International Shipping

In the past decade, more and more people are turning to online shopping on a daily basis rather than walking to retail stores. Today, globalization and technology evolve this behavior to a global scale, where consumers are now able to purchase goods online long before they become available locally and are able to take advantage of discounts and sales such as Black Friday from the comfort of their own homes. Be sure to visit our blog to read more on the benefits of cross-border shopping.

Despite most merchants are now offering international shipping options of some sort, there are still market laggers who are reluctant to provide international service. In fact, many of them pass the responsibility to consumers to handle the cross-border challenges such as:

  • Shipping cost estimation
  • Import tax & duty
  • Payment method
  • Prohibited item, return, and other concerns.

Fortunately there are many parcel forwarding services in the market that will handle these problems for you for a small fee. A parcel forwarding service is essentially a mailing address that you can use for personal and commercial purposes without having to reside in that location. Below is simple explanation of how parcel forwarding service works:

  1. Sign up an account with them, and they will provide you with a local delivery address for their warehouse along with your receiver ID to identify that parcel belongs to you.
  2. Start shopping from the online merchants, and use the address they provide you at checkout
  3. Consolidate your other purchases (if applicable), choose shipping method, then release the shipment.
  4. Parcel will be delivered directly to your door.

We recommend you do some research pick a parcel forwarder that is reliable, transparent in cost, and provide the essential services. More importantly, it should serve the location where you are doing the shopping, and suitable to your needs.

USA AddressUK AddressGermany AddressChina Address
* check directly with service provider for most updated & accurate information

One major benefit of using parcel forwarder is their consolidation and repacking service, meaning to downsizing your package dimension or bundling multiple packages together. Consolidating your packages can save you up to 80% ($10-$20 on average) off standard international shipping rates! The catch is that most of them will charge you a repackaging fee or membership subscription, but usually the shipping saved will outweigh that fee.

There are two terms you must know when shipping companies calculate the billable weight for shipping cost: Volumetric (or Dimensional) Weight & Actual Weight. To elaborate, Actual Weight is the weight of the package when put on a scale, while Volumetric Weight is based on the size of the package. Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the length x height x width of a package and dividing the result by a volumetric factor. That factor varies with the unit of measure.

Different shipping method will use one or the other to calculate the cost. Usually postal service (USPS, Royal Mail, HK Post) uses actual weight, whereas courier (DHL, UPS, Fedex) calculates both and use whichever is greater. Since most parcel forwarders use courier services to handle your order, it is in your best interest to repacking or consolidating your orders to maximize your saving shipping cost. For up-to-date information on Actual, Dimensional, and Billable Weight, please visit UPS Billable Calculator.

Customs taxes and duties is more sophisticated topic, but don’t worry, we will try to summarize the key components and answer any questions you have on import duty in this section.

Firstly, we want to emphasize the importance of declaring your goods truthfully and accurately. It is by law to clearly describe the content and value of the imported goods to the importing country’s Customs office, fail to do so maybe impose penalties or even criminal charges. What description and value you declare will affect the amount of import duties & taxes charge by the Customs authority.

Customs Duty (a.k.a. Customs tariff) are assess and set by the importing country Customs authorities. It is determined based on a combination of factor such as product’s country of origin, type of product in accordance to harmonized system (HS) code. The purpose of Duty is to control the flow of goods into the country, ultimately to protect the country’s economy, job, environment, etc.

There are 2 options to pay for import duty & tax: Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) or Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU). DDP means you are prepaying the duties and taxes to the parcel forwarder or shipper in advance at checkout, so you will receive the order at home without unexpected additional charges. DDU on the other hand basically means pay on delivery, you will be required to pay the duties and taxes to the carrier when you receive the order. Note: Not all parcel forwarders & countries accepts DDP, for example Russia can only deliver on DDU basis.

Two more terms that you must know are Free On Board (FOB) and Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF). For FOB countries, duty and tax will be calculated on the value of the good only; whereas for CIF countries, duty and tax will be calculated on the total value of the good, shipping cost, and insurance combined. In fact, most countries use CIF to assess the duty and tax to be collected.

Tax and Duty De Minimis value is essentially the value threshold for when the Customs authority will charge you duties and taxes. For example, the De Minimis value to for United States is USD 800, Australia is AUD 1,000, Canada is CAD 20, etc. Notice the amount is assessed in the local currency, and the duties and taxes will be calculated on the full value of the good, not just the exceeded amount. Please see table below for list of De Minimis for your country

In summary, here are the charges you should expect on a cross-border purchase:

  • Cost of the goods
  • Freight
  • Insurance
  • Any handling charge added by parcel forwarder or agent
  • Duty, if applicable
  • Sales tax as set by the country
  • The cost of return freight, in case of a return dispute

CountryCurrencyDuty De MinimisTax De Minimis
Bosnia and HerzegovinaUSD00
China Peoples RepublicCNY00
Costa RicaUSD00
Czech RepublicCZK3,700550
