Feb 17 2008

Shipping goods from the US to Europe via Borderlinx

By John Baeyens | Share This Brazil

We all think that the low US$ FX rate makes US manufactured goods cheaper. Wishful thinking. The Apple pricing strategy is well known: rates are the same in Euros and US dollars. Which means that Europeans pay a premium of nearly 35%. Still fair deal compared to the Dell pricing strategy. Dell charges nominally more in Euros than US dollars. Utmost irritating...

Example: a Dell 2407WFP screen costs 766,73 EU in Belgium and 699 US$ in the US. This means that exactly the same screen costs 475,98 EU in the US, nearly 300 EU less expensive.
Imagine how happy I was when I discovered Borderlinx in the bthere inflight magazine while flying to Budapest.  José Zurstrassen, one of the Belgian entrepeneurs I have in my 10-most-respected list, is an investor in this brainchild of Hans Wackwitz. Hans was the man who drove the investment of Baripas in Interxion back in 1999...

The concept of Borderlinx is simple. You pay 5 EU and you get an official address in the US. Not PO Box, but a real address. You start shopping a-gogo in the US and have your goods delivered to your US address. Borderlinx keeps all your goods during 30 days and you decide when you have them shipped to Belgium. To the shops you only pay local shipping fees and Borderlinx will ship all your goods together in one shipment at the best rates. Of course you will pay customs when the goods arrive in Belgium. But even then you are making a very fine deal. This weekend I've been shopping at Design within Reach and Etsy.  On Etsy we bought goods from bossybootsdesign,  orchardstreetgoodsAptrick, Morgan Creatures, Vital Industries, Anna Laura and Apak Shop Shopping on Etsy is a sheer delight. The contact with the buyers is absolute heartwarming. More on Etsy in another post. And I did buy 3 of those Dell screens, in the US. I'll have Borderlinx send the goods from Etsy and Design within Reach in one shipment and a second shipment with the 3 Dell screens.

Everything is on it's way to our US address. Once all the goods arrive here in Belgium I'll write a detailed summary of our first experience with Borderlinx and of course the detailed financials. For now only one disadvantage: Some shops (1 out of 10) doesn't allow you to ship goods to a different address than the billing address of your credit card. A solution is to have a US, Brazilian or South African credit card. But that would take me to another (long post). But as I said, this isn't a real problem. In those 10% cases paying through Paypal is in most cases already a quick solution. Once we did the Borderlinx to Europe experience; we'll also do trials to South Africa and Brazil. With the low South African Rand this can prove to be less interesting, but in Brazil the experiment will be the more interesting.

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Comments

  1. Robin Wauters

    Robin Wauters said:

    That IS interesting! I'm gonna wait for your next post on the delivery and then I'll most likey sign up immediately.

    Posted 7 years ago

  2. Frank

    Frank said:

    Extremely interesting concept. One remark though about Apple's pricing strategy: yes, prices seem the same in USD and in EUR, but the prices in EUR do include 21% VAT, which there is no such thing in the USA (not really). So the price difference isn't 35%, its about 12%.

    Posted 7 years ago

  3. John Baeyens

    John Baeyens said:

    Your remark is a valid (and extremely relevant one), Frank. The same counts for me ordering in the US. However, when you shop online with Apple you arte not able to enter your VAT number. Officially you are buying from Apple in Ireland when you order on the online shop in Europe. Even when Apple has Apple Computer Belgium NV/SA here in Belgium. The maffia edge of Apple is that they are legally obliged to drop the VAT over their intracommunity orders (to Belgium). Even when you order in France at Nabaztag this is neatly covered. See: http://store.nabaztag.com/us/shipping.php "Any request relating to tax exemption and/or intracommunity VAT must be made subsequent to invoicing of the relevant Product(s). If the Customer is a private individual or other entity not registered for VAT, and a member of an EC country, the Customer must pay the list price inclusive of all taxes including shipping charges where applicable. If the Customer is an entity registered for VAT (specifically, non-French companies located in a Member State of the European Union), the Customer should send Violet a copy of the order on headed notepaper from the registered entity or company, on which the company VAT number should feature in full. On receipt of such proof and after verification of the intracommunity VAT number, a VAT-exempt invoice will be sent with a refund in the form of a cheque made out in the sum of the VAT paid on the invoiced Products. Violet reserves the right to refuse any request for tax exemption which does not fulfil the conditions set out in the present general terms of sale and those required by customs authorities.". When you order with Apple online: 1. You cannot enter your company name, neither your company Vat number (even not in the Apple Pro shop) 2. They will charge you the VAT; even when their invoice will come from Apple Ireland and as thus should be with 0% VAT. 3. Don't offer you the possibility to claim back the VAT (see Nabaztag.

