Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, many government restrictions on buying from online shops abroad have been in place. In countries such as Australia, some of these restrictions included the ban on buying from Amazon USA. But this is not something new in the country. Since July 2018, Amazon only allows Australians to buy from Amazon Australia due to then-newly implemented tax laws.
Local lockdowns and interstate travel bans also gave rise to the “new normal” for buyers, and that is to stay at home and surf the Internet for things to buy. But this was all made possible through the services of many online package forwarders. No government restrictions or pandemic was able to stop the average Australian from buying items from the USA and other countries.
Here are some of the five best protips when purchasing online items from the US and other countries:
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
For sure, you have heard or used a VPN either to access geo-restricted sites or to just access shows that are only available in certain countries. You can use a VPN to view non-localized versions of online shopping sites.
For example, suppose you want to access Amazon USA instead of Amazon Australia. In that case, you will enable your VPN and set it to a US IP address.
Look for a legitimate package forwarder.
There are many package forwarders online that send parcels from the USA to countries like Australia. However, you need to look out for any shady practices, such as “pay first” scams. Some of the best-known forwarders include Stackry, a company with a partnership with DHL, FedEx, Aramex, and the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Look for the forwarders that have their own warehouses, where they receive and consolidate your orders before sending them to you.
Look out for hidden rates.
Always make sure to look for any hidden rates that your forwarder may charge you. It would be best if you also considered the total tax cost to send a parcel from the USA to any other country. Some governments, like Australia, levy ten percent of goods and services tax (GST) for any shipment on top of the shipping charges. You can find more information on these things on the Australian Customs website.
Plan your orders
Yes, you’ve read that right. Why should you plan your orders? First, there is a tax and duties incentive for items with a total declared value of less than 1,000.00 Australian dollars (753.00 United States dollars). Many forwarders, including Stackry, offer a consolidation process where you can schedule the delivery and combine your packages into one parcel.
Ask questions and review the list of prohibited items.
This protip is the most important of all. Ask questions and review both the government and freight forwarder’s list of prohibited items. Not only that you will save time, but this will also save you from the hassle of your orders being held in customs. Some of these prohibited items include adult material, live animals, narcotics and unapproved drugs, and weapons. Some forwarders also refuse to ship small things that can be stopped at customs, such as batteries, aerosols, and perfumes.