A friend is in the USA and is coming back to Slovenia (EU). Can he buy a graphics card for me in the US and bring it home with him? Because it's so much cheaper in the US, I thought this would be a good idea. But I hear that there's a "problem" with tax and that you might end up paying a lot more for it because of VAT and customs. I also heard something about declaring an item as a gift at the border, which would make it immune to the tax. Sounds a bit too good to be true in my opinion?

  1. Will the GPU be in danger of being confiscated if it's in it's original packaging on a flight?
  2. Will the customs in Slovenia automatically demand a 22% Tax for the GPU? The price of it is 340 dollars (307 eur).

I do apologise if the questions are a bit stupid or obvious, but I have never had experience with this, so I thought better be safe than sorry.

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    typically countries allow residents to bring a small amount of material home without duties. This amount often depends on how long you were away. Do you have a website for the Slovenian Customs department? – Kate Gregory Sep 11 '15 at 23:16
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    Note that there is a second "tax problem": The price tags in the US exclude the sales tax, which will be added to the final price before you pay. Typical sales tax rates are 7-10%. We can't tell you the actual rate that you will pay because it depends on the city in which you will buy the GPU. So the saving that you get from buying in the US is often less than what you expect. Also, some states add a "recycling tax/fee" at checkout time. I think I paid like USD 10-20 in California for a laptop. – DCTLib Sep 12 '15 at 13:14
  • My friend would order it via Amazon to his hotel. Link: amazon.com/MSI-GTX-970-GAMING-4G/dp/B00NN0GEXQ So the price written there has no tax added to it? – OneAndOnleh Sep 13 '15 at 0:31
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    It depends on the state. Amazon has some relationships with some states where they charge tax. The safest bet is to order from Newegg which only charges to packages shipped to California, Indiana, New Jersey and Tennessee only. – RoboKaren Sep 13 '15 at 4:05

According to the European Comission website:

If you enter the EU from a non-EU country, goods having no commercial character in your personal luggage can be imported free of customs duties, VAT and excise duties within the following limits:

...

Other goods (including perfume, coffee, tea, electronic devices etc.)

  • Up to a value of €430 for air and sea travellers

  • Up to value of €300 for other travellers

  • The value on an individual item may not be split up.
  • The value of personal luggage (i.e. suitcases) and medicinal products for the personal needs of the traveller do not count.
  • Member States may reduce the above limits to € 150 for travellers under 15 years.

Therefore the answer is that yes, you can import a graphics card tax-free into any EU country, as long as the total sum of imported products doesn't exceed 430 euros. Note that products previously purchased in the EU (e.g. clothing and other electronic devices) don't count as an import.

  • The whole point of this and other rules is that the EU is a customs union. There can be some minute differences of interpretation and enforcement but EU countries are not supposed to have other rules. VAT rates can be different and I don't know whether the point of entry matters in principle but even if you transit somewhere else in the EU (and enter the EU and/or Schengen area there), you would typically clear customs at your final destination. – Relaxed Sep 12 '15 at 11:03
  • @Relaxed you are totally correct - I confused passport control (which happens in the first EU country with customs control (which happens at the final destination). Last paragraph removed. – JonathanReez Sep 12 '15 at 11:05
  • Thank you guys! And I guess that he has to have a receipt, or proof of some kind that it's value is below 430eur? Or should the original packaging be enough? – OneAndOnleh Sep 13 '15 at 0:34
  • @OneAndOnleh he should have a receipt for the worst case scenario. – JonathanReez Sep 13 '15 at 7:51
  • AIUI this answer is correct if he buys it and gives it to you as a gift but if he intends to sell it to you then it would count as a commercial import and these allowances would not apply. – Peter Green Jul 22 '16 at 22:00

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