Import duty for new camera purchased in the UK and shipped to the USA?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by randall cherry, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. Anyone have any idea what the import duy would be for a $1800 new
    camera purchased over the internet from the UK and shipped to the USA
    for personal use.

    I checked the U.S. Customs page, but it is a nightmare of
    international trade regulations.


  2. OCULUS New York

    OCULUS New York Still shooting, but posting less here.

    I couldn't venture a guess on the rates, Randall, but I will say that after years of trading and shipping, only once, was I nabbed for inbound duty. That was on an expensive Pelikan fountain pen that I purchased online from Taiwan, I believe. I think the bill (payable to a broker on behalf of FedEx) was about $30, but that's immaterial to England and a camera, 5 years later. And since there is virtaully no camera manufacture left in the US, there is probably little duty concern on importation of camera equipment.

    The bottom line is that it is highly unlikely that you will be nabbed; I've gotten tons of stuff from Canada, England, Holland, etc. and only one or two have actually been opened, much less levied.

    That's not to say that yours won't be a first, but I'll bet that you get it "free." Frankly, I'd be more concerned about resolution of any US-based warranty claim that might be in the offing...

    good luck,
    Ray Hull
  3. Don't forget to ask for the VAT free price (if applicable) and save yourself the 17.5% VAT.

  4. Randall:

    What kind of camera is it?
  5. I bet it's a Mamiya of some sort. Robert White in the UK charges about 20% less than the lowest retail prices in the U.S. for Mamiya gear.
  6. I just got a Bronica from RW (great store BTW) and there are no duties on lenses and cameras - I had to pay 2% on the UV filters though....
  7. I am not going to suggest that Occulus is wrong, but many shippers feed their invoices and
    airway bills electronically into Fedex and UPS computer systems. Import duties (and sales tax)
    can be charged without anyone opening the parcel. Living in Holland, everything from the
    USA arriving through UPS, Fedex, etc. is charged with duties and taxes. Only undocumented
    parcels arriving through the postal system have a good chance of arriving duty free. Off
    course it could be different in the opposite direction.
  8. Here is a nasty little story: I bought a Rollei TLR over the internet from a camera store in
    Tokyo. When it arrived I found it had a lens separation that was barely visible in the jpegs
    they'd sent. However, once I saw it in person I could see it in the jpegs. I returned it and
    they paid the shipping. However, when the FedEx bill arrived a month later, it included an
    almost $90 item for import duty. On the advice of a FedEx employee (I work directly
    above a FedEx office and he and I are friendly) I protested the claim. But FedEx did not
    allow my claim and I had to pay the duty.

  9. Warranty and repairs are the important thing. So many camera companies [are there still enough camera companies that 'many' is a reasonable qualifier?] are represented by agents in different countries and have their own rules about handling grey imports.

    It's your money, and your risk.
  10. Although Randall hasn't confirmed Douglas' guess as to the make of camera, if it is indeed a Mamiya, there may be major problems in any warranty claim.

    I recall recently reading that MamiyaUSA wont repair cameras purchased out of the country. In addition, if I recall correctly, repairs wont be made even if the purchaser is willing to pay!

    Hasselblad, likewise, refuse to do warranty repairs if the cameras is purchased out of the USA. Their one proviso is that if you made such purchase when you were physically in such country, then it's okay. have to prove it with such documents as an airline ticket in your name at such purchase date, or stamped passport! Good luck in your endeavours.
  11. jmf


    ok lets be intelligent here. I can see MAC not wanting to perform warranty work on cameras they didn't sell, but come on; not perform work for hire just because you didn't buy the camera through them? Thats just plain too stupid to even suggest. NOWHERE on their site do they even mention such a thing. It would be one thing if the USA model was materially DIFFERENT than the either Japanese or international (and you could argue different parts), but it's not. Repair is a revenue stream for them, and from their price estimates, not a bad one. The only warnings they have is that the old camera repairs are subject to them having spares to do the work.

