There is a fine knife that you want to get, but the vendor is overseas.
In most cases, this is when you start thinking about how best to get the knife to your location and if that is even legal at all.
With the updated knife laws in the US and how they are still mostly subject to interpretation, should you buy a knife from overseas to import into the States?
Buying knives overseas is not illegal as long as the knives are not illegal in the US. Otherwise, the parcel could be seized at customs and you could incur some felony charges regards the purchase and intended possession, sales, or redistribution of such knives.
Read on to find out more about buying knives from overseas legally.
Why Would You Need to Buy Knives from Overseas?
Thanks to Amazon, several knife brands locally established in the US, and a ton of brick-and-mortar vendors, you have more than enough knives around you.
However, there are times when you will prefer to go with an overseas vendor.
Some of such cases are:
Buying from a foreign manufacturer
Not all of the good knife manufactures are in the US.
Some of the brands that I love but that didn’t set up shop in the US are Zwilling, Henckels, and Wusthof. With shops all over Europe, you could decide to buy knives from there, cutting out the middleman and getting better deals on your package.
If getting a reduced cost price is your reason for shipping knives from overseas, though, I recommend that it’s not worth it.
Considering the average wait time, custom duties that you might have to pay, possible taxes, and levies, the costs add up in the end.
Securing a collectible
A collectible might turn up anywhere in the world.
If you are a lover of knives and you collect them, you might have to ship a knife from overseas at some point.
In this case, make sure to find the best courier service to bring your knife in so that it goes through customs seamlessly and gets to you without hassles also.
Traveling back with a knife
Maybe you got a fine set of knives on your recent holiday trip to some other country.
It is already established that you cannot bring knives on planes. At least, neither on your person nor in your carry-on luggage.
In this instance, you also want to bring knives that you did not buy in the US back home.
I have come across some fine knives sold by reputable global brands which are yet to make it into the local market.
Sometimes, the knives are here but not sold by enough vendors. So, they are not enough to go around.
In these instances, I can see why you would want to order yours if you’re interested in that knife.
Special Considerations Before Buying Knives from Overseas
I would like for your transaction to go as smoothly as possible if you are following through with it.
Thus, make sure you consider the following before completing the deal:
Check the laws
Some knives are illegal under certain local, state, and federal laws.
With kitchen knives, you don’t have to be that careful. When we’re talking military/ tactical knives, outdoor blades, and other specialist or utility knives, you should be more careful.
From the knife blade length to the type of knife that it is, everything has to conform with the local laws. Otherwise, you might have your knife confiscated and even face legal troubles on top of that.
Vet the vendor
Some vendors will open up fake websites and online stores to sell non-existent knives to you at a good price.
When the deal looks too good to be true, it is good advice to run.
That is why I stick with Amazon – or other trusted brands that sell directly – when buying knives online.
This is not to say that there are no reputable online vendors out there. I would just be very careful when trusting my money and credit card details to just any website I come across.
Are you old enough?
There are certain age restrictions around knife purchases in different US states. I have written all about that here.
You might get in trouble if you were buying knives online as a way to circumvent these laws.
Anyone can go online and claim that they are an age which they are not just to get access to knives. If you are not legal enough to own a kind of knife, it is best to stay away till you cross the legal age limit to have one of such.
Consider the costs
Sometimes, you think the knives in your local shop are expensive and you can get a better deal by yourself.
For starters, these knife shops have had to pay some shipping charges, levies, and taxes. They have also taken the wait time out of the equation for you. Finally, they tack on a profit margin so that they stay in business.
While I would never subscribe to paying above board for a knife, I also understand that vendors need to make or profit or break even at least.
When you order your knife by yourself, you might soon be faced with the harsh reality of wait times, and how much more you are going to pay.
Your credit card provider
It might not happen to you, but I have encountered cases of blocked cards because the users tried to buy something abroad.
If you don’t use your card this way normally, your credit card issuing company might think that someone is trying to make fraudulent purchases on your card. Hence, they will freeze your account and block the card until you clear the situation up with them.
This is another reason why you need to make sure you are buying from a reputable vendor. In any case, look out for this issue if it happens so that you can resolve it with your credit card company ASAP.
This is non-negotiable.
You want to know the status of your package at every point. When you can, get tracking on your package.
A lot of packages get lost yearly and that could have been solved with effective tracking. At least, that way, you know when the package stopped pinging you so it’s easier to trace where it got lost at.
Besides that, you also get the peace of mind of knowing when your knife(ves) gets in so you can prepare to take delivery.
How Long Do You Have to Wait When Buying Knives from Abroad?
The wait time is usually a factor of what shipping routes and packages you opt for.
In most cases, the cheaper the option you’re going for, the longer the knives are going to take to get to you.
As a general rule, you should expect the timeframes represented in the table below:
|S/N||Shipping Route||Est. Timeframe|
|1||Air shipping||About 2 weeks|
|2||Airborne Express||About 4 days|
|3||Priority Mail||About 1 week|
|5||FedEx||3-7 business days|
|6||UPS||1-6 business days|
How Much Do You Have to Pay for Importing Knives to the US?
If you’re not buying a very expensive knife or a large set, you wouldn’t have to pay any extra tariffs or levies.
Across the common shipping services (USPS, Airmail, FedEx), small packages are overlooked and won’t be charged.
Some of these shipping services require that the price of the item be declared. Generally, below the $200 range, you won’t have to pay anything.
When it’s above that range, additional taxes and levies might be tacked on. In most instances, these dues are between 5-6% of the declared value of the knife.
I have also heard cases where courier services look into the package if they feel like the declared price does not correspond to what is shipped. For that reason, I think it’s best to simply be honest and straightforward with them.
The table below attempts at establishing the tariffs that you would have to pay, depending on what shipping option you take.
|S/N||Shipping Route||Est. Tariffs|
Unlike in other countries where the courier service handles all of the collection and delivery, there is a handoff to the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) service once your package arrives in the States. For that reason, I recommend looking through the US CBP guide for more specific information, if you need that.
The reading can be a bit bulky but you should find what you are looking for in there.
Final Words: Buying Knives from Overseas
Buying knives from overseas can be straightforward if you know what you are doing.
Ensure the knives are legal, pick the right vendor, know what the customs rules are and you should be covered. When you miss out on one or more of these things that you are supposed to know, though, the prices can fast become herculean.
If you’re interested in buying any knife and shipping to the US, you have everything that you need to get started in here.