Importing Macbook from US to UK - good idea?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mr Skills, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. Mr Skills macrumors 6502a

    Mr Skills

    Nov 21, 2005
    With the amazing exchange rate at the moment there is a difference of well over £200 ($400) between the US and UK for buying a Macbook, so it's really tempting to do that. But would I just be opening a can of worms? How much duty could I expect to pay, and how much hassle if it went wrong?

    Can I avoid the duty if someone I know is actually going there?


  2. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    You'd pay 17.5 percent tax I think. But this has been discussed before and its not worth the hassle, just suck it up and pay the price. I've been there myself with my own question, so I'm not optimistic.
  3. igmolinav macrumors 65816

    Aug 15, 2005

    If you want to buy it from the apple store. I don´t know if they´ll do it.

    However, I think ships ovearseas. They are well priced and are very reliable.

    Please bear in mind the cost of shipping plus VAT (and any other additional tax).

    Do you have a friend in the U.S. going to the UK? He/She could bring the computer to you and help you save the money.

    Or you could pick it up yourself, the $400 you "save" could well be used to take a little holiday in the U.S.

    I may come up with another idea, please e-mail me:
    Do you live in London??


  4. sohosid macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2006
    Yes, as long as they throw away all packaging and mail you the receipt. If they get stopped by UK customs they will have to claim that the Mac is theirs and that they didn't buy it in the US. Might be tricky if it's brand new and never been used!

    If successful, you may have problems should it ever go wrong. Apple *might* honour the warranty, but they also might not.

    Professional photographers have been nipping over to New York to visit B+H for years. Their deals are usually so tempting that the savings pay for the trip and then some.

    I'd say that to be honset, £200 saving isn't really worth all the hassle.

  5. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    legally, the "someone" would be required to declare the purchase and pay tax when returning to the UK.....and as previously stated, if they get stopped at customs; what fun! Customs can even impound the computer until you prove it was purchased in the UK.....and if you can't, then it's pay the tax plus a penalty!!
  6. FireArse macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2004

    I am about 95% sure that laptops have worldwide warranties. If I were you, I'd buy the cheapest ticket to NY and get a MacBook. You could save so much. While you're there, buy RAM :)
  7. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres
    It can be worth it especially if you can buy in a state that has no sales tax.The chances of customs showing any interest are very low and worst case scenario 17.5% Vat.I'm talking of actually going yourself or getting someone else to do it.I believe there are places that will buy for you from a US address and then post to you marked "gift" but I've never used them.Legality may be a bit of a grey area.:)
  8. Lunja macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2005
    Lincoln UK
    Buying a US Macbook


    I considered this a year ago, but people were telling me to consider that the keyboard will be slightly differrent. Apparently US enter keys are much smaller, and also there is no "£" sign, so you might have to configure the keyboard...

    Another one to watch is the Canadian exchange rate- I went over there in May and got CAN$1.98. It's now around CAN$2.19 to the pound, making the savings even bigger...

    Edit: Widget just told me the UK/Can rate is £1- CAN$2.24 :O :O
    That makes a 2.0Ghz White MB that sells here for £879 cost £659 in the US, and £645 in Cananda!!!
  9. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004


    First you add import duty to the price of the goods, including any delivery costs if you try to get those shipped over. Then you add the VAT onto the sum of that. Expect import duty to be 10% or higher, depending on what the current tariff is. That would pretty much wipe out your gains.

    Worst case scenario is that you pay import duty, plus VAT plus suffer any possible legal ramifications if they want to throw the book at you for deliberate smuggling. Not worth it for a laptop.

    Although I have travelled plenty with various laptops and never been challenged, it is fair to say that none of these has ever looked brand new.

