anand on September 5th, 2008

When planning our move, we agonized over what electrical and electronic items we should bring with us. The key question was whether the high-end electronics would work with the difference in voltage (India is 220V, we had 110V equipment) and the difference in electrical frequency (India is 50Hz, we had 60Hz equipment). Finally, the question is whether this equipment would survive the fluctuating voltage conditions in most of India.

Based off my experience, I advise people to bring any and all electronics from the US. I have my home theater, DVD players, Wii, GameCube, kitchen appliances etc all working fine. I have found that electronics are the cheapest in the USA (best selection, best deals). India is at least 30%, sometimes over a 100% more expensive so it is advisable to bring your existing electronics (and even electricals) and possibly even purchase new ones to transport to India. Here’s what you have to think through (and plan for):

  • Input voltage requirements: look at the back of your devices and determine if your device will natively accept 220V input. If it does, you’re in good shape. see the amount of input wattage required. PCs, Laptops, Camcorders, Digital Camera’s, Cellphone chargers typically run on an input of 110-240V so these (typically) should be ok. Some PCs may require you to set a switch for 220V input.
  • Input wattage requirements: For devices that do not accept 220V input, refer the back of the equipment to obtain the input wattage. Oftentimes this is given as VA (Volt Amperes) but means the same thing. If the wattage is not explicitly written there, multiply the input voltage and in input amps to obtain the wattage required. This input wattage is what you will have to transform (step-down).
  • Add up wattage requirements: Add up the input wattage requirements for all the devices that need voltage conversion and are likely to be used in the same room. For example, your stereo, your subwoofer and possibly your DVD player may all need voltage conversion and will likely be plugged in together. In this case, you can just get one transformer with adequate wattage for all these devices.
  • Obtain transformer: For electronic devices, get a standard (electric coil on magnetic core, not solid-state) transformer. For electrical devices (blenders, vacuum cleaners etc), a solid-state transformer may do (these are small units). You will need a step-down transformer (since you are stepping down the 220V mains to 110V for your device). A good selection is available from Sams Stores
  • Bring 110V surge protectors/power strips so that you can power multiple devices from the same transformer (plus protect against voltage spikes). You probably have a ton of these already.
  • A good idea may be to purchase a UPS for your PCs, networking equipment etc. Power failures are a common occurrance (another thing you have to get used to).

Things to consider bringing:

  • Stereo/Home theater: Absolutely bring it (it is at least 30-50% more expensive in India). Even if you don’t own it, purchase it and bring along.
  • Game systems: Bring what you own. Get the Wii if you are interested.
  • TVs: This one is tricky. If your current TV supports PAL (India’s system), bring it along. Otherwise, you need to research whether converters exist. Newer TVs (flat panel) are likely to support multiple systems but you need to check.
  • DVD Players: I would not recommend purchasing new DVD players there since the region-code issue crops up occassionally. If you already have a DVD player, bring it and then try and figure out a way to make it a multi-region code enabled (there are numerous hacks / codes available by searching on the internet).
  • Laptops: Bring, bring, bring. Buy and bring if you need to. The deals I have seen in the US are amazing.
  • PCs: Bring what you own.
  • Networking equipment: Bring what you own (or what you think you will need). Houses and apartments in India have brick/masonary walls and WiFi signals don’t have good coverage so you may want to get repeaters/multiple routers with WDS support.
  • Vonage/VoIP phones: Bring. Vonage works like a charm.
  • Cellphones: Bring what you own. Don’t buy new ones. You can unlock the devices here locally and then utilize them with local carriers (India has GSM and CDMA).
  • Kitchen appliances (juicers, toasters, blenders etc): Bring what you own and are going to use (note – the tradeoff is whether you have kitchen storage to store all of this).
  • Vacuum cleaners: Bring what you own if you like it (You will need a high-wattage solid-state transformer)
  • Humidifiers, dehumidifiers, space-heaters etc: Unlikely you will use these. No need to bring. While the humidity is high in many places at least for a few months, you will likely use the AC and not need a stand along humidifier.
  • Major appliances (washers, dishwashers): You may want to read the related post on Bringing or Buying Major Appliances.

