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The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

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The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:00 pm

Since questions about the costs (or savings) involved in buying music technology products from overseas come up so regularly, here are links to some recent ones to save us all having to impart the same information again and again and again... ;)

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=420370

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=416869

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=405474

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=393451

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=383958

www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php ... ber=361997

Hopefully these should answer most queries without having to start up yet more threads saying the same all over again :headbang:

Hint hint :D


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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby IvanSC » Sun Oct 07, 2007 7:55 am

An update on this: I am currently getting some partsd in from Nik in Malaysia (Ceriatone) and checked with customs and excise to see how I needed to proceed.
They pointed me at 01792366077 where I got a classification code for the items I am bringing in.
This also gave me a rate of duty of 2% on the shipment, plus of course the inevitable VAT at 17.5%
All you do is quote the classification code on your documentation and they apply the duty & VAT rate to the declared value, the courier delivering to you collects the money and Bob is your Uncle as they say.
Evidently it varies considerably as to what you are importing and how many, but it does seem like the tax is likely to be more than reasonable on most imported electronics.
Hope this helps.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby John Willett » Sun Oct 07, 2007 9:34 am

A few words of warning....

Don't buy radio equipment from abroad as it is likely to be on illegal frequencies - also there are a load of fakes of popular systems coming out of China - don't get caught.

On normal equipment, don't forget to factor in the cost of getting the mains sorted.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby jimbyjoe » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:58 am

hi all
whether or not this is 100% related...just my experience.

i live in the land down under aka Australia aka where you sent the convicts in the late 1700's; at the moment our dollar is worth about 90 US cents, which is really high. i have bought numerous things from the US, the most recent being a new MOTU 828 and DP 5.12. I probably saved about $400 rather than buying it over here. i've also scored several pedals quite cheap. then there's buying CD's etc. the only problem is that a lot of stores won't ship outside the US. there is a website called internationalcheckout.com; you tell them what stuff you want, they get it shipped to them and then forward it on - we used them once but their shipping is really expensive. a US contact would be really handy!
so unless it's a keyboard or a guitar I really like, I won't generally buy gear locally, because I can get it in a lot cheaper. we can import stuff up to $1000AUD without paying duty. even when it goes over you don't always get caught...and i know several guys who have got guitars in from the US.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby IvanSC » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:31 pm

John Willett wrote:A few words of warning....

Don't buy radio equipment from abroad as it is likely to be on illegal frequencies - also there are a load of fakes of popular systems coming out of China - don't get caught.

On normal equipment, don't forget to factor in the cost of getting the mains sorted.

John - if you ever need help with chinese orders for radio stuff etc., my brother Brian does a regular trade in radio crystals and other ham radio parts with several chinese companies and is more than happy to help. Go check him out on his website(s) which are mostly under Happysurfer & similar.
His call sign is AF4K
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby OneTrakAudio » Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:33 am

jimbyjoe wrote:hi all
whether or not this is 100% related...just my experience.

i live in the land down under aka Australia aka where you sent the convicts in the late 1700's; at the moment our dollar is worth about 90 US cents, which is really high. i have bought numerous things from the US, the most recent being a new MOTU 828 and DP 5.12. I probably saved about 00 rather than buying it over here. i've also scored several pedals quite cheap. then there's buying CD's etc. the only problem is that a lot of stores won't ship outside the US. there is a website called internationalcheckout.com; you tell them what stuff you want, they get it shipped to them and then forward it on - we used them once but their shipping is really expensive. a US contact would be really handy!
so unless it's a keyboard or a guitar I really like, I won't generally buy gear locally, because I can get it in a lot cheaper. we can import stuff up to jimbyjoe000AUD without paying duty. even when it goes over you don't always get caught...and i know several guys who have got guitars in from the US.
k

ahoy fellow convict... I'm 100% with you here. I now buy ALL my gear thru an american shop, based in California. Often saving me hundreds of $$'s, and it arrives within the week.

