Customs duties on personal items (laptop, camera)

Hello everyone.  I have been a long time away from the board as I have been hopping between work in Saudi Arabia and living here and Chicago.  I was in vacation in Ireland when Covid hit and countries started locking down.  I cut my vacation short and jumped over to Hungary the day they closed the borders. 
Now as it looks like I may be here for quite a while I want to ship some items here.  They are all my own personal items.  A laptop, a camera, and some accesories for those items.  I do not want them to be held for months by customs or charged absurd duties since I already paid tax in the USA.  Does anybody have experience with this?  I have tried looking at the government website and cannot get anywhere with it.  My Hungarian wife also cannot understand it. 
Any help would be appreciated.

Where are thy? In Ireland? If so you will have no trouble in shipping them over as Ireland is another EU country. In fact, come to think about it as they are personal goods you should not have to pay any tax.

Wow, what an omission to make on my part.  My brother would be shipping my stuff from the USA. My experience with Customs before has shown they are a finicky bunch.  I had trouble in Poland and had to pay duties but that was a new mp3 player from the USA 13 years ago so it was understandable, but once I had personal photo equipment shipped to France from the USA and they held it for over a month.   
I had hoped somebody would know of a website or somebody I could contact to get the rules in writing.  It is over $2,000 USD worth of goods and I don't want it impounded or taxed.

Errrrr usafpj

Its best klsallee answers this, as he is a fellow American.

Thanks for trying SimCityAT.  I would think Customs might be more understanding since I kindof got stuck here and just want my own stuff but I doubt it.

SimCityAT :

Errrrr usafpj

Its best klsallee answers this, as he is a fellow American.

Wow. I always appreciate a referral. Any referral. So kind.  :thanks:  :) 

Sadly, I can not help much in this case. First moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. And imported everything under Swiss law. Moving then everything from Switzerland to Hungary was easy... Except the car which was a total paperwork bureaucratic disaster --- so we sold the Swiss car and bought a new one here.

Well, this is what I was afraid of. Guess it is into the void I go. 
Hopefully they will let my items pass or at worst charge me VAT on what I put as the contents value, which will be outrageous but still better than them locking my stuff up for weeks.
Even paying 27% on my laptop would probably still make it cheaper than buying on here. Why are computers so cheap in the USA and so bloody expensive in the EU?

Not to play round robin, but I know from her posts that Marilyn Tassy and her husband has imported from the USA.

I will go in circles as long as needed to get an answer, but I do not know how to follow up with Marilyn Tassy.  Do I write her a message?

I have had presents sent over from the USA and Canada with no trouble (both ends), but these were single items. Not sent to Hungary but Austria and the UK. Few back this... In the end, they have just transferred money. Nothing to do with customs but length of time and cost of postage.

usafpj :

Why are computers so cheap in the USA and so bloody expensive in the EU?

Aside from VAT...

There is the disposal tax. That is, you pay up front here to dispose of your gear you buy. Unlike  in the USA where is shoveled off to society in total to pay for... eventually.... in the future.

Then there is the local language tax... in each country. Hungarian computers come with Hungarian keyboards and Hungarian OS language packs. Which is a smaller market (9 Million) versus the USA keyboard (300 million). That is basic economics.

And there is simply the European "resale tax". This is what I call European retails simply charging more for all the European taxes the retails has due to simply having a business in Europe. The income, employee, and business taxes here are quite high here. But then again.... Unlike in the USA, these social taxes for employees means that the EU has not seen the recent 26+ million unemployment numbers like in the USA. So such social networks do have some value.... And Europeans see that paying a little more at the cashier.... may save their job and income tomorrow. It is a sort of insurance. Just something to think about. Just saying.....

I guess the value of those presents would matter, as well as if they were new shipped from a company or opened from a friend. 
Shipping I am ok with.  I always see it as a mixed benefit.  It seems expensive but then I remember something is moving halfway around the world to my door in about a week. 
Thank you very much for the information.