I hope this helps your move planning. Do write a comment, share your experiences and provide your advice.

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29 Responses to “Bringing and Using Electronic Devices in India”

  1. thanks for that info it hit the money.
    would be a great help if you had any info on the best and most economical way to do a TR from the eastcoast to BLR as in from the shipping of goods etc, if its better to do unaccompanied baggage or ship the same goods
    thanks for your time

  2. Thanks for your comment.
    When we researched for our move, the most cost effective way was to share a container (works only if you have less than one container load), doing our own packing, and clearing customs on our own. This was not the path we chose (we ended up doing a full service door-to-door move, and we feel it was worth every penny for all the hassle & stress it saved during packing as well as after our continer arrived in India).

    If by unaccompanied baggage you mean sending it via air, then it will cost you an arm and a leg. However, it will definitely get here faster.

    I searched for a site we had used when we moved – return2india – that had information on sharing a container and clearing customs on our own. But I can’t find that website any more.

    We’ll write details about our move and some others that we know, and hopefully that will provide more insight.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Prashant Parameswaran
    March 11th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    charankanya

    Thanks for your comment ,extremly valuable. I plan to do a door to door service esp. as I dont want to get involved in the customs clearance etc.

    Do you know of the customs clearance charges in India? Did they charge a bomb ? I am looking at shipping my Home Theatre system, TV, Wii, Furniture & Clothes…

    Thanks in advance

    Prashant

  4. Prashant,

    Custom charges vary dramatically based on your clearing agent and the custom officer. Two items of the same kind will definitely get charged – e.g two laptops, two PCs, two stereos.

    I think estimate between $300 – $1000 depending on what you are bringing and its relative value. If your destination is outside a port city, check if octroi (city entry tax) applies to you. This will be approx 3%-5% on the assessed value by customs.

    While custom clearance is an unpleasant sounding task, you may find that being present with your agent or easily available may be useful (also at the octroi checkpoint).

    Good luck. Post your experiences here.

  5. Dear Sirs

    Does anyone knows how me bringing a car back to India under TOR would work.Would I have to pay some sort of a duty on it or wat?

  6. Bringing a car back to India would incur a customs duty of more than 100%. The value of the car for customs duty is CIF value, where C is cost of goods, I is the insurance and F the freight. Old and used cars can be depreciated upto 70% depending on how many years it has been in use.

    There are also some restrictions that you cannot sell the car for about 2-3 years after bringing it to India. In addition, there may be some restrictions on bringing a left-hand drive car.
    More information on customs duty is available at the following sites:
    Central Board of Excise and Customs

    Chennai Customs

    Other excellent information is also available at the following site:
    http://www.vicky.in/straightfr.....a-carbike/

    CK

  7. hi there,

    I am new to this forum. Had a question for charankanya – what was the name of the door to door service you ended up using and what was the approx cost? We are moving from NY to BLR.

    Thanks
    Vikram

  8. We had a great experience with Atlas International (a division of the Atlas Van Lines you must have seen). We invited quotations from many moving companies and liked the way Atlas was approaching the move as well as their costs (relatively speaking). The packing was great, the shipment smooth. Atlas was also a pleasure to deal with after the move as related to some confusion regarding the port charges and for minor insurance claims.

    When you get your quotations, do make sure that all charges are either included or at least discussed and clarified. For instance, there are numerous charges such as terminal handling charges, port handling charges etc that you may want clarified and have an expectation as to who handles. Also, do ensure that the quotation clarifies the full set of expectations at the India end (for example, if your final destination is an apartment building, clarify if the quote includes delivery to the final floor without use of the elevator – that is often a restriction in buildings). We found that discussing all these items to be important to not have any negotiation / haggling at the final delivery.

