The problem with importing a tablet

So over the Chinese New Year break I decided that I would get a new tablet for myself (and give my trusty old iPad 2 to Max). After some research online, I decided that the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 would be the one for me. In terms of price, performance, size and features, it seemed like a great option – especially the price tag (RM955 including shipping). It fit my budget, and it was an Android tablet – something I hadn’t owned before. After 3+ years of using the iPad 2, I figured it’d be a good experience to try an Android tablet.

I found the tablet on Amazon, checked out, got the SMS from my bank about my credit card being used and smiled to myself. What could go wrong?

I spent the next few days tracking my order – it went to and from a couple of places in the US and finally made its way to Malaysia. Turns out, the tablet was being held at customs for some reason. I didn’t get any email or phone call about this, which was strange. I assumed that delivery companies would be responsible people and call their customers about any issues. Anyway, I sent them an email about it (their office was closed when I found out it was stuck) and didn’t get a response. So this morning, I gave them a call and was told that I needed a SIRIM permit to get my tablet.

What is a SIRIM permit? After some quick Googling, it turns out that it’s something you need when importing electronics from overseas. So they don’t tax you for bringing electronics to Malaysia – you just need to a permit for them (which costs money).

Anyway, long story short, I went to the SIRIM office, brought the necessary documents (MyKad, device specs, invoice, letter from delivery company) and applied for my permit (RM106). They said it’ll be ready within 24 hours. This permit then needs to go to the delivery company who will then pass it to customs to collect my tablet before they ship it to me. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long.

This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, so it has been an eye-opening experience. I also believe that every experience you go through in life is a chance for you to learn something. So what did I learn from this?

– Seng Yip says I should’ve gotten an iPad instead.
– There’s nobody in SIRIM offices at 2pm on a Monday.
– SIRIM’s office is in Shah Alam.
– I know how to apply for a SIRIM permit and if the occasion ever arises again, I know how to handle it.
– I’m still not sure if the time/effort it took to import the tablet (which still isn’t in my hands yet) worth the few hundred bucks I saved buying it locally.

Was there any other way I could have handled it differently bar asking someone else to bring the tablet in for me or paying a 3rd party service to do it?

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2 comments

  1. Matt says:

    It’s generally not recommended to import electronics into Malaysia, and I guess this is why. Aside from electronics, I generally don’t import stuff to Malaysia because the accepted theory is that they get held up for all sorts of silly reasons or go missing. Not to mention tax.

    There is also the issue of needing support/warranty if you import stuff yourself.

    I usually send it to a friend or relative in Singapore and wait for someone to bring it up. Items sent to Singapore over SGD400 (or something like that) are taxable.

    The other alternative I use (which isn’t always feasible) is sending it to Hong Kong, which is tax free to import things. This works as I’m only an hour away from there and go there once a month.

    Hope this helps.

    Li Wen

  2. George says:

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll keep that in mind!