SimCityAT :

I have had presents sent over from the USA and Canada with no trouble (both ends), but these were single items. Not sent to Hungary but Austria and the UK. Few back this... In the end, they have just transferred money. Nothing to do with customs but length of time and cost of postage.

I have had packages sent form Hungary to the USA take a month ot more  to arrive. Even when sent express Air Mail. (Side note: Send Christmas gifts in early November if you do no want them to become Valentine gifts).

So things work both ways.... It is not as if the US Customs is fast either.  ;)

I will hijack my own thread here as I am interested in this sidebar.  I am all for paying a higher price if it comes with a benefit.  As is glaringly obvious now the USA has major issues with social safety nets and healthcare(It was obvious before as well).  But the price difference on computers is amazing.  I would say at least 50%.  A disposal tax is wonderful, if! you get some money back for disposing of it properly instead of dumping it by the train tracks.  Otherwise it is wasted revenue as I doubt the fee is ringfenced for disposal. 
I have found other electronics to be closer in-line with the USA.  For example, just today I purchased a DJI Mavic Zoom quadcopter for about the same price as I could in the USA, but computers are nowhere near each other.

usafpj :

I will hijack my own thread here as I am interested in this sidebar.  I am all for paying a higher price if it comes with a benefit.  As is glaringly obvious now the USA has major issues with social safety nets and healthcare(It was obvious before as well).  But the price difference on computers is amazing.  I would say at least 50%.  A disposal tax is wonderful, if! you get some money back for disposing of it properly instead of dumping it by the train tracks.  Otherwise it is wasted revenue as I doubt the fee is ringfenced for disposal. 
I have found other electronics to be closer in-line with the USA.  For example, just today I purchased a DJI Mavic Zoom quadcopter for about the same price as I could in the USA, but computers are nowhere near each other.

Disposal tax is minimum. I only mentioned it as it adds to total cost.
Largest cost is your site: Hungary. Hungarian language OS and keyboard drives up costs even on tablets. And retail here is a scam anyway, on many levels.... I personally build my own PCs, using Linux OS, which is much cheaper and only a bit above par, but close with USA costs (except for VAT).

No doubt. Bureacracy is the same everywhere.  I had my permanent resident cards sent by post from Saudi Arabia once I realized I was stuck.  They got here in about a week.  Granted they were an envelope and not a package, but I was impressed.

Put the value under $ 25

Description: used items

But make sure they are insured, you should have no issue, and send not all together.

Things are not necessarily more expensive here.   One has to shop around.

I have an old North American  car I mess about with as a hobby and regularly buy bits and pieces from the USA.  The problem is the shipping cost and the VAT or just finding the items anyway.   Secondhand goods should be shipped at scrap value.  I've bought very heavy items like steering components.  It's massively cheaper to bring it in your checked luggage back here.  I shipped them USPS General Delivery to where I was in the US postal system  and then just collected them and brought them back on the plane myself. 

I get very annoyed with US shippers - I want a oil cooler pipe for my car and I see looney prices for shipping and a silly parochial attitude - like $80 shipping for a $30 part.  They want to send it by UPS or Fedex and I want them to send it  via normal post and I'll take the risk.  I'm still looking for that part.

On the other hand I bought car parts in Spain last week and the seller was cheap enough and extremely polite and helpful.  The shipping costs were not extremely unreasonable.  It was much cheaper to ship them from Spain than buy them locally.

Regarding computers and so on, you can buy anything in Europe at a reasonable price.   I buy stuff on Amazon.de and Ebay.de or Ebay.co.uk and have it shipped here but there are plenty of places here that sell IT gear but I urge some caution on general ignorance and lack of attention to detail.   I wanted a UK keyboard the other day - despite the advertising, the actual box showing a UK keyboard when I opened it, it was a US keyboard so it had to go back.  They think British keyboard is the same as a US keyboard because of the English thing.  D'oh.   Luckily it wasn't far from here.   

