Macbook from US into China
October 25, 2010 10:15 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a Macbook from the Apple website in the US. However, I now live in China. How can I avoid any import/custom fees and taxes when it is shipped... such as by having it shipped to my parents address in the US, then have them ship it to me in my address in China?

To avoid any importation or custom fees and taxes, is this method possible? Do I need to do anything such as have my parents take everything out of the original packaging, and to put the Macbook and accessories into a random box so it doesn't look new or something? Sorry for the shady question, but every bit counts.
posted by peachtree to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
My mom once shipped me my (not new) macbook from the US to Japan without any tax issues. I imagine you would want to ship it in a different box than the one it came in, though.

Is there any reason you can't buy one in China? I remember seeing an Apple store in Beijing this August.
posted by you zombitch at 10:34 PM on October 25, 2010

If you have any friends in Hong Kong, ship it to one of them. Then find a local expat friend who'll be making a visa run soon and have them pick it up.
posted by Serf at 10:36 PM on October 25, 2010

Oddly, when I got my MacBook Pro, it shipped from... China.

I think you may find things interesting that way.
posted by mephron at 11:15 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Having your parents help you is probably the easiest way to execute your tax-avoidance scheme. I wouldn't have it send through regular mail though - use UPS or something similar.

Otherwise, if you have a multi-entry visa just fly to HK (flying to Shenzhen and crossing the border might be cheaper). Prices on some of the computers are even slightly cheaper than in the US, basic MacBook US$999 HK$ 7588. Even with the plane ticket should be cheaper than buying it in mainland China.

And if you pick up a few iPhone 4s while you're there you can resell them with a decent profit.
posted by Aiwen at 4:05 AM on October 26, 2010

There have been a few articles recently on how customs are levying taxes on people returning from Hong Kong with multiple iPads and iPhones or single units with original packaging. They are trying to crack down on exactly the behaviour Aiwen mentions.

I'm seriously wondering if this is all worth it though. All up, what's the difference in price between US Macbook + Shipping compared to the China price ? Is it really that significant? I bought my MBP at the Beijing Apple store as the prices were significantly better than AU prices at the time.

If you live in Shenzhen, then the trip to HKG might make sense. Just be prepared to ditch all the original packaging before returning. Likewise, if your parents are planning to visit it's a good opportunity. But I wouldn't risk shipping something like this without declaring it appropriately.
posted by michswiss at 5:30 AM on October 26, 2010

I sent my friend in china an ipad from the us a couple months ago with no problems
posted by ejoey at 6:12 AM on October 26, 2010

Based on my experience, sending a laptop to the Mainland, whether new in the box or unwrapped, isn't a good idea. Heading to a fairly large eastern city (not Shanghai or Beijing, however) four years ago on a fellowship, I shipped myself some non-computer electronics from another East Asian country. They were held by customs and slapped with a range of dubious duties and taxes and ultimately required a lot of my money and negotiation (by my Chinese supervisors, so this wasn't a language issue) to get back. I later found out the same thing happened to my predecessor's well-used laptop shipped from the US. Obviously YMMV and this could have been one corrupt official in one city, but IMO its a big risk to take with a new laptop-- take a little vacation and buy one in Beijing or HK. You can probably get an English keyboard in HK.
posted by neko75 at 7:02 AM on October 26, 2010

« Older Is a month enough time to get a grad school...   |   There's no "there" there. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.