Moving house is tricky and moving a small family to another country is even trickier. Throw in a lot of computer gear you can't afford to sell or just plain don't have time to get rid of then it becomes an expensive experiment when you're already shelling out many many dollars just to relocate. Here are a few ways I got my gear over to the UK and up and running. From shipping, customs forms, taxes, to actually getting the right cables, hope this helps any weary ex-pats.

This is how I did it but shipping rates and policy change all the time. So make sure and check everything out before you throw your machine in a box and send it thousands of miles away. At the time of writing this, I have been using the below mentioned cables and methods for the last 4 months and have had no problems. Even so, if you choose to go this same route proceed with caution. What works for me may not work for you. Ok, disclaimer over. First things first, getting your equipment there.

Shipping.

I didn't want to mess around with duct taping a box together and wrapping it up in bubble wrap so I had it professionally packaged. So, I paid someone else to wrap it in bubble wrap and tape it up. Well, it wasn't quite that easy and it only set me back about $50 to have both my tower and monitor wrapped up. I had this done at Box Brothers in San Francisco.

I did some research and found that no one was really happy with UPS, FedEx or USPS. Surprise, surprise. UPS and FedEx were quoting me around $500-$600 for each piece but their insurance was a lot better. Well, dropping another $1200 (which is half the cost of shipping everything else we own) did not appeal to me all that much. I ended up going with USPS with my tower costing $185 and monitor $102 to ship. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The monitor arrived in perfect condition but the tower had taken a hit. A perfectly executed nosedive squashed the front top handle down about 1/4 of an inch and separated it from the side. 

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It runs ok now, but don't think I've got much resale value now. 

It took about 3 weeks for each package to arrive and when it did they were held until I paid VAT. Which is basically like sales tax and I shouldn't have had to pay it, but I didn't know this at the time. I had to pay around £580 ($950) for both packages to be released because they thought I had bought them new in the US and shipped them over. Make sure to fill out paper work before to help sort this out earlier. I was able to fill out the paper work after the fact and provide receipts to show I had owned the computer before moving to the UK.  I've been reimbursed for the tower but still waiting on the monitor's VAT refund. Here are the 2 forms that I had to fill out:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/c3.pdf
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/bor286.pdf

 

Power.

I needed to find cables that could work for my tower, monitor, laptop, external hard drives and wall chargers for iPhones.  There's the apple way then there's the affordable way. 

Tower:
There is always the quick solution of just getting a UK plug adapter and just plugging in a US power strip. I didn't feel this was a great long term solution because it had my whole system relying on one crappy piece of adapter.  After some searching I found a three pronged "kettle" cord that had a UK plug from applemacparts.co.uk (Mac Pro Power Cable part number: B922-5950) which plugs directly into the back of my machine and monitor.  The US runs 120v and the UK runs 240v. Luckily Mac towers will automatically switch to what ever voltage is being used.

Laptops:
A brand new UK Apple power cable from the Apple store will run you £65 ($106) but you just need to replace the cord that runs from adapter to the wall. I found this figure-8 power cable from Advent Computers for £12 ($20). It may not look pretty but we have two laptops so spending another $211 seemed a little much just to plug our machines in with shinny power cords. 

 

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Hard drives:
The figure-8 power cable from Advent Computers worked on my power supply for my G-drives as well. Just unplug the US cord and throw this one in and you're ready to go. 

iPhone and iPad wall chargers:
Nothing too fancy about these. You can usually pick these up at any computer store or anywhere that sells smart phone accessories. It may not charge as fast but it works for me. I do recommend getting one with a light so you know there is juice going into it. UK plugs all have on/off switches. Defininetly sucks when you think you're phone is charging all night long only to find the plug switch was in the off position.

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Hope that helps and good luck.

 

Posted
AuthorJake Hawley