The local VAT at 27% applied here is a nuisance but strangely the prices for some commodities can be very similar to elsewhere in the EU.   

In pre-COVID19, for very expensive items you can drive over the border to Austria where VAT is about 8% cheaper.   We've driven to Vienna to buy 400-500 EUR worth of stuff in Ikea they didn't stock here.   Not a bad day out - drive there, have lunch, do shopping, drive back.

Personal items due to moving location are not subject to import duties unless for resale and some special value but to get around all that you need a work/residence permit normally.  Send them to your Hungarian wife as she doesn't need that paperwork.

I notice the huge price difference on laptops only pretty much.  On other items most things are equal.  And it isn't just Hungary but the EU that is expensive for laptops. For example my laptop, a MSI prestige is about $1,700 total in the USA but about 3,000 on Amazon.de and Amazon.co.uk, not to mention local shops.
But I purchased a DJI Mavic 2 quadcopter last week in Budapest for less than I could get it in the USA.  Most other electric items I purchase are about equal or maybe 5% more expensive here. 
Cars are one item that seem cheaper here.  I purchased a used C3 that ran great for years for 800.000.  In the USA it is difficult to find a car that cheap and if you do it is a clunker.
As far as car parts go I have never shipped any to Hungary but have used Ebay and Rockauto to ship antifreeze, motor oil, and car parts to Saudi Arabia and had very good experiences with both.  Amazingly Saudi Arabia does not process any of its oil so they have to import motor oil and antifreeze.

usafpj :

But I purchased a DJI Mavic 2 quadcopter

Do be aware, that using drones are highly regulated in Hungary.  Requires pre-approved permits to fly them from the Military Aviation Authority at least 30 days prior to your flight and the application must include:

-   Name, address and phone number of applicant
-   The coordinates for the proposed operation (for ex.: 200 m radius centered at coord point 47°24’49″N 18°45’56″E)
  -  Lower and upper limits of the proposed operation (for ex.: GND-1500’ AMSL)
-   The date of the proposed operation in Hungarian format (YYYY.MM.DD.) and time in UTC (for eg.: 2017. Július 20. – 2017. Július 29. SR-SS)
-   Reason: operation of unamnned aircraft
  -  Name and phone number of the person responsible for airtraffic coordination in the required airspace (generally the name of pilot)
  -  The name and phone number of the person applying for the permit.

usafpj :

Cars are one item that seem cheaper here.  I purchased a used C3 that ran great for years for 800.000.

Unusual. What year?  The Citroën C3 has been in production for almost two decades....

Cars are often over priced here, especially used cars.  Even very old ones.

usafpj :

I notice the huge price difference on laptops only pretty much.  On other items most things are equal.  And it isn't just Hungary but the EU that is expensive for laptops. For example my laptop, a MSI prestige is about $1,700 total in the USA but about 3,000 on Amazon.de and Amazon.co.uk, not to mention local shops.
....

What;s the spec on this MSI Prestige?  Sounds far too much.  I looked on Ebay and they aren't that expensive or about the same price for an i7.  It's the upgrades that kill you with laptops. 

What I do is buy 2nd hand base models on Ebay or elsewhere with the fastest processors available (min i7) and then replace the memory with the maximum you can get in there and upgrade to the largest SSD at your best price performance limit.

I've been doing this for years.  We've got multiple laptops and desktops here and all our daily driver laptops are second had base models which we upgrade ourselves. 

My own laptop is an i7 upgraded over about 3 years from 4GB to 8GB and now to 16GB (max limit now).  I also went from a 512GB HDD to a 512GB SSD and about 6 months ago I upgraded to a 1TB SSD.  About 2 years ago, I took out the DVD and put in a second 2TB disk I had spare.  Works absolutely fine.

