Buying a Macbook in USA for UK use

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by hardikp, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. hardikp macrumors newbie

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    Mar 28, 2012
    #1
    Hi,

    Im going to take the plunge and finally buy a Mac (MBP to be exact). I find it is much cheaper in USA and some states have no sales tax.

    If I purchase it from USA through a family member on their credit card and to their USA address, can I request a UK keyboard (which has the £ above the 3 key, the @symbol in the right place and also the enter key right place and shape)?

    I am aware you can change the keyboard settings so when you press crtl+3 it produces the symbol you want but I want the keys to be physcially identical to a UK keyboard. Does anyone know is this is possible?

    Also, is there anything else which is different on a USA keyboard - e.g. air port / wifi settings or is everything otherwise the same?

    Many thanks
     
  2. shmonkus, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    shmonkus macrumors member

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    #2
    I considered this when I went to Las Vegas in February. I think it is possible, however the problem is getting it through customs, as you may have to pay Duty on it when it gets through customs, making the whole exercise pointless.

    Your best bet would probably be to physically travel over there, buy the laptop, and then throw the box away and carry the machine through your hand luggage back into the UK, however you may want to speak to a Genius guy at an apple store if they can fit the keyboard. (FYI the enter key on a macbook is the exact same shape as the UK version, otherwise they would have to make multiple different unibodies to accomodate the enter key, which is uneconomical on their part).

    The laptop is identical to the UK-spec version, however the US laptops make use of wireless channels 12-14 as well as channels 1-11 (which the UK only uses 1-11) and the Superdrive might be region-locked but can't say for sure.
     
  3. hajime macrumors 68030

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    #3
    I think it may be cheaper to go to France and buy the computer there. You may need to buy a British keyboard+middle casing from Apple UK.

    I don't think the Superdrive is region-locked. As far as I remember, you can change the region four times. After that, you cannot change it anymore. Not sure exactly. Please check with Apple. Another difference between the US and British versions is that you need to change the power cord. That would be easy.
     
  4. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #4
    This might not be an acceptable solution for you, but you could always get stickers and place them according to a UK layout.

    Of course, the UK and US layouts might be identical (in terms of number and shape of the keys that is), but the argument is strange... For instance, the AZERTY layout differs from the QWERTY, so they're already making "multiple different" unibodies.

    Why would it be cheaper in France?
     
  5. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #5
    i have heard you can request a different keyboard if you buy in store but that requires them to either send it away or order the part and swap it for you this takes time how long will you be in the States?
     
  6. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #6
    It's a lottery, if it gets by customs you save £££ if it doesn't, you lose out big time. Worth the risk? Probably not IMO.
     
  7. Ccrew macrumors 68020

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    #7
    Curious for you UK folks. What's to say you didn't leave the island with it when you return? I've travelled internationally a lot and never had my electronics questioned.
     
  8. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #8
    He he, I'm an expat New Yorker, so have plenty of relatives and friends prepared to send me newbies...We talked about it, but the consensus is that it's likely to get hauled in at customs....Costing as much, and more in fees.:mad:
     
  9. NutsNGum, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

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    #9
    I'm wondering this myself. It's your word against theirs, there's no way that they can really prove it, that is unless it's all packaged up and still in the cellophane, but anyone with sense would just remove it.
     
  10. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #10
    problem is your word needs proof if they ask
     
  11. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #11
    How much would the additional fees be if caught? To Belgium, you would still save a few euros even if you'd be caught.

    ----------

    Proof of purchase. Basically, if you've bought in with cash and threw away the receipt - you're screwed. But if you've payed with a credit card you can still prove the purchase despite not still having the receipt.
     
  12. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #12
    usually with duty its the tax on the value of the item, if your up front if you try and lie and get caught there could be additional penalities and you could be put flagged when crossing boarders in the future.
     
  13. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #13
    Thank you, but that didn't answer my question.
     
  14. G-Mo macrumors 6502

    G-Mo

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    #14
    I'm not near my main computer at the moment, but, there are sites that sell individual keys for MB keyboards. Change the mapping and change the 2 keys you want for UK. Keys are like 99c each.
     
  15. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #15
    well for an exact dollar ammount you need to first give the exact item in question and than wait for someone who has had to pay duty on that exact item already
     
  16. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #16
    The person I asked said one would "lose out big time" if caught, so I assumed he knew more or less how much one would have to pay...
     
