Donating hardware to the Hackerspace

If people want to donate any hardware to the hackerspace

  • which address should be used for posting it?

  • what is the customs threshold?

  • if a donation is over the customs threshold or if there is any other potential customs problem, who should people contact in advance before sending anything?


As an add-on to the questions raised by @pocock ; I I bring a box with 16 laptops and 20 RaspberryPi’s with me through customs at Tirana airport do donate to Openlabs will that get me in trouble with (since it could look like I’m trading in computers)? How to get around this?

1 Like

@yeti a big concern is that Albania is not part of the EU customs union until they join the EU. This means that Albania’s local regulations will apply and somebody who knows more will have to tell us the optimum solution. In the worse case scenario you may need to take invoices for the goods, pay the VAT (20%) in cash on arrival and pay administration fees.

If Open Labs has a VAT registration maybe they can recover those fees (that is how it works in many other countries with a VAT system) and if not they might have to work with another organization to help process the import.

It’s encouraging to see such interest in supporting us, something which we had to actively pursue in the past years. Thanks so much for thinking of this, we really appreciate it (regardless the circumstances).

Unfortunately, everything over 22 USD gets blocked by customs, where VAT needs to get paid. Legally, that’s the only way to do it. If that’s something one would be interested to do, I’d be happy to find some budget so we can pay the VAT for anyone who wants to donate hardware if you let us know beforehand.

Something which we can look into is working with UNDP (United Nations Development Program) as they’re exempt from VAT to import hardware. I have no info about this, it’s just a random idea right now.

If there are any concrete plans, let us know and we can talk it out at the Board to make the best decision logistic wise.

Again, really appreciate the efforts


@elioqoshi, is the threshold $USD 22 inclusive of the postage charge, so a $15 and $9 postage fee would be $24, over the threshold?

Or do they ignore the postage fee and only look at the value of the item ($15 in the example above)?

If people do want to send small things under the threshold, do you want to publish an address they can be sent to, e.g. the hackerspace, or should people contact you on a case by case basis and/or send them to somebody’s home address?

For the problems sending larger items, if things were donated to a school or some other organization, would that avoid problems with VAT and could they be used for Open Labs and free software purposes?

1 Like

Just chiming in too, this is something I’ve been curious about as well. I wanted to do some outreach and poking around once I got back to the US to look into things like this. However, if the VAT ends up being a significant cost, then it almost defeats the purpose.

@elioqoshi This would actually be super interesting to know if it would be possible. I can’t offer concrete plans, but it would be helpful to know about if this would be a possibility ahead of time when opening conversations with people / other groups abroad who might be interested in supporting some of the work happening in Tirana.

I also have the same questions as @pocock here in the above reply. I know these might be tough questions to answer and need some research, but I think it would be worthwhile research whenever folks have the chance to take a look.

Thanks all!