Buying from outside the United States?

Hi. I couldn't find a similar post, so I started one. I've recently seen ads by foreign hi-fi dealers that offer great prices on foreign gear. Has anyone ever ordered an item from overseas? Do you have to deal w/customs or duties associated with the transaction. What pitfalls must you be wary of? I don't want to start the debate over loyalty to local shops, so lets assume the item in question can not be found locally. Thanks.
First and foremost, if its electronics, make sure they are US voltage. I have bought from Canada only with no problems. Have them ship it by Mail if possible. UPS or Fedex shipping almost always has some kind of surcharge from what I have been told.
Have bought some amps from the UAE and had no problems with duty only because they were mfd. in Canada (NAFTA). Only had to pay $20 to the freight forwarder, otherwise it would not have been a good deal. Also, check with the mfg. as far as voltage change. Best, Charlie
Another topic ..... why is it that so many sellers in the US will ship to the US only ??? (I'm in Canada).
I don't mind Canada. I will only use the US Mail. I did ship some interconnects to Korea twice (same person). Do not think I would ship anything large outside of US/Canada.
I bought an expensive pair of speaker cables from Lituania, routing paymnet via Audio Note in the UK. No problems whatsoever, no customs issues at all.
Considering buying a pair of Sonus Fabers
directly from dealer in Italy. With weak
Euro $ buying German, Italian, etc. gear
can save big money. However, if the unit
breaks while in warranty, will the US importer
fix the item. Second issue is import duty which
is 5% of selling price from Italy (other countries
may vary). You can save money but there are
certain risk factors that should be considered.
Good luck on selecting the option you can live
If you buy from countries within the European Community you must make sure that the seller is not charging you his local purchase tax. This can be as much as 16% of the purchase price. Serious dealers, experienced in exporting will not do this, but make a point of asking for the non VAT price. Most European state postal services have a weight and size limit on parcels sent by air. Generally its the same limits in weight and size as imposed by the USPS. So you will have to ask the dealer to use UPS and Fedex, which from Europe can be quite expensive. Also remember, that US importers will certainly not honour any warranty for goods that you have imported right under their very noses without giving them their pound of flesh. They might even refuse to have it repaired or let you have schematics, even if you offer to pay them. So that part is VERY risky.
Excellent respones. I'm considering buying a German product from an Italian dealer. I feel more comfortable beginning talks with him. 'Detlof' brings up a good point concerning warranty, the importers of the product would consider our direct purchase as 'grey market' and would likely not be very helpful with possible problems.