View Full Version : My story of importing a powerbook from the US

20th February 2004, 06:12 PM
Well, it's been a bit of disaster trying to get the powerbook over here but it seems like it'll be in my hands on Monday. I thought I might share my story here so that people in the future can expect similiar things.

My brother studies in the US so I got him to purchase a powerbook in NY. The price was US$2299 plus 8.625% NY tax. He also paid for APP which was another $240.

I requested my brother to send it through normal airmail I was afraid of getting taxed. Instead he took it to the post office and shipped it using EMS. Well, after tracking it for a couple days, it arrived in Melbourne after 4 business days.

I rang this morning to Australia Post to see how it was going to be delivered, and to my shock it was held at customs. I was advised that I had to contact the customs office (03-9339-1501). I rang them and they told me that since the value of the product was over $1000 I was liable for GST. I agreed to pay, but they said that I had to complete an importation form or whatever to get it processed. She said if the item was less then $1000 she would have simply allowed Australia post to collect the GST on behalf and I would have received it by today.

Furthermore to my shock, she told me that the process could take up to 2 weeks unless I used a customs broker. I said ok, how do I get hold of one. The lady told me that it's against the law to recommend anyone in particular since it's unfair. She advised me to ring up some from the yellow pages. After ringing 11 places, I finally found one that actually handles personal customs processing. There is nothing that distinguishes ones that deal with businesses and individuals so I had trouble finding one. As soon as i found one I was quoted $95 for the process and another $40 for the customs process, so in total of around $135. If I would have done that myself, it would have been $50. But since the customs broker has access to a VPN they can clear my item within hours. I emailed a copy of the receipt (tax invoice) and gave the verification number issued by the customs.

Basically I am going to be paying an extra $450 because of GST and this process
Still, the amount I pay is cheaper then buying 1 here.

Powerbook w/ APP + Tax US$2756.91
Shipment through EMS US$90

if calculated using AU$1 = 78 cents


Tax is calculated on US$2299 + $90 = AU$306.20

Plus $135 fee for processing

so in total


Educational price here is $4331

So a savings of around $240

It's been a good experience. I'm sure you all have your own opinions on whether it was worth it or not, but in the end I am going to have a powerbook which is cheaper by $240

20th February 2004, 06:32 PM
He he he

Good work. :)

You should write a full article to inform people of what to expect when importing hardware from overseas. :P

/ATAU content pimping

20th February 2004, 08:06 PM
sounds interesting... so it's over $1000 and it gets held and taxed? evil...

20th February 2004, 09:26 PM
As you can see from this
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/index.cfm?n...d=670&area_id=5 (http://www.customs.gov.au/site/index.cfm?nav_id=670&area_id=5)

You have to place an application form in order to receive a parcel that is over the value of $1000 for normal mail, and $250 for courier services such as Fedex and DHL.

The common mistake that everyone seems to make including myself is that "gifts" won't incur any GST. That was my whole basis of thinking that I can avoid duty if it was a birthday present, and it was 2nd hand.

The actual truth is that the customs in that case will try and determine the true value of the product by either requesting the purchaser to produce a proof of purchase, or simply use the price sold here in Australia. As for the powerbook, it was better that they base it on the actual purchased price in the US.

To the customs it doesn't matter if it's brand new or used. It's the value that it was purchased. Things like, I bought this on eBay will mean that you will have to provide evidence of the transaction or else you will be charged the GST applicable to the amount sold here in Australia, which is not ideal.

The biggest problem when you face a problem like I did was actually finding a customs broker. You do a search on yellowpages.com.au and search one for melbourne and you get 138. Like I said, I rang around 11 places before I finally reached on. I rang DHL intitially thinking that they would have a service, but unfortunately they said they won't unless the article was sent through them. Since I was desperate to get my powerbook ASAP, I simply stuck with the first broker that was going to do it for me. I do not know how much others are, but I believe this is a standard price. I need more people to tell me how much they would have used for their brokerage fee, and I shall investigate that through whirlpool.

So the conclusion from this is that if you're going to import an item such as a powerbook which has an actual price that is over AU$1000, don't try to take the risk of getting it sneak through, unless you're willing to waste some time. I personally needed this powerbook this weekend to prepare for my 21st slideshows, but that will only be able to happen on Monday. If you know that you are going to be saving money including the GST and processing fee, then I suggest you go to the customs office at the airport and fill out a form. That way you will only be charged $50 and thus when the package does come through it'll be passed straight through the post office. I on the other hand must go to the customs broker to receive the form, pay all the fees, then take that form to the customs to actually pick up my package.

