So, as of 8/23, the mask is in customs in NY. Hopefully I’ll have it within a week and a half?

In the mean time, I’ve been piecing together other parts of the costume. The parts that I think I need are:

    fur suit
    basket (for putting children in)
    Cow bells/belt
    a switch of birch branches or a horse hair whip.

And mask “enhancements”:

    LED lights for the eyes
    Some sort of eye lenses
    Sounds & a player

So, for the Fur suit I looked at a number of different options.
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OK, the money for the mask has been transferred to my cousin who will transfer it to the mask seller. Here is how this went.

It turns out in Austria in the Business to Consumer market, VAT must be included in the price. This means that the 630Euros for the mask already includes VAT. It essentially breaks down to:
525 Euros
105 VAT
630Euros total.

We verified this with the seller

Shipping is 40Euros standard mail, 72Euros for priority mail.

My cousin got a copy of the Customs form from the Austrian Post office and sent me the image files (attached to this post – both the original blank pdf, and what I sent the Mask Maker, Andreas Rettenbacher). I then filled out the technical stuff (description, value, HS codes (Harmonized Tariff Schedule), and sent it back to my cousin (also attached). I then used to transfer the money. Trnsferwise is kinda like PayPal, but it is international, and your first transaction is free! It is also a business venture by the people that started Skype. I read up on them to make sure that they were legit and not some scam or unreliable service. I looked for complaints from people net getting money that was transferred to them, or complaints that the transfer took weeks, etc. Everything seems pretty legit, and I believe I heard them mentioned by a guest on either one of the TWIT network podcasts, or maybe Tim Ferriss’s podcast. So I transferred to my cousin the 630Euros plus the cost of shipping. The Transferwise site says that it takes 1-2 business days. The money should get there either today or on Monday.

So my cousin should tell me when he gets the money. He will then transfer it to the mask maker who will then package the mask up and ship it here. I’m guessing that I will get some sort of confirmation of shipping or some way to track it. I chose the priority option. It is a gamble, but I’m still hoping that I can have it here within the next 3 weeks.

Now I just need to find the rest of the costume. The actual Krampus fur that you see in photos (like this example) is actually more expensive than the mask itself. There is no way at this point that I can afford it, so I have to make due with something else. I need the suit, some claws/gloves, some LEDs for the eyes of the mask, a belt with large cow bells, some sort of a switch (bundle of sticks) and a basket, possibly with some long doll legs and arms to poke out of the basket. I guess I have about 3 weeks to get this all together.

UPDATE: The mask has been shipped priority and is on its way! The Mask part of this series will continue when I get updates in a week or two. In the meantime, I need to put together the rest of the costume, and pretty quickly.

I will be chronicling that over the next couple of weeks.

(Picking up from part 3) So I read some more. I took notes. Those notes are posted as Part 4 in this series. I also made phone calls to the US Customs Office and the Customs Office within the US Postal Service (1-800-ask-usps). The key points learned from those phone calls are detailed here.

I’ll edit this and these other posts for formatting so that they are easier to read later, FYI.

I figured out the following:
• There is a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (referred to as HS outside of the US). It is international (essentially) and I would need to find out what this qualified as and what the duties were. (see part 4 in this series for details, keep reading if you just want to know the right code and thats it)
• Fees included in the purchase and shipping seemed to consist of:
a) VAT – generally paid as a sort of sales tax at the time of purchase to the buyer (unless his price already includes VAT)
b) The price of shipping that the seller will pay. This basically covers the cost of shipping from Austria to the US point of Entry, no matter where it is ultimately going.
c) There is a handling fee levied by the customs office
d) There are duty costs (you may or may not be able to get those back)
e) Once it is turned over to the US Postal Service, US Customs give the US postal service an invoice for all these fees
f) The cost of shipping from the US point of Entry to your doorstep
g) Any applicable sales taxes

