British? It’s cheaper to fly to NYC, buy an EOS R5 and fly back

Jul 11, 2020

Peter Treadway

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British? It’s cheaper to fly to NYC, buy an EOS R5 and fly back

Jul 11, 2020

Peter Treadway

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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.Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you could not have escaped the build-up to Canon’s newly revealed EOS R5 and R6 mirrorless cameras. (Given the current global pandemic, though, living under a rock may not be a bad policy to adopt). As soon as the release event went live on, retailers were quick to publish their own webpages. Those listings included detailed specs and, more importantly, the long-awaited price. Here in the UK, I immediately headed to Wex’s website to discover the R5 listed for pre-order at £4,199, while its little brother the R6 was £2,499.

As I went back to YouTube and continued to watch the live event though, I occasionally glanced over at the rapidly scrolling comments section, where one particular viewer’s comment caught my eye… the price in America. I quickly hurried to the B&H website, thinking that the comment poster must have it wrong but no, there it was for all to see; The R5 listed in the USA at $3,899. At current exchange rates that’s £3,096. Over a thousand pounds cheaper! ‘Ok, but what about sales tax?’ I hear some of you ask. For those who aren’t aware, sales tax (or VAT) is different for each State in America. Most retailers list prices on their websites without tax added. This is how each consumer can calculate the total cost according to their own state tax. However, with B&H being in New York, even if you add their sales tax (currently 8.75%), the price is still only $4,245/£3,371. (or you can avoid it by shipping to a tax friendly state, or use the B&H loophole credit card)

This got me thinking then; is it conceivably possible to fly to New York, buy the camera from B&H, return home, and still have made a saving? Well, the simple answer to this is, yes. In practice though, it requires a little more research and effort. Getting any flight to any part of the world right now is not the easiest task. Just to give a full comparison, you’d need to include all the costs involved. If you’re determined enough though and willing to schlep halfway across the world and back in 36 hours, then here’s what I found:

Flights: Direct return from London Heathrow to New York Newark – £292. (Outbound: Departing Mon 28th Sep 2020 at 0805hrs – Arriving 1105 hours. Inbound: Departing Tuesday 29th Sep 2020 at 0830hrs – Arriving 2040hrs). All local times.

Travel: Airport to City: $30 return on NJ Transit. Around Manhattan: If it were me, I’d be walking everywhere to really experience the city. That said, B&H is about an hour’s walk from our hotel so for time efficiency lets factor in subway travel. Let’s say it takes six subway journeys at $2.75 a time. Total is  $16.50. (Also, don’t forget to take the free Staten Island ferry to get that iconic shot of Lady Liberty)

Food: You can’t go to New York and not try a Nathan’s Hot Dog and, well, we’ve had a long flight, so let’s say we go all out on a Chilli Cheese Dog combo meal: $7.49 Let’s not forget dinner though. As we’re trying to stick to a budget, we’ll settle for a meal from that famous Scottish takeaway, McDonald’s. A double quarter pounder with Cheese meal: $6.69

Sights: Ok, you’ve got your new camera and you want to test it out. While there are hundreds of interesting and free things you can shoot in NYC, let’s push the boat out and get a sunset ticket for the rooftop terrace of the Rockefeller Centre building: $48

Accommodation: One night at the Bowery Grand: £45 (Caveat – This is an extreme budget option. I actually stayed here when traveling back from Las Vegas via New York in 2017. The room is literally just big enough for a single bed and some space to climb on to it. Importantly though, it’s a single occupancy room, not a dorm, so your new prized possession should be safe by your side. Also, similar to our purpose here, I was purely using it as somewhere warm and secure to lay my head for a few hours before heading on to the airport for my early morning flight home, so it should suit us perfectly).

So with all that combined, we’re looking at a total outlay of £3,787. A saving of £412. If that still isn’t enough of a saving for you, whilst researching this article, I actually found the same price international flights, arriving in New York in the morning and departing again that evening, which would save you the cost of a hotel, the sunset rooftop ticket cost and potentially a meal, as you’d likely get fed on the flights.

On top of all of this, you’ve also had an amazing whirlwind photography tour of one of the greatest cities on earth. What’s not to love? With all of that said though, the legal minded amongst you may already be questioning this theoretical trip. That’s because, sticking to UK law, you must declare your new purchase upon return to the UK, where customs and import duty would be due, immediately rendering any saving null. Of course, you could always choose not to declare your camera and instead choose the green lane when exiting baggage reclaim, but that’s a risky option. It’s illegal and the penalties for smuggling goods into the country are severe. So, if you’re not keen on subjecting your body to a physically exhausting transatlantic round trip, or becoming a modern-day Long John Silver, what other option do you have?

Helpfully, B&H are well versed in international sales, to such an extent that they have a service to pay all customs and import taxes due, so you pay one fixed cost to them at checkout and you aren’t stung with an invoice through your letterbox before your camera is released by the courier. Using this method, I found that adding the Canon R5 to your cart, selecting shipping to the UK ($45.51) and getting B&H to pay all the taxes due ($788.90), you get a total price of $4,733.41 or £3,754 at current exchange rates, which is £33 cheaper than flying to the States and enjoying an overnight stay.