There currently is a huge debate here in australia regarding this phenomenon, alot of specialist aussie sellers are doing it tough. But even a cheapened product, like an 'off the shelf' product i get a quote for in numerous shops here in melbourne, cannot match the price from the US. and our dollar value to the [once] almighty greenback is helping alot.

although I've been told that alot of products you buy from o.s. means you have no warranty, only returning to seller.

so theres a risk.
but until the situation changes here, they have my business
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby oliallard » Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:37 pm

we live in a global trading place,
look at Ebay, I am in Canada and if I go ebay.ca, most of the stuff is from south of the border, yep, they are my south of the border...
They have invaded this market quiet agressively. Now, I am only human and good at math. So i did buy some stuff over there. And I got screwed more than once, xcuse my french. No matter the feedback, the so called reputation, I have bought brand new stuff with shelf marks. Over seas is an easy market as the complaints don't come walking through the door.
I keep buying the odd second hand gear but only from studio to studio. Mostly for things I need for the odd session. But the permanent stuff is bought in Canada and I have been on top so far when you look at services, warranty and trade ins.
As for Australia guys, I have also lived In sydney and Perth all up for about 10 years. Sure the cost of shipment has to dent the budget but retailers and importers mainly have to adjust to the dollar's value. They have now in Canada. The rpessure came from buyers putting the word to the retailers. It became clear that a distributor has to sell, also, to make money.
There is a collective conscience out there. Wake it up!
And we'll all win.

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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Brand New » Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:41 pm

Look at my "problem with alesis mixer" thread, which was bought in the states and has gone wrong in less then 2 months and alesis UK will not touch it......

all well and good importing kit until it goes wrong. :frown:
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby ef37a » Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:21 am

I started as an apprentice (tech' we now call them) in the retail(domestic)electronics trade. People made a decent living and customers got prompt eficient service.

Then some clown abolished Retail Price Maitainance. The result was the growth of super stores, Magnet was one of the fist I recall, grossly undercutting High Street shops. These guys(HSS) were NOT ripping anyone off, they had small premises and experienced staff. You needed informed sales people, not some chit of a girl who doesn't know a Pye is not food!Enough service personnel so that customers got next, often same day service. A well equipped workshop, test gear was WELL out of reach of the common man, because of my audio interest my firm had, uncommonly, a Ferrograph testset( took weeks to convince the Boss!) so we could do proper repairs and tape type setups on tape machines.

Remember, service technicians have to live in the LOCAL economy. You want service? PAY for it.

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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Spiked Lunch » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:56 pm

I'm hopefully going to order a synth from the US this week, if not, next week but I'd just like someone in the know to confirm what 'I think' will happen with shipment. I've never imported from the US before and as this is a lot of money to spend, I want to make sure that I do everything correctly.

This is kinda what I think will happen:

<Stage 1> I pay for the synth + shipping
<Stage 2> Synth gets built + shipped
<Stage 3> once it arrives in the UK, customs calculate my VAT and import duty
<Stage 4> How do I pay the VAT and import duty? Do I get a letter through the post or do I pay the Currier?

I'd be grateful if someone could enlighten me!

Thanks,
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Dan B » Tue Sep 09, 2008 5:57 pm

Customs calculate your VAT and duty on the price paid including the shipping price. In practice, what I've usually found happens is that parcelforce hold the parcel until you pay them the fee (e.g. by credit card over the phone). You're charged an extra £8 on top for the privileged of having your item processed by customs/parcelforce (which is another unavoidable annoying expense).

Still, even factoring all these costs in, it's still often waaaaaaaay cheaper than buying in the UK (most of my guitars were shipped from the US this way).

Other issues to beware of:
- power supplies from US won't work here
- warranty usually isn't valid outside the US.

Good luck!

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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Spiked Lunch » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:56 am

Cheers for clearing that up Dan.

