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International buyers guide

Discussion in 'Merch Stand' started by ahjteam, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Okay people, I will need your help with this guide, but I will try to write most of it by myself as much as I can. Also if I forgot something vital, please let me know.

    I decided to write this guide (hoping it would get stickied) as many people are asking if the cheaper than hell products on sale (usually from USA) could be to shipped to the Buttfuckistan where people around the globe live, where the same products cost many times more. There are a few big points that might not make it cheap in the end.

    [​IMG]

    1: Shipping and handling
    (note: needs information on the cheaper shipping options)

    This is propably the most obvious one.

    And before you start comparing and go "wtf, shipping from UK to Buttfuckistan is a lot cheaper", you also need to understand that United States basically just a huge fucking island. It has water on both sides of it with only 2 neighbouring countries, and distance to other countries other than Mexico and Canada is minimum of 1000 miles, and that is to Guatemala from Texas (...and no; Cuba doesn't count, because you can't ship anything there). The continent across (LA to NY) is about 2500 miles (~4000km) and distance between New York and London is about 3500 miles (~5500km) and Los Angeles and Melbourne is 8000 miles (~13000km). Here is a nice distance calculator based on the Google Maps engine

    So when ordering from the USA, basically you have two transportation options; Ship or Aircraft, and neighter of them is cheap. There are two ways to get the package to the destination; Take it with you or ship it. If you are visiting the country and then you pick it up and take it with you, it's a lot cheaper to freight it with you on the plane than ship it alone.

    For example if you want to send a Mesa 4x12" cabinet that is on sale for $600 USD (which is roughly 475€) from USA to Oz or EU, it won't be cheap. By itself it weights around 50 kg, then add flightcase or other packaging material around it, it will add about 20 kg additional weight, and shipping 70kg packages around the world is not cheap. According to UPS sending 150 lbs (~68kg) to Melbourne costs $1761.61 USD and shipping to Finland would cost $1426.94 USD.

    But the big question is: what is the point where it becomes cheaper to ship it (I use the USA - OZ as an example) than buy it locally? Well the answer is when the shipped item is small and valuable. For example a rackmountable high-end/custom preamp that costs $3000 or so. USPS has a 9kg option (dimensions x = 42", y+z = 79", weight max 20lb) option that costs $49 to send anywhere worldwide. UPS has a 25kg (~50lb) option that costs about $450 to ship worldwide. Also any package that weights max 4 lbs costs $11 to send anywhere in the world via USPS.

    But do note that UPS/Fedex and other shipping companies aren't the cheapest ways to ship shit internationally, but atleast they get the package all the way to the reciever; According to one aircargo website if you send the same package as freight, it costs 682€ ($865 USD), but that doesn't include shipping on the land and you have to deliver the package to the airport.

    2: Taxes and customs
    (note: needs info on the us custom taxes etc)

    Do note that if you live in EU and you are buying items from another EU country, you don't need to pay customs. But when you are buying from other countries, you have to pay them. When the item hits the customs, you have to pay both the custom taxes (in Finland it is depending on the items, usually between 3-12%) plus VAT (in Finland on majority of products it is 23%). This gets added to the costs; I found a calculator (in Finnish, sorry). If the same cabinet would've been sent to Finland, I would have to pay 470.27€ ($590 USD) for customs and taxes in addition to the shipping costs.

    So in the end the $600 Mesa cabinet would've cost me 600+1427+590= $2617 USD, which is 2085€ and since a new one costs 1290€ in Finland, you can buy one brand new a lot cheaper from Finland or one of the EU countries.

    Also don't try to get cheap on this:

    If you are going to argue with the customs about this, always bring a receipt with you.

