After buying an item internationally customs intercepted the package and was asking in its declaration form for the PayPal receipt if applicable. Falsifying such a receipt would be beyond easy, so, PayPal being an officially registered money service, does that mean they can next easily check with PayPal whether the provided information is valid (e.g. look up the transaction number in question)?

I presume that if they can this will likely be internationally handled to some extend as part of the greater international financial system that allows for international transactions, but if it's not then a distinction can be made between the US government and any government in general.

Just for the record: I am not interested in falsifying anything, I am just from a privacy point of view interested whether customs could access this kind of data.

  • What country's customs? I don't know if it makes a difference (I'd assume it would.) This question is kind of moot, or am I missing an angle? It is about government in general?
    – MrChrister
    Jun 21, 2014 at 14:59
  • @MrChrister: As a lot of things are nowadays internationally handled (well, a couple of partially overlapping networks really) I would presume that systems either do or do not exists which would allow governments this. TBH, I wouldn't expect PayPal to differ from any other bank, but as my form explicitly mentioned PayPal and Visa it made me wonder (not MasterCard oddly enough though). Jun 21, 2014 at 15:08
  • PayPal is definitely not a bank. In the US most bank laws do not apply. I couldn't say about internationally. I keep reading the question, and I am just not really understanding what you are asking BUT I have never traveled internationally nor used customs, so it is likely that my lack of understanding is my problem.
    – MrChrister
    Jun 21, 2014 at 15:14
  • 1
    @MrChrister: Yeah I know, they are a payment provider, but they are under FinCEN supervision in the US. Either way, I cleared up that I didn't mean international travel, so much as buying packages internationally. Within the EU depending on the value of the package either taxes and/or import duties or nothing is levied on the package, so they want to see a receipt to determine the value. Jun 21, 2014 at 15:25
  • @David if the receipt if for the value significantly lower FMV - they'll ignore the receipt. I've seen that happening. They may also open an investigation, if this is systematic, and subpoena paypal for their records - if they find mismatch you'll most likely go to jail.
    – littleadv
    Jun 21, 2014 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


The answers depends from country to country. Custom's duty / declaration etc is specific to the country of export and country of Import.

If its physical goods being purchased, then the shipment has to have an invoice from the seller. This should would show the value of the goods being imported.

PayPal is one of the mechanism to settle the payment ... the invoice may have one or more way prescribed to make the payment. PayPal will not generate an Invoice.

Every country has regulation that can ask entities like PayPal to provide details of the payment. PayPal may or may not have the underlying transaction [i.e. knowledge of exchange of goods for the payment]. They can definitely provide the information if requested by the right authorities.

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