A quick guide to buying import video games

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Before you buy import games, make sure your system can play them:

For your reference

UK, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Europe - games are PAL format, consoles accept PAL games only

USA and Canada - games are NTSC format (referred to as NTSC U), consoles accept NTSC U games only

Japan, Korea and Asia - games are NTSC format (referred to as NTSC J), consoles accept NTSC J games only

The consoles that I know of that play games from all regions are:

Neo Geo, GameBoy (Original, Pocket, Advance, SP, Micro, DS) and PSP. These consoles have no region protection.

Why buy import consoles and games?

Most Pal consoles pre-Dreamcast (1998/1999) ran games at 50Hz, games running with borders on the top and bottom of the picture on the TV - giving the game a widescreen, squashed kind of look!! If this wasn't bad enough - the games also ran 17.5% slower than the NTSC version of the game!!

NTSC consoles ran games at the originally intended full speed at 60Hz and usually at full screen.

Things to watch out for..

Please note that if you buy games from abroad, then items £18 or over (declared as 'merchandise' on the customs label) or £36 or over (declared as 'gift' on the customs label) are subject to custom charges. Parcels sent by standard airmail over these values will generally be charged 17.5% of the value of the parcel plus £5 handling charge from Royal Mail. If the parcel is sent by EMS (Express Mail Service) - the parcel will be delivered by Parcelforce Worldwide once in the UK. Parcels sent by EMS over these values will generally be charged 17.5% and about £10 handling costs - so watch out!!! You could buy a game for £20 and if sent by EMS then you could pay £20 + £3.50 + £10 = £33.50 for £20 worth of games!!

Some sellers from abroad offer postage discounts but take in account the total costs of the games first before choosing combined shipping. For example, if you want 2 games, 1 priced £15 and 1 priced £17 and the seller offers combined shipping (probably save yourself £1.50 in postage costs), the total price of the 2 items in 1 parcel will be £32. If the parcel is declared at this value as merchandise and customs notice it, then you could be paying an additional £10.60 in customs fees. But if you had the items sent separately, then you would not have had any custom fees as each parcel was worth less than £18 - so bare this in mind, combined postage does not always save you money!!

In general, not all parcels are declared at their true value and Royal Mail/Parcelforce do not always bother if the value is slightly over £18.

All custom fees are the responsibility of the buyer NOT the seller. I usually have my games sent by registered airmail. This is a very cheap service and is safe and insured. Delivery time is usually between 5 to 10 days.

Good luck and thanks for looking!!

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