  9. Hi,
    I’ve been trying to figure this one out but haven’t managed to lay my hands on the relevant info yet. Let me bare it all first.

    I’m an amateur musician, looking to purchase an electronic arranger (keyboard) from Yamaha called the Tyros-3. Its retailing in India at approx Rs 2,75,000 while in the US it can be purchased for about a lakh lesser (about USD3450).

    Please let me know if I can purchase this instrument from the US (or UK or any other country for that matter, as its only India that’s completely skinning me of my money) and then get it back to India for my personal use.

    If yes, then what could the additional costs look like (and is there a way to get them waived off…)

    Regards
    Abhik

  10. Yes…you should be able to get it back to India for your personal use. Where are you based? Are you living in the US and moving to India? Or are you located in India?
    If you are moving to India, the easiest would be getting it here on a TR (Transfer of Residence).

    If you are based in India, you should be able to get it here as part of your personal luggage. Upto Rs. 25,000 per passenger is free of duty. Any excess above that is charged a duty of 35.7%. For exact rules and more details, see this website: http://www.cbec.gov.in/travellers.htm

    Disclaimer: I am not an authority on this and have only expressed my opinion. I would strongly suggest you do more research on this matter.

    CK

  11. Thanks for your response, I’m based out of Bombay currently and actually haven’t been to either the US or the UK yet, this is just from hours and hours of research on the product and then finding myself disappointed that it costs double here of what it is in the US.. A complete bummer!

    As I said, it costs anywhere between INR 1.5 lakh and INR 2 lakh (equivalent USD converted into INR)from what I’ve found, so going by your verdict perhaps I would be looking to pay about 40% over and above whatever the cost of purchase would be…

    I’m going to now try to research what part of the world this purchase would cost me the least, and then probably plan a vacation there as well.. 🙂 Would this number (35.7%) differ based on the country of purchase, or is it dependent only on the Country to which it is brought to?

  12. Abhik:
    The duty free allowance and the customs duty rate differs based on the country you are coming from. For the most recent and relevant customs duty rates please visit the Govt. of India’s, Central Board of Excise and Customs web site at http://www.cbec.gov.in and http://www.cbec.gov.in/travellers.htm

    CK.

  13. do you know of any company that manufactures this step down transformers in India?

  14. For a TR from US to India, is there some sort of official Indian Govt forms that have to be filled out? I see a lot of topics on TR but nothing on paperwork. I don’t want to end up customs & they tell me how do I know you are moving back for good, how do I prove that?

  15. Hi,

    We brought a Wii system with us from US to India. We bought a step down transformer from a local store but couldnt get it to work.
    Now, we are not sure if the Wii system itself went bust or was the transformer not working in the first place.
    We dont want to buy a new transformer now, unless we are sure that it is working.
    Would you know a place in Mumbai where we can get our Wii tested?
    What do you think we should try?

    Deepa.

  16. Hey guys..Can u just help me…Actualy i dnt hve any knowledge about customs nd all…so guide me plz..I want to buy a projector from US,it costs around $900 and for sending through US postal they r charging $150 and its weight is around 4kg..so how much approx custom people charge over here…or is there is some other way through which i can bring this over here.
    Thanks
    Yash

  17. Hi guys i need to do a TR to mumbai from the east coast , can some one guide me through the entire process and how does this work. Also if any one knows of a company who can ship our stuff to mumbai. As on flight we are only allowed 50 pounds per person the only other way to send cheaper is via ship…if i am right. I want to send my Home Theater system, TV, PS3, and some old clothes and an extra laptop. Also does anyone know would i be charged anything if i am carrying my iPAD with me.
    DO guide me… Suggestions welcome

  18. Deepa:
    You can approach this two ways:
    1. Take your Wii in to any electrical store that sells transformers. Check the wattage required on your Wii, and ask the guy for a transformer that would power the Wii. Tell him, that if the transformer works, you’ll buy it. (Either ways, they generally check if it works before you buy it). If the light on the Wii turns on, then your Wii works, and you can buy that transformer.