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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby John Willett » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:56 am

IvanSC wrote:
John Willett wrote:John - if you ever need help with chinese orders for radio stuff etc., my brother Brian does a regular trade in radio crystals and other ham radio parts with several chinese companies and is more than happy to help.

Thanks - but modern radiomics don't use crystals - thank goodness as they were the problems in older equipment.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby John Willett » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:59 am

Dan B wrote:
- warranty usually isn't valid outside the US.

This is something to be aware of - if it goes wrong you normally have to ship it back to the dealer in the USA and then pay for shipping it back again (and make sure the paperwork is correct or you will have to pay VAT and Duty again if you get it wrong).
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Spiked Lunch » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:19 am

It's a modular synthesizer that I'll be importing. I read somewhere on there website that they'll often ship out the faulty part/component. Failing that, I'd just have to send the module off.

I'd much rather buy the system from the UK but it is unfortunatly not an option :frown:
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Kwaidan » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:04 pm

Mike Lynch wrote:It's a modular synthesizer that I'll be importing. I read somewhere on there website that they'll often ship out the faulty part/component. Failing that, I'd just have to send the module off.

I'd much rather buy the system from the UK but it is unfortunatly not an option :frown:

Is this a dotcom modular system, you're gonna be buying!

I was going to order one too, shipping was $180 to UK,
i haven't bothered to phone customs for VA and Duty fees
yet.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Badeshi » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:02 pm

A couple of years ago it was possible to have a weekend in New York and buy gear for the same price as UK.
benefits of free market??
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby mathewkruphen » Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:17 am

I think the cost of getting the products from the abroad is really fine for everyone. It saves our precious money. It is the necessary thing to look out by every person.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby jimmynitcher » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:31 pm

So Dan can you give us an actual example of a guitar, its cost in the US and the import cost on top and the saving against a UK version ?
I'd like to see some numbers on this if possible.
much appreciated
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Len » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:09 pm

This Bundle Box thing looks like an interesting option:

www.bundlebox.com/

Story on the Metro London newspaper: http://bundletech.com/blog/2009/09/yay-bundle-box-is-in-todays-metro/

I'd be interesd to see if it really works well. The website is not particularly clear e.g on possible end pricing.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Dan B » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:31 pm

Hi Jimmy,

I don't know if I'm allowed to reproduce exact figures here, but the calculation is basically:

Add shipping (USPS is cheapest, usually about $100 ish)

Apply exchange rate (currently around 1.6, so not as good as when I imported most of mine, at around 1.75-2)

Add duty (about 3%)

Add VAT (currently 15%)

Add Parcelforce handling fees (about £8-13 depending on size and value).

I have this formula in a spreadsheet so I can do quick and easy comparisons to UK costs. I've bought a lot gear this way, new and s/h (some from ebay, other from shops) and it's always worked out considerably cheaper than UK prices. That's not to say everything will work out cheaper, just that the items I was after did. E.g. Over the years, I've bought:

New:
4 x CAD M179 (ebay)
Gibson ES-137 Custom (ebay)
Larrivee LV-09e (notableguitars.com)
Various acoustic guitar pickups, strings, preamps (shorelinemusic; notable guitars)
Ensoniq PARIS expansion cards
2 x Johnson J Stations

Secondhand:
Larrivee Parlour L-03
CAD VX2 (ebay)
Larrivee L-05MT acoustic (ebay)
PBC 5 string bass (ebay)
4 channel DAV preamp (ebay)

The saving varies, but on the new items I would say it's usually around 30% vs best UK price I could find (my Larrivee LV-09 was significantly cheaper - less than 50% of best UK price), though this will of course vary depending on shipping costs, exchange rate, etc.

Hope this helps.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Jez Corbett » Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:30 am

Following on from this thread here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... Post793417#793111

Is there any info on how import duty, tax, tarriffs etc work when buying a DOWNLOAD from a different country, rather than having a physical item imported?
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby aim » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:52 pm

I started getting gear in LA last year, it's just perfect. I mean if you have a contact overseas like me in Los Angeles for example it is awesome, you can save a lot, a lot. For me even just getting it in Germany sometimes saves me a lot of money.

