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Anyone ever have trouble with buying fossils and customs sitting on your package indefinitely? I bought some jacketed mosasaur bones from the UK, and they've been sitting in a ups warehouse since June, supposedly being held up by customs. I had actually forgotten it because work and a family vacation had occupied all my time for the last 2 months, then saw snollys prep the other day and realized I had never received it. Needless to say I'm a little annoyed and confused with where to go with this. The seller is trying to help, but ups is being useless and vague about the whole thing. I just wonder if customs would really hold it that long or if ups just lost my package and didn't want to pay me. My wife used to work for them so the latter would not surprise me at all.
-Andy- posted a topic in General Fossil DiscussionI am sure many of you are buyers as well as collectors, and one issue we would hate to face would be to have your legal fossils impounded by the customs, whether it be during delivery from overseas, or when you travel aboard with fossils. Personally, I've faced this situation twice. The first was when I imported a meg tooth from North Carolina. I was summoned to the customs office for smuggling in shark products. Thankfully, I managed to convince them that the megalodon was in fact extinct and not heavily endangered(glad the officer wasn't a living-meg conspiracist). Two years later, I had a Judith River theropod tooth seized mid-delivery, and I had to go to the customs again. This time, I had the misfortune of facing a paranoid officer who was determined that dinosaur fossils did not belong in personal collections. I did not have official papers with me declaring that the fossil was legal, and the officer grilled me for an hour on why I was smuggling precious dinosaur fossils. I challenged him to prove my Judith River fossil was illegal. He couldn't. Finally, after his higher-up was involved, they admitted my dinosaur tooth wasn't illegal after all, and I was allowed to keep it. It isn't always a happy ending however. My friend who was travelling overseas had bought common fossils like a Moroccan mosasaur jaw and some ammonites. In Paris, they seized his fossils, saying they had to check for the legality of the specimens. As he was in mid-travel, he had no choice but to leave his fossils behind. He never saw his fossils again, not even after negotiating with them for months. All this because he couldn't produce legal papers. Buyers and diggers would understand - most of the time you wouldn't be getting documentation from museums for your fossils... unless they are important specimens, in which case you shouldn't be trading them at all. But if you lack the papers, the customs can seize your fossil at any time if you can't prove it is legal. Do you see the logical fallacy here? Imagine say, you dug up your own tyrannosaur tooth in USA, stopped by Canada for a holiday, only to have the customs seize your fossil because you are unable to proof it isn't found in Canada. How would you feel? So to everyone who buys fossils, or bring them across countries, how would you ensure that your legal fossils can get through the customs?
I will be purchasing a few legal fossils with a combined value of a little over $5,000 US from an international dealer and having them shipped to New York. What do I have to expect in regards to customs and taxes? I had heard that fossils are considered antiques by US customs and therefor there are no taxes on importing. Anyone with any experience on this? The fossils will be for my own collection, not for resale.
Han.T posted a topic in General Fossil DiscussionHey everybody! After a long three weeks, my journey in England and West Europe is finally coming to an end. I will post a separate thread when I get home about all the fossilferous adventures we had with friends from the fossil community abroad! Now the following post is quite a long story so please bear with me. Earlier today I ran into some problems with customs when taking the train back to London from Gare du Nord. Previously during my trip I purchased a Moroccan partial mosasaur skull along with a Fox Hills Placenticeras (could be Sphenodiscus?) from a good friend in Amsterdam. Along the way I also acquired smaller items like some ammonites (from Normandy and Morocco?) from other parties. I have added some pictures of the items below. All these were withheld by customs there as they "needed to check the legality of the fossils for export". Unfortunately I do have a flight to catch tomorrow and it may take a few weeks for their sanctioned expert to examine and (hopefully) approve the release of the fossils. I can understand coming from their viewpoint that some of these fossils look quite impressive (I overheard some of the officers exclaiming "c'est magnifique!" when they saw the fossils) so they would want to check if any of them are important specimens that may have been stolen or smuggled illegally. From a collector's point of view, these are pretty common fossils and it feels silly to question these when the biggest European fossil show (St. Marie) is about to happen on their doorstep! It is also quite unfortunate that I did not have any papers or documentation for the fossils due to the informal nature of acquiring these. The customs officers were actually pretty friendly and apologetic that we had to wait a few hours (and postpone our train as a result) for their paperwork on the fossils to be finished. Other than a 2 page report on the situation and a promise of them getting back within 2-3 weeks, I do not have any other way to know what is happening however. Anyway, I would like to request the help of anyone here who may know a way to expedite the process with French customs(may know a contact there?) or may be able to coordinate shipping these fossils back (at my cost) with customs should they be released. I do fear that whomever expert they call upon may not actually understand the types and nature of commercially available fossils and I also worry about the logistics of bringing them back. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thanks for looking and I hope to post a happier thread about my other adventures when I get home!