by Bo Stahlbrandt
a friend about this article
You should have done this before placing the bid.
market in the city of Villingen, southern Germany. December
Nikon F5, Nikkor AF 50mm/1.4 on Fujichrome Provia
there are a lot of costs involved which one easily forgets.
The costs involve:
2. Value added tax (VAT, "Umsatzsteuer")
3. General customs fee
4. Costs of having an international money order issued
5. Shipping and insurance
The height depends on the type of goods your importing. It's
6,2% of the declared value on 35mm SLR cameras and accessories
It's your country's VAT (Umsatzsteuer, Moms etc.) on the declared
Normally this shouldn't be much. I had to pay some DM 15,- on
a lens worth DM 800,- and DM 35,- for the F5 declared at close
to DM 3000,-
of having an international money order issued
It's normally way easier - and cheaper - if the seller is willing
to accept a credit card. If the seller accepts credit cards
(smaller companies often do) they normally only accept MasterCard
or Visa. American Express is not popular, since they charge
an additional fee from the seller for each transaction. Individuals
acting privately normally don't accept any credit cards, and
then it gets more expensive. You are then more or less bound
to have an international money order issued.
US folks seems to like the Western Union (a bank) type of money
orders. I guess the major reason is that they can cash them
all over the place and they are really safe.
For the money order of 1.625 USD, I had to pay some DM 120,-
in fees. For the 425 USD lens, it was about DM 65,- in fees.
I used Western Union money orders for both. To issue such an
order, you can simply walk in to your local post office (in
Germany) or to certain stores which are able to issue them.
E.g. in Sweden, a lot of tobacco stores can issue Western Union
money orders. You need the name and address of the person you're
sending the order to.
After you have payed the amount plus the fee, you get a Western
Union authorization ID. You must now notify the seller of this
ID, easiest way being via e-mail. The seller can now, normally
within two days, go to a Western Union affiliate, bring his
ID card and mention the authorization ID to receive the cash.
not that steep I think. For the 425 USD lens, it was 25 USD
with the US Post as Express delivery (some 400g) incl. insurance.
For the F5 it was significantly more, some 87 USD for 1kg with
the UPS as Express, also insured at 1.625 USD. I don't think
I would like to ship anything without having it insured.
the calculation for a body bought (and declared) for let's say
1.000 USD would be:
4,2% import tax. Makes 42 USD.
2. Value added tax. Is 16% in Germany, makes 160 USD.
3. General custom fees. Probably in the region of 10 USD in
4. Having an international money order issued. Probably around
5. Shipping and insurance. Probably looking at some additional
all, your 1.000 USD body, is now of a sudden worth some 1.252
USD - anyway to you. This would be an increase of some 25%.
As you can easily figure out, if the original purchase price
was only 25% lower than the comparable price in your own country,
you didn't make a deal.
value items, I think this is below DM 400,- in Germany, are
typically charged with 13,5% (in Germany) of the declared value,
i.e. not the 20,2% as in the above calculation.
you have paid for the item, you know the seller got the money,
and you're eagerly waiting for it to arrive. I didn't have any
problems at all with the sellers so far, and it was really a
pleasure to deal with them e-mail wise. The americans are normally
I don't need no customs!
You do. If you try to get the goods in, being declared redicilously
low, let's say in the box there's a Leica R8 and it's declared
for 100 USD and on the custom's slip the friendly seller wrote
"broken, old Kodak Instamatic". It might very well
happen that the scan (yes, most customs have X-ray) detects
the beautiful R8 in it and one of the fellows at a monitor says
to himself "well, that's no Kodak Instamatic". Now,
if they open up the parcel, they might very well send it back,
stating that it was not "declared correctly" - anyway
Even if your friendly seller writes "old lense, gift, worth
150 USD, not for resale" on the custom's slip. It's likely
that your efficient, privatedly owned carrier (i.e. UPS et al),
does the custom work for you, i.e. you simply receive a small
slip attached on the box, stating "you will receive an
invoice for custom charges in the next week or two". Beware
that UPS may also charge you some DM 75,- for "expedition
charges" plus for additional shipping if you decide that
you want them to send the goods to a custom office in your vicinity.
This added some DM 135,- to the price of the 1kg "heavy"