Author Topic: Risk of seizure in EU of importing non RoHS compliant Test Equipment from USA?  (Read 1648 times)

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Online splin

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Not just USA but most interesting and affordable stuff is available there. So, what are the chances of getting an expensive bit of test gear, that you bought on Ebay, getting seized by customs because it isn't RoHS compliant?

If it were seized, what happens next? Are you given the opportunity to pay to have it shipped back to the sellor assuming they are prepared to take it back, or is it simply destroyed?

I understand German customs are particularly zealous but has anyone elsewhere in th EU had such problems or know someone who has - especially in the UK? It could be very expensive if so - and particularly galling if the equipment was actually manufactured in the UK (eg. Datron).
« Last Edit: April 29, 2019, 04:49:03 pm by splin »
 

Offline nctnico

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I never had any problems (including very old gear from the pre-ROHS and pre-CE era).
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Offline tooki

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I thought RoHS only applied to new products, not used?
 

Online splin

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I thought RoHS only applied to new products, not used?

I asked Keysight about buying a used 3458a from their ebay store, should one become available, but was told they can't be shipped to the EU because they aren't  RoHS compliant so it seems it does apply to used equipment.

Obviously it would be a massive loophole to allow almost new non RoHS stuff to be imported but there should be exceptions for specialised equipment, some of which has no modern day equivalent with the same performance.  In the case of the 3458a, for example, there is no other meter available that I know of which can match its linearity which is important for some types of measurements.
 

Offline ebastler

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I thought RoHS only applied to new products, not used?

If a unit was put onto the European market before RoHS became effective, it is indeed outside of the scope of RoHS. So you can sell it used to somebody else in Europe (or elsewhere) today.

But if an old unit which was originally sold e.g. in the US before RoHS days is now imported into Europe for the first time, I don't think it is officially exempt. (Even if the same type of product had been sold in Europe as well in pre-RoHS days. That does not allow you to introduce further units into the European market post-RoHS, be they imported used units or newly produced.)

That being said -- will anybody care at the customs office if you import a single piece of vintage equipment? Not likely, in my opinion.


 
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Online soldar

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I would expect RoHS only applies to commercial imports for sale.

I would expect the private importation of a single unit would not be subject to RoHS.
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Online splin

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That being said -- will anybody care at the customs office if you import a single piece of vintage equipment? Not likely, in my opinion.

That depends on you not being unlucky and getting the "jobsworth" who delights in finding the slightest infraction of the rules and makes you suffer no matter how irrelevant the rule is to the situation. Or you get the young turk who is determined to advance through the ranks as quickly as possible by examining the rulebook in fine detail so as to impress the boss with their indepth knowledge of even the most obscure parts of the regulations.

The nightmare scenario is that government allow the customs service to charge hefty penalty fines for any infractions of the rules they uncover. Then allow customs to keep the revenue from the fines provided they become self-financing* rather like many local authorities have effectively privatized traffic enforcement such as parking and bus lane violations etc. At that point employees are incentivized by bonuses based on the number of tickets issued and now its all about the money. Park 1mm outside the bay and bingo! Comon sense and reason are no longer factors.

*Maybe they already are.
 

Offline ebastler

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I would expect RoHS only applies to commercial imports for sale.
I would expect the private importation of a single unit would not be subject to RoHS.

No, I'm afraid there is no exemption.
See e.g. http://rohs.exemptions.oeko.info/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/UK_BERR_RoHS_guidance.pdf,
page 9, clause 23.

Again, will it be enforced in practice? Dunno... You will find many reports on the 'net of non-CE-compliant (current) products from China making it through customs, but also many reports of individual imports being stopped for lack of CE compliance. (And RoHS compliance is one of the requirements of CE compliance these days.)

EDIT: Fixed the link -- thanks to magic for pointing that out.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 10:58:37 am by ebastler »
 
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Online magic

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You added comma to the link and it 404s.

Relevant paragraph:
Quote
23. A product is placed on the Community market when it is made available for the
first time. This is considered to take place when a product is transferred from the
stage of manufacture with the intention of distribution or use on the Community
market. Thus, imports for own use are also considered as being placed on the
market at the moment they enter the Community.

