Can buy Apple Greece
iPhones, iPads and Macs often cost much less outside of Germany. However, there are a few things to consider when importing - this also applies to accessories and spare parts. We reveal how you can avoid difficulties and where you can actually save.
If you look in the US Apple store and convert the dollars into euros, there are often price differences of more than 20 percent. When ordering a MacBook or iMac in the USA, you can even choose which language layout the keyboard should have, and the Apple guarantee applies worldwide. What could be more natural than to order your Macs, but also iPads and iPhones there?
However, Apple is not making things easy for foreign customers. In addition, there are import and customs regulations, the disregard of which can result in severe penalties. So how can you still benefit from the lower prices? Or from which other countries is it easier to import but still lucrative?
Mac & i issue 4/2016
The legislature makes a strong distinction here according to the way in which a product arrives in the country: Will it be brought with you when traveling or does it come by post - for example after an order has been placed on the Internet? We looked at both variants.
Buy Apple devices in EU countries
In the Apple stores in countries with the euro as their currency, the devices cost roughly the same everywhere. In our sample, the largest discrepancy was found with an iPhone X, which cost 40 euros more in Italy than ours (see table below).
In the direct neighboring countries with their own currency - Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic - there were no bargains to be made.
From the United Kingdom you can import all goods duty-free and tax-free as long as it still belongs to the EU. With an iPhone X, however, you can currently save only 10 euros, with the iPad Pro it is only around 25 euros.
If you buy online in the Apple Store, you can even order a MacBook with a German keyboard. Such models will rarely be in stock in shops. If you have a few days to wait, you can save just under 70 euros with the 13-inch base model and around 225 euros with the 15-inch top model, minus any credit card fees for international use.
Buy Apple products outside of the EU
In Switzerland you can save around 87 euros on an iPad Pro, 122 euros on the iPhone X and over 231 euros on the MacBook Pro 13 ". However, when buying, you have to make sure that you get a normal keyboard and not a Swiss-German keyboard. Such devices should not be in stock in every federal Apple store.
Switzerland is of course not part of the EU, which is why taxes on the entire purchase price (including taxes paid in Switzerland) must be paid when entering Germany from a value of 300 euros (430 euros for air or sea travel). These amount to a total purchase value of 700 euros per person in accordance with the flat-rate tax rate of 17.5 percent and include taxes and duties. If the souvenirs exceed the value of 700 euros, the 19 percent import sales tax and possible customs duties are due at our borders (see table above). Laptops, tablets and cell phones, however, are duty-free.
Buy iPhone in USA, Canada and Hong Kong
We come to the motherland of the Apple group, in which the Macs are shown at incredibly low prices. Apple only reports net prices, however, as taxes can vary in every state, county, and even city.
In order to find out the actual retail prices in the US stores, you can get the necessary information with a trick in the online store: Select a product (2 x "Select") and place it in the shopping cart ("Add to Bag "). Then the line "Estimated Tax" appears at the bottom right above the total. After clicking on “Edit” you can now enter a zip code, for example “10001” for New York. If you click on "Calculate", the tax due there (Sales Tax) appears. For Manhattan it's 8.88 percent. In New Hampshire, Montana and Delaware there are no taxes at all; in Arkansas the rate is 11.625 percent.
If you buy in the New York Apple Store, you save around 160 euros on the iPad Pro, almost 231 euros on the iPhone X and 13 "307 euros on the MacBook Pro.
You can also get a German keyboard in the USA, but only for online orders. The delivery time for a MacBook with a German keyboard was 6 to 12 days at the time of the test. Here you might have to order the goods before you start your trip and have them sent to your accommodation - or then pick them up at the Apple store on site.
When entering Germany, iPhone, iPad and Macs are duty-free, but are subject to the same taxes as when returning from Switzerland. You will not get the sales tax back from the German authorities. On top of that, you have to pay local taxes on them if you have reached the exemption limit. The iPhone X and the MacBook 13 "would still be a bit cheaper for an honest citizen than buying them from Apple in Germany, but third-party dealers sometimes also offer the devices cheaper in this country.
