This was the first time that I'd organised to send over items by air cargo using a freight forwarder without the help or involvement of someone else. This time I'd contacted the freight forwarder to ask what I needed to do and about the process so I could write about it.
I contacted a freight forwarding & logistics company in the UK (given fictitious name of 'Company A') who others had dealt with previously to send goods over by plane to Sal. I thought the prices would have been reasonable as I'd heard they were, however it didn't quite work out that way. The person at that 'Company A' they had dealt with had recently left to work at another company and I was told I would have been better off contacting him at 'Company B'.
Anyway, I started liaising with someone at 'Company A' who provided me with some information. After numerous emails from me asking for further info I was becoming a bit concerned as I still didn't know all the answers or know what it would cost me for the goods to be air freighted to Cape Verde. I'm only guessing, but it could be so much per kilo for freight forwarding + any storage fees. After confirming all the items and item costs that were to be delivered to 'Company A', (please note you must give the freight forwarder advance notification of what is going to be delivered to them and the purchase price or your goods will be turned away at the gate).
Sometime after that I received a quote for delivery of all the items to Sal, my first reaction was to say 'oh gosh' as I hadn't expected it to be as much as it was. It was then I was informed that I could ask another freight forwarder to collect and forward my items, that's if I wanted to look for an alternative and cheaper freight forwarder, but that it would cost me something in admin and storage fees at 'Company A' which I would need to pay to them before the goods would be released to another company. I felt slightly relieved to be honest. That's when I got in touch with the person who'd previously worked at 'Company A', who was now working at 'Company B'.
I obtained a quote from the contact person at 'Company B' for their freight forwarding service, it was much better than the one provided by 'Company A'. I organised with both companies that my goods would be collected from the storage facility at 'Company A' and I paid them for admin and storage costs to date which was £25. I also paid and confirmed the payment by bank transfer of the amount I needed to pay 'Company B' for their services, before they would organise collection of the two boxes for the following day.
I'll share the info about the initial inquiry with 'Company A' in another blog when I get around to writing it.
I managed to take some photos and add them with some text below to explain what happens this end of the Ocean. Together with other blog posts or pages on importation you will start to get a better picture of what can be done and some costs involved. I haven't stated what the two quotes were from each of the Companies I have mentioned in this blog, because they won't be, as far as I'm aware, 'fixed costs'!
As already stated, the freight forwarder needs to prepare your paperwork and they will need to know what goods are to be sent over and their costs. They will then prepare:
1. A 'Freight Invoice'
2. An'Invoice' for the cost of your goods'
3. An 'Air Waybill'. The three documents were sent to me by email. All docs were in English.
I had been informed by another Expat that they thought that, if my goods were under a certain price and certain amount of kilos, I wouldn't need a Despachante or the documents translated into Portuguese. However, perhaps it would also depend on the type of goods you were receiving too!
Anyway all I can say is that my goods were in two boxes, one held a microwave, the other a mix of household items such as soft furnishings and a small electrical item. Total weight of the two boxes was 16kgs, although it said 18kgs on another document/email. The Freight Invoice was for £95. The Invoice with value for Customs purposes only, was £72.
It was important to me that I made sure that I informed 'Company B' to place my personal name on the invoice (not a business name) as the Freight Invoice would state that the goods were 'Personal Items' and had 'No Commercial Value' (not for re-sale). Having a business name on the invoice may have confused Customs or, they may have thought I was re-selling items and want to charge me commercial rates.
The previous week I had been informed by 'Company B' that my boxes would be on the Thursday flight from London Gatwick. On Monday this week I emailed the freight forwarder to ask if my goods had been sent on Thursday as notified. I received a reply email stating that they should have been, but for some reason they were not loaded on the plane on the Thursday (apparently this sometimes happens so best follow it up as I did for the freight forwarder to track where the goods are). On Tuesday I received a confirmation email saying that my two boxes were on the flight to Sal that day, so I could go up to the Cargo Terminal on the Wednesday to collect them.
