens if the VEP expires?

Just do it again and present it (remember that it’s valid for 24 hours). The Postal Service will withhold your purchase until you’ve paid the corresponding fee.

How long do I have to notify the AFIP that I received my purchase?

Once you’ve received the item, you have 30 days to notify AFIP online that you’ve received it. Do it sooner rather than later because if the arrival is not confirmed, you will not be able to order more items until you do.

Why is this a big deal?

Hello, person who has never ordered anything from abroad in Argentina. The trouble with package delivery goes back to 2014, when former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decided to restrict the purchase of products from foreign websites in order to prevent the flow of dollars. The restrictions meant that customers could only purchase a maximum of two items a year and effectively ended door-to-door courier services.

Also, you always had to endure an endless line of people waiting to pick up items purchased from abroad at the customs offices in Retiro whenever you ordered something online or when you received a present from a well-meaning relative abroad (you sometimes ended up having to pay fines worth more than the present: simply put, it was a nightmare).