And if REACH defines "placing on the market" the same way, and it probably does, I guess it means that importation of hazardous lead alloys for personal use is criminal too. So much for "I will buy my solder from eBay".
 :-DD :-DD :-DD

If it were seized, what happens next? Are you given the opportunity to pay to have it shipped back to the sellor assuming they are prepared to take it back, or is it simply destroyed?
You know that the responsible way to handle toxic materials is NOT to simply send them to a country with lax regulations ;)

edit:
And by the way, RoHS is not only about lead but also several flame retardants used in plastics and considered for future inclusion is PVC. This may get interesting :D
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 06:36:58 am by magic »
 

Online Jeroen3

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RoHS is not enforced very strictly. It's a directive.
Quote
A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.
In the Netherlands this is enforced by the NVWA, and they basically only react to things.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 06:17:23 am by Jeroen3 »
 

Offline ebastler

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RoHS is not enforced very strictly. It's a directive.
Quote
A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.
In the Netherlands this is enforced by the NVWA, and they basically only react to things.

Err, no. A Directive is binding for the member states, and they have to implement it via national laws or regulations. Other CE requirements are Directives on the EU level as well, but you bet they are binding...
 

Online Jeroen3

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I didn't say is wasn't valid. I said that there basically isn't an agency occupied with active enforcement if you import stuff.
You can declare products yourself, and from a certain volume customs should test it with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. They do not test small shipments either.
It's an not an regulated market, like Brazil for example, you should not import them in the first place.
 

Online soldar

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I had a look at (PDF) The 'Blue Guide' on the implementation of EU product rules 2016.

It is long and complex. The operative term is that the rules apply to products only when they are "placed in the EU market".

Quote
- A product is placed on the market when it is made available for the first time on the Union market.
- Products made available on the market must comply with the applicable Union harmonisation legislation at the
moment of placing on the market
[...]
Placing on the market is considered not to take place where a product is:
•    bought by a consumer in a third country while physically present in that country and brought by the consumer into the EU for the personal use of that person;
So you can bring it with you when you travel. No problem there. (Which is what I do all the time with products I buy in America if only to save the outrageous cost of shipping).

Maybe digging deeper into the directives you can find a loophole for importing it but, in the worst of cases, you can always have somebody bring it over.
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Online magic

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Err, no. A Directive is binding for the member states, and they have to implement it via national laws or regulations.
It is true though that enforcement of the various EUisms varies from country to country and you can sue us if you think we aren't fulfilling our obligations. I could name some EU treaties and regulations that are routinely being violated here except I won't shoot my foot ;)

So you can bring it with you when you travel. No problem there. (Which is what I do all the time with products I buy in America if only to save the outrageous cost of shipping).
Not only that but also avoid VAT on goods up to 400€.
 

Online soldar

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I missed another bullet point (because I stopped reading at the end of the page and this is on the next page):
Quote
Placing on the market is considered not to take place where a product is:
--  in  the stocks of the manufacturer (or the authorised representative established in the Union) or the importer, where the product is not yet made available, that is, when it is not being supplied for distribution, consumption or use, unless otherwise provided for in the applicable Union harmonisation legislation.

So, I think you could make the case that the product is (1) in the stock or possession of the importer, and (2) not being supplied for distribution.

In other words, it is not being imported for distribution or sale but for the importer's private possession and use.

E.T.A:
Quote
As for consumer to consumer (C2C) sales, these are generally not considered as commercial activities. Nevertheless the assessment of whether a  C2C product is being supplied in the framework of a commercial activity has to be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant criteria such as the regularity of the supplies, the intention of the supplier etc

So a one time purchase from a private party (consumer) would not be considered "placing in the market" and would not be subject to RoHS.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 10:55:29 am by soldar »
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Offline ElectronicSupersonic

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Don't know about UK customs, but local Lithuanian customs only care about taxes (VAT on everything above 20€, plus import tax after a certain threshold). One should prove that the item in question does indeed cost the amount declared (with proof of purchase/payment to be provided). Don't even try cheating. I highly doubt they care about RoHS or even know what this abbreviation stands for.

So it's country specific thing.
 

Online splin

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I missed another bullet point (because I stopped reading at the end of the page and this is on the next page):
Quote
Placing on the market is considered not to take place where a product is:
--  in  the stocks of the manufacturer (or the authorised representative established in the Union) or the importer, where the product is not yet made available, that is, when it is not being supplied for distribution, consumption or use, unless otherwise provided for in the applicable Union harmonisation legislation.

