Amazon UAE, if you don’t approach it the right way, can be a frustrating experience to say the least. It’s not clear which items ship to the UAE and which don’t, how much Amazon shipping to the UAE will cost if they do ship, and we all know what it’s like to get to the checkout page only to be told that the items in our cart aren’t eligible to be sent to the UAE. What a pain!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve tested all of the prevailing techniques and developed a process that makes shopping on Amazon in the UAE much, much better. Does Amazon ship to the UAE? Yes, and you’re going to love how easy it is to do it.
Do you have four minutes to spare? If so, log in to Amazon.com and let’s get started.
FIRST: The 2-Step, One-Time Amazon UAE Setup Process
STEP 1: Bookmark your new Amazon UAE Homepage
Normally when you go to Amazon.com, Amazon assumes you are within the United States. And that’s a problem, because for those of us in the UAE, we’re constantly seeing error messages when we reach the checkout page.
So instead of going to the Amazon USA page, it’s important that you start all of your Amazon journeys on the Amazon International page, which you can think of as the Amazon UAE homepage. Amazon makes it pretty tough to navigate here on your own, so just bookmark this page and start all of your Amazon searches from there moving forward. Using this page alone will make all of your searches much, much more relevant by eliminating items that can’t be shipped internationally.
STEP 2: Set up your 1-click Address
While searching from your new Amazon homepage will tell you what items are eligible for global shipping, there are still some items that can’t be delivered to the UAE. So to avoid those, you’ll need to specify that you only want to see items that are eligible for Amazon UAE shipping.
To do that, go to Manage Shipping Addresses under Your Account and ensure you have your the UAE address listed (if you don’t, add it as a New Address). Also, ensure that you have 1-click ordering turned on so that Amazon will check your address before showing you any item (Note: you never need to actually use the 1-click ordering functionality, but it’s still important to turn it on here). Then, once you have your the UAE address set up, add it as your default shipping address, including 1-Click and gifting, as shown below.
FOREVER AFTER: Your New Amazon UAE Search Process
As a general rule, books, clothing and other mainstream media are almost always eligible to ship to the UAE. But on the flip side, a lot of electronics – particularly Apple products – are not. Use the method below to shave down your search time to the bare minimum.
Here’s an example. I’ve recently been thinking about getting a Fitbit to track my workouts and monitor my sleep, so let’s assume I’m going to buy one and have it shipped to the UAE. Here’s how I’d do it:
First, I go to my bookmarked Amazon UAE homepage and type “Fitbit” in the search bar:
Next, I refine my search to only include those items that can be shipped to the UAE:
And voila! As you can see, the item ships to the UAE.Amazon Free Shipping to the UAE
While you won’t find completely free shipping to the UAE on Amazon, shipping is still very cheap. As you can see on Amazon’s Shipping Rate Chart to the Middle East, standard shipping costs 8-30 AED per item, while priority shipping costs 40-80 AED per item.
Import taxes/duties on items purchased
The UAE charges a duty of between 0-100% with an average of 4.61% on items imported into the country, but since Amazon adds this fee directly onto the total price when you checkout, you’ll never be hit with an unexpected import fee when buying from Amazon. Some items like laptops and other electronics are eligible for duty-free import. Also, this duty is not applied to any shipment under 1000 AED in value. There is no sales tax applied to purchases shipped to the UAE.
Who actually ships my Amazon items?
In most cases, it will be Emirates Post who deliver your items, and they generally take 18-30 days to arrive (or 2-5 days if you choose priority shipping). If you’re not home when Emirates Post attempts to deliver, they’ll leave you a delivery notice and you can pick up your item from the nearest post office location the next day. Here’s the official list of every Emirates Post location in the UAE.
How can I buy items that Amazon won’t ship to the UAE?
There are some items that Amazon won’t ship to the UAE, most notably their own Amazon Kindles and the new Amazon Tap and Amazon Echo Dot devices. Still, there is a workaround that you can use to get these items to you in the UAE, which is using a third-party package forwarder. Here’s how to do it.
STEP 1: Sign up with a Package Forwarder
Open an account with a package forwarder, who will accept your Amazon purchases at their warehouse in the United States and forward them on to you in the UAE. We recommend Borderlinx, since they ship with DHL and have fantastic customer reviews. Borderlinx will repack and consolidate your shipments free of charge, and they allow you to store your packages at their USA warehouse for up to 30 days (free as well) so you can take full advantage of that service and combine multiple Amazon packages into a single shipment. Their customer service is known to be excellent, too.
If you’d prefer to do your own research and assess other package forwarders as well, here’s a price comparison chart of the four major players on some common items you may be buying. As you can see, COMgateway has the cheapest price on 6 out of the 9 shipments, with Borderlinx being the cheapest on the other 3 and MyUS and Viabox consistently more expensive. If you want to get a Borderlinx price quote on a specific item, use their UAE-specific Shipping Cost Calculator here.
However, the features comparison table below uncovers why Borderlinx’s prices are higher than COMgateway’s. COMgateway’s shipments are considerably slower (6-8 days vs. 2-6 with Borderlinx), they charge $10 to repack shipments while Borderlinx is free, and they don’t include taxes and duties in their prices, which can lead to some nasty surprises when your items are delivered. When it’s all said and done, most people prefer Borderlinx.
STEP 2: Purchase your item
After going through “Your New Amazon UAE Search Process” above and verifying that you cannot ship the item you want from Amazon to the UAE (maybe it’s the iPhone 6), send it instead to the address that Borderlinx gives you by copying and pasting that address into Manage Shipping Addresses under Your Account. Then you’re ready to buy! Keep in mind that you can still use your the UAE address as the billing address on your credit card without any problems, but it’s still a good idea to double-check your shipping address to ensure it’s exactly the one Borderlinx gave you!
STEP 3: Forward your item to the UAE
Borderlinx will email you when your package arrives at their warehouse in the USA, so all you need to do is confirm the shipping speed on the forward (priority, economy, etc.) and whether you want additional insurance (it’s already being sent with DHL, so you probably won’t need it), and then pay Borderlinx for the shipment forwarding. For shipping something like a Kindle to the UAE, the charge will be 75 AED or less.
Alternatives to Amazon in the UAE
Between these two methods – searching for items that Amazon ships directly to the UAE, and using Borderlinx to forward packages that Amazon won’t ship directly to the UAE – you can get 95+% of the items you’d want into the UAE. But there are still a list of items you are prohibited from importing into the UAE, so those first two methods won’t work. So who do you turn to then?
Here are a few good options:
- Souq: Definitely the largest, and also the most well-known, e-commerce site in the Arab world. You can get just about anything on here.
- eBay: The world’s best-known consumer-to-consumer portal for selling just about everything. This is a great spot to grab the electronics you can’t find on Amazon.
- Namshi: A well-curated fashion portal selling brands from Nike and Adidas to Topshop and Mango.
- Dubai Bazaar: Plenty of fashion, electronics, and home & kitchen supplies, though still significantly less refined than Amazon itself. All items ship to the UAE.
- Alshop, Esybuy and eCart are all similar to Dubai Bazaar. They sell a variety of fashion, electronics, and cosmetics, and home & kitchen items.