Price Advice Buying Apple products Overseas

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Ahirej, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. Ahirej macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2014
    I live in Europe and I'm visiting USA this summer. I would love to buy Ipad pro, Apple watch, Airpods, Apple pencil and the smart cover in America because it is a lot cheaper then in EU. The problem is I'm scared I'll have problems going through customs. Can I have problems even if I use the products and have them with me?
  2. nnoble macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2011
    I buy in UK and use in China after getting the VAT refund at Heathrow. Last time I asked, I was told I have to use it outside of the country for 24 months to avoid repaying the VAT. Having said that, I've returned for short holidays and taken it with me without issues. Different situation I know but I'm interested in hearing about other scenarios. Also, model numbers and specifications are not always the same; telepones are often different specs but what difference, if any, with the non-cellular iPad for example?
  3. evangw macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2008
    No, you will not have any problems. Just don't take your original purchase boxes back with you, leave those in a recycling bin somewhere.

    Technically you are supposed to declare new goods purchased above some value (sum total across all goods of ~€300, I think the specific amount varies by country). If you're insanely worried or a super by-the-rules stickler then yes you have to declare at the border. Practically, I have never even heard of a single anecdote ever of someone being caught with reasonable personal purchases abroad at airline customs (sometimes at road customs I have heard of this happening). So, no one will ever catch you unless you have a bunch of the same product with you, so I would not recommend buying like 3 iPad Pros and with the intent of selling 2 once you're back home to your friends.

    There are not any differences between EU and US for the products you're buying except the wall plug although be careful if you're buying a cellular-enabled iPad.
  4. aizatto macrumors newbie


    Jun 26, 2017
    And the keyboard. You will get a US keyboard layout.

    I would ditch the boxes, and you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
  5. Ahirej thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2014
    Thanks for the help guys! :)
  6. evangw macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2008
    None of the things he's buying have a keyboard.
  7. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    IMO make sure you have some apps to load into the iPad Pro, then you can say that you have been using it for a while. In the "old" days, customs folks used to examine the lens of a "new" camera to see if it had some scratches as proof of wear. Try and replicate this concept on the iPad Pro and on the Apple Watch.
  8. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Customs in Europe has gotten a lot smarter since the Dollar started to devaluate.

    Try to get the correct power-supplies in advance and throw away the US power-supplies, too, together with the original packaging.

    As none of the items has a keyboard, it will be very difficult to spot if they're US versions.

    If you only buy one of each, it shouldn't be a problem.

    Customs usually just needs to suspect that your dodging taxes (a US PSU would probably be enough evidence) and they'll fine you. In case the items were actually bought in Europe, you would supposedly be able to provide receipts etc.pp.

    So, the less obvious you make it, the less likely it is that they start asking questions.
  9. northernmunky macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2007
    London, Taipei
    I always buy my Apple kit abroad, last time I bought my MacBook Pro and iPad in Japan, I just posted the boxes back to myself and stashed the gear into my hand luggage. Saved myself about £700 compared to the UK price. How are they going to know you didn't bring it from home?

    I've never once been stopped anyway.
  10. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Posting the boxes is another common trick.
    Customs knows this and if they wanted to, they could use that as grounds for demanding the taxes.
    I think they normally don't do if the value of the item is beyond a certain value and not an obvious fake.

    Apparently, a very large number of overseas shipments are opened at customs (at least in Germany, where they come through one single Airport: Frankfurt).
    From some countries, every single one of them (e.g. South America and probably most of Africa)

    This is also the reason why it's not so easy to import stuff like the Xiaomi gear into Europe: it lacks the CE certifications and customs does not let them through.

    So, it probably depends on the European country you are importing.
  11. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    You will have no problems. You have to declare MERCHANDISE, that means things you will sell. And usually if the total of the merchandise cost above X amount of Euros.

    Just bring what ever you want out of the original box. If you but 20 million dollar of things but they are for you, you do not pay customs. As long they can not be sold.
  12. evangw, Jun 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017

    evangw macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2008
    Ironically, "TheTruth101", what you've written is totally incorrect. Merchandise means "anything that can be bought or sold." Buying a computer abroad is "merchandise" even if you buy it for personal use, and in theory you're supposed to declare that. In practice, almost no one does this. I've flown probably 50 times trans-Atlantic and I've never been stopped at customs in either direction, nor have I ever even heard an anecdote of a friend or family member who was stopped at customs for anything other than food-related items, nor have I even seen anyone ever stopped and pulled out of the "nothing to declare" walkway for a random spot check.

    You can look up the rules for Switzerland for instance here (in English). Most of EU will be nearly, or maybe even exactly, the same:

    In any case, if you don't declare, if somehow the stars align and you lose the lottery and get struck by lightning while a meteor hits you and customs decides to randomly check you (probably similar likelihood, though depends on your country), worst case is you have to pay the VAT you'd have to pay anyway if you declared, plus a small penalty, since it's not like you're smuggling a suitcase full of cheap iPads.

    The only thing I've ever even heard anecdotes of people getting stopped and fined for is groceries at the Swiss–French and Swiss–German border, in cars. I've never heard of anyone I knew, or even a friend of a friend, getting stopped at an airport for anything beyond undeclared fruits and vegetables, which has the penalty of "throw it away in this special bag."

    PS: MRrainer: the US dollar has massively -appreciated- against the Euro and GBP (and most other European currencies, except not CHF) in the past couple years.

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