Safely shipping a guitar overseas

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Phoenixfire, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. Phoenixfire

    Phoenixfire Member

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    I'm thinking of 'investing' in a nice guitar, and since I'm picky when it comes to instruments, I'm importing a specific one from the US to Australia, where i live.

    I've never done it before, and so I was wondering whether anyone here has had any experience they could share? It's not a cheap guitar, so I want to make sure its safe.

    Specifically, I'd love to know:
    ---What forwarding company do you suggest?
    I'm familiar with shipito, but not much else.
    ---Am i going to ave issues with the size?
    specifically if its in the case?
    ---Would the fender ABS strat/tele case be enough to protect it in transit?
    or am i better off getting it packed without a case, with sufficient padding?
    ---Is there any way to avoid the 10% customs fee when importing it?
    is there certain paperwork i need to complete?

    Any and all advice is welcome!

    and for those interested, the guitar in question:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Phoenixfire

    Phoenixfire Member

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    No one? No advice at all?
     
  3. Stonebandit

    Stonebandit Member

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    About to bring a ES-335 across with Shipito from Hawthorn, CA with TNT Express.
    Guitar is in Case and in Gibson Box. I'll probably get it double boxed. And resealed.

    Used Shipito with TNT plenty of times, (first guitar thou). Great speedy service, but this will get slowed down in customs, just the way it is.

    Duty tax is high, I've got an over $1000 bill to pay. That's the law and I am not going to get caught. Plus I have full Insurance for damage or Lost in transit.

    Shipito organise the paperwork for items over $2500 for US$40 flat free.

    I am not playing games with Customs.

    You can supply original purchase documentation electronically or if it is in the package already.

    That's what I'm doing. And I feel safe.

    Shipping to TAS.
     
  4. Phoenixfire

    Phoenixfire Member

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    Thanks Stonebandit!
    I'd be keen to hear if it arrives in good condition through TNT Express. Do you have a ballpark figure for how much it actually costs to get them to ship it? A guitar in a case is a pretty big package!
     
  5. Ahsu7

    Ahsu7 Silver Supporting Member

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    Ive shipped and received many guitars from Hong Kong (where I live now) to the States (where Im from).

    I usually use DHL, UPS or Fedex (disclaimer, I work at DHL), Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but I find these 3 to be the most reliable. DHL and Fedex if you want it fast, but expensive. UPS for an average of 1 week shipping time, but about half the price.

    You can us USPS, or if youre buying off eBay, their global shipping program...but its not for the faint of heart if your shipping expensive stuff...there is no tracking and customer service is pretty difficult to reach.

    I always ship or receive guitars in their original boxes and some bubble wrap. That, along with the guitar case, is a pretty safe combination. Ive shipped/received over 20 guitars and have never had a single problem.

    The only time I've had trouble with customs was for guitars going TO the US...but I believe its a random check and Ive only been stopped once (it required a payment for the taxes associated with the type of wood in the guitar).

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. OliveBridge

    OliveBridge Member

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    Hey, I'll chime in on my experience. I'm your close neighbor, here in South Korea. Bought my Suhr pro S1 from Humbucker Music in 2013.

    I had it shipped by USPS priority and it was $136.44 at the time.
    Customs will take it, no avoiding it -they tax all musical instruments unless you're bringing it in yourself without the packaging. Beautiful guitar by the way - Godspeed to it!

    You don't want to fudge the price on it since you'll want it fully insured and customs is locking down on a lot of people that try to cheat the system these days.

    On the plus side I'll let you know I paid a little over 20% in customs and taxation (a bit above $400ish on a $2,000 guitar). I don't know if Australia has this, but someone at the postal system was kind enough to give me a "Certificate of Origin form" which if I could prove my guitar was made in the U.S. they give back the "goods and services tax" or just the normal tax fee I believe (both taxes are 10% each which was why I paid a little above 20% in total for all the taxes). Take a look into that for your country, you might have something similar. The process takes a while though, because there are three parts of the form - 1. the producer needs to fill out (the maker of your guitar will need to be faxed/emailed this form and they need to fill it out and fax/email it back to you) 2. the exporter needs to fill it out (same process in my case "Humbucker Music") 3. you, the importer, need to fill it out.

    The guitar itself will be double boxed. If you count the case it is in then that's three layers of protection. Inside the case/gigbag, the neck should be reinforced so it does not move or vibrate -the neck is most suspect-able to damage in transit. The guitar should be strung but not up to standard tuning. Then it would be placed inside a box with all remaining space being filled with Styrofoam peanuts (or whatever cushion they are using). Then this box will be placed in a slightly bigger box with the air spaces also filled with Styrofoam peanuts. This will protect your guitar from any vibrations that may snap the neck.

    This is completely subjective to the maker of the case/gigbag, however, a hard case is not any better than a well built gigbag when shipping your guitar. It's a common misconception and I can argue that a well made gigbag might actually be better. With that said most gigbags aren't up to hard case quality, but my Suhr gigbag was exceptionally better than a lot of hard case I've had.