So far I’ve been able to figure out:
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This is a long post. It is basically just all the notes I took while reading customs documents and speaking with customs officials. Much of it may be useless additional information (like all of the possibly Harmonized Tariff codes that the mask COULD be, once we figure out which one it SHOULD be). If you want to import a mask and want to figure out customs, you can just go through the rest of my posts in this series. You do not need to read through this post. If you want to import a fur suit, you might want to at least look at the stuff here towards the bottom where I break down all the relevant chapters of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

All of my notes are after the break, here:
Read the rest of this entry »

I needed to get a mask shipped. I remember that on Krampus Army’s website they would help broker getting a mask made and sent to you. The artist was backed up till at least October, so that wasn’t really an option, but I remembered they talked about getting a customs broker, so I contacted them.

They gave me the phone number of their customs broker, but this was a broker in Canada. They also told me that the most important thing was to classify the mask as ART for customs purposes.

I contacted their customs agent, but since she only dealt with Canada, she gave me the name of a broker in the US. I contacted that broker. He said that they were really only used for cargo and freight. His suggestion was to contact DHL. He said that DHL would take care of all the paperwork, make sure all of the duties were paid, etc. And while DHL is not huge in the USA, they are worldwide, mores than FedEx or UPS. I contacted DHL, told them what it was, and gave them the weight and approximate dimensions (8kg, and 80x40x50cm). The quote they gave me was $900. After my recovery in the hospital for the heart attack they gave me, they explained that they only do 3 day shipping, and not slower means, which is why it was so expensive. They recommended calling local broker. I had already called a broker, so they recommended checking out the prices for UPS and FedEx. I did. FedEx was $885, and UPS was $778. Thats more than the item cost, and that was NOT for 3 day or any kind of priority shipping. That was for ground service! The artist had told me that the Austrian Postal Service had quoted him around 40 Euros to ship it to the USA!

I started reading a LOT of customs documents and websites. I found a list of US Customs brokers near me via the website and called a couple. They all seemed to recommend FedEx or UPS :( When I asked them if I did it via regular post what customs documents would I need, they had no idea.

So I read some more. I took notes. Those notes will be posted as part 4 in this series. Remember they are my notes, so at times they may not make any sense to you. I also made phone calls to the US Customs Office and the Customs Office within the US Postal Service (1-800-ask-usps). The key points gained from these calls will be in part 5 of this series.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Did the emails get lost? Did they ignore them thinking I was some sort of scammer? Did they just not want to deal with sending something to the US? Were they being too protective of their art form and felt it was made by Austrians to be used just by Austrians? Something else entirely? Luckily, I have relatives in Austria. I contacted my cousin and asked him to help me out. He emailed my first choice mask maker (of the 4) and got a response right away. :) He basically explained to the maker that I was of Austrian decent, and mentioned the town where I was from (I moved to the US from Austria when I was about 2 years old or so – my entire family on my father’s side still lives in Austria), and explained that I would be wearing the mask to the largest Sci-Fi convention in the world (and would take pictures), and that Atlanta has several Krampus events and I would be wearing the mask to those events. So, something in there caught the maker’s attention and he emailed back.

We went back and forth several times. I picked a mask, he said it was too big to ship, I picked another on and he said it was already sold, etc, etc. until I finally found a mask that I liked and he was able to ship. It is worth noting that he had both new and “used” (or perhaps they were unsold from the previous season?) masks. Unfortunately for my wallet, the one that we finally agreed upon was a new mask (the initial one I wanted was used and a good bit cheaper, but it was not shippable due to its size :( ).