So ultimately you could save yourself all that hassle and just order it online, avoiding the crazy two-day bender across the Pond and back. But where’s the fun in that, ah?

About the Author

Peter Treadway is a long exposure and international wedding photographer from the UK. You can see more of his work on his Instagram.

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40 responses to “British? It’s cheaper to fly to NYC, buy an EOS R5 and fly back”

  1. Ben Hosking Avatar
    Ben Hosking

    Has historically been the same for some items here in Australia

    1. Evan Peterson Avatar
      Evan Peterson

      Ben Hosking historically been the same for New Zealanders flying to Australia and back.

  2. Gary Bailey Avatar
    Gary Bailey

    Does that include the import duty and vat?

    1. Thomas Santoso Westberg Avatar
      Thomas Santoso Westberg

      Gary Bailey The price on the UK website does.

    2. Gary Bailey Avatar
      Gary Bailey

      Thomas Santoso Westberg if you are ordering online, why would you need to fly to the US to buy it?

    3. Thomas Santoso Westberg Avatar
      Thomas Santoso Westberg

      Gary Bailey Because it’s cheaper in the US, much cheaper than in the UK/EU. You can’t have it sent from the US by mail because then you’d have to pay vat and fees.

    4. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Thomas Santoso Westberg you have to pay these anyway even if you fly. This is way above your duty free allowance.

    5. Gary Bailey Avatar
      Gary Bailey

      This is exactly my point. The headline appears to be encouraging tax evasion.

  3. Kok Yoon Lee Avatar
    Kok Yoon Lee

    Warranty issues?

    1. Hugh Dom Avatar
      Hugh Dom

      Kok Yoon Lee May still be cheaper to ship to a NYC service center if and when.

  4. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
    Duncan Dimanche

    haha that is insane

  5. David RJ Brown Avatar
    David RJ Brown


  6. Joseph Mou Avatar
    Joseph Mou

    And you get free coronavirus.

  7. Fazal Majid Avatar
    Fazal Majid

    There is a term for this, it’s called Rip-off Britain.

    It’s not just from the US, I just received an item yesterday I paid €2200 for that costs £3200 in the UK (€3500), and that’s still customs-free until the end of the year.

  8. Richard Jacobson Avatar
    Richard Jacobson

    and take lots of photos of your quarantine cell or hospital room

  9. Gareth Wild Avatar
    Gareth Wild

    This has been the case for a while now. Brexit and government ineptitude has tanked the economy. This is coupled with a bizarre decision by large companies to charge more for electronics in the U.K. just to fuck with consumers.

  10. Cristiano Diniz da Silva Avatar
    Cristiano Diniz da Silva

    That’s true for Brazil too

  11. Imran Khan Avatar
    Imran Khan

    It probably is but you may die in the process ?

  12. Viggo Næss Avatar
    Viggo Næss

    So, tax fraud? Great idea to encourage that??‍♂️?

    1. Phạm Anh Avatar
      Phạm Anh

      Read at the end of the article where B&H take care of all the tax and duty (legal).
      The price in UK is just too high.

      1. Steve Dixon Avatar
        Steve Dixon

        Well that’s exactly what I was thinking because, paying the correct Import Duty and VAT by the method you mentioned (B&H collecting and paying it to HMRC) is now exactly the same as purchasing any goods from Europe or outside the UK – and even then this is still a whopping £749.50 cheaper AND it’s 100% correct and legal!
        The only downside I can see is the warranty issue, but I have never claimed on any camera warranty in over 35 years of buying, so who cares at this size discount?
        If you want to check – $4,733.41 (including VAT and import duty) is currently £3,449.50 (at $0.728/ £1 GBP) as compared to the OBSCENE £4,199 being charged everywhere here in UK, which is simply DISGRACEFUL PRICE FIXING by Canon UK, and cannot be justified based on UK import duty or VAT!
        In fact, if you check, it confirms the current import duty rate is 0% on Digital Cameras (commodity code 85 25 50 00 00) so the legal requirement is only to pay 20% VAT on the purchase price including shipping costs (exactly what is shown in the B&H checkout figures).
        That $788.90 (or £574.92) is therefore all VAT, meaning all UK VAT Registered retailers could claim all of that VAT back (even if they had paid USA retail prices and shipping, not wholesale prices!) They are of course obliged to charge UK customers 20% VAT, but only based on the actual net cost to them + profit margin (which ain’t £3,499.50).
        Interesting “coincidence” but notice that £3,499.50 + 20% VAT is almost exactly £4,199, which is what they are currently contractually forced to sell at by Canon UK! Yet none of these retailers are making anything like £575 profit margins on each Canon R5 (the margins theses days are tiny) so how the hell does Canon UK justify selling wholesale to UK retailers at prices which must be HIGHER than USA RETAIL PRICES???
        Astonishingly, as a UK VAT Registered business, I could legitimately buy from B&H even at these retail prices and then sell on to UK customers for say £4,000 (inc VAT) and still make £376 profit on each one, which I bet is a bigger margin than most ‘Authorised’ UK Canon Retailers are making, and save UK customers nearly £200!
        Apologies for such a long rant, but this utterly disgraceful on the part of Canon UK