I was told to take the three documents with me to the Cargo terminal. I also took my passport just in case, but it wasn't needed.
On the Wednesday morning I took an Aluger up to the airport, cost 100ecv. I had been briefed by a friend on where to go first, this was to the office on the left side of the cargo terminal which I now know is CV Handling. Inside the big sliding doors is an office where I handed my documents to the lady and she found the related cargo document in her tray for my goods.
I then signed the form before then she handed me a copy together with other paperwork. I then had to take the paperwork to the other side of the cargo terminal into the Cais Exportação and Office.
In the image below there is a side door which is sometimes locked if the staff are in the storage area. However there is a security guard on duty as well as a Police Officer and they are located at inside the front entrance.
The office was empty when I entered but the Security Guard summoned a member of staff and I handed him my paperwork. After some checks I was told to take the paperwork to the Customs Office. The entrance to the Customs Office was along a passageway at the side of the airport 'Arrivals' area, see images below.
The lady in the Customs Office was telling me something in Portuguese which took me some moments to understand. I was being asked to go to the Arrivals area as her colleague was there. On entry at arrivals I saw the same lady at a side door talking to another man, both were wearing a white uniform The Customs man came over and spoke a bit of English, I was asked to wait while he sorted out something else. Five minutes later he took me back to the Cais Exportação with another lady who it seemed was also there to collect goods out of the cargo terminal.
When we entered through the large sliding entrance door, the other lady was told to place her belongings in a tray, stand on a pallet, lift her arms up to the side and was screened by the female security guard who used a hand held detector around the lady's body, when that was done she was then allowed to enter the storage area with the Police Officer, Customs Officer and Cargo office staff. I had to follow the same process before I could enter, but I was asked to leave my bag outside in the tray, the other lady didn't have a bag just her phone and purse.
It took a while for the other lady to have her paperwork processed, her box had some sort of chemical in it for laminating, so she had to answer questions about that and provide explanations. The box was opened and checked. Her paperwork was processed, she paid a sum of money to the Customs man and was given a receipt before being allowed out of storage with her box. The Police Officer stood by us all the time.
My two boxes were located and brought to the table by forklift truck, the boxes were opened and inspected by Customs, the staff and the Police Officer. I was asked for my invoice and the member of staff went to get it from his office, he returned and handed it to the Customs Officer. My invoice didn't have a breakdown of the prices of each item, just one total amount (£72). I was asked by the Customs Officer how much I paid for my microwave. Note: They may ask how much certain items cost to check if the declared cost on the invoice is actually accurate or what the cost should be if they think it should be more.
I was also told by another expat who has had items air freighted into Sal the same way, that the Customs charges could be 30% or more, or less for certain goods, it depends what they are and how much they cost and weigh!
After a while my paperwork was complete and I was asked to pay 200ecv to the Customs Officer. I tried to pay with Euros but they don't accept Euros, I went get my bag and was then allowed to take my bag back into the store area, I found some change so paid him and I was given a receipt. The fork lift truck took my goods outside and I was told to go back into the Cais Exportação Office where I handed another member of staff my paperwork, he entered some info into a book or on the computer and asked me for 100ecv, I paid that and was then handed my paperwork and told that was all finished, so off I went to call a taxi to take me back to Santa Maria with the boxes.
This was a good experience for me but costly. Although the items were paid for when I purchased them online, on top of that I also had to pay obviously the costs of 'Company B' plus Company B's admin and storage fee of £25. The total amount paid for those was much more than the goods actually cost for me to buy, so investor be ware! If you are thinking of shipping out items this way, think about the goods you actually need, are they necessary? Is there a better, cheaper or different way to get them over here?
Next time I may try and share the costs with someone else sending goods out to Sal (but only if it's necessary) or, I'll wait until a friend is coming over who can bring an item for me, or when I am in the UK and can bring items back myself.