    As for gifts, the duty-free value of these is strictly limited from non-EU countries. Something like £142 last time I looked at the airport. I very much doubt whether any heavy parcel marked fragile would pass muster and not raise suspicions. Legality here is black and white. You rely on lack of vigilance, not ignorance of import regulations.
  10. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres
    There is no duty on laptops (or computers in general,some displays may have duty)notice I said "if your actually going yourself",and yes I have done it myself.I've also imported highish value goods labelled gift from several countries none of which were even looked at.If you go to Ebay U.K. you'll see US companies who will refund you the 17.5% tax if they charge it (they know it hardly ever happens).Legally it's a grey area which is why large companies do it all the time.If your morals are against it fine don't do it.Given the price gouging that takes place in various countries round the world I'm all in favour.
  11. Addo macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2006
    I've done this a couple of times now, I bought a Powerbook a few years ago and recently back in May or March I bought my 17" MBP over in the US. If you're going over there especially to buy a new MBP or macbook I'd say it's not really worth the bother as you'll spend what you'll save on the flights. However if you make a holiday of it then I reckon it is worth it! Just make sure you either take a laptop bag either with you or buy one and carry it back in that bag and mail the receipts and if you want the packaging back to the UK (the packaging might help resale value if you decide to punt it on Ebay at a later date)

    I personally don't think it's even worth thinking about getting one shipped from the US to the UK - You WILL get hammered by the courier company for VAT + their admin fee. Every time I've had stuff sent over from the US I've been stung by Fedex, UPS, DHL - I think they make a point in declaring goods to the Customs as it's a nice and easy money earner for them with respect to their admin charges (Fedex charged me an extra £13 as their fee!)

    I sent my MBP box back home and it cost $15 with USPS and it only took about 3 days to arrive!

    I think, I might be wrong, but NY has a fairly high Sales Tax? If you can, fly to Philidelphia, hire a car and pop about 30-40 mins down the road across into Delaware where there isn't any Sales Tax and there is an Apple Store in the mall just over the state border - That's what I'll be planning to do in the near future! ;)

    If you do get hammered for VAT on your return there isn't any import duty on computer equipment so it'll be a straight 17.5%, but having said that each time I"ve returned from the US I've hardly even seen any Customs officers on duty so you'd have to be very unlucky to get stopped, but as mentioned above if your morals think it's wrong then don't do it - personally, I think I pay enough tax as it is so I wouldn't think twice about doing it! :D

    ps Don't forget to get a mains plug adaptor for when you get home! and don't forget the US keyboard layout is slightly different to ours but you get used to it quite quickly and the Apple warranty on laptops is worldwide!

  12. Mr Skills thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mr Skills

    Nov 21, 2005
    Thanks for all the replies! I actually forgot I'd written this post so it was a nice surprise to see so much activity when I got back :)

    I think it looks like more hassle than its worth. I can't really afford a MacBook - it's just that the exchange rate thing got me a bit excited and I was half hoping it would give me an excuse to spend the money I don't have :D

    Oh well, I'll just keep putting pennies in the piggy bank :rolleyes: :(


  13. sebosiris, Nov 21, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2013

    sebosiris macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2013
    Hi All,

    I thought I would share my experience. I am from London and bought myself a macbook air 11 inches on amazon UK for around 700£ instead of the usual 849£ 2 weeks ago. I was a bit worried initially but looking at the reviews on amazon, it said it was a genuine seller so after checking other websites and forums, I went ahead and ordered it. I have just received it and I am so impressed with it. The keyboard is US layout but it does not really make a diifference (except for the pound sign) but I can live with that. I have a UK guarantee and it is new. Check the product page and you will see by yourself. My new macbook air made me a happy man :)
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The store in the USA will want you to pay US sales tax which is not included in the advertised price. You can avoid 20% VAT by bringing the MacBook to the USA illegally, which will end up very expensive if you get caught, and is illegal. You will have a US keyboard, and a US charger which doesn't fit in the UK so you need a clumsy adapter. I _think_ the US chargers will work with the double UK voltage without exploding, but don't take my word for it. You won't have any UK or EU consumer protection, because you didn't buy in the UK, so after your 1 year manufacturer's warranty runs out, that's it.


    Especially with a US keyboard. It's quite obvious that the Pound and Euro characters are missing on the keyboard.
  15. boomdog macrumors regular


    Oct 3, 2013
    The most Easterly point of the UK
    I've taken various laptops in various conditions through airport security and not once have they opened it up. The slide it through that x-ray thing and then its straight back in my bag. If you travel regularly it may pay to buy abroad but if your main residence is the UK you will be better served in the long run by purchasing in the UK. I took my GF's white Macbook in to an apple store with a keyboard fault and they replaced both the keyboard and the plastic facia free of charge on a Macbook more than 3 years old without AppleCare. I'm happy to pay a hundred or so for that piece of mind.

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