Arduino, a weapon of mass destruction?!

A while ago I bought an Arduino from NKC at the cost of 22$ and today i got a letter form the German customs telling me i had to fetch it at the local customs office.
As this is quite a normal activity for me, as i buy much stuff in the usa, i have been thinking about the WHY as the Arduino was cheaper than the 22Eur limit they set (including s&h it was beneat 21Eur due to my calculation)…
Alright, coming into the office i was asked what i want and i told them that i had received their letter and would like to get my parcel with either the heroin or the bomb in it, of course, jokingly. The customs guy went into the back part of the office, laughing, and ame back with the ‘‘parcel’’ and asked me wether he was allowed to open it or if we should go to the police next door as this parcel was marked possibly dangerous. Of course he was allowed to open it and as the electronics showed he went back a step, asking what kind of thing that is.
Alright, Programming board was nothing meaningful to them, as was atmel board or anything else but “Its basicly a CPU on a motherboard for very tiny computers”. That made it pass this security check. So i had to hand them the invoice from NKC which was, of course, not exaclty what they wanted.
Although stating clearly:

Name                      Code           Qty   Each  Options
Arduino Duemilanove with  ARD-0044         1  22.00
ATmega168 $22 promotion
                                    Subtotal  22.00
                                    Shipping   5.80
                                         Tax   0.00
                                       Total  27.80

They asked me for an article number - which i didnt have (of course). They have also not been irritated by the fact that on the invoice Arduino Duemelanove was written as well as on the board itself, besides the name of the Chip… so they asked me where i bought it and now already 5 people at the customs were browsing NKCs shop (way to spread your name, isnt it? ;0)) and all they found was the regular price. That made them more suspicious. I had to answer all kinds of quests like what i would like to do with it and so on, finally one member of the team exclaimed that she found the 22$ promotion.
After that i had to sign a form that i received the Arduino and was free to go.
I love our burocracy.

And the meaning of the story: NKC, if you read this, please add a new item to your shop for a few cents so that you can put a sticker with ‘GIFT’ written on it onto the parcels so that German buyers dont end up at Guantanamo Bay!
And cosums suck.

Good to hear that it worked out ok in the end.
I think the moral of the story is: Don’t make jokes about drugs or bombs to bureaucrats – they really don’t think that’s a laughing matter.

Well, i made thta joke as i know those people there already…
It has just been the normal german burocracy… thats really exhausting…

Having moved to the US from another country, we forget how difficult it is to get a parcel from overseas. I too just got the $22 Arduino deal. Back in my old country, sometimes the package will just “get lost”, sometimes you had to pay custom fees depending on how much you wanted the parcel, and sometimes to got it without any problems.


I also purchased from NKC. 2 Freeduino Kits, 2 Harnesses, 2 Protoshield Kits, 2 Solderless Breadboards and 1 Ethernet Shield.

But I got no problems with the customs office. I do not remember if the parcel was opened by them or not … it was delivered onto my desk.

Before that I ordered one Meggy jr RGB Kit from Evilmadscientist - also no problems at the customs. Delivery was made onto my desk.

And a few month before I ordered from - no problems with customs, but opened and reclosed parcel.

I don’t know if there are any rules when they want to come by and take the parcel and when it’s allowed to be delivered.

All my orders were between 50 and 150 $ - so I’m the lucky one?



don’t let them write GIFT on it, they might think it has poisonous content :slight_smile: lol.

Have to say: having dealt for many years with german customs on a regular basis, i have to say they where quite pleasant to work with and always very practical. i know german burocracy sucks and so on, but you would not believe how much worse it is in almost every other country.

Mark it as “Sample” not gift. I ship things all over and if you put a $1.00 value with the word “Sample” there is very little problem, if at all. Usually the package will go stright threw.

Of course if the item is worth $3000.00 you might want to re consider marking it sample with a $1.00 value. :wink:

gift wrapping them always worked for me…

:smiley: omfg

Put a little mechanical wind-up clock or something that beeps every few seconds in the box. That always stirs up a little fun.


My wife ships internationally fairly regularly. Whether a package gets caught up in customs is pretty random, regardless of the country it’s going to. Marking anything on the box or paperwork that is not 100% accurate is just exposing both the sender and receiver to worse problems in customs. The best you can do is work with the sending party to assure that all the paperwork is complete and accurate. The OP’s story about the sale price not showing up on the site is a good example. All of your (sources of) information has to line up or they will get suspicious.

wow, bureaucracy ftl

Put a little mechanical wind-up clock or something that beeps every few seconds in the box. That always stirs up a little fun.

You get far better results if you also attach 2 wires to a block of grey molding clay. :sunglasses:

Lol, you think that’s bad, you want to try dealing with the “Auslanderamt” (foreigners office). I love German bureaucracy ::slight_smile: