Amazon US: A Guide for International Shoppers

Amazon US (amazon.com) is the biggest Amazon store in the world, and the biggest online store in the world as well. Not only is it popular with shoppers in the US but, because it ships to most countries in the world, it’s also with shoppers in other countries (including Portugal) as well.

No other store, online or offline, comes close to offering the same amount of selection that Amazon.com offers and, generally speaking, Amazon is usually the best on price as well. Unfortunately for shoppers outside of the US, those prices aren’t the full price: most countries charge import duties and taxes when shopping overseas.

This doesn’t always happen. Smaller and cheaper items like books, for example, don’t usually get stopped by customs. Order a new laptop or iPhone, though, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that customs will present you with a bill.

There’s no way around customs really, but Amazon does have a service called ‘Amazon Global‘ that allows you to pre-pay your customs through them. That way you know exactly how much everything will cost in advance, and your order is less likely to get held up in customs. If it’s not possible to prepay your customs in advance, Amazon will do its best to estimate them so you can at least guestimate how much your order is going to cost.

Is Amazon US the best Amazon for you?

Customs are frustrating, whether you prepay them or not. If you can order from another Amazon store, you’re often better off doing so. There are Amazon Stores in the UK, Germany (which is available in English), Spain, France, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan.

If you’re based in any of these countries, that local Amazon should obviously be your first port of call. If you’re based in the EU (for example Portugal) you can order from any other Amazon in the EU and you shouldn’t be affected by import taxes. Amazon UK and Amazon Germany are the two biggest, and often the two cheapest, but it’s also worth looking at those that are geographically closest to you. Amazon Spain offers cheap postage to Portugal, for example, while Amazon UK offers cheap postage to Ireland.

Using Amazon Global

If being able to prepay your customs sounds appealing, it’s worth using Amazon Global (which you can use here). This is available in more than 100 countries worldwide (including Portugal).

When you use Amazon Global, the product page will show the cost of the product along with the shipping and import fees.

amazon global example

Amazon US international delivery times

Delivery times vary depending on where in the world you are. In the example above (a blender that would be shipped to Portugal), Amazon estimated it would take around 1 week.

That’s shipping with Amazon Global though. If you order a second hand book from Amazon  and choose standard shipping, it’ll take somewhere between 2 and four weeks to arrive to Portugal.

Regardless of the shipping option you choose, Amazon does a pretty good job of estimating the delivery times. They’re not exact, but they’re usually fairly close.

Parcel Forwarding Companies

While there’s no way of getting around customs and import costs, it may be possible to reduce your shipping costs by using a parcel or package forwarding company.

A parcel forwarding company will provide you with an address in the US where you can send your Amazon order. The company will receive your order, and then forward it onto you wherever you are in the world. Obviously they charge you for shipping, but the rates are typically better than those charged by Amazon.

Parcel forwarding companies are also useful for when a product can’t be shipped abroad (but can be shipped in the US). Simply ship it to your new address in the US, and they’ll forward it onto you.

Examples of parcel forwarding companies include Stackry.com and MyUS.com.

Switching Amazon to Portuguese

Like Amazon Germany, which is available in several languages including German and English, it’s possible to switch Amazon US to another language. There are several languages supported including Spanish, Chinese, German, and (most importantly) Portuguese.

If you’d prefer to use Amazon US in Portuguese, simply click on the globe icon in the menu to select the language you’d like to change it to (more on changing Amazon US to Portuguese here).

amazon us change language

Have you shopped with Amazon US from abroad? Did you use Amazon Global or did you just shop normally? Share your thoughts and reviews of Amazon US by leaving a comment below. 

Spot a mistake? If you notice a mistake, or would like to suggest improvements to the article, please get in touch. This article was last updated in October 2018.

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