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Postal error causes customs fees for Svalbard packages to be sought

Those receiving parcels by mail in Svalbard are erroneously being asked to pay customs fees before the packages are sent from the mainland due an error in new regulations implemented by Norway's postal service, officials said.

Svalbard is generally exempt from customs fees under the Spitsbergen Treaty, which excludes taxes directly supporting Norway. But Helge Ask, manager of the Svalbard post office, said locals are bringing in bills for customs fees, confused about why the charges are being sought.

"Don't pay it," he said. "Check with the post office first."

Ask said the postal system's new policy for processing mail apparently doesn't recognize Svalbard's exemption, so employees here are having to contact Oslo officials to get packages delivered without paying the fees.

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