Editor’s note: We get asked all the time about ordering from overseas. We don’t ship outside the United States, so we typically send people to one of the international specialty stores that carry our books and tools. But maybe you want something that they don’t carry, or won’t have for some time; there’s a solution. We asked our friend and long-time overseas customer Mattias to write about it. — Fitz
I’m in Belgium. I’m also a multiple return customer with Lost Art Press and Crucible Tool. And while all the LAP retailers in my neck of the woods are shops that I frequent, well, frequently, they don’t stock every LAP item. Some are not available to them for good reasons. Others they chose not to carry, again for good reasons. And sometimes I just can’t wait the month or so that it usually takes for a new item to get over here after it is released in the U.S. So I buy directly from LAP.
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How is that possible, when LAP don’t do international shipping? Through a re-shipper or forwarding service or whatever you want to call it! This is a company in the States that, when you sign up with them, provides you with a valid postal address **in the U.S.**. You then give this as your delivery address when you order from LAP, and your goods are sent there. On arrival, your things are checked, declared for customs and forwarded to your home address. That’s it in a nutshell. Now for some more details.
First I should perhaps say that the forwarding company I use is one in Florida called MyUS. When I first decided to try this way of buying from Chris & Co., I asked around a bit – Klaus Skrudland, who should be familiar to readers of this blog, said he’d used them with success – and also did some general research with the help of Google. Based on this I decided to try MyUS, signed up with them, and put in my first order. It worked an absolute treat, and has continued to do so every time since, so for my part I’ve seen no need to look elsewhere. As they say, though, other options are available. So should you want to explore this possibility, you might want to spend some time with Google too, and shop around to see what would suit you, your wallet and your final destination the best. For my part I have been so happy with what I first went with that I’ve seen no need to check out the competition.
And just to be totally clear: My only affiliation with MyUS is as a contented customer. No sponsoring. No discount. No nothing. Nor, for that matter, from LAP, for writing this. And the only reason I mention MyUS by name is that they are what I know about from experience.
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Are there no drawbacks, then? Well, yes. It is usually more expensive than buying from your local LAP retailer, and tends to take a bit longer, too.
The first reason that it is more expensive is that you pay postage twice, once from the LAP fulfillment center to the forwarding company, and again from them to you. The second reason is that in most places of the world, and certainly here in Europe, you will also be hit by customs clearance fees, customs and import duties, local sales tax (VAT) etc. (the latter often calculated not only on the value of the goods but also on the postage and duties too).
How much more expensive? Well, it varies of course. Here’s an example. Last year, I bought a Crucible Card Scraper, a Lump Hammer and two Iron Holdfasts. Costs for the goods was $240, and postage with UPS to Florida came in at $63.30 (the package weighed 14 lbs after all). I then paid MyUS $85.99 for shipping to Belgium with DHL Express and also $2.99 for insurance. On arrival, I was charged a further €82,75 ≈ $99 in fees, duties and taxes. Total cost: $491.28.
As for time, I put the above order in on February 25th 2020, it shipped on the 27th, arrived in Florida March 3rd, was turned around by MyUS the same day and finally delivered to me here in Belgium on March 5th 2020. And those timings are pretty typical in my experience.
If I were to buy the exact same things today from Rubank Verktygs AB in Stockholm, I would pay SEK 4095 ≈ $448 plus postage but no further fees or taxes, and I would expect to get my items in one or two days.
Depending on destination, MyUS offers a fairly large selection of different courier and freight companies for the onward delivery. I believe (although I cannot say for sure, as I have no real way to compare) that as large customers, they get very good rates with them. For my part I have always opted for DHL Express, as that company is fast and reliable to where I am, but there are less expensive options, and you might also want to consider which couriers have a good reputation where you live.
The MyUS basic service level, which is what I use, is free, but additional services are available for a monthly fee. I don’t use the service enough, though, to have found it worth the extra cost. But all of that one can find in full detail on their website, same as for their competitors. Google, and ye shall find! Read, and ye shall know!
It should also be noted that MyUS (and I assume the same will be true for the competition) will **always** open your package when it arrives at their premises in Florida. This is to make sure that the goods are OK, both to be exported from the U.S. *and* imported into your country, and to prepare the customs declaration. Again, all details are on the website. In any case, since last year, I have had a total of 29 packages from the U.S. forwarded to me through MyUS. Not all of them from LAP, mind, but in every case they have all been handled with due care and speed, opened and repackaged carefully and correctly, with turnaround times varying between 12 hours and three days, and postage between $36.98 and $92.37.
In conclusion, buying from your local retailers will (almost) always be the better deal, and they’re worth supporting too. But when the itch for the latest Lost Art Press or Crucible Tool offering becomes too much to bear, and you can’t get it locally (yet), well, as you now know, there **is** a way to have it scratched!
— Mattias Hallin