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Print digital photos in Europe

Posted on 2011-03-16
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I have a business where I print and send photos to clients around the world.  I'm looking for a good photo printer in Europe, preferably the U.K., Italy or Germany.

I'm currently using photobox.co.uk but would like more options.  Any suggestions are much appreciated.
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Question by:hrolsons
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by:Ray Paseur
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What is the motivation for actually doing the printing in Europe?  Costs would suggest that you might want to look into doing this in China.
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by:hrolsons
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Hi Ray,

If it was a large job, yes.  But I print and send only 1 or 2 photos at a time, so my major variable I need to keep down is shipping.
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by:Ray Paseur
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Understood.  Give us some guidelines - what sizes, what special packaging, etc.  If it's fine art and you're providing color profiles almost anybody that runs Epson printers will be able to handle small volume and high quality.
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by:hrolsons
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99% of the time it is an 8x12 print on regular photo paper.  They typically send the photo in a semi-rigid envelope to decrease folding.
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by:Ray Paseur
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European sizes are usually given in centimeters.  I've used these folks in the USA, and they have an EU web site.  I would expect the quality to be the same, since the workflow is pretty standard for photo print services.  Obviously you would want to test their quality for yourself.
http://www.kodakgallery.eu.com/fullpages/photo_prints.html

But that said, it seems to me that the logistics of packaging, shipping and handling are likely to be the biggest component of the cost.  Are these custom images or could you pre-package a thousand stock prints and just "pick one" from the right pile when you get an order?
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by:hrolsons
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They're going to be too expensive, €4.58 = $6.42

My current supplier is £3.07 = $4.96
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by:Ray Paseur
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Apples-to-apples, is that a blended rate, including all costs for packaging, handling, shipping and taxes?

Let me try this question again: Are these custom images or could you pre-package a thousand stock prints and just "pick one" from the right pile when you get an order?
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by:hrolsons
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They are custom Ray, and it was for sure an Apples to Apples comparison, as in I had the picture in their cart, checking out.
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Ray Paseur earned 500 total points
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Then it seems like the answer is to keep with your current supplier.  But leave the question open for a while -- perhaps another will weigh in.  All the best, ~Ray
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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Hi hrolsons

Here's what I get, price wise, when I go to:the Kodak Gallery UK:
http://www.kodakgallery.co.uk/HelpPrice.jsp?&localeid=en_GB#prints

Cost for printing one 12 x 8" Print = £1.29  
Mailing cost (all sizes from 5 x 3" to 12 x 8" Qty 1 to 49):
Domestic = £1.49
Rest of Europe = £2.69
Rest of World = £4.49

So, one 8" x 12" print ordered from the Kodak Gallery UK site and posted to a UK mainland address will cost £2.78 ($4.50)

I didn't create an account, so can only go by the conversion ratios here:
http://www.xe.com/ucc/
1 GBP = 1.61793 USD
1 USD = 0.618073 GBP
Kodak probably round their figures up to the nearest ... well, whatever they choose as a conversion rate.

What I cannot find on the site is whether Value Added Tax (VAT) is applied to the order or whether it is included in the prices.  In all probability it will be added after everything is totalled because generally VAT is applied to the gross cost except if there are some reduced rate or tax exempt items. I don't think you can avoid it because the order is placed with a UK or EU (European Union) company for processing and mailing to a UK address, regardless of your own whereabouts.
Currently the UK VAT rate is 20%.

Some EU countries have different rates.  It is chargeable to the total of the order.  Yes, they apply tax to the postal charges and all kinds of invisible services here too.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg-XnvJ5s8o), and companies probably charge VAT on the VAT charged on the VAT!!!
Offsetting VAT and reclaiming against your own expenses and local income tax liability MAY be possible though.

It's hard to know from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk) whether photo prints qualify as Zero Rated "printed materials":
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/index.htm
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/forms-rates/rates/goods-services.htm#7
but you will be charged for 20% VAT on the postage "service".

So, if the prices are exclusive of the 20% VAT and the prints are taxable at standard rate, you would pay £3.34 ($5.40) for mailing one 8" x 12" print to a UK address.
If only the postage is taxable at 20% then you would pay £3.08 ($4.98).  

This is obviously something you would need to find out and factor into your own charges if you did not quite reach the stage of committing to a purchase on the Kodak Gallery site.

I am pretty sure that ordering prints from a European Union country outside the UK and having it posted into the UK would not be liable for import VAT or Duty:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/tax-and-duty.htm
http://rdsrc.us/6d95IO
It takes a bit of reading, but I'm sure that reputable photo printing services will comply with the rules (and pass on the charges to you) rather than leaving a recipient liable for charges if the package was intercepted.  Be aware though, that the customs people sometimes disregard the declared value on customs labels estimate their own perceived value, because they are blood-sucking parasitic leeches!!

Bill
 
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