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Buying lenses from eBay Japan - Did you have to pay any USA customs/import fees?

FM3AAR
Contributor

For those of you who have bought eBay lenses from Japan, did you incur any USA customs fees/duties/delays etc?

The ads typically say: "Expedited Shipping from outside US | See details
International items may be subject to customs processing and additional charges."

 

I've been reading all manor of responses on USA import duties etc. So I thought I would ask the folks here who have actually

bought an eBay lens from Japan if you were charged an import duty fee? Was the experience seamless?

For what it's worth, I was looking at a $600.00 Canon lens on eBay from Japan.   Thanks.

26 REPLIES 26

I haven't bought any camera gear from overseas but I have purchased a LOT of vintage amateur radio gear from international sellers, Japanese in particular.  A lot of the electronic gear produced in Japan was never officially exported so that is the only source.  I have always had very smooth transactions.

 

I have had stuff stuck in customs for fairly long periods of time, particularly from Europe.  I bought some cold war era military radios from China a few years ago (exact copies of the US military version even down to including a Chinese copy of the classic Simpson 260 VOM) which were still in their original sealed factory crates and those took about 3 months to arrive which can happen with products that take the slow route via boat.

 

If a lens I really wanted was available at a good price from a Japanese seller with a good ebay feedback rating, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase.  I would prefer to buy the lens 10 miles away but if it is at a compelling price on the other side of the world and appears to be a safe deal then jump on it.  I have bought a lot of stuff from ebay and the only real hassle I have had was from a seller one state over who worked the system for all he could before Paypal finally forced a refund.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"... the only real hassle I have had was from a seller one state over..."

 

It can happen anywhere.  Besides being very slow in arriving I have had no issue either from overseas purchases. I admit none were lenses though. Here again lack of any practical experience dictate a persons logic.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

"... the only real hassle I have had was from a seller one state over..."

 

I can happen anywhere.  Besides being very slow in arriving I have had no issue either from overseas purchases. I admit none were lenses though. Here again lack of any practical experience dictate a persons logic.


Full Disclosure:  I am a never eBay user, never again.  Had my identity stolen in a PayPal data breach when they first started up.  I didn't even buy anything from eBay, but someone else was.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

"Had my identity stolen in a PayPal data breach when they first started up."

 

That's bummer for sure but it isn't a reason to not buy from some where.  It can happen anywhere and it does. It happened at Cosco and Target and Home Depot and several others but you still buy from them.  Paypal is one of the better, safer services to use. It is just the world we live in. There will always be bad guys trying to get money for free without working for it.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I use Paypal for almost every internet transaction because it is one more layer between my credit card and the merchant.  Paypal checkout is VERY convenient and the only time I had to use their payment refund service recently was a good experience unlike ebay itself after an ebay seller used every excuse and delay tactic in the book to try and not actually ship an expensive item.  After ebay stated they had refunded the payment but nothing happened I contacted paypal and the refund was issued within 24 hours.

 

The last credit card breach I had was at a brick and mortar store.  My nephew had a more humorous occurrence a few years ago when a group he was dining with all had their credit cards breached at a local restaurant.  They were all members of law enforcement and the server didn't enjoy her ill gotten gains for very long 🙂

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

amfoto1
Whiz

I've bought many items from outside the U.S., both via eBay and other methods, technically subject to import duties. That includes numerous purchases from Japan (shipping from there tends to be very expensive, but items I've bought have typically been in very nice condition and very correctly described by the sellers).

 

I think it's pretty much up to US customs whether or not to charge an import duty. Often with lower cost items there simply are no charges. I have had to pay occasionally on higher priced items.

 

There may be an exemption based upon value. I know you used to be able to bring something like $750 worth of goods in without any duties, when travelling. Maybe it's the same with shipped items.

 

What import duties vary, too, depending upon the type of item. At one time I recall that a lens or camrea body bought separately was subject to something like 15% duty, while a camera AND lens were charged a higher rate.

 

It also depends upon where items are being shipped from... import duties seem to vary by country. For example, I see this with auto parts purchased internationally. I often get Land Rover parts from Canada and there is no duty charged. If I were to instead purchase them from England, where they are being manufactured (and shipped to Canada without duty), I would have to pay a substantial duty.

 

If an item is marked "used" on the shipping form, there may not any charge. But even this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. I had to pay a hefty duty on a rebuilt automobile transmission I bought from England and had shipped to me, even though it was originally manufactured in the 1970s. 

 

Out of dozens of photo-related international purchases over the years, I can't recall paying any import duty. But usually the values weren't all that  high and I may be forgetting an occasional, small charge.

 

So, depending upon whether it's new or not... and possibly other factors... you may or may not have to pay a duty. And just how much it will be.... if charged... can vary quite a bit.

 

Check with US Customs... there is probably info on a website about it.... whether or not a duty is charged at all on photographic gear, specifically a lens sold separately, whether or not there is some value excluded. And, even if a duty is supposed to be charged, in my experience more often than not they don't do so.

 

BTW: More of concern to me has always been shipping.... Some years ago I bought twenty ex-military cameras from someone in Scotland via eBay.... They were an atypical Japanese camera model that, for some reason, the British Army had purchased and used. No one else bid because the seller decided to sell them as a lot rather than individually. I won bidding $2 US per camera! I think the seller was upset by the low selling price. He charged me $80 US for shipping, dumped them all in a box without any packing what-so-ever and appeared to ship by "slowest & cheapest possible method".

 

I was about to give up on ever seeing them when two months later a box that looked like more like a soccer ball from shipping damage and tape landed on my doorstep.  Fortunately the cameras were a special waterproof, high durability  model ("armored glass" over the lens, etc.) and all but a few survived the trip. Several even had exposed film inside (which I had processed... but the shots were boring).  I sold two of the good working ones and recouped more than I'd spent.... from there on it was pure profit simply by selling them individually. I kept three or four unique ones for my collection and sent several broken ones to a friend who could use them for spare parts. 

 

***********


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2) some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & ZENFOLIO 

Chananain
Apprentice

Most tax payments are included in the delivery price. I ordered a package from eBay China, and I wasn't charged any additional fees rather than the ones included in the actual delivery. And I also didn't pay for speedpak tracking since it belonged to the delivery carrier. However, my package didn't overcome the legal free import mass. You should check with your carrier and your state tax center to see what that mass limit is. If you overcome it, you will pay taxes according to the parcel's weight.

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