I will have to upgrade at some point but with some care on selection I can just swap out my disk to the new machine.   Not very difficult.

klsallee :
usafpj :

But I purchased a DJI Mavic 2 quadcopter

Do be aware, that using drones are highly regulated in Hungary.  Requires pre-approved permits to fly them from the Military Aviation Authority at least 30 days prior to your flight and the application must include:

-   Name, address and phone number of applicant
-   The coordinates for the proposed operation (for ex.: 200 m radius centered at coord point 47°24’49″N 18°45’56″E)
  -  Lower and upper limits of the proposed operation (for ex.: GND-1500’ AMSL)
-   The date of the proposed operation in Hungarian format (YYYY.MM.DD.) and time in UTC (for eg.: 2017. Július 20. – 2017. Július 29. SR-SS)
-   Reason: operation of unamnned aircraft
  -  Name and phone number of the person responsible for airtraffic coordination in the required airspace (generally the name of pilot)
  -  The name and phone number of the person applying for the permit.

usafpj :

Cars are one item that seem cheaper here.  I purchased a used C3 that ran great for years for 800.000.

Unusual. What year?  The Citroën C3 has been in production for almost two decades....

Cars are often over priced here, especially used cars.  Even very old ones.

We see people flying drones around here all the time - mainly kids and below maybe 300ft or so.  Saw one a few days ago.  I doubt any of them have permits.  We've got a local airfield - Farkashegy - so we have lots of small planes going over and we see the emergency/rescue helicopter all the time.  If I remember correctly, on the Buda side, mostly there's no controlled airspace up to I think 4000 ft if I remember correctly.  Pest side is pretty much all controlled as are some small parts of the Buda hills and town.  Just saying. 

Cars are crazy stupid rip off prices here.  And too many sharks around.  I think many are doctored to reduce the mileage  (aka UK: clocked).  Next time I think we're looking to bring one in from Germany (maybe Ford or VW Jahreswagen).  Austria is a waste of space for second hand cars - guy I know in Austria found it was cheaper to buy one in the UK new with international warranty.  Cheaper than a 3 year old one in Austria.

fluffy2560 :

We see people flying drones around here all the time - mainly kids and below maybe 300ft or so.  Saw one a few days ago.  I doubt any of them have permits.

People jay walk all the time. Does not mean it is not illegal.

And reluctance of people to report said illegal behavior does not mean it is not still illegal. In fact, it simply encourages it.

Have reported drones where I live to authorities. Some have been fined.  If you choose not to report illegal behavior... that is your issue.

Side note: may not want to fly drones were I live without a permit. I see it. I video it. I report it.

fluffy2560 :

If I remember correctly, on the Buda side, mostly there's no controlled airspace up to I think 4000 ft if I remember correctly.  .

What you "remember" is not relevant. Controlled air space it not relevant. All drones must be approved to fly no matter where they fly. Owning a drone does not require you to register. But if you fly it... Yes.

Check the law. As you so often suggest to others... Search Google.... And you may find things like:

https://drone-traveller.com/drone-laws-hungary/

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

If I remember correctly, on the Buda side, mostly there's no controlled airspace up to I think 4000 ft if I remember correctly.  .

What you "remember" is not relevant. Controlled air space it not relevant. All drones must be registered and approved no matter where they fly.

Check the law. As you so often suggest to others... Search Google.... And you may find things like:

https://drone-traveller.com/drone-laws-hungary/

Yes, maybe but we all know that the law and reality doesn't match up here some times.

I'm just saying that airspace usage has a long regulated background and varies for manned flying objects, Obviously there should be some common sense for those wanting to use them even though they are breaking the law by not doing what the Hungarian state demands. 

Within at least 5km of a small airfield,  people don't want to be flying drones, legally or not above about 300ft.  It's dangerous.   Anyway, small planes should not do turns below 500ft.