    3: Electrical system and connectors
    (note: needs info on the transformers etc)

    This also might affect the price of your product, if you are buying electronics. See this wikipedia article for the mains power system used around the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_power_systems

    If you buy the item from another country that uses different type of electrical system and/or connectors, the type of item you buy depends what you need to do to make it work on your country. There are primarly three type of items:

    Non-self powered items
    (for example: passive/phantom powered microphones and di-boxes, guitars, guitar cabinets, headphones, battery powered pedals)

    Usually these work just out of the box without any kind of modifications

    Items with external power supply
    (for example: wall-wart powered pedals, smaller items like interfaces that have external powersupply, some items that uses eurocable)

    If it is a low powered powersupply, you can use an adapter if the connector is just different, but uses the same powersystem (like UK vs EU). Personally I suggest not to use any adapters, because you can burn your house down or something, but change the powersupply. If you buy item that use other external powersupply (like EHX Black Finger that uses a custom 15V powersupply with a weird dual prong power connector), it is usually easier to buy the pedal from the other country and then buy the powersupply locally. For example some interfaces can get really quirky if you only use adapters instead of proper powersupply.

    Items with internal power supply
    (for example: guitar amplifiers, computers)

    Now here is where the money can get burned. Once again, destroying the recently bought item or burning the house down might happen if you fuck shit up, so if you really have no idea what you are doing, don't do it.

    If you are lucky and the powersupply uses an eurocable connectors (aka IEC C13 and C14) and has a 110V to 230V voltage switch, you might just need to flip the switch, change the powercord and you are ready to rock and roll.

    But if you import an amplifier from USA to say Germany, you need to buy a step up (or was it step down?) transformer and possibly some modifications to the amplifier itself. Since I've never done this and I have not ideas of the expenditures, could someone who has done this (Lasse, I have my eyes on you) please light this subject?
     
  2. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    reserved for possible expansion
     
  3. Nebulous

    Nebulous Daniel

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    Thanks for that Anssi!
     
  4. kvoid

    kvoid Member

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    Great thread Mr. ahjteam.

    Personally I use ARAMEX SHOP & SHIP to purchase items from the States and UK, and have them shipped to where I live (Qatar). I believe Aramex operates in many other places as well. DHL has recently introduced a similar service but Aramex has consistently been cheaper.

    May I just say that I purchased a Rhoads type guitar from Rondomusic.com, without case or gigbag (an idiotic gamble I'm sure you'll agree), and the instrument arrived in speckless condition in nothing but it's original cardboard boxing. A testament to impeccable packaging on Rondomusic's part and Aramex's quality handling.

    They aren't cheap however and a pound is roughly 10US$. I ended up paying the cost of the instrument in shipping it from NY State to here. But it arrived in less than a week and in above mentioned state. Aramex had a 30% off on packages over 10kg., but I don't know if this is still valid. I've seen people ship 60" LCDs from the States to here with them, car exhausts, all kindsa stuff!
     
  5. vespiz

    vespiz Mixing!

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    I paid about €700 for my CS80, delivered door-to-door from UK by air, specially crated, insured etc. The whole package weighed 127kg.
    Best part was that it took only 2 days and arrived in perfect condition, which is what I paid for.

    BTW, VAT was changed to 23% here in Finland from 01.07.2010 onwards.
     
  6. Ola Englund

    Ola Englund Only gay in the village

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    This is an invaluable thread for us europeans! Just awesome work thanks!
     
  7. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Did you buy it brand new or used? What company delivered it? Where did you order it? Also UK is an EU country, so you don't need to pay the customs.

    edit: I calculated the cost for the 70kg mesa package with UPS; it says 580 GBP (aka 702€). The distance between London and Helsinki (1800km) vs Los Angeles and Helsinki (9000km) is over 7000 kilometers, so no wonder it costs more to ship it from the USA (as you can see from the picture in the op)

    You have to realize that we are talking about shipping second hand stuff. For example Thomann has deal that the shipping costs are always a fixed cost (no matter what the weight, the shipping to Finland is always 20€).
     
  8. kev

    kev Im guybrush threepwood

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    Nice tip for you here. My favourite way is to ask the seller kindly to mark the item as worth $50. Tax fees then evaded, I learnt the hard way first time round (e.g. £130 on a £800 guitar). Im sure this will invalidate any insurance provided by the courier, but good luck trying to get any cash out of them in the event of breakage anyway.
     
  9. Jarkko Mattheiszen

    Jarkko Mattheiszen The FU guy.

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    It's a CS-80, so I highly doubt it was brand new :lol:

    Doesn't the amount of custom tax depend completely on the nature of the product? IIRC the custom tax for computer equipment is 0%, for instruments it's 4-5% and so on.
     
