Grey imports



Anyone ever bought anything from the US? Looking at Sharp 37" LCD and it is over £1000 cheaper in the US (£ is very strong at the moment!). Even if you add duty etc at customs, it is still about £650 cheaper. Will anything bought there actually work here??


Staff member
Things to watch for.......

a) Voltage rating of the power supply. If it is 110V only - you'll kill it as soon as you plug it in. If it is 100-240V then you should be OK.

b) Support for PAL video signal. All the US is NTSC and there is a tendency for their stuff to only support NTSC.

c) Internal tuner almost certainly won't work in the UK so no off-air reception. But all other things being equal it should work with external sources (ie as a monitor) - VHS, DVD, Set Top Box etc.

d) No nasty SCART connectors. Americans are much more sensible than Europeans. Expect to find one or more of each: composite video, SVideo, Component (set of 3) and each with associated audio as separate sockets (set of 2). So you'll need different cables (available here, no problem).

e) Warranty service (or even, out of warranty service) could be problematic.


Active Member
Remember customs usually take the total cost of the item (including delivery) and add import duty and THEN calculate VAT on that - not sure what import duty is for a plasma, just mentioning it to ensure you had worked it out fully.

As you say goods can STILL often be cheaper buying this way than buying from the UK (and people still claim there is no rip-off culture in the UK!), sorry, i'll get off my soap-box now...


Thanks for the replies. Despite the hurdles, still sounds tempting....


Active Member
I imported my first DVD player this way. From memory, 4% duty and then VAT over all the cost, including postage. I did have to buy a mains transformer, and it only worked with NTSC/R1 discs, which was all I bought at the time anyway. However, I think because it has a tuner the duty is much higher. Customs are very helpful if you give them a call.

One worry was than initially it didn't work! Being an electronics engineer, it was quickly fixed (loose wires). But would you do the same? The reason I bought from the US was that I wanted a true R1 player. If you have a similar need, then consider it. But there's other consideration (already covered) which you should take on board.

All the best,

Dr John Sim.

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