Hacking Amazon Abroad
Hacking Amazon Abroad is our response to a very simple yet highly frustrating dilemma: getting Amazon items shipped to you around the world can be a pain in the ass! We experienced that pain for a long, long time, which is why we dug so deep to come up with the simplest, yet most effective, 2-step process for getting those items shipped to you, wherever you are. And in the next 3 minutes, you’ll learn how to do exactly that.
Do you have 3 minutes to spare? If so, log in to Amazon.com and let’s get started.
[May 2017 Update: Due to extremely high demand for country-specific guides, we’ve added a post for each of the following countries. The general process is the exact same, but we provide additional tax and shipping information here: Austria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.]
FIRST: The 2-Step, One-Time Amazon Abroad Setup Process
STEP 1: Bookmark your new Amazon Homepage
Normally when you go to Amazon.com, Amazon assumes you are within the USA, which means those of us abroad are constantly seeing error messages when we reach the checkout page.
But because you’re abroad, instead of going to the Amazon USA page, you need to start all of your Amazon journeys on the Amazon International page. Amazon makes it pretty tough to find this page on your own, so just bookmark it 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
Searching from your new Amazon homepage will tell you what items are eligible for global shipping, but there are still some items that can’t be delivered to whichever country you’re currently in. To avoid those, you’ll need to specify that you only want to see items that are eligible to be shipped to where you are. (Note: We’ll use Hong Kong as an example here, but the process is the exact same wherever you are.)
To do that, go to Manage Shipping Addresses under Your Account and ensure you have your international 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 international address set up, add it as your default shipping address, including “1-Click and gifting”, as shown below. Then you’re all set to start shopping!
FOREVER AFTER: Your New Amazon Abroad Search Process
As a general rule, books, clothing and other mainstream media are almost always eligible to ship internationally. But on the flip side, a lot of electronics – particularly Apple products – are not. Use the process 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 Hong Kong. Here’s how I’d do it:
First, I go to my bookmarked Amazon homepage and type “Fitbit” in the search bar:
Next, I refine my search to only include those items that can be shipped to Hong Kong:
And voila! As you can see, the item ships to Hong Kong for just $5.72!
While you won’t find completely free international shipping on Amazon, it’s normally quite reasonable. As you can see on Amazon’s Shipping Rate Chart to Asia & Pacific Islands, standard shipping costs $2-8 per item, while express shipping costs $10-20 per item.
How can I buy items that Amazon won’t ship internationally?
There are some items that Amazon doesn’t like to ship abroad, 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 sent to you internationally, 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. 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.
STEP 2: Purchase your item
After going through “Your New Amazon Abroad Search Process” above and verifying that you cannot ship the item you want to where you are (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!
STEP 3: Forward your item
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 internationally, the charge is generally be $15 USD or less.
If you need to order from Amazon somewhere specific, see our country-specific guides in alphabetical order here: Austria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.