    Apple is completely in the illegality with this; and is earning nice money by invoicing VAT without paying it on their side.

    Conclusion: If you are a Belgian company: do not order @ Apple online.

    Posted 7 years ago

  4. Frank

    Frank said:

    It is possible to get a proper vat tax invoice, but you have to call. However, it's usually much easier to just go to a switch shop or other apple reseller.

    Posted 7 years ago

  5. Peter Vandenabeele

    Peter Vandenabeele said:

    When this concerns an LCD _screen_, there is a very particular artefact. I recently heard a rumor that there is a different treatment of import tax in the EU for finished good containing an LCD screen (read: "finished TV set") vs. bare LCD screens (read: "South Korean sourced parts, from which to assemble a TV set"). I heard a number of 30% import tax ... that may also explain part of this story. I cannot find public sources right away.

    Posted 7 years ago

  6. John Baeyens

    John Baeyens said:

    Peter, you absolutely have a point. All LCD monitors with DVI are taxed an extra 14% at import since end 2006. Yes, monitors are good business for the state... And people tought Brazil was protectionistic... More here: http://www.behardware.com/news/7965/14-tax-for-lcd-dvi-monitors.html However, this only applies to Monitors *assembled* outside of Europe. Doesn't Dell assemble its monitors in Ireland? That being said: the price surprlus difference of Dell's monitors in the EU is currently a whopping 63%. Even with the 14% deducated that leaves them a 49% cream. So basically Europe; which doesn't have manufacturers of LCD screens apart from Philips (if I'm not mistake there screens are even not assembled in EU; surely not in Belgium since they closed their assembly lines here) subsidises the US bargain prices. Everything helps to keep consumption going in the US ;)

    Posted 7 years ago

  7. John Baeyens

    John Baeyens said:

    @Frank: calling? And not a word about that on their site. I'm gonna write a letter to the VAT authorities in Brussels, and await there reaction... Imagine: Openminds sets up an office with one admin person in Panama. Sends invoices from there to its clients; all VAT inclusive. No VAT (neither taxes) need to be paid back in Panama; revenue - costs = net profit. And Openminds would only send VAT elligible invoices to business customers who *call* requesting it? That would be n i c e...

    Posted 7 years ago

  8. Frank

    Frank said:

    John, I actually got a PV van Waarschuwing about the VAT number on my site being two clicks instead of one click away from any page on my website. So yeah, I am sure you can find some "inspecteur" at the ministry of economic affairs to file some paperwork against apple :)

    Posted 7 years ago

  9. Michiel

    Michiel said:

    Any change that you can already give us an update of your experiences with the borderlinx service?

    Posted 7 years ago

  10. makiko

    makiko said:

    There are a lot of companies providing this service and many have been around a long time. Some I have seen are

    www.myus.com www.usglobalmail.com www.usabox.com www.usamail1.com

    Posted 7 years ago

  11. Georgie

    Georgie said:

    I used Borderlinx and it worked perfectly. One comment though, you pay the duties and taxes before goods are shipped so nothing to pay when the goods arrive.

    Posted 7 years ago

  12. Mark

    Mark said:

    At this moment I am working on creating a company similar to what you describe We should be on line next month(may). Benefits that people will have is that you can ask your questions in dutch because I am. So if you have any questions about buyingin the usa you can drop me a mail at egbers@sbcglobal.net or visit www.weship-it.com which will be on line in May this year

    Posted 7 years ago

  13. Crysline

    Crysline said:

    Anyone have a clue what Offer Code can be used on the Shipment Release page - where you select Standard / Express Delivery?

    Posted 7 years ago

  14. Dean

    Dean said:

    Does someone knows when I buy for example clothes on the internet in US and let them ship to Belgium... What are the exact taxes applied? Do I pay in addition the US applied tax or the Belgian VAT?

    Posted 6 years ago

  15. nltomba

    nltomba said:

    Under 22 euros no tax. Bigger shipment regular tax for belgium + tarif tax http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds/tarhome_en.htm Hope it helps

    Mark

    Posted 6 years ago

  16. Miche

    Miche said:

    So far when the amount is below 100$ shipment included I have paid 10€ everything above I paid 74€ ......

    Posted 6 years ago

  17. Jim

    Jim said:

    I have been using http://www.bongoUS.com when I buy an electronic item from the US Very happy with their cust service They also provide an image of my purchase(if I request) before it ships overseas to ensure it's correct item/color etc.

    Posted 6 years ago

  18. rottriectFark

    rottriectFark said:

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