So, I think you could make the case that the product is (1) in the stock or possession of the importer, and (2) not being supplied for distribution.

In other words, it is not being imported for distribution or sale but for the importer's private possession and use.

If that were true it would drive a coach and horses through the intent of the regulations allowing anyone to import non-compliant stuff for their own use - ie. all end user purchasers from vendors outside the EU. My interpretation of the above is that as soon as you have 'supplied it' (for your own use), the importer (you) has 'made it available for use'.

Quote
E.T.A:
Quote
As for consumer to consumer (C2C) sales, these are generally not considered as commercial activities. Nevertheless the assessment of whether a  C2C product is being supplied in the framework of a commercial activity has to be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant criteria such as the regularity of the supplies, the intention of the supplier etc

So a one time purchase from a private party (consumer) would not be considered "placing in the market" and would not be subject to RoHS.

It seems to me that as soon as you have it for your own use it has been placed in the market - you are (part of) the market and there is nothing stopping you selling it on to a third party.
 

Online soldar

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Well, we interpret it differently. It explains quite extensively the concept of what is "placing in the market".  I think if it were not an exception to the rule it would not be mentioned as an exception and would just be included in the general rule and no exceptions listed. They made some exceptions. What is your interpretation? What would it cover if not private imports not for sale? What do you think it covers?

But, hey, if you want to argue against your own interests then be my guest.
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Online magic

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If that were true it would drive a coach and horses through the intent of the regulations allowing anyone to import non-compliant stuff for their own use - ie. all end user purchasers from vendors outside the EU. My interpretation of the above is that as soon as you have 'supplied it' (for your own use), the importer (you) has 'made it available for use'.
IMO you are right, that exemption seems to only apply when you buy something and put it in storage never to be used or resold.
At the same time, I think you are wrong about consumer to consumer sales. It seems that if you import from a private person rather than - for instance - a surplus dealer, you are clear. The "placing on the market" has to be a commercial activity, which private sales are not.
 

Online soldar

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That interpretation is ... interesting.

We allow you to import something so long as you lock it up in a closet and never use it or sell it. Just for the satisfaction of knowing it is there. Yeah, that makes sense.

If Brits interpret EU things that way I can understand Brexit.
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Online splin

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That interpretation is ... interesting.

It makes perfect sense to me - they are simply defining exactly at which point the product enters the market. It wouldn't be sensible to define it as being when the product is shipped to the EU. From the emboldend part below, if you import an item then it is considered to have been placed on the market when you make it available for distribution, consumption or use:

Quote
Placing on the market is considered not to take place where a product is:
--  in  the stocks of the manufacturer (or the authorised representative established in the Union) or the importer, where the product is not yet made available, that is, when it is not being supplied for distribution, consumption or use, unless otherwise provided for in the applicable Union harmonisation legislation.


Quote
We allow you to import something so long as you lock it up in a closet and never use it or sell it. Just for the satisfaction of knowing it is there. Yeah, that makes sense.

If Brits interpret EU things that way I can understand Brexit.

I guess they could have defined it as the point it entered customs but clearly that isn't actually entering the market (place), only the EU. Defining it this way allows the importer to re-export the item(s) to another country outside the EU so that you can conduct an international trading business without having to use third parties to handle and ship items via non EU countries. Allowing the items to be imported to the EU, but not sold or used there, allows you to manage/inspect/modify/repair/sort/conglomerate items as required before reselling.

I've no idea as to the level of proof required for such activities - in the extreme I guess they could require goods to remain in bonded customs warehouses like goods awaiting duty/tax payments. I'd guess most countries wouldn't require this and would ony take action if an official complaint was made.

All the above is merely my interpretation of the legislation you quoted for which I have to thank you for locating and publishing it. From responses here I tend to agree that there is not much to worry about - but even so I'd still be a bit nervous spending $4000 or so with a small risk of losing it all.

Actually finding something in the US sufficiently cheap to cover the extortionate shipping and handling charges is another matter.
 

Offline apis

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I'd still be a bit nervous spending $4000 or so with a small risk of losing it all.
Why don't you call her majesty's revenue and customs and ask them what the rules are and if there is any risk they will confiscate whatever it is you plan on importing from outside of the EU?
 

Online splin

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That interpretation is ... interesting.