In Canada, Apple products are also priced net and cost about as much (or little) as in the USA. When shopping in Montreal, the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone X would be more expensive than in New York. In contrast to the USA and UK, however, you cannot order a German keyboard there. The same goes for Hong Kong, where the MacBook and iPad are the cheapest; an iPhone is cheaper only in New York.
Risk of cheating at customs
Anyone who thinks they can look forward to an inspection at customs simply because they disposed of the packaging of the devices and sent the receipts by letter should be warned: If the device is still unused, it will hardly be part of the luggage on the way there to have.
In addition, particularly clever customs officials could enter the serial number on Apple's website "checkcoverage" and find out how long the twelve-month guarantee is still valid. The date of purchase was a year earlier. For example, if that was only two days ago, you not only pay the import sales tax, but also pay the same amount as a penalty. If the value of goods exceeds 700 euros, you will definitely receive a complaint for attempted tax evasion.
Tax free: get tax back
Anyone who purchases outside the EU and pays the annoying import sales tax as a virtuous person cannot offset the sales taxes already paid abroad.
But there is the possibility of getting them back. The regulations for this vary from country to country. The process usually works like this: When shopping, the seller has to fill out a tax-free form. To do this, you have to show your passport and prove that you live outside the country. When you leave the country you get your taxes back at the airport, for example.
In the USA, these tax-free counters are operated by private companies who charge processing fees of up to 30 percent (of the tax amount). As a rule, you have to show the receipts and devices including packaging; it would be inconvenient if these were in the already checked-in suitcase. Apple in the US and Canada does not support Tax Free under their Retail Store Purchase Policies. There is no VAT at all in Hong Kong.
In Switzerland, for example, you ask the seller for a “Tax Free Form” or “Refund Check” when paying. During the departure you have the form stamped at customs, for which you have to have purchases, receipts and passport with you. All of this is then presented to a refund office at the airport or at the border in order to receive the repayment minus a cash fee of at least 5 Swiss francs.
Some stores use tax-free stickers to advertise that they are familiar with the process. At Apple, notices from other companies such as credit card companies are generally frowned upon because they would disrupt the design. Apple in Switzerland supports Tax Free through the service provider Global Blue. Corresponding commitments can also be found in the terms and conditions in Germany and Great Britain.
Inform in advance about taxes and customs duties
The free iOS app “Customs and Travel” reveals which taxes and duties are due for which goods value and which country of origin.
At least the exemption limits and amounts are correctly displayed, but for higher amounts you often get the succinct information "will be charged by customs".
After all, the app also contains the customs phone number and email address. You can also find out about special cases on the website www.zoll.de.
The page www.globalblue.com/brands/apple/ reveals the countries in which Apple supports Tax Free through the Global Blue organization.
Customs duties are not paid on digital cameras, smartphones, tablets, notebooks, software and game consoles. In contrast, 3.5 percent is due on audio CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. For MP3 players, the tax is between 2 and 4.5 percent. The rate is highest for DVD players and DVD recorders at 13.9 percent. If the total value (including shipping) is less than 150 euros per shipment, there are no customs duties.
Order products abroad online
At Apple you can only order products in the respective online store if you have a valid address in the country or if you have it sent as a gift to a delivery address there. If you have friends or relatives in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong or Switzerland, you can ask them to do the shopping for you and send the things to you. These have to go through customs from outside the EU.
The import sales tax for postage with a total value of more than 700 euros is 19 percent. Up to 700 euros, a flat tax of 17.5 percent is due, which would also include customs. The amount paid for shipping is included in the calculation. The exemption limit for mail is much lower: only up to a sum of 22 euros are items tax-free. Since only amounts of 5 euros or more are collected, the de facto threshold is currently 26.28 euros. For personal gifts (marked as such), the limit is 45 euros in total. Shipments up to 150 euros are duty-free. The amount always includes postage and any express surcharges.
From the UK, on the other hand, you don't pay any import sales tax or customs because it (still) belongs to the EU. The iOS app “Customs and Post” from German customs provides information about the taxes and duties incurred.
If you have no contacts abroad, there are special service providers who can provide you with an address there for a proportionate fee.
The DHL subsidiary Borderlinx offers this for England and the USA. This is how the author of these lines got an iPhone 4 from the British Apple Store at the time when it could only be bought in Germany with a contract and via Telekom.