Oh, and the GST is calculated by the actual value of the product and shipping

21st February 2004, 06:05 PM
out of interest, is the warranty and applecare valid here? I tried to pull a similar stunt when i was purchasing my TiBook a few years back, however they advised that because it was Apple US that sold me the product, Apple Australia wouldnt fix it (if a problem arose).

21st February 2004, 10:51 PM
Warranty and APP is international for portables so it will definately work with a copy of the invoice.

23rd February 2004, 11:34 PM
Yeah, my TiBook says that Apple'll fix it no matter where in the world I am with it, not sure if that's Apple US or Apple localized, but the manual/warrentycard says it:P

If you want to get some real savings on macs, I bet it would be interesting to see if an individual would be able to buy one of those five, ten or twenty packs of iBooks, or twentypacks of eMacs...

I wouldn't mind seeing the packaging on one of those, and, of course, just having twenty eMacs in general ;)

23rd February 2004, 11:53 PM
The packaging would be the same as you'd get buying an individual eMac. Its just that instead of getting 1, you'd get 20. ;)

24th February 2004, 06:36 AM
Originally posted by Comet@Feb 20 2004, 07:12 PM

Educational price here is &#036;4331

So a savings of around &#036;240
So, assuming a smart cookie like yourself could earn at least &#036;12/hr (probably more), your &#036;240 saving is actually reduced by hours spent chasing up the GST stuff times 12 (or more) because that&#39;s what your time is worth - ie what an employer would pay you for your skills.

Still, as you say, it&#39;s a learning experience, and worth the sharing because it makes me determined that the local guys are worth supporting, if only because parallel importing seems a total pain in the jacksie. (At least for only one machine.)

As for importing a batch, that might be worth the effort for a collective, but there&#39;s still a big question mark over warranty. I have read that the worldwide warranty on &#39;books is a service by local agency deal, but I can&#39;t be sure where.

JTS, once you take delivery, I&#39;ll bet the misery will fade quickly :-)

24th February 2004, 11:52 AM
&#036;240 difference and all that time hardly seems worth it...
Something like an iMac or eMac or iPod would have an even lower price difference.
I for one, commend comet for having the balls to do it, and reporting back with his experience. Now we all know it isn&#39;t really worth it ;)

26th February 2004, 04:45 PM
I&#39;ve looked into importing a second hand G4 from the States as they tend to go very cheap on Ebay.

I have a freight company that I deal with for other business, and shipping a G4 tower was going to cost me about A&#036;375 door to door. Sounds like a lot, but when you can pick up a just recently susperceeded top end G4 for under A&#036;1500....it starts to look like an option.

26th February 2004, 04:55 PM
I know a bloke to used to do this with G4&#39;s all the time. Would you like me to see if he can still do it and what it would cost?

26th February 2004, 05:00 PM
i&#39;d like you to, Currawong. We should collect as much information about this as possible so that we can post an informative guide to importing hardware for others to benefit from.

27th February 2004, 10:20 AM
Could you guys add me to your "notification" list about importing? I know someone there already, but I would rather to have a firm knowledge of customs/taxes/the whole process before I make a purchase in another country.

3rd March 2004, 10:08 AM
just thought i&#39;d let you guys know of a service i just spied, called american goodies (http://www.americangoodies.com/page/page/462943.htm).

basically they will shop and send over anything bought in US to wherever.

so i did a bit of quick maths on a simple example....

AUS powerbook 15" 1.25GHZ - AU&#036;4799 from apple store (which converts to US&#036;3643 based on AU&#036;1.00 - US&#036;0.76)

US powerbook - US&#036;2599
shipping via EMS for 7lb - US&#036;44.40

sub total - US&#036;2643.40
8% commission - US&#036; 211.47
shopping assistance fee - US&#036; 75.00

total - US&#036; 2929.87

this US&#036; amount converts to AUS &#036;3854
add 10% GST and that comes to AUS &#036;4239.40

and then all the other bits from customs and it goes up to AUS &#036;4374.40 which saves approx AUS&#036;420.

anyway american goodies claim they will try and help with the duty by declaring wholesale value, and will shop from whomever you wish in US, so if you find a good deal at smalldog.com or any of the other apple resellers you can save more money that way.

i&#39;ve never used them, but am intrigued enough to consider them...&#33; i chanced across them because they are shipping iPod minis to anywhere in the world now&#33;&#33;

7th April 2004, 11:11 PM
A better idea that my company is using is to just use a serviced (virtual) office in the US.

It costs us US &#036;75 per month.

Order directly from the Apple Store, ship to the serviced office who forward it by courier to Australia.

You have to pay GST but as everyone else has been pointing out - do the math.

After all it&#39;s not if Apple Australia deserve their mark up. They have done such a great job getting all the features of iPhoto over here and the Apple Music store? I think we will be waiting.