        1. Steve Dixon Avatar
          Steve Dixon

          Edit: Before anyone says this – Yes, of course I realise that this is exactly what lots of perfectly legitimate businesses in the UK already do, but they buy in bulk and so get better than normal retail prices. They sell at a fairer price, but they are accused of pedalling “grey market products” as if this is something they should be ashamed of, instead of Canon being ashamed for price fixing and bullying customers into going along with this crap by refusing to honour warranties on products bought in different regions!.

  13. Alfred Courduff Avatar
    Alfred Courduff

    Not to get into any “legal” or “tax” issues, this is not exactly new. To my recollection, the UK citizens have always paid more in real monetary terms that US customers – at least going back to the mid-1980s.

    I used to know a person (government official) who would load up on software and portable electronics whenever he was able to come over on official travel. The reason was that, given prices in the UK, and the exchange rate (then higher in the dollar to pound rate), the items could cost him 20-50 percent less in the US. Thank capitalism and market size.

    I never asked him if he kept his buying to below customs tariff thresholds, or travelled as a diplomat and simply didn’t worry about customs going home.

  14. Don Navarro Avatar
    Don Navarro

    And risk a potentially fatal disease?

  15. Dave Wall Avatar
    Dave Wall

    But why would you? It overheats ????

    1. Chainsaw Charlie Avatar
      Chainsaw Charlie


  16. Douglas Merson Avatar
    Douglas Merson

    Who would risk a trip to the US now. I live here and we are planning on staying isolated until late next year at the earliest.

  17. Scott E Mc Avatar
    Scott E Mc

    Your R5 will still overheat tho, no matter where you buy it from.

    1. Chainsaw Charlie Avatar
      Chainsaw Charlie

      What the R5 can do is enough for me. If you want to record continuously 2 hours in 4K 120 fps, buy a camera which can do it. Where’s the problem?

  18. pandacongolais Avatar

    It’s more expensive because the shutter-release button is on the left side.

    Jokes apart, this is so common.
    I remember the only Dell product I ordered 12 years ago: a 24″ monitor. Back then, it was easy to access the French and the US Dell web site.
    There was such a huge price difference that I could almost buy two in the US for the price of one in France.
    You could add all the taxes you can imagine, and still have a significant price difference.
    Easy money for these giants. Why would a product manufactured in Asia cost so much more in UK or Europe than in the US?

  19. buddah Avatar

    Interesting post however you forgot the most efficient and affordable way! I do this with my cousin, as he lives in the UK and I’m in the USA, if you have family or a friend in the US why bother making the trip ask them to buy it for you and ship it to you as a gift. :-)

  20. David Campling Avatar
    David Campling

    Just get a grey market version. Save more money and no covid risk.

  21. Don Munro Avatar
    Don Munro

    Just order it online from e-infinity!

  22. julius rosen Avatar
    julius rosen

    Does England allow anything free? In USA it’s $750 or less no tax

  23. julius rosen Avatar
    julius rosen

    Many products and categories of items are historically higher in certain countries like Great Britain or South Africa because of the multi-level distributorships they go through or the trademarks that people have tied up for many years. It’s also because they can get away with it because you just is historically Less discounting in Europe with it in the US which is a boon for capitalist you also have a huge difference in sales tax or vat tax here in the US vs. Britain as an example in Florida we pay 7% California pays 13% Great Britain if I remember correctly is now at 15 or 17% it’s just crazy also you will have big City versus Little City pricing sometimes in big cities there’s much more competition than a little cities and sometimes vice versa

  24. julius rosen Avatar
    julius rosen

    New cars and used cars are totally different subject in Great Britain used cars are much cheaper than in the United States I’m not sure exactly why that is but that’s how it is

  25. colinire Avatar

    Switch on the camera for a while in your hotel room if it’s cool – that should keep you nice and warm.

  26. Carla Avatar

    I’m amazed people aren’t already aware of the fact that you can often get things cheaper from another country. Get someone to post it to you, even cheaper than visiting.

  27. Jedrzej Dec Avatar
    Jedrzej Dec

    In the Netherlands you can buy EOS R6 for 2739 EUR (approx 2460 GBP). And for about 100 EUR you have a direct train connection London – Amsterdam. I don;t know about import tax though since UK is out of EU for some reason…

  28. Jason Mitchell Avatar
    Jason Mitchell

    You also have to remember that in the UK you can get interest free credit and also a free Canon EF to RF adapter. On top of that you get a UK guarantee which you don’t get if you buy from the USA. Add all that up on top of the tax evasion issue and it’s just not worth it.