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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby UkReMiX » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:10 am

Word of caution:

Worth thinking about whether warrenty is valid on stuff bought from abroad, yeah sure we don't buy equipment expecting it to break down but check to see what would happen if it does, also if covered do you have to send it to where you bought if from? can be a headache...
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Neo-Classical Guitar Man » Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:19 pm

Is there anything important that must be done when sending an item to the USA? I will be posting a small video capture addon board, which is a bare circuit board with a short phono RF lead trailing from it. The board and jiffy bag only weigh 135g in total and I plan on sending it via the Royal Mail Airsure Small Packets option.

Do I need to prepare any paperwork and can I classify it as a personal gift to make it easier/cheaper?

Any advice and tips are very welcome as I do not wish to cause any headaches for either my buyer or myself.


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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Dave Garnish » Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:14 am

In a nutshell I would say that unless you really know what you're doing, or have the time to really look into it. It's more hassle than it's worth what with import tax, VAT, voltages, guarantees not to mention postage costs or extra luggage weight.

I did it a few times from the states when the dollar was weak, sometimes I saved a few quid here and there but I also got my fingers burnt because I didn't factor in every eventuality.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Frank 53 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:10 am

Dan B wrote:Hi Jimmy,

I don't know if I'm allowed to reproduce exact figures here, but the calculation is basically:

Add shipping (USPS is cheapest, usually about Dan B00 ish)

Apply exchange rate (currently around 1.6, so not as good as when I imported most of mine, at around 1.75-2)

Add duty (about 3%)

Add VAT (currently 15%)

Add Parcelforce handling fees (about £8-13 depending on size and value).

I have this formula in a spreadsheet so I can do quick and easy comparisons to UK costs. I've bought a lot gear this way, new and s/h (some from ebay, other from shops) and it's always worked out considerably cheaper than UK prices. That's not to say everything will work out cheaper, just that the items I was after did. E.g. Over the years, I've bought:

New:
4 x CAD M179 (ebay)
Gibson ES-137 Custom (ebay)
Larrivee LV-09e (notableguitars.com)
Various acoustic guitar pickups, strings, preamps (shorelinemusic; notable guitars)
Ensoniq PARIS expansion cards
2 x Johnson J Stations

Secondhand:
Larrivee Parlour L-03
CAD VX2 (ebay)
Larrivee L-05MT acoustic (ebay)
PBC 5 string bass (ebay)
4 channel DAV preamp (ebay)

The saving varies, but on the new items I would say it's usually around 30% vs best UK price I could find (my Larrivee LV-09 was significantly cheaper - less than 50% of best UK price), though this will of course vary depending on shipping costs, exchange rate, etc.

Hope this helps.

Hi..thanks for sharing the information...... :headbang:
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby Dan B » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:22 pm

You're welcome!

Beware that these calculation all vary a bit depending on what you're having shipped. I was assuming a guitar (hence 3% odd duty - HMRC website will give the appropriate rates). Of course, VAT now is 17.5% (soon to be 20%). Now it can still be worthwhile on certain items, but the cost savings aren't as great as they were (whereas it used to be - say 5 years ago - a great way to save money).

Also beware, as others have pointed out, that (i) warranties may not be valid and (ii) be careful with anything that plugs in - you may need voltage adapters, etc.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby WebKing » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:36 pm

Yeah, on some items it save some bucks! Like guitar you said, only if you find it intact while receiving it at your end. Otherwise repacking/sending back will be a neck-pain. Be cautious when you get something in the box not from your local store.
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Re: The Costs Of Importing Gear From Abroad

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:43 pm

I have had a few instances where I ended up paying more than the U.K. retail price because the US shipper sent a dud unit out and the costs to return it at the post office were crazy.

Inform yourself and make a choice, bear in mind you may not get quite the discount you expect, some you win some you lose.
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