What you will do when you stumble upon a great deal on Amazon or any other store in US, but sadly you are not living in US? Well, here is a guide to assist you to buy those gadgets and ship them to your county!
Just in case it is not totally obvious, the post is focused for those who are living outside of US and hoping to purchase the hugely endorsed gadgets like ‘Nexus’ devices from ‘Google Play Store’ in US or UK, and then deliver it to their door steps. I recently bought a Nexus 4 and have been consistently swamped with tweets asking how the heck I did that. This article documents the same.
For the sake of convenience, I restrict the procedure for ordering a Nexus device from US. But in reality, the same applies to ordering anything from US or UK. There are two parts engaged in here.
- Ordering the Nexus (or any other) device.
- Getting it shipped to India (or other countries).
Ordering a Nexus Device
For specific reasons, Google allows access to the US Google Play Store to only those people who are accessing it from within US. And for the not so obvious reasons, they restrict the payment methods to credit cards with US address only. Yes, there are no options that includes to buy using PayPal or International credit cards.
So I used a premium US VPN services (though the free VPN services such as ‘Hotspot Shield’ or even ‘TOR’ should work fine) to bypass the restriction of US only IP address.
At first, I tried adding the credit card of my relative (who lives in US). But Google kept giving weird technical errors. Then, I was informed that I can actually use my own international credit card (I used a Master Card from Citibank). At this point, I had to change my home address and billing address to an US based address (more on this afterwards).
Note: Most online stores in US (like Amazon) accept International credit cards. For those who do not have one, you can check out some services like USUnlocked.com which provides a local credit card as well as a local billing address. This is much safer and then giving false US billing address. Also keep in mind that, most e-retailers do not accept ‘international debit cards’. So you are required to have a Visa or Master Card or AmEx credit card.
Getting Device to Your Country
This is another big hassle for many. Most of the people await to see if any of their friends and family members are returning from US, and get the device hand couriered. Very well and good if you can manage to find somebody for this but if not, you can take the help of a package forwarding service like ShopandShip.
ShopandShip is a part of Aramex, a popular courier service in India, Middle East and other countries around the world. They specialize in forwarding the products ordered from US, UK & China. You get a personal shipping address for each of these countries, which you would need to select while ordering your Nexus device. In fact, the best part is that they take care of the customs duties.
When it comes to charges, it costs a onetime fee of $45 to open a ShopandShip account (or you may use the code ‘IND76348372‘(Edit: new code is ‘IND52735173‘) to get $35 off), and shipping costs are very minimal too. They charge $10 for the first half a kilo and $8 for every half kilogram there on. Quite a steal, isn’t it? (Only for the reference, I found FedEx charges $99 for the same). Coming to the customs, it would depend on the country you’re importing to and the product category you are getting. In India, Mobile phones have a small fee of 2.06% (budget 2013 increased to 7%), while tablets sustain 16.85% duties.
In my case I estimate getting a Nexus 4 (16GB) would cost me $414 ->i.e. $349 + $36 taxes (NY) + $10 shipping + $8.2 customs (India). Nexus 7 (32GB with 3G) would have cost $299 + $30 taxes (NY) + $18 shipping + $55 customs = $402.
ShopandShip operates in all these countries. If your country is not mentioned, you should look for an alternate service like comGateway or Borderlinx. You’d also like to checkout DHL, FedEx or USPS which operates in almost every part of the country if you don’t mind paying a premium.
To summarize, you will need to give consideration to the cost of shipping, custom duties sustained and the USD conversion rate before choosing to order a gadget from US. If there is a great deal like Nexus 4, you now know how to get your hands on them right away.