    With all that said - if your exporter has any experience in shipping worldwide, I don't think you have much to worry about. I totally know what your worries are though, I mean I had a $2k guitar shipped here and that's not considered change in your pocket. When that happens, we tend to filter everything out and only read and look for the horror stories.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  7. OliveBridge

    OliveBridge Member

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    Just to address the comment directly above my previous comment, USPS is fine.

    If you check my history here you can see I've bought many expensive things also after my move to South Korea (I am also an American). I've also bought a BadCat Cub III head, and multiple expensive pedals, and other packages - all using USPS. I've had 100% satisfaction so far. This is of course my experience and perhaps I'm lucky, but I've done well over "quite a few" dealings (I have problems with GAS) and all the USPS shipments were outstanding for me.

    I can't comment on DHL I've never used their service before, but yet to hear any negatives about it. FedEx is also okay, but in my experience, a bit more costly. UPS on the other hand, I've heard much more horror stories on UPS than USPS, and avoid them entirely (This is not from experience though, it is from extensive research on shipment methods though and experiences of others both online and on TGP -better safe than sorry!).

    EDIT:
    I'm 99.99% sure you're going to be using a track-able and insured service using USPS (Priority and above) when shipping something like a guitar. So the comment about no tracking is not really relevant to your (OP's) current situation. And it is always better to assume your guitar will be held up in customs, because if and when it does, it's not a problem at that point -it's standard procedure. If it doesn't get caught up in the normal procedure there's just something more extra to be happy about. It's all mindset.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  8. Raymond Lin

    Raymond Lin Member

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    I've only received guitars from the U.S., all shipped in original hardcases with cardboard on top with insulation between the case and the box. All shipped with USPS, and they all filled in the customs form as normal, as in don't lie. It's a guitar with $2,000 then it's a $2,000 guitar. You need that to be correct if something goes wrong and claim insurance. Taxes on the receiver's end is the reciepant's concern, not yours. If their country have a 50% tax on guitars, they should know that and prepare for it and can't blame you for it.
     
  9. Flash6969

    Flash6969 Member

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    I'm also in Melbourne & import all my high end guitars. USPS are alright - ask for the seller to pack it good (it's in their interest to do this well). I also use FedEx for very large items as Aus Post won't tackle anything large. It's very expensive but you'll get in 5 days or less from the U.S.
    As everyone has already stated, don't lie about the purchase value to customs. If the guitar is busted you'll need to claim the full value back, not $300. If it comes via USPS you'll need to engage a Customs Broker to speed up processing (3 days vs 3 weeks normally).
     
  10. guzzinerd

    guzzinerd Member

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet but don't forget the DIMENSIONAL weight of the shipping box. Boxing then double-boxing guitar cases can make the dimensional weight so big compared to the actual weight that it's not worth buying overseas.

    You can calculate the dimensional weight using various online calculators, i use the fedex one: http://www.fedex.com/be/tools/dimweight.html

    A 10 lb box can easily have a dimensional weight over 50 lbs. In these cases usps is the cheapest option, not only because they don't charge as much for the extra weight but also because you usually don't get hit with extra customs clearance charges and they almost never question the declared value. When i need a forwarding service (to italy) i use www.usabox.com.

    yay!
     
  11. Ahsu7

    Ahsu7 Silver Supporting Member

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    From the guitars I've received from the US, after its left the states, real-time tracking drops off. I have a few cables coming in, and the last scan was in Chicago 3 days ago.
     
  12. OliveBridge

    OliveBridge Member

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    Just to clarify my post: when I say reliable, I put emphasis on the safety of the item being transferred (in this case a few thousand dollars amp and guitars), and I believe that's what the OP is primarily worried about.

    Tracking is important too, but a smaller factor here. And if anyone does the research online (even just looking at this thread) you'll see that UPS has much more history of packages getting mishandled compared to FedEx, USPS, and DHL.

    And this may help you, or it may not, but...

    Does Hong Kong have an official carrier for USPS packages? If the carrier has a tracking system of their own, try using their service instead of the USPS website.

    In my experience the tracking is delayed, but not completely dropped off.
    In my case real-time tracking is much more reliable when you use the postal service website of the country of arrival that handles that package. This is usually true for every country, but I guess there could be exceptions.

    http://www.17track.net/en/ is an online service that gathers information from the respective countries mailing services; however, you need to manually put in the destination country, and it is a bit behind the actual country's website.

    You and I both have shipped expensive things on a regular basis, so we know the worry OP feels in this situation -especially when it's the first time! Just speaking out of hopes of laying OP's mind to rest.
     
  13. mslugano

    mslugano Supporting Member

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    Pack it just as you would if you were shipping it 100 miles and be prepared to pay duties and it will be cool. Been doing it throughout the US, Europe, Middle East, Far East and even Russia for years without a hiccup. Usually USPS, UPS or FedEx...haven't really noticed a shipper that's consistently better or worse than the rest.
     

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