  10. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    I updated the first post just a bit




    Yeah, looks like so. For electric guitars it's 3.7% (from their example chart)

    http://www.tulli.fi/fi/yksityisille/netista_ostaminen/tullit_ja_verot/esimerkkeja/index.jsp

    But it seems that if you buy from the USA, there is an additional 15% tax(!) for some items.
     
  11. jangoux

    jangoux Member

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    This explains why a Mesa Oversized costs around 2k here in Brazil. USED. If you buy a $600 cab, add around $1100 for shipping + 60% over the total....So that is around $2.5k.
     
  12. tgs

    tgs Elder

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    I wouldn't advise to do that. You save a bit, sure, but if anything goes wrong you're screwed. I had a friend buy me some mics in USA (about 1200 euros worth) and ship them over, and he marked them with $50. The package was lost, we tried to trace it but with no success, and the only claim we could possibly make was for $50 of course! Luckily the package finally showed up, after around 3-4 months. But it was really nerve-wrecking.
     
  13. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

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    An important point if you're shipping from the US to Canada:

    NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SHIP VIA UPS GROUND!! You will get a nasty surprise in the form of an outrageous brokerage fee. Like a $50 fee on a $10 tee-shirt. I'm not kidding.

    If at all possible, ship via the US Postal Service. No brokerage fees & they're outstanding. If you can't use USPS, use the next-day service from UPS/Purolator/FedEx. It's more expensive, but no brokerage fee.
     
  14. tgs

    tgs Elder

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    A while ago I wanted to order a Distressor from, I think it was Mercenary audio. I wrote to the customs and asked what fee would apply, and they actually couldn't give me any better answer than that I had to just try and see! Sounded like they were just rolling a die or something to determine the fee. So with some stuff (like not "regular consumer products") it can be really tricky to know the fee for sure.
     
  15. vespiz

    vespiz Mixing!

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    Oops, slight correction to my post, I paid €700 for shipping & handling.
    Yes, it was a used instrument. Principle shipping company was NNR Global Logistics.
    I bought it from RL Music, who specialize in vintage synths. They handled everything.
    Could have been cheaper from a private seller, but the risks.. Caveat Emptor.
     
  16. Boerboel666

    Boerboel666 Member

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    Keeping a close eye on the exchange rates is also a factor . I bought things from the states a couple of years ago that would not make sense now. Also on expensive items changes in exchange rates obviously become more important. It can pay off pretty big being patient and waiting for the right moment to buy , not easy when youre gassing for something ! The UK add 10% import duty then 17.5% on the total (inc import duty).
     
  17. Exocaster

    Exocaster Nozzle

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    USPS is my go-to for shipping even within The States. Reasonable rates, quick and they don't break gear in my experience! :worship: The latter point is important- they seem the most consistent in not damaging things.
     
  18. abt

    abt BT

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    One thing I've discovered when trying to buy from the USA is that quite often you get an email back say that they can't ship to your country due to license agreements etc. Their reasoning is to protect our local industry. For example I ordered an Ibanez guitar once form somewhere and a few days later they canceled the order and said they couldn't do it. I wrote to Ibanez and they gave me the protect local industry story, which is fine, but I couldn't buy this particular model anywhere in OZ and no one was willing to bring it in for me. There's quite a lot brands that I know of that do this. I've written to a few of them over the years they all have the same response about protecting local industry. Like I said, I don't have a problem with it, but when I can't get the actual product then who am I protecting?

    Anyway, I've found this very useful solution:

    http://www.priceusa.com.au/index.html

    Basically it's a company that has a home based in the USA which take care of all the orders and shipping. They charge a fixed rate of %5 on top of your order to make their money. It is still way cheaper and faster in most cases. They do ship to countries other than Australia.
     
  19. colonel kurtz

    colonel kurtz Member

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    speaking of int'l shipping, i still have that krank here - i looked it up a couple days ago, and shipping to brazil with USPS would be something like $105USD...PM me if still interested!
     
  20. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    You have to realize that we are talking mainly about shipping second hand stuff in this thread. The retailers are only allowed to work in their region.

    ...and if you get caught, you are faced with customs fraud charges.
     

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