    2. Take the Wii in to any store that sells Wii’s (Alpha in Irla, or Croma). Ask them if they could check if your Wii works or not. Hopefully you get an honest salesman.

    CK.

  19. HI,
    I am returning to India from UK after 8 months with my Husband. I will b carrying with me a Wii console with Balance board, a Camera, a Camcorder, personal jewellery, Watches for family members. Will I have to pay customs duty on any of the following items if I carry with me.

    Incase if I plan to send the Wii by air freight then do I have to pay any customs on that.. Please advise asap.

    Many Thanks.

  20. Hello Jasleen – sorry for the late response.

    As I understand, you can, on every trip, bring Rs 25,000 per passenger worth of goods plus a laptop with you without incurring customs duty (if you are of Indian origin. The number is Rs 8,000 if you are a foreigner).

    If you ship anything via air-freight, it will be charged duty.

    The exception is if you are doing a transfer of residence (though I suspect 8 months may not be adequate time outside the country to qualify for a TR). In such a case (i.e. TR), you are exempt from duty for many used household items (carried with you or shipped separately).

    Do not take this as a fully informed answer and do your research. A good resource is the Central Board of Excise and Custom’s website and FAQ at http://www.cbec.gov.in, http://www.cbec.gov.in/faq.htm and http://www.cbec.gov.in/travellers.htm

  21. This is good info, but you might want to consider this Article. . while this advices not to use a Surge protector with a Step Down transformer. ..

    http://www.gson.org/stepdown/

  22. @DesiDon
    Thanks for the info.
    CK.

  23. Hi,

    Planning to buy Fan and sandwich toasters for India.. My doubt is it works in India or not?

    please let me know.

    Thanks,

  24. I am currently in US and may be moving to India due to project completion in few weeks. My duration of stay is around 8 months. I have a projector which is worth 1100 USD, I have it owned for around 5.5 months.
    Now if i have to get it to India, what would be the custom duty that i will have to pay? I am planning to bring it in the check in baggage itself.

  25. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your helpful info. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  26. I am returning to India. I want to take HP photosmart printer and a Sony 3d TV .Please advise

  27. Hi Anand,
    Thanks for the article. We have just moved to India and brought most of our electrical appliances. What I would like to know is if my IKEA lamps and my conair hair dryer need voltage converters.
    Your inputs will be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Sneha

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Small (Kitchen) Appliances - Bring or Buy? | Survivor's Guide to India

    […] electrical requirements for any appliances you are planning on bringing with you.  This article on Bringing and Using Electronic Devices In India might help you. All prices mentioned above were obtained from various brochures in Nov. 2008, and […]

  2. Transformers & Converters | Survivor's Guide to India

    […] Transformers & Converters charankanya on May 26th, 2009 This is the store  that we bought transformers as well as 220 volt garbage disposers etc. Its a good store – prompt shipping etc. Regarding transformers, you need step-down transformers (to step down the voltage from 220 volts to 110 volts for your US appliances). The ones we have got are on this page  (scroll down to see the actual transformers). You may want low wattage ones (between 200 – 500 watts) for computer and networking equipment, video games players (Wii, Gamecube, Playstation, etc).  For electronic equipment you may want to look at 500 -1500 watts, depending on the equipment.  For heavy duty kitchen appliances look in the 1000 – 1500 watt category. For small or low wattage electrical appliances such as heaters, or small motors (eg. vacuum cleaner) get at least one 50-1600 Watt Dual Converter With Fuse. You may also want to get one electronic voltage converter (50 watts etc) for small devices (boom boxes, toothbrush chargers) though these are available in India too.   You may also want to read http://www.survivorsguideindia.....-in-india/ […]

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