Grey Imports

Grey imports

"Grey imports" describes goods that are traded via distribution channels that are not authorised by the manufacturer or their official representative. In the case of Tamron products in Europe, only Tamron Europe GmbH is authorized to import Tamron goods into the European Economic Area and to organise their further distribution within Europe.

What problems could occur with grey imports?

Quality issues

Lenses are precise optical and mechanical products. We guarantee the quality of our products by ensuring correct storage, as well as by using the right types of transport and transportation partners. In the case of grey imports, there is an increased probability of improper storage or improper transport. These goods could be exposed to high temperatures, vibrations, jolts, high humidity, dust, dirt or similar negative influences. This can result in defects or malfunctions. As grey imports are not subject to strict controls, it is also possible that they are intermixed with second hand products. There have even been cases where the serial numbers on grey imported lenses have been changed so that it is difficult to recognise whether the product is new or second hand. 


Hidden costs

When ordering from a non-EU state (e.g. Hong Kong), you must take into account the higher delivery costs and other additional purchase costs of at least 25% due to the required customs clearance.

For example, the price of a grey import may be shown by the supplier without VAT, which makes them initially appear less expensive than goods officially imported by Tamron Europe. However, if you want to legally import this type of product into the European Economic Area, this tax must be paid when you receive the goods.


Financial risk

It is often the case that you are forced to pay in advance, which is not a very favourable payment method in the event of loss or transport damage. This is a particular problem because the dealers are mostly based outside of Europe, which makes the process of asserting any claims against these companies more difficult.        


Problems asserting warranty or guarantee claims

If a product displays a defect then you are required to assert your claim for a repair under the guarantee or warranty with the dealer who sold you the product. As grey import dealers are often based in non-European countries, they are not, however, subject to the strict consumer protection regulations found in the EU. It is likely that it would also be difficult to take any legal action against the dealers as a result.

There is also the risk that an online dealer selling grey imports will become insolvent. In the case of a repair, you may be expected to cover the costs of the repair yourself in the worst case scenario.


How do I recognise if the product is a grey import?

Do not only compare the price of the goods but also the reliability of the dealer. Research the dealer in advance on the Internet. For example, it is often sufficient to search for the dealer using a search engine or to ask about the dealer in photographic forums in order to determine whether the dealer is reliable or not. A more in-depth investigation of the dealer's Internet presence can also prove useful. Even if at first glance it appears to be a dealer who is based within Europe, it is often only possible to know for sure by firstly checking the relevant general terms & conditions. This is where the place of jurisdiction is stated.


What should I do if I have purchased a grey import?

If you discover that you have purchased a grey import, we recommend that you assert your 14-day right of return. This does not even require you to provide a reason for returning the product. Ask for your money back and preferably immediately state a deadline by which time this should occur. Just in case, please keep the delivery slip and the invoice safe.


How can I recognise properly imported goods?

Tamron products that are sold via distribution routes authorised by Tamron Europe can be recognised by:

  • a 5 year warranty sticker
  • European-language operating instructions

Also insist on an itemised invoice stating the statutory level of VAT.

You can find a dealer in Europe using our Dealer Search.

If in doubt, please provide us with the model and the serial number and we would be delighted to provide you with further information. Call us on 0203 966 5947 or use our Contact Form.


What are the benefits of purchasing properly imported goods?
  • A more secure legally-stipulated warranty period
  • The ability to register free for a 5 year warranty extension
  • In the event of service provision, fast and uncomplicated assistance is provided by an authorised Tamron Europe Service Centre
  • Secure transport routes and packaging e.g. per air freight instead of sea freight 
  • You are safeguarding European jobs 

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