Bringing an iPhone 4 From UK to USA - What Do I Need to Know?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by shotb, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. shotb macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011

    Thanks in advance to anyone and everyone who can answer my questions.

    Here's the deal:

    I live in the USA. I have a friend who is in the UK this week for the London Marathon. She is willing to purchase for me a 'sim-free factory unlocked' iPhone 4 directly from the Apple Store in London. I am aware that it's £612 - almost $1000 US dollars. This is acceptable to me.

    My questions are:

    Is it really that simple? She goes into an official Apple Store, asks for a 'sim-free factory unlocked' iphone 4, pays with her credit card - and walks out? She then puts it in her bag, gets on a plane back to the USA, I put my current AT&T sim in the new iPhone - and I'm good to go?

    More importantly, what about getting it home to the USA? I don't understand the process - does she have to 'declare' the iPhone at UK Customs in the airport? Is there a 'tax/duty' that needs to be paid before she leaves the UK? VAT? What about US Customs? I want to make this as easy as possible for her - is she going to have any issues bringing the iPhone back with her to the US?

    (If anyone is wondering - I currently have an iPhone, out of contract, locked to AT&T. I will be traveling extensively in the near future and would like a FACTORY 'unlocked' iPhone in my possession before I leave on my trip. I am not interested in 'unlocking' with the current 'baseband' nonsense. I'm also not confident in the new IMEI unlocking method from CutYourSim, etc. A clean, new, factory unlocked iPhone is what I'd like.)

    I did a search of the Macrumors forums (tried Google as well) but I can't find the information I'm looking for. Please help! Thanks!

  2. Gromov macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2011
    It really is that simple, Europe huh :). I would not think she has to declare one iPhone because well it is for personal use and not bringing 10 iPhones could possibly cause some issues...although that might slide as well.

    When she buys the iPhone at Apple Store make sure she asks them to give her Tax Free form. That way she'll get some cash back at the airport (around 65-70gbp), not much but enought to get a parfume at duty free shops :) I would advise going to the airport a bit earlier to get the tax refund like half hour- 40 minutes just in case.
  3. himesh macrumors regular

    Dec 7, 2010
    Birmingham, England
    If she is going to leave it sealed in the box, would suggest putting it in her suitcase, would be a bit suspect carrying a brand new sealed phone through customs lol. When I bought my mac from the States, I put the box in my suitcase and carried the mac in my hand luggage on my journey home.
  4. SomeDudeAsking macrumors 65816

    Nov 23, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Why go through all that trouble to get an unlocked iPhone from half way around the world for $1000 when you can get an unlocked one in Canada for $600-$700 direct from an Apple store? It's faster and there is no duty because of the Free Trade Agreement. Heck, I could ship one to you for $900.
  5. martiansoldier macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2010
    If she leaves the UK with the phone still in the sealed box, she may be able to reclaim the VAT that she paid for the phone by filling out a form in the airport that she departs from.

    Bringing one iPhone into the US would still be within the US customs allowable limits, so she should have nothing to worry about.

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