I didn't want to go on and on and on and on.....about drones.

fluffy2560 :

Yes, maybe but we all know that the law and reality doesn't match up here some times.

Correct. But I still am somewhat too idealistic to believe that many days.... So I still report those here that flaunt the law. Needless to say... I am not locally popular....

And usually comes to not.... everyone "knows a guy" who can get him off. But... I still believe in the law. If I did not.... I could no longer believe in basic concepts of liberty and justice. Yes... I am the true boy scout....


fluffy2560 :

I didn't want to go on and on and on and on.....about drones.

I will assume you are not talking about me... but maybe you are.... and if you are... you may have a point. And a relevant point.... Fini.... :D

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

We see people flying drones around here all the time - mainly kids and below maybe 300ft or so.  Saw one a few days ago.  I doubt any of them have permits.

People jay walk all the time. Does not mean it is not illegal.

Yes, just saying kids do stuff anyway regardless of what the law says. 

Incidentally jay walking is not illegal everywhere. It's certainly not illegal in my country (UK) where we don't actually know what it is or why it's called jay walking. Cross where you like!  It's not illegal in some  other countries either!   Personally I've inherited the German style for some years just to make sure as I don't want to get fined while in different countries with different ideas.

While idling a while back, I saw some of a PBS documentary on the Lincoln highway (see YouTube) - it seems jay walking was invented by the car industry to stop dangerous pedestrians interfering with the free flow of vehicles.  Wasn't a problem until car mass production came in.

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

I didn't want to go on and on and on and on.....about drones.

I will assume you are not talking about me... but maybe you are.... and if you are... you may have a point. And a relevant point.... Fini.... :D

I left the emoji out again.   Now I am not sure if you are messing with my head. I was of course, trying to be funny but looking like  I was failing - going on and on....droning.....OK, not my best work.

I think ignoring the law here is a national sport.  There's a  one way street nearby - everyone drives up it the wrong way.  Sometimes they reverse up and sometimes they just drive up it the wrong way - usually delivery drivers.   No-one seems to notice or care.  We point in the correct direction but they are experts at shoulder shrugging.

What a difference experiences and perceptions make.  I find cars cheap and good here from one positive experience and absolute garbage in the USA but everyone else here seems to have the opposite experience. 

As far as computers go, I find it is the graphics card that kills the price here.  It is near impossible to even find recent high end ones such as the 2070 or 2080.  My Prestige has 4k screen and the higher end graphics card so that may be why you saw cheaper ones that were with lower specs.  For comparable it was $1700 US vs, about $3,000 europe.

Thanks for the heads up Klsallee about the drone requirement.  I have been flying it all over Balaton and Salgotarjan without permits and haven't had an issue yet, though I will accept a fine if I do get it trouble.  I detest drones for privacy reasons and believe they should be shot down or people jailed that use them for spying or causing dangerous situations.  That said, I fly mine in nature or high enough above buildings that people can not hear it so I don't bother anyone.  I have gotten some nice video of the castles by Salgotarjan and sunrises at Balaton.  I believe in holding people responsible for what they do and not blanket rules.  I will cross a road when it is clear, not just at a crosswalk, because I can see if it is safe.  Likewise, I will fly my drone respectfully so it doesn't bother anyone( I even walk as far away as I can get from people to launch it so they don't have to hear it).  Hopefully you don't have a vendetta against all drones and let people use them 100 meters above you and out of you way, only reporting jerks that are being annoying or unsafe.  After all, they are pretty interesting and useful.

usafpj :

What a difference experiences and perceptions make.  I find cars cheap and good here from one positive experience and absolute garbage in the USA but everyone else here seems to have the opposite experience. 

As far as computers go, I find it is the graphics card that kills the price here.  It is near impossible to even find recent high end ones such as the 2070 or 2080.  My Prestige has 4k screen and the higher end graphics card so that may be why you saw cheaper ones that were with lower specs.  For comparable it was $1700 US vs, about $3,000 europe.

....

That's the consumable design these days, the 4K if on the MB (motherboard) has no upgrade path.  Very few laptops - if any - have separate graphics boards these days.   

If you are doing video editing then probably you want a separate screen to view your work - this is what I do (I use high end screens/TVs as a separate HD monitor connected by HDMI).   

The limit for all that is mainly the memory and worse, the shared memory over which you have no or limited control for dedicating usage.  Hence stuffing with as much RAM to try and mitigate.   Weight wise it'll be heavy with all that extra metal inside it to carry around. 

Price wise you're probably right about the difference in high end versions.  But it sounds like a premium reseller price, not a discount one, perhaps Windows 10 Pro versions and maybe with additional warranty.  Bare bones  and put Linux on, then I think the price can be brought down. 

Cars here are a minefield.   They are all massively overpriced from dealers.   The main problem I have found is that they are all high mileage ex-lease cars. For some reason they are commonly white or silver/grey and quite basic versions.  Anything with over 100K miles/170K km is not a good idea.  Top end should be 40-50K km from 1-2 years driving.  The dealers all know that too high mileage will kill a sale so they clock them.   There's a place near me which is full of ex-lease cars.

I never have and never will buy from a used car dealer.  They are terrible people.  I either buy new or from a private party.  I love new cars.  No nasty gunk from previous people or hidden problems. Worth the extra price to me.  The issue is that cars now are too big and have too much technology.  I don't near a rear camera, wifi, touchscreen, 500 airbags, or any of that other garbage. I used to love Mini's but they are far too big now and way too much technology even on the base model. 
I hear you on the laptop, but I travel too much to use HDMI so I needed a 4k screen.  You are correct that there are ways to lower the price but that defeats a comparison.  For comparable computer models Eruope is at least 50% more expensive and I'm still not sure why.  Market size is about the same, languages and keyboards are simple to change.  Tax is different but not by that much.

usafpj :

I never have and never will buy from a used car dealer.  They are terrible people.  I either buy new or from a private party.  I love new cars.  No nasty gunk from previous people or hidden problems. Worth the extra price to me.  The issue is that cars now are too big and have too much technology.  I don't near a rear camera, wifi, touchscreen, 500 airbags, or any of that other garbage. I used to love Mini's but they are far too big now and way too much technology even on the base model. 
I hear you on the laptop, but I travel too much to use HDMI so I needed a 4k screen.  You are correct that there are ways to lower the price but that defeats a comparison.  For comparable computer models Eruope is at least 50% more expensive and I'm still not sure why.  Market size is about the same, languages and keyboards are simple to change.  Tax is different but not by that much.

$3K seems very expensive, even for here.  If you are a legally formed business then you've got VAT-claimable purchase with depreciation or even better putting it on expenses.   Then again, someone else could buy it for you and you borrow it long term. 

The killer is VAT on top of import taxes.  I literally just bought a $25 car part in NY, USA but with shipping here, it's going to cost about $75 delivered to the door and take up to a month to get here.  Could not source it here in Hungary or even Europe so had no choice.  The costs are $25 for the part, about $35 for the transport and $15 taxes. Ridiculous but the car won't drive very well without it.   

I carry an HDMI cable with me and just plug in wherever I am there's a decent TV/monitor.   If I don't have the cable I just go and buy one or try to use the one in the hotel - disconnect their stuff.

Car dealers need to be avoided but I think you'd be OK with an ex-lease car from the leasing company as they will know the history.   The only issue is that you are paying for that history and possibly to get the warranty. 

The new Mini is not as good fun as the older original.   That was like driving a go-kart and great fun as a runabout and very easy to park.  I thought the new design one was not very refined when I was in it. Surprising considering it's a BMW - which is usually nice to drive. 

All that electronics just means more to go wrong.  In my hobby car, I keep thinking I should replace all their fancy integrated stuff with basic separate systems.

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