Generally, a manufacturer works with a single importer who can sell and support their products in a given region. The importer usually has local dealers and distributors who resell the imported products; this is called a "distribution channel". Gray Market refers to merchandise that is imported and sold by methods other than these normal channels.
For local safety regulations and certifications (FCC, CE, UL, etc.) and government requirements a manufacturer provides special packaging (manuals in the appropriate language, power cables designed for the local receptacle, etc.) and product engineering designed to meet local codes. Manufacturers also have service and support agreements with the authorized importer.
Gray Market items are not designed to be sold in a particular market and cannot be supported by the authorized importer because they may not meet mandatory safety and certification codes. Because these items are not designed for a particular market they may not function properly, or the authorized importer may not be equipped to provide service, support or software.
With the opening of international borders and the use of the Internet to sell goods, Gray Market equipment has become extremely common in the photographic and consumer electronics markets. Many different types of equipment are brought into North America for sale without the proper documentation and US consumers do not always know what they are purchasing.
Because the resellers' cost is less they can sell Gray Market items for less. Unfortunately this price savings is only on the initial purchase; because service and support is more difficult to obtain it may end up costing the consumer more in the long run.
Who is the authorized importer of Nikon Equipment into the USA?
Nikon Incorporated USA is the sole authorized importer of Nikon Corporation of Japan for photographic devices. Nikon Inc. USA pays shipping into the USA, import duties and taxes, and provides service, support and downloads for these products. Nikon Inc. USA ensures that the products they import are fully certified and safe for use in the USA market.
Nikon Inc. USA cannot provide service, support or downloads for products that have not been imported by Nikon Inc. USA.
How do I know if my Nikon product is "Gray Market"?
If the deal was just too good to be true, it probably was. One of the first indicators that a piece of Nikon merchandise might be Gray Market is if the price is considerably less than most other resellers.
Additionally, a genuine Nikon Inc. USA product will include an Owners' Manual and Warranty Registration card in English. It will also include power cables (if applicable) designed for US style plugs. Any other language on the printed material or wrong cables indicates a Gray Market item.
Another indication of a Gray Market product would be photocopied manuals or manually created software CD's.Nikon Inc. USA always provides professionally printed or duplicated materials with genuine products.
What does owning a "Gray Market" Nikon product mean to you?
Nikon Inc. USA cannot provide any technical support or warranty service on Gray Market items. Additionally Nikon Inc. USA cannot perform any fee-based repair work on Gray Market items. Please do not contact Nikon Inc. USA for help with any Gray Market products. Please contact the reseller or importer of your Gray Market items for warranty and service information as well as software updates and downloads.
Does owning a "Gray Market" Nikon product mean I don't have a warranty?
No! All Nikon products come with a warranty by the manufacturer. The designated Nikon service center will always repair "in warranty" Nikon products and perform "out of warranty" repairs. If you own a Gray Market product it will need to be returned to the reseller or importer for service. Refer to your reseller or to the warranty cards included with the product for service contact information.