How International Customers Can Access U.S. Online Stores

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E-Commerce and International Customers

In the U.S. alone, nearly 400 billion dollars in sales were made online. E-commerce is on the rise, and retail websites have made internet shopping easier than ever.

If you live outside the U.S. though, it can be difficult to access items from popular sites due to international shipping restrictions. The good news is, you're not totally out of luck.

If you need something shipped from a store that doesn't ship to international customers, we can help.

We'll show you a few things to keep in mind that will allow you to get the items you need, wherever you live. Here's how to do it.

First Things First - Is It Legal to Ship My Item to International Customers?

When you're shopping internationally, legality is the first thing to keep in mind.  A lot of items simply can't be shipped outside of the United States.

These restricted products include items like medications or medical devices, firearms and ammunition, perishable foods, body armor, handcuffs of any kind (including zip ties and straitjackets), explosives, and military or tactical equipment.

They also include items like coral, rough diamonds, some caviars, certain types of leather, and many agricultural products.

Knowing what is and isn't allowed to be shipped outside of the United States will lessen your potential for disappointment.

My Item Isn't on the Restricted List. Now What?

Great! You shouldn't have a problem getting your item on its way. The next step: find a reputable parcel forwarding company.

When you sign up with a parcel forwarding service, you'll get a unique reference number you can use when making purchases in your name.

Place your order as usual, but instead of going to your international address, your item will be sent directly to the shipping service. You don't even need to purchase an additional address, as this convenience is included in most services.

Rates will vary and depend on the size and weight of your package. You can have multiple smaller parcels packed in a single larger box for convenience. For up to three parcels this service is free! For four parcels and more a fee will be applied accordingly.

Import tax is often included in the initial service fee, but check with your individual provider to be sure.

Some sites require their shoppers to pay with a U.S. debit or credit card. If this is a problem for you, don't fret. Most services offer shopping assistance to make sure you get the products you need.

When signing up to have a parcel shipped, make sure all customs forms are correctly and accurately filled out. If you're not sure exactly what will be coming in which box, the service can often verify upon arrival.

From there, the service will ship your package to you overseas. It's really that quick and painless.


You don't have to miss out on online shopping from U.S. based companies just because you don't live in the states. Knowing what resources are available to international shoppers will help you achieve your shipping goals in no time.

Check out our service section to find out how international customers can shop American stores easier than ever.


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