    Why do people make cr&p like this up?
  12. MAC isn't Mamiya. They are not even related to Mamiya.<br>They just managed to get the Mamiya name registered, and protected, in the USA, so that nothing bearing the Mamiya name can enter the country without it being a trademark violation. Not even the one and only real Mamiya can do that, so they have to go through MAC if they want to sell anything in the US. MAC has aggresively pursued 'violators'.<br>The cr?p is not what you think people are making up, but this entire situation, and what made it possible.
  13. Thanks for everyone's response.

    The camera is a new Mamiya 7II packaged with the 80mm lens from Robert White.

    The confirmation email from Robert White indicated that I would have to pay an import duty, but didn't indicate how much.

    I called customs at my local international airport, and they said "no duty on film cameras." Not sure how much faith I have in that statement, though.

    Except for the reputation for the rangefinder system going out of adjustment, these cameras are known to be very reliable. The costs savings on the purchase price justifies the very small chance of sending the camera back to RW for warranty work.

  14. Whatever happened to NAFTA, GAFTA and all the free trade business Bush keeps talking about? Doesn't that apply to cameras? It should.
  15. OCULUS New York

    OCULUS New York Still shooting, but posting less here.

    Um Paul, In which what part of NORTH AMERICA or CENTRAL AMERICA do you feel England resides?

    W is beyond you,
    Ray Hull
  16. I just bought a Bronica 645RF from Robert White and had it delivered via Fedex. There was no
    duty charged. I made sure the shipping documents described the camera as for personal
    non-professional use, as this apparently matters. Check the U.S. Customs website.
  17. Randall,

    In my experience, the duty charged has been 3-4%. Often Fedex and UPS will not collect for the duty at the time of delivery, but will send you the bill in the mail, which may take 3-4 weeks.
  18. "okay let's be intelligent here"

    For the benefit of Jim Feldman, I would like to state that I consider myself reasonably intelligent. Not a genius but neither a moron.
    If you read my post carefully, you will note that I said "If I recall correctly". Now it seems "Q.G" supports my "recall" I do not make up crap, as you seem to want to refer to it. I respectfully suggest that people communicating via this forum check out for the facts, before making scathing remarks against others.
  19. For those interested;

    Mamiya 7II plus 80mm lens package:

    B&H Photo: $2,499.00 (~$25 for 2 day ship w/ ins & track # to VA, USA

    Robert White: ~$1795 (~$90 for similar shipping)

    Above as of 8/20/05.

  20. jmf


    Can either of you cite any publicly available, authoritative source, that says MAC won't repair (outside warranty) kit that was not originally retailed in the USA?

    Until 1998, MAC was for all intents and purposes, a subsidiary of Mamiya (which in turn was due to restrictions imposed on Japan by the US after WWII to protect domestic mfg's). Since it's MAC that issues the waranty (vs Mamiya), they are well within their rights to limit access to warranty work.

    In any event, I'll contact them Monday AM and get a definitive answer instead of just a bunch of speculation on everyone's part.
  21. We don't need to if you're going to check it out.

    This whole thread/discussion has been promulgated on the basis that Randall may need warranty work done for his offshore purchase. Now that we know it's a Mamiya that he's buying we also know that warranty work/coverage from MAC is not available within the USA for a purchase made outside.
  22. Although I am comfortable with the risk of possibly sending the camera back to Robert White if it needs work and I want to exercise the warranty, I'd be curious whether MAC will do non-warranty work on a non-U.S.-purchased camera . . . ?

    I assume there are at least a few reliable independent repair shops who would do non-warranty work on my little "bastard child." :)

  23. So how good was my guess? I guessed the brand, guessed the store he was buying it from, and guessed that he'd be saving at least 20%
  24. Forumites,

    I have been buying photographic equipment from Germany, Japan, the UK,
    France, and Italy. I have always insisted that it be shipped by their
    national postal system, NOT a common carrier such as UPS, DHL or FedEx. That way the shipment does not have to go through a broker. I have never yet had to pay import duties, tarriffs etc. The US Postal
    Service delivers everything to me.

