Importing drives from overseas



So I have come to the conclusion that the Pioneer XD05 is probably my best bet for my Macbook Pro.

However snooping around on the Japanese Pioneer website (with Google translate at my side), I have discovered that there appears to be a number of XD05 variants open to the Japanese market.

So part one of my question is basically; would it be advisable to import a drive, has anyone any experiences or tales of woe? I have already considered additional import duty and tax, that’s no issue. My main concern is support and finding further firmware updates. Without the help of Google I am hopeless at understanding Japanese and some of the webpage translation can be patchy. So there is a certain element of risk attached, not only for support purposes but also should anything go wrong in transit, go faulty with the drive etc, etc.

Part two is more drive specific.
In the UK the latest version appears to be XD05TB

In Japan on the Pioneer site (Google Chrome browser has an in house translator) there is:

XD05J2 (Listed as new)
XD05BK2 (Listed as new)

A comparison table shown here, indicates a couple of extra features including “Light & verify mode” and “intelligent Eco mode”. More importantly it features “PureRead2 +” which seems to be an update on the current UK offering. More on that here

Is there anything else I am missing here? It does seem as though the Japanese XD05BK2 (assuming that model is the best possible current model), is an upgrade to the XD05TB over here?

With delivery, duty and tax I have calculated I could buy the “updated” drive for £67, instead of the £82 for an “outdated” UK spec. If anyone has any experience with regard to imports or advice on the models I am looking at, please feel free to comment.



I went for the slightly cheaper XD05LE2, which appears to have the freshest release date on It still has pure read 2+ (as with the XD05BK2) but is shipped in a plain black and white box from amazon themselves and minus the Windows specific software (I can not use on my Mac anyway!)

¥7,460 = £38.50
Shipping forwarding service ¥200 = £1
Shipping (estimated 1kg - shouldn’t be that heavy) ï¿¥1080 = £5.50

Declared goods £45 = £9 UK VAT @ 20% (duty n/a)
“Goods to be custom cleared by the importer” declaration written on the CN22, means that I should not incur the £8 Royal mail ‘handing fee’ even if a slight delay in transit times.

Estimated grand total = £54, certainly beats the (now priced) £84 I was going to pay here in the UK.

I’ll update this post as, when and if my drive arrives.


Since this post struck so much interest, I thought I would leave an update…

I didn’t get charged any additional fees!
Total Cost=£44.56

I thought I would recommend the Japanese forwarding service jpn-depot, as they were ever so helpful, fast and efficient (not to mention extremely reasonably priced).


Congratulations. A nice drive at a very good price.

Newer isn’t always better, especially when it comes to optical drives. But Pioneer’s modern Blu-Ray writers always seem to produce excellent results.

I always get hit by Royal Mail’s excessive handling fee. Even when the calculated value of the goods exceed the threshold by a mere 18p (on that occasion HMRC were using a highly questionable exchange rate).


I think it was only a few months ago a member decided to import a drive with a similar measure of success (though this was to the U.S., so a little different), but it’s not a topic that’s usually discussed. Is there anything else you’d recommend to someone who decided to go this route?


Thankyou Ibex. I really wanted a BR drive, since storage is massive in comparison to DVD and it seems the BR disc tech is a tad more… ‘stable’?!
I had some issues getting consistent reads from some (5yr old) MAM-A DVD archives. Thankfully I used two types of media (2x identical backups) Taiyo Yuden proved to be reading more consistently. Flipping both brands of discs over I could see issues with dye spots and burn rings! Anyway I digress…

I appreciate newer isn’t always better, but thanks to your review Ibex, I’m quite confident that the Pioneer drive is a good external choice for my Macbook Pro.

My backup solution moving forward is to ditch the expensive M-disc idea and stick with Japanese imported Panasonic’s. I shall then create an identical backup on a large ext harddrive; a failsafe in the event one backup goes bad. I shall also be creating a checksum at the point of archiving, that way I can periodically validate the integrity of my backups for corruption.

More specifically to importing; I had the forwarding service in Japan write “Goods to be custom cleared by the importer” whilst this apparently prevents the Royal Mail handling/admin fee, it is said to delay delivery as HMRC have to invoice tax via the post before the release of goods. Though I can’t verify this method, as my consignment seemed to ‘slip through the net’ and my parcel was delivered straight away (lucky?)

The only advice I can give when considering imports is to thoroughly work out all possible additional fees:

There is an online tool ( which works out duty and/or tax based on the item to be imported and declared value.

There may also be an additional fee from the courier, unless you decide to self clear customs (see above for exact declaration that needs to be written explicitly on the CN22 form)

Also don’t forget to consider any bank fees for foreign currency, though my bank doesn’t charge for overseas purchases on my CC and uses the Mastercard exchange rate.

In my case I had to use a forwarding company to ship my parcel, since Amazon wouldn’t accept shipping to the UK. JPN-DEPOT come highly recommended from me if shopping in Japan. I would suggest throwing their customer services some emails prior to engaging business. The fact the company I used were very helpful and quick to reply gave some reassurance. Always ask if anything is unclear.

Lastly don’t be put off, as there is great potential to save, if prepared to do some homework and shop around.