The cost was 630 Euros (about $685 USD) – quite expensive, but it is handmade, hand-carved wood and paint with horns and fur. You simply can’t get them anywhere else, and it is a genuine piece of Austrian folk art purchased from the artist himself. Yes, it is a costume, but it is much more as well. And, I had plans. Ever since I saw my first Perchtenlauf in 2008 (I couldn’t believe I had never seen nor heard of Krampus before from my family, and I even lived in Austria as an early teenager in 1982-1983 – the perfect age for getting into the Krampus festivities)I was hooked! It was so much fun and the legend was so fascinating to me! This was unlike anything in the USA at all. The closest thing was Halloween. These demons were running around making tons of noise, whipping people, causing havoc, and posing for photo ops. It was such a blast! I thought, I HAVE to find a way to bring this tradition to the US! So, I’ve been putting aside money for a quite a while for this purpose and I have enough saved to pay for the mask. VAT and shipping I will have to pay out of pocket.

So that is my next step, finding out how to ship this thing. My worry was that because this has horns (which I later found out were synthetic and not real) and real goat fur, it might cost a bunch of money in import duties and fees. Thus begins the next part of the story, navigating my way through customs and shipping and duties and taxes across 2 countries.

This is the beginning of a multi-part series on how I am going to build a Krampus Costume. The mask will be an authentic Austrian Krampus mask imported into the US, and the rest will be stuff assembled here (fur, belt/bells, claws, basket, childrens body parts, etc.). The first few parts will deal with the importing the Krampus Maks into the US and all that it entails. It starts with trying to get some of these mask makers to even respond to my emails. Here we go…

I wanted to get a real Austrian Krampus mask. Actually I wanted to get an entire costume, but I found out that it would just be WAY too expensive.

There are basically 3 ways to get a Krampus mask:
- Contact a mask maker, purchase it from him directly, and have him ship it to the US
- Go on the Austrian equivalent of CraigsList (there are 2 of them, linked below) and buy it from an individual and have them ship it
- Go to the Krampusshop (link below), which is a store that sells Krampus items and also sells masks on consignment, purchase from them, and have them ship it.

Austrian Craigslist:

    • Krampusshop:

      I looked at the Austrian equivalents of Craigslist. You could find really good deals on used masks there. Like upwards of 75% the price of buying a new one. The problem is someone could just take my money and never ship it. There are other problems that I will discuss in greater detail later (essentially since it is art they will have to prove that they paid VAT and they will have to offer some sort of proof that the mask was not stolen – IOW, they have to have the original purchase receipt). So, buying via the Austrian Craigslist is out of the question.

      I looked at a whole bunch of Krampus Mask makers. I tried to figure out, as best as I could, how much a mask would cost – some had prices, some did not. In addition, some simply did not have any in stock, and would only make them on demand/request, and were backed up till October or later. I wanted it sooner than that. I was (am) hoping to get one in time for DragonCon 2015 on Labor Day weekend.

      So immediately I narrowed down my search to masks that were ready to ship. At this point I’m looking at new, used, or un-purchased masks “from the previous season.” I also tried finding information for my favorite mask maker, Thomas Einwaller, but apparently he isn’t making masks anymore, and also his masks are incredibly expensive! I found 1 used one for sale for 1800 Euros. OUCH! I ended up looking at about 4 different mask makers. I perused the sites and put pictures and prices (when given) into an Evernote file. I then sent some of the pictures to some friends to get their opinions on which one they liked the best. I would weigh that with the price and my own opinions to make a final decision.

      So I contacted all of the mask makers, 1 of which was one of my other favorites (and was the guy I am going to buy a mask from, but more on that later). I wanted to know IF they would even ship to the USA, and how much the shipping charges might run, and what would be the best way to get them the money. I got NO responses. A couple of them I contacted a few times over the period of a month. I got no response. The one that I ended up going with I emailed the email address on his website w/ no response. 2 weeks later I used to contact form on his website to contact him. No response. I found his Facebook page, liked it, and posted there, asking my questions. I got no response. It is worth noting that my emails were all in both German and then English (in case they spoke English and my own German was un-readable). Nothing. No responses from ANY of the mask makers. More in the next installment…

Tickets are still left for the Krampus Ball in Los Angeles. Details can be found on their website, here.

Details on Facebook, here.

Check out the Krampus tattoo here.