It makes perfect sense to me - they are simply defining exactly at which point the product enters the market. It wouldn't be sensible to define it as being when the product is shipped to the EU. From the emboldend part below, if you import an item then it is considered to have been placed on the market when you make it available for distribution, consumption or use:

Having looked at Sodar's link, The 'Blue Guide' on the implementation of EU product rules 2016. a bit more I'm not at all sure that you can just import and re-export without a lot of pain. The document is long and complicated enough that I'd ignore my interpretation and read it yourself if it's important to you.

It seems that you don't even have to import an item for it to have been 'made available to the market'.

Quote
A product is made available on the market when supplied for distribution, consumption or use on the Union market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge.46 Such supply includes any offer for distribution, consumption or use on the Union market which could result in actual supply (e.g. an invitation to purchase, advertising campaigns).

This definately covers Ebay; there is more information on page 21 about online operators. In particular:

Quote
Products offered for sale online by sellers based outside the EU are considered to be placed on the Union market if sales are specifically targeted at EU consumers or other end-users. The assessment of whether or not a website located inside or outside the EU targets EU consumers has to be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account any relevant factors such as the geographical areas to which dispatch is possible, the languages available used for the offer or for ordering, payment possibilities, etc.61 When an online operator delivers in the EU, accepts payment by EU consumers/end-users and uses EU languages, then it can be considered that the operator has expressly chosen to supply products to EU consumers or other end-users.

Whether Ebay or the sellor is the operator isn't clear to me. It all seems to be a bit of a minefield and I can understand why some sellors won't sell to the EU.

Another part that seems relevant is wrt 'Fulfilment Service Providers' which I assume includes Ebay's global shipping program:

Quote
The activities of fulfilment service providers as described above go beyond those of parcel service providers that provide clearance services, sorting, transport and delivery of parcels. The complexity of the business model they offer makes fulfilment service providers a necessary element of the supply chain and therefore they can be considered as taking part in the supply of a product and subsequently in placing it on the market. Thus, where fulfilment service providers provide services as described above which go beyond those of parcel service providers, they should be considered as distributors and should fulfil the corresponding legal responsibilities.

If so, I assume Ebay's Global shipping service, being responsible, may refuse to ship a non-compliant item to the EU with attendant costs to be covered by the buyer or sellor. So even if your local customs don't take much interest in RoHS, the shipper may be much more so if they could be held liable for infringements. Maybe Ebay's global shipping program hasn't taken action historically there is no guarantee that they won't start tomorrow due to threats of legal action by the EU.

My conclusion is that it is a risk importing non-RoHS equipment but as yet no-one here has reported having a problem as yet. However the higher the value of the item I guess the higher the risk of customs taking a closer look.
 

Online splin

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I'd still be a bit nervous spending $4000 or so with a small risk of losing it all.
Why don't you call her majesty's revenue and customs and ask them what the rules are and if there is any risk they will confiscate whatever it is you plan on importing from outside of the EU?

 :-DD  :-DD  :-DD  :-DD  :-DD

Sorry, but HMRC don't work that way. If you're lucky and it's a relatively simple query they will probably try to help an give a reasonable answer but even then you can't guarantee that they will stand by their advice later on.

With more complicated or unusual cases, such as the above query, they most likely will decline to offer advice and tell you to take legal advice and that they reserve the right to take action or asess your tax liabilities as they see fit at some time in the future - even if it contradicts their own earlier advice or long standing common understanding of tax legislation. In other words it can be impossible for anyone to know the relevant law until a court makes an interpretation of what it really is rather than what everybody though it meant - including the politictians who drafted the law.

I would guess it would be almost impossible to get any government official to give an unambiguous answer to anything except the most trivial query, especially if there was any chance that person may be liable for offering incorrect advice. Much easier to tell you to get your own legal advice. In any case government aren't in the business of offering a free legal advice service - if you need it you pay for it.
 

Offline Jr460

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You buy me something I want and have it shipped to me.  Why? because you like me.   :)

I turn around a buy for around the same price a 3458 and send it to you as gift.  Having never turned it on, I can claim it was unknown condition of a "rare vintage historical important equipment that is not longer manufactured (one with an HP badge)".

Sure someone is going to want taxes on it, and that can factored into the deal.

Has to be some way to deal with it.   Say I moved to the EU and brought with me many things that were made pre-RoHS, is customs really going to inspect everything at that level?
 


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