We recently saved &#036;2,500 on 2 G5s and I&#39;m the owner of a silver mini iPod

8th April 2004, 12:09 AM

Just stumbled across this site and I am loving it&#33; Been a "Mac Guy" for 2/3 of my life have been drawn into the web nightly for at least 9 years now. I cant believe I have never found this place. Maybe I have and didnt like the old interface :-) the new one looks good anyway.

So about importing computers from the states. I have been looking into getting a 17" PB over the past 2 weeks from the US. I ran into all of the problems that have been mentioned, GST, shipping costs etc.

The best value for money deal I could find was to import a Refurbished 17" from the apple store. That landed (including GST and Shipping) would have cost me &#036;3750, which is a 1800 saving. Thats a lot of money, that could be put towards Ram and accessories.

However I ran into the following problems
1. Finding a friend to send the product to so that they could on forward it (I don&#39;t know many people in the US)
2. Paying for it online without a Credit Card Address in America
3. The fact that it was refurbed and not brand new.

Anyway I was looking for a way to either get that or a student priced one for ages and as someone mention it was costing me money. So I took a look ebay and there it was, a 17" PB that a guy had bought in the states and come back to Oz with it. I emailed him and we eventually agreed on the price of &#036;4000. I am having a friend pick it up tomorrow.

Say Goodbye to easter&#33;

8th April 2004, 12:54 AM
Just stumbled across this site and I am loving it&#33; Been a "Mac Guy" for 2/3 of my life have been drawn into the web nightly for at least 9 years now. I cant believe I have never found this place. Maybe I have and didnt like the old interface :-) the new one looks good anyway. Glad we could be of service, and we&#39;re very happy you like the site. Welcome to AppleTalk Australia. :)

8th April 2004, 01:17 AM
Ah I&#39;ve forgotten the name of the store, but they&#39;re in New York state in the US and they do a huge amount of photography related equipment and a lot of Australians source lenses and similar equipment from them due to the strong Australian dollar and generally better prices in the large market. Anyway they have an online store that sells all Apple products (new) to international customers, unlike Amazon and similar US online Apple retailers. Of course, the one issue here is anything you want that is BTO, however... I do remember the photography store actually having a few specifications i.e. those with a 9800Pro OEM and maybe even BT & AP on a Dual G5 setup, the same thing may&#39;ve applied to notebooks but I can&#39;t remember. I&#39;ll try to fish up the URL soon and edit this post&#33;

rice mac
8th April 2004, 11:11 AM
This thread has been a useful read, thanks to all that have posted.

Originally posted by Crambo@Apr 8 2004, 02:17 AM
Ah I&#39;ve forgotten the name of the store, but they&#39;re in New York state in the US and they do a huge amount of photography related equipment...
B&H Photo & Video ?
(click on "Computer Video" which is on the left hand side menu. Then click on the "Apple Store @ B&H" located under the &#39;Mac Based Solutions&#39; menu.

I&#39;ve purchased some camera stuff in the past but haven&#39;t bought any computer related items from them.

8th April 2004, 11:22 AM
Ja, that is them, thanks for supplying the link it&#39;s very useful indeed&#33;

DVD Plaza
8th April 2004, 01:25 PM
Originally posted by Comet@Feb 20 2004, 06:12 PM
if calculated using AU&#036;1 = 78 cents


Tax is calculated on US&#036;2299 + &#036;90 = AU&#036;306.20

Plus &#036;135 fee for processing

so in total


Educational price here is &#036;4331

So a savings of around &#036;240
This doesn&#39;t quite add up. Let&#39;s say the AUD is at 78c (I only recall it going up to 75c though?) - when it gets charged to your credit card it would actually be anywhere from 70c to 75c due to bank fees and dollar variations due to the time taken to charge your card.

Now, even if you got that 78c and therefore got at most 75c (likely to be lower but let&#39;s work best case) that works out to &#036;3795 which is &#036;146 more than you&#39;ve quoted. Thus the total savings are now &#036;94 not &#036;240.

Just something to bear in mind - I import quite a bit and am always stung by the dollar conversion :(

10th April 2004, 12:44 PM
Thanks for posting your experiences. I will still buy locally, with my education discount I think. I get 3 years warranty with that too. I get nervous when things like computers get shipped from America. Maybe because I tend to buy the lower end portables anyway, where the mark up isn&#39;t as high.

I&#39;ve bought quite a bit of stuff from the USA though and it bothers me that I can get these cheaper from the USA, than from the Australian Internet sites, or the local shops. The big thing must be not having to pay GST. In general, if the item I want doesn&#39;t need a power adapter, is not too pricey, or not too electronically complicated, I get it from the USA.

These include DVDs, computer accessories. computer memory.