Import duties from Germany to US

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by david_simonds|1, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. Friends,
    I am looking at a used Elmarit lens that is offered by a German seller. Trying to determine what the US import duty would be by studying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule reminds me of late nights in law school trying to make sense of the US tax code. Can those of you who have made such a purchase illuminate this for me, and make some suggestions as to how to legitimately minimize the tax.
    Much obliged,
  2. Have it sent by mail. No duty, no brokerage fees.
  3. Excellent!
  4. I don't know if my input will make any sense to you but were it goes.
    I've sold a Mamiya 6 to the US (Portland) (I'm in Portugal) and I've sent it by regular mail and the buyer got it with no problem or import taxes. I even described what it was (Portuguese law is very clear about this) and still the camera arrived with no problem.

    I've also sent a huge, 5 kilograms package to San Francisco with a Rolleiflex 6006 and two lenses and again I've used regular Portuguese postal service and the buyer didn't report any additional taxes.

    I've had zero problems sending gear to the US, Australia, New Zealand or Hong Kong and I always use regular postal service. Maybe your seller can do something to prevent an additional cost for you.

    Good luck
  5. There does have to be a customs declaration on the package. The vendor can probably get one at the post office, at least that's how it works here in the USA.
    Deutsche Post is OK, but certainly not the best in Europe. You'll probably need patience, and insurance is a very good idea. You'd think the Euro zone would have similar postal rates, but somehow it always costs me a lot more from Germany than from, for an example, the Czech Republic.
  6. In theory the USPS should collect customs fees on shipments from outside the US. In practice, I've never seen this happen, on reasonably valuable packages from Japan, Australia, Latvia, and Romania. They all had honest Customs declarations. I think they're just too busy to worry about it, gotta deliver all that junk mail while they're going broke...
  7. SCL


    I've bought a lot of Leica gear as well as other camera gear from Germany, the UK, former Czechoslovakia via the large auction site (& sold it as well) and never had to pay customs fees on any purchases - maybe the threshold is high. Stuff always arrives with the customs declarations forms from the various countries, and it usually matches the purchase prices.
  8. Friends,
    Thanks for all your kind replies. I have seen some non-US vendors offer to fudge the valuation on the customs declaration sheet. Or they will identify the item as a "gift." I assumed that this was done to avoid tariffs. But from the sounds of it, they be lying for nothing.
  9. It depends on your country. I live in Iceland and the import process is suicide-inducing. Every single package imported to the country is stopped for customs control. They will open the package searching for a receipt if there is not a declaration on the outside. They will contest gifts if they are not sent from family (and even sometimes if they are), near christmas or your birthday and generally endeavor to make you pay no matter what. For the privilege of rifling through your package, they will charge you between 5 and 35 dollars for the customs clearance. Once they have charged you that, they will put a item-based tariff, usually 0, 7%, 25% or higher. After all that, they charge you VAT of 25.5% on the item, the fees, AND the shipping cost. In practice, this usually doubles the costs of items bought abroad. Also for this reason, lying to customs and sneaking things into the country via air and sea are rampant.
    But anyway, that is why overseas sellers will often lie about shipping and customs! But I echo everyone else...I never had a problem receiving even expensive goods via US mail.
  10. Yes, the countries with VAT taxes have very serious "VAT police". Of course, with NAFTA, lots of things coming into the US really are duty-free.
    I remember my first trip out of the country in 1973, we stopped at customs on the way out to record that I already owned my Topcon Super D, so we wouldn't have to pay duty on it on the way home.
  11. bms


    Just got a lens from Japan - no problem. The other way around is more problematic: I sent my father two prints in the mail, the package (a roll) was opened by the German customs - postage exceeded value of prints by far. Another time, he had to pick up a package of minor value from the Customs agent.
  12. I have purchased several cameras (all used) and had camera repairs done in Germany and more often than not been charged a very high (20-25% of appraised value) import tax from Germany. You'll probably have to decide between paying the tax or declaring a low value for insurance purposes.
  13. There does have to be a customs declaration on the package. The vendor can probably get one at the post office, at least that's how it works here in the USA.
    It is very similar in Gemany. The forms for small (economy) parcels (called "Paeckchen") come with a CN22 sticker. The forms for international parcels have place for a more detailed customs declaration.
    However, why do you not ask your local or nearest customs office? At least here in Germany they usually give you all the information you need.
    Another thing is how the customs procedure is actually performed. Some years ago I received a package from US with defective cameras and spare parts and was notified by german post to pck my parcel at the customs office. I went there very early and told the officer that all the items will never be traded in Germany again. He obviously wanted to drink his early morning cup of coffee in silence and told me, "just grab your parcel" and off I went without paying anything.
  14. In the US it's simple because there are no import duties on still cameras and lenses, and there's no VAT. UPS charges a customs clearance charge, but there are no import duties.
  15. In another life (pre-9/11), I used to cross the Canada/US border bi-weekly with 50+ parcels destined for US addresses. I had occasion to discuss the US tax codes from time to time with Border agents, yes technically they were supposed to levy duties (ranging from about 5% to more than 30% for some items) on most of the goods I was importing, including of course camera gear made in Japan or Germany (exceptions were for those exempted under NAFTA, such as anything made in Canada or the USA). But they never did, though they did periodically open parcels and check contents against labels. They were more interested in banned goods (like Canadian pharmaceuticals) or shipping through to other countries on the USA 'sh1t list' (don't know why I would mail something to Iran from the USA, but whatever). But so long as the end recipient was a USA resident, they never once charged anything for a total of several thousand parcels.
    Crossing the border in the other direction was a completely different ball game, I was once stopped for more than 1 hr and forced to pay $25 fees and duties... on a $5 radio I bought at a yard sale.
  16. Update: 90mm Elmarit M just arrived via Deutsche Post/USPS. No duties or taxes. And a beautiful piece of glass to boot.
  17. Hi,
    I would like to import to the U.S. two adapters to use between a DSLR and a couple of Hasselblad lenses. How much would I pay in import taxes ?? I think the two adapter's price is around $300 USD
    Thank you, kind regards : ) !!!

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