  25. For the repair policy see previous thread: or from Mamiya:
  26. hmmm . . .

    Is it true, then, that Mamiya's presence in the U.S. is a unique situation among the major camera manufacturers in that a single U.S. corporation who is independent of the foreign camera manufacturer ("FCM") has total control over the importation of all of that FCM's product?

    If this is true, why would Mamiya Japan agree to such an arrangement? Certainly the high markup by MAC reduces U.S. sales of Mamiya products, and Mamiya Japan doesn't see the extra profit to offset the reduced sales. Or maybe they do?

    Do other major FCMs have such an arrangement in the U.S.?

    Maybe its finally time for me to switch to 35mm digital?
  27. jmf


    the first I knew (warranty svc) and expected, but the second just blows me away. I'm calling them monday to get clarification
  28. jmf


    Colin and Q.G.,
    First, let me humbly apoligise for my uninformed remarks. I should of checked my facts before commenting.

    This morning (my time) I contacted MAC and spoke with someone named Patrick in their service department. He informed me that not only was it true that they would only service units purchased in the USA, but furthermore he told me that their stock of RB67 Pro-S parts was dwindling, and that I should look at newer equipment if I expected service from them. I couldn't get him to elaborate on the "USA only" policy. It seems counter-intuitive to any logical analysis that they would enforce a policy like that, but they do. Seems like a heck of a way to run a company, and it now seems like my comment on "intelligence" should of been directed at MAC rather than at forum members. Again, please accept my appoligies.

    Furthermore, he had very bad things to say about items from a certain huge aution site (which he named, but I won't). He tried to steer me to their 645 line which I thought was interesting, since I had brought up the newer SD and RZ models. I'm not sure to read more into that other than he thought they may have been closer to my price interest.
  29. Jim,

    Thanks for follow-up. I appreciate you checking directly with the source.

  30. One of the most prolific Mamiya 7 sellers on the auction site does not even look like a business address to me. Mamiya USA surely must be frustrated.
    Not that there is something wrong in operating from home...
  31. As far as I know, the website for US customs duties is Deciding the correct category of an item can be complicated and an untrained person might make a mistake. I entered "camera" into the search field and from the many choices picked "HTS Number 90065990", "Photographic cameras, other than fixed focus, valued over $10 each". The duty on this type of camera is zero (when imported from "normal trade relations" countries).
    My experience is that most of the time items arriving by the Post Office aren't charged duty. One time UPS charged the wrong duty, but was quite willing to change the duty when I suggested a more appropriate HTS classification.
    There have been previous threads on duties, but I couldn't find them.
    Here is a previous thread on MAC and the trade barrier that they use to charge higher prices to Americans (so much for free trade): Buying new Mamiya products from R. White for USA
  32. For those still interested in this thread:

    My Mamiya arrived from Robert White in about 3 days with no indication that an import duty was due.

    However, the camera body had a focussing problem out-of-the-box. The rangefinder was out of alignment in the vertical direction at infinity. Specifically, alignment was fine both horizontally and vertically at close focus. Alignment was fine (i.e. focus was accurate) in the horizontal direction at all distances. But the two images would not align in the vertical direction at far/infinity focus.

    Robert White immediatly and cheerfully agreed to a replacement. Also, they agreed to have someone inspect the replacement camera before sending it out in order to make sure that the replacement would not have similar problems.

    The replacement camera is enroute, and should arrive in the next few days.

  33. The replacement camera has arrived. 3 days door-to-door from the U.K. to the Washington, D.C. area of the U.S. Not bad, I'd say.

    Plus, Robert White Photo did not charge shipping for the replacement. I am very happy with how Robert White has handled the whole transaction.

    The new camera appears to be functioning perfectly, too.

    On the initial question of customs; I did not have to pay any duty.

    The whole buying experience felt very similar to dealing with a reputable U.S. camera store. I would definitely buy from Robert White Photo in the U.K. again.


Share This Page