  17. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #17
    if your up front when the ask anything to declare? and you say yes this computer, show you receipt you would pay the tax on the item(the uk tax in this case) if you lie and than they find out its a different story and could be different in each case based on the mood the customs officer is in, but they could go as far as flagging your passport so any time you pass through customs they will bust your balls inside and out
     
  18. NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

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    #18
    I think you're answering a different question. I wasn't referring to warranty status.
     
  19. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #19
    I understood the OP as he was talking about ordering it online to his family member who lives in the states, and then having it sent to him by his family member.

    Having ordered stuff online that's been caught in customs, my experience is that the VAT that the customs add is based on the american price plus around 60 euros in "fines", which would mean an MBP is still cheaper than if it'd been bought here.

    When in comes to physically bringing things over the border, the only experience I have is a family member being caught with a bunch of golf clubs. Basically they asked him where he'd bought them, and when he couldn't prove that he didn't buy them during his trip, they either wrote him a ticket or made him pay straight away (I really can't remember what he said), saying that he could get his proof of purchase (which he claimed that he had at home) and apply for his money back/the ticket to be retracted.

    I find it highly unlikely that they would actually keep you until the truth is uncovered. I mean, what if you have the receipt at home?
     
  20. heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #20
    who said they would keep you until the truth is uncovered
     
  21. NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

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    Does it though? I mean, how can they conclusively prove that you didn't have the computer before you left the country? If you just say "I can't", are they really going to confiscate it? It seems more trouble than it's worth, and if they get it wrong, they're opening themselves up to a bit of a nightmare.

    They can't just go around charging VAT based on instinct.
     
  22. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #22
    When you said "if you lie and they find out" I figured you meant they would actually try to find out instead of just routinely write a ticket and tell them to refute it with proof of purchase.

    ----------

    They will only confiscate things if you refuse to pay. A friend of mine moved from Seattle to Paris and had his speakers sent to him at a later date. French customs said he had to pay a certain amount of euros (VAT and custom charges) for his, obviously not new, speakers. He said they were his, and that he didn't have the receipt since the warranty had run out.

    He had to pay. Had he had the receipt he wouldn't have had to pay.
     
  23. heisenberg123, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    heisenberg123 macrumors 603

    heisenberg123

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    #23

    sorry no i meant like you said they will fine you and you can prove it later to not pay the fine(ticket)

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    well you can't say SRSLY i bought it here
     
  24. dmacintyre macrumors newbie

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    #24
    I am led to believe HMRC can look up serial numbers to find the country of original supply. Of course the question the OP posed regarding the keyboard layout would be a dead giveaway to a customs agent if in US form. These guys know their stuff and have many means of investigation.

    Between the keyboard hassle, worries about importing, warranty, returns, buying a UK plug adapter, etc I think it's worth the slight premium to buy in the UK. Now a couple of years ago when it was $2 to the £ maybe the risk / reward was different.
     
  25. blipmusic, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012

    blipmusic macrumors regular

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    #25
    How long do you need to be abroad to be able to purchase something that can be considered a work tool purchased out of necessity to be used while abroad? Or have I only dreamt there being such a rule?

    Bought an iBook abroad many years ago and customs didn't even cross my mind (that was due to my ignorance, however) and noone checked anything of mine. Though, I was foreign exchange student on a one year student visa and the return trip to Sweden with the laptop in my bag was one year after entry so special rules might have applied.

    I take it laptops and gadgets in general are popular "import" items enough to get checked? I mean, I can't imagine clothes in droves purchased abroad packed with one's other clothing getting checked, regardless of the price tag on those.

    A maxed 11" MBA is equal to $2270 (incl. VAT) here in Sweden. If I were to get one and happened to be going to the US I probably wouldn't think twice and just get one to bring back home, stashed in a sleeve sans product packaging in my hand luggage. The new iPad is physically the same product over here so that's a no brainer.

    Perhaps the tax/customs thing is less controversial over here as we do pay a good amount of tax? Personally, I'm all for our high taxes since we get a relatively good welfare system out of it and other perks. I just don't think people in general here in Sweden would even bat an eye over getting a VAT-free laptop abroad. Though our "taxfree" import history is largely of the alcohol kind due to a government controlled alcohol monoply (shops that is, not pubs etc).

    I'm not saying I would never get caught, I'm just saying that it doesn't seem to be a big deal over here [EDIT: I mean people's view in general, not the legal implications if you get caught. Sorry for the confusion.]. Is it different in the UK, considering that's where you'd get caught?

    On the keyboard note: my iBook had a Japanese keyboard that took all of two weeks to get used to (though I do speak the langugage). All in all, I kind of agree in that it can be a hassle on many different levels. My example was from many years ago so custom checks might have been vastly tightened up since, even here in Sweden.
     

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