By the way, our address assigned by Borderlinx for the United States was in Ohio, which has 8 percent sales tax.
The second postal route takes a few extra days and entails considerable costs for postage, packaging and handling. This can be reduced by bundling multiple purchases. Borderlinx brings the shipments through customs and includes the taxes paid on the invoice.
If the product is defective, you often have to send it back at your own expense. Depending on the size and weight, this can cost a mid-double-digit amount for an address in China or the USA. In addition, you should inquire in advance at German customs how you can avoid a double tax burden.
Trading platforms such as Amazon or eBay offer a certain amount of protection here. Amazon, for example, makes it very easy to return goods if the products do not come from the marketplace. On eBay, anyone who pays via PayPal enjoys a certain degree of buyer protection. Some providers also have a European address for returns, which makes processing easier.
Accessories and spare parts for Apple devices
Unlike Apple and some fashion manufacturers, other providers are not shy about selling to customers abroad. This is usually unproblematic in terms of customs within the EU; When paying by credit card, foreign fees are sometimes incurred. The legal situation within the member states is also similar when it comes to warranty issues and return options.
However, if you order from outside the EU, you must expect customs to inspect the shipment and calculate the above-mentioned duties. If there is no clear information about the contents or if the delivery note is in the glued box, the recipient must open the consignment at the customs office, unless the officials' questions can be clarified over the phone.
Counterfeit branded goods are destroyed by customs. He can refuse to import electrical items without a CE mark or without a German-language operating manual. In these cases you still have to pay for the goods. Private individuals usually have nothing to do with the electronic waste ordinance or other import regulations as long as they do not resell the things.
You should check carefully on the website where the goods are being shipped from before ordering. You should not order from companies that do not have an imprint and do not specify a company headquarters.
The conversation with the foreign senders is mostly in English. If one cannot reach an amicable agreement in disputes, taking legal action becomes much more complicated if the place of jurisdiction is overseas.
As is well known, Apple only sells spare parts to its workshops, which then also have to carry out the installation. If you need a special part such as an iPad button, an iPhone display or a MacBook battery, private individuals have no chance of receiving original parts directly from the manufacturer.
Nevertheless, some, mostly Far Eastern companies offer suitable parts on the Internet. They are rarely actually Apple originals, but mostly of usable quality (see Mac & i issue 3/2016, page 132). In any case, it is enough to get an older device that the manufacturer's service department can no longer repair in good working order.
For example, we ordered a set of ten different MacBook screws from Amazon in China at a sensational price of 2.07 euros including shipping. It took several weeks for the padded letter to arrive. Another example was the plastic MacBook Pro feet for 3.29 euros or ear pads for AKG headphones for 2.44 euros. For the latter, you can shell out up to 25 euros in local specialist shops. Since these shipments are below the exemption limit (see above), you do not pay any taxes or customs in Germany. In addition, at such low prices, the financial risk is manageable.
Guarantee and warranty
While foreign buyers worldwide can rely on Apple's one-year hardware warranty, they do not benefit from the two-year statutory warranty applicable in Germany.
For devices from many other countries around the world, the power supply plugs do not fit into our sockets. On the iPhone and MacBook, IEC plugs or cables can be changed individually and the power supply can continue to be used. You need a new charger for the iPhone. At Apple, the replacement components cost 15 to 25 euros, on the open market they cost 5 to 10 euros.
You can save a lot of money when buying Apple devices, accessories and spare parts abroad, but customs often slow the fun down drastically.
For the honest taxpayer, buying Macs and iPhones in Great Britain can be worthwhile, as long as it still belongs to the EU - and a higher-priced device is used.
In Hong Kong the prices are so much lower that their proper importation can also pay off, even after paying the import sales tax one stays below Apple's local prices. This also applies to the USA, if you can shop in a place without sales tax. There is nothing wrong with bringing accessories such as AirPods or an iPad up to a price of 430 euros from a (flight) trip, as it is still below the exemption limit. The iPad Pro, however, is already too expensive.
Sometimes you can only get spare parts in the Far East. You can also buy cheap accessories there. It is best to order via a trading platform such as Amazon or eBay. Every private buyer should also allow for the occasional trouble with customs.
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