Klarinet Archive - Posting 000007.txt from 1994/01
From: Cary Karp <nrm-karp@-----.SE>
Subj: Re: French clarinet prices
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 1994 12:12:28 -0500
On Tue, 4 Jan 1994, Tom Ascher wrote:
> So, in either case, enough benefit to look into if you find yourself in
> Paris for a few days with time on your hands...assuming you know how to get
> past customs and how to avoid a tax in the U.S. when it comes time to enter!
> Perhaps no real savings in the way of $$, but a benefit if you have more
> instruments to try. Perhaps Cary may have other insights for any of us
> who wish to take this past an intellectual exercise!
As a general rule, instruments which are obviously used are unlikely to
interest customs officers regardless of their value. You're taking a
minimal risk when planning on duty free import of such material. You are
quite likely to find the selection of used clarinets available in Paris
to be staggering, and therefore opt to "buy safe".
Things are a bit different with new material. Yes -- the choice of
instruments may be a substantial inducement to purchase. Also, the
premier shops in Paris often have big name virtuosi pick instruments
for them at the factory. But there is still the snag with import
formalities. First off, if you don't include the instruments on your
written customs declaration you're going to have to make sure that you
don't approach the customs inspector back home with anything that
indicates that the instrument wasn't "with me when I left -- I'm a
musician and needed something to practice on". This includes the kind of
packing material that you would only be carrying if the thing were new
and, above all, any purchase documents (mail 'em home before getting on
This means that you will be approaching the border with all the adrenalin
in your veins that might accompany such an adventure. Be aware that customs
officers are good at spotting this. Plan for the eventuality that you may
get cold feet, and have a credible story to explain why you don't have the
purchase documents on you when you knew all along that the goods were
dutiable. If there is any uncertainty about your claimed price, you'll
probably have to pay duty on the U.S. list price.
You should also keep in mind that the musical instrument manufacturer's U.S.
agent will probably not provide guarantee on directly imported instruments.
All this having been said, I always buy instruments that I like when and
where I find them -- the rest is just administrative details. I've done
quite well when purchasing used instruments but never plan on making
substantial savings buying new instruments. (Remember what happens to
the "lower" price if you end up failing as a smuggler and/or need to pay
for a repair or two during what would otherwise have been the guarantee
period, to say nothing about what happens if you have to return the
instrument to France for repairs.)
Disclaimer: The customs scenarios described here are purely speculative
and in no way imply that I have ever been party to a customs violation,
nor that I am encouraging anyone else to do so.