The Åland Islands are special in many respects, but the one thing especially relevant for people living here is the fact that Internet shopping is more difficult than in the surrounding countries… Everything must go through the customs and in many cases you end up paying much, much more than you should. Åland is namely excluded from the application of tax systems according to EU directives. Despite the fact that Åland, like the rest of Finland, is part of the customs territory of the European Community, it is not included in the fiscal territory meaning that there is a tax border between Åland and mainland Finland as well as between Åland and other EU countries. Why? Well, basically, in order to sell booze on ships 😀 A tax free sale in the ship traffic is the reason why Åland is excluded from the excise EU tax directives – the ships stopping on Åland even for just 10 minutes can sell tax free. And considering how many people are taking the special cruise to Åland without actually stepping out of the ship to visit the islands, and are on the cruise just for buying booze, there are clearly many who like that kind of agreement. But when you as a person living on Åland buy stuff through Internet and forget to inform the seller that your price must not include VAT, you end up paying double VAT and probably hate the exclusion from the application of tax systems according to EU directives. And even if you do remember to inform the seller and get the right price, so to say, it is still annoying that your purchase is not coming to your doorsteps or the nearest post office just for pick up, but you have to fill the forms and deal with declaring your goods. And it is not only when you buy stuff – on several occasions, I have been forced to declare normal letters only because these were sent to me as registered letters (!!!). I am not fan of this exclusion even though I buy booze on the boats more often I buy other stuff through Internet 😉
Anyways, after I made a mistake once of not informing about this VAT thing and paying much more than I intended to, I am pretty careful in that sense. Thus, all the brand new digging and documentation equipment I recently purchased for the excavations (including some more grip seal bags… well… about 2000 more to be honest 😀 ) found its way into my apartment without any major headaches (except then these usual ones that are related to Internet shopping on Åland… that were somewhat enforced by the fact that declaring things bought from one and the same seller and billed as a unit, but sent in different packages whereat you do not know what is in which package and thereby you do not know the value of each separate package, is even more complicated requiring personal visit to customs office…).