Duty on used lenses purchased overseas?

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Hello all,

I have purchased a great deal of gear via the internet, some of which has come from Robert White, and one or two other sources outside the USA, so I am familiar with the duty that is charged for equipment.

I recently purchased a new lens and a used lend from RW, and when I got the bill, I was assessed the same rate for the used lens as the new one (5.8%).

That suprised me a bit, because I can't imagine a used piece being categorized the same as a new lens, even though they are both lenses. I'm wondering if there was an error in the categorization, or maybe I just don't understand how the tariff system works.

Anyone have any insight on the tariffs, and how they are charged?



-- Michael Mutmansky (mjmlighting@adelphia.net), February 04, 2002


Customs tariffs are extremely complicated and there are sometimes very different tariffs on products that seem essentially identical. There is a government website, http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/tariff2001.asp, that allows one to look up tariffs. A non-expert looking up a tariff might easily misclassify an item and obtain the wrong rate. I entered "lens" into the search field and then on the resulting page selected "90021190.--Objective lenses and parts & access. thereof, for cameras, projectors, or photographic enlargers or reducers, except projection, nesi--01/01/1999". The tariff given is 2.3% for countries with which the US has normal trade relations. These categories make no distinction between new and used. I don't know whether this is the right categorization. You could try using this category and apply for a refund.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@earthlink.net), February 04, 2002.

Thanks, Michael.

Based on the reference you sent, there was clearly something wrong with my tariff bill. So, I called UPS, and they had assessed it at the rate of 5.8% for "photographic accessories" instead of for "lenses" at the 2.3% rate.

It does sound like this is a common error, so I suggest that people be dilligent about checking the tariff rate they are paying, unless you don't mind giving your money to the government.

They did inform me that it doesn't matter if the product is new or used, as long as it is not made in the US.


-- Michael Mutmansky (mjmlighting@adelphia.net), February 04, 2002.

You boys are Very lucky !!!

Here in the UK we have to pay 17.5% tax, another 5% or more as import duty and these are charged on shipping also!! I would buy quite a lot of stuff from e-bay if it was not going to cost $35 shipping + the above. Even if we buy from Robert White it costs list + 17.5% tax new or used.

-- brian colin (fzmreels@hotmail.com), February 04, 2002.

I work in freight forwarding in japan, duty rates for the most part are the same for new & used items, a used items cost/value may be lower or higher(if collectible, in demand or whatever) but duty is applicable unless the item purchased is a duty-free item.

Duty is often based on a CIF(cost, insurance, freight)value

Consumption(VAT) Taxes are often calculated as follows, tax here in japan is 5% on anything imported:

Consumption tax = 5%(CIFvalue + applicable duty)

Each country is different but the above is probably pretty close formula wise.

As for UPS they were not technically wrong, but they should have known all the possible classifications & then obviously pick the one with the lowest duty rate so sounds like they screwed up.

I am in no way endorsing the govts of this planet from theiving from us, just trying to explain how they go about it.

Grant Wilson

-- grant wilson (smovesjp@tkk.att.ne.jp), February 05, 2002.

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