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Old May 24, 11, 4:13 pm   #1
 
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Carrying commercial samples through customs at LHR?

Doing a combo MR/meeting in Europe this June.

Anyone have experience carrying (and declaring) commercial samples through customs at LHR or CDG? I am debating whether to FedEx or hand-carry a fairly valuable instrument ($25,000) to Europe for a 1-day meeting.

Advice from those who have experience with this is much appreciated.
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Old May 24, 11, 6:55 pm   #2
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UK rules here
http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsP...yType=document

Looks like you have to declare it at LHR but if it is a commercial sample it has an invoice value of zero so will be taxed on that value. Might be worth bringing commercial sample invoices with a zero value with you.

Additional info here
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAn...heUK/DG_181171
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Old May 24, 11, 7:04 pm   #3
 
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Not the slightest problem at Heathrow. Just talk to the Customs officer on duty in the red channel. They are usually bored stiff so welcome even this tiny diversion.
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Old May 25, 11, 7:20 am   #4
 
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does not hurt to find out the uniform code or whatever it is called for the mdse. then sounds more like you know what your are doing. do not know what happens if the samples fall into the endangered specie codes.

this doesn not have to do with birds and animals, the wood i used to mfg photo frames was considered endangered, and us customs had a field day with the stuff.
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Old May 25, 11, 7:35 am   #5
 
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I used to do that all the time, back in the 1990s.

I worked for a company that made a small medical device, which packed up in a small suitcase-sized demo kit. The first time I took the sample in my first international trip was to London. I went through the "red line" at LHR and declared it as a sample. The Customs guys said that so long as I was taking it back out of the UK, there was nothing to worry about. They gave me no paperwork, changed me nothing and I went on my way.

From that day on, I never worried about declaring my sample kit in any country. I went to about a dozen countries, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, etc., and never once declared the demo kit. I never left it in the country, either. Never had a single problem, ever.

Those were my young and naive days.

It's possible that things have changed in the 20 years since I was in that job. My best advice to you would be to do as I did the first time. Figure on going through the "something to declare" red line.

Take paperwork with you from your employer stating that your sample kit is a Sample Kit, that it will go back home with you and not be sold and make sure that nothing in the sample kit looks particularly brand new. I took care to remove any and all plastic wrapping, cable ties, etc., that are usually discarded when someone buys a new product. Furthermore, I never traveled with completely-full bottles of calibrant; in fact for travel I avoided our standard liter-bottles and opted for small, travel-sized bottles labeled with a Sharpie pen. It saved weight and lent credence to this being a salesperson's sample kit.
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Old May 25, 11, 5:37 pm   #6
 
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I found something called an ATA Carnet online. Apparently this allows for duty and VAT-free importation into about 75 countries (including all of the EU and the US).

I believe that customs has tightened up import rules post-9/11 and failure to declare items can cause problems ... I am leaning towards the ATA Carnet approach if anyone has specific advice on that.
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Old May 25, 11, 6:37 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
Anyone have direct experience in carrying (and declaring) commercial goods / samples at customs at either Heathrow or De Gaulle? Would appreciate any insight into the logistics of this for an upcoming trip to Europe.
Would the commercial goods be left in the country being visited? What is the approximate actual value of the item?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
I found something called an ATA Carnet online. Apparently this allows for duty and VAT-free importation into about 75 countries (including all of the EU and the US).

I believe that customs has tightened up import rules post-9/11 and failure to declare items can cause problems ... I am leaning towards the ATA Carnet approach if anyone has specific advice on that.
The ATA Carnet is probably the best way to temporarily import goods, especially high-value items. One important note about using a Carnet is that it requires validation and stamping twice in both directions. For example, a JFK-LHR-JFK trip would require 4 contacts with border services, upon each departure and upon each arrival.
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Old May 25, 11, 7:10 pm   #8
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I would also call your airline carrier..

Not only would they tell you what security will let through.. but they will let you know carrier requirements and regulations specific to your airline/flight
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Old May 25, 11, 7:43 pm   #9
 
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Not sure what kind of samples you plan to bring but my experience bringing consumer goods through both airports was nothing but a breeze on my last voyage. On that trip there were 4 or 5 of us with 3+ bags a piece [large event, large products] and aside from reviewing the form to see what we were doing with all that gear, we walked right through without so much as a bag opening.

Of course nothing that I brought was medical, food, liquid or in any way hazardous so really aside from worries about resale there wasn't any reason to stop us.
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Old May 25, 11, 10:16 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
Not sure what kind of samples you plan to bring but my experience bringing consumer goods through both airports was nothing but a breeze on my last voyage. On that trip there were 4 or 5 of us with 3+ bags a piece [large event, large products] and aside from reviewing the form to see what we were doing with all that gear, we walked right through without so much as a bag opening.

Of course nothing that I brought was medical, food, liquid or in any way hazardous so really aside from worries about resale there wasn't any reason to stop us.
These are scientific instruments worth about $50k apiece for a customer demo ... It's rather important to me that these arrive on time and in good (working) condition. I think I'll go with the ATA carnet having reviewed my various options.
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Old May 25, 11, 11:59 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
These are scientific instruments worth about $50k apiece for a customer demo ... It's rather important to me that these arrive on time and in good (working) condition. I think I'll go with the ATA carnet having reviewed my various options.
I owned a company a few years ago that had a rep traveling through various Countries, we always used a carnet and never had a single problem, even in places known for customs officers requesting backhanders.
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Old May 26, 11, 3:24 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
These are scientific instruments worth about $50k apiece for a customer demo ... It's rather important to me that these arrive on time and in good (working) condition. I think I'll go with the ATA carnet having reviewed my various options.
My equipment in the suitcase-sized demo kit was about $2000. For something worth $50k, I would definitely advise the carnet.
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Old May 27, 11, 6:46 am   #13
 
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Carrying commercial samples through customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
Doing a combo MR/meeting in Europe this June.

Anyone have experience carrying (and declaring) commercial samples through customs at LHR or CDG? I am debating whether to FedEx or hand-carry a fairly valuable instrument ($25,000) to Europe for a 1-day meeting.

Advice from those who have experience with this is much appreciated.
Hi, sorry to be coming in late to your post. You have some options to avoid being held up by customs. If it is just one item, you can go to a US Customs Field office and register your item. Will need to provide some type of proof that it is yours to carry with you. Such as.... Bill of sale, purchase receipt from retail establishment, a formal appraisal sheet, and would help to offer Serial Number from the item - if it has one. I used to carry two laptops on int'l trips and customs would assume I brought one to sell. So this is one way around it.

Secondly, you could arrange for a Carnet. This is like a passport for your item. Carnet's are not suitable or valid everywhere, but are accepted in roughly 70 countries, and especially throughout the EU. They are not free, with a base fee of around $300. Then, there is an additional fee based on value. With a Carnet, they are good for one year. So if you were traveling with the instrument numerous times over a 12 month period, you are only paying for a one-time-fee.

Can find out about them here:
http://www.atacarnet.com/

And third, can approach a Customshouse Broker to create travel docs for your item. They will be personalized for your item, and you will need to create a Customs Bond (like insurance) to ensure you are bringing the item back to your home country. Generally, these are for one-time-use, so not as flexible as a Carnet.

I hope this is a little bit helpful.
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Old Jun 3, 11, 4:13 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
I am debating whether to FedEx or hand-carry a fairly valuable instrument ($25,000) to Europe for a 1-day meeting.

Advice from those who have experience with this is much appreciated.
I have a lot of experience with this kind of thing. Just FedEx it to me and I'll take care of it.
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