During the holidays, over a million parcels are sent across Estonia. For the first time, the packages need to be declared when ordering from third countries.
Both Estonians and foreigners go to the post office. Both domestic and international packages are sent. In both cases, it's hoped that the packages will arrive by Christmas.
"I sent a package to my friends in Finland. I was told it would take around 10 days so I hope the package will arrive between Christmas and the New Year," Gailor said. "If the package arrives before the New Year, everything is fine."
On the postal service company Omniva's sorting line, over 60,000 presents arrive every day. The pace is fast and the presents will definitely reach homes, the company promises. Wednesday could be too late for the customer.
"When one orders from third countries, ie outside the European Union, then, unfortunately, it's too late. When one has made the order earlier and the package arrives before December 21, we will deliver it," the head of the Omniva's international operation Eduard Rešetov said.
During the holidays, about 1.8 million parcels pass through Omniva's routes, the majority of which, or 70 percent, are domestic orders.
"The local market is seeing a recovery with volumes growing. This year, Omniva's volumes have grown by up to 30 percent," Rešetov said.
Sometimes, however, the package gets lost or people don't look the notice up from the regular mailbox. This is mostly due to different interpretations of data protection law.
"Sometimes we don't have the phone number or email address, so we send the package notification home on paper to the customer," Rešetov said.
The process is long and therefore Christmas gifts can take even longer. If the customer does not respond to the paper notification, the parcel will simply be returned to the sender. So far, Omniva has not found a better solution.
From this year, VAT will be added to parcels from outside the European Union and must be declared. Parcels that are not declared before Tuesday will most likely be waiting in the customs warehouse for the holidays.
"The consignee must declare. Whether the customer himself or he can authorize to declare a postal company or courier company or a customs agency in his own name," Kaari Lainevool, Service Manager of the Customs Department of the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) said.
However, declaring a shipment may not be the easiest.
"Often people don't even know exactly what goods they have in the package or what goods they have ordered. They know in general terms, but they need a product code," Lainevool said.
Slightly less than 40 percent of parcel recipients use Omniva's paid declaration service.
Packages from third countries that have not been purchased from the e-shop but come directly from person to person must also be declared. For example, if relatives from Russia or Australia want to send gifts.
"In the case of a gift, the parcel must still be declared if it comes from a country outside the European Union. The parcel is taxed from €45 and if the value of the parcel is more than €150, in addition to VAT, customs duty is also taxed," Lainevool lists.
Once the declaration flag has been passed, the gifts will be delivered home by a courier, to a parcel machine or post office. The postal company has up to five working days to do this.
"It seems to me that people are very calm today. There are queues, but they are not so insanely long," Jaanika Kööp, the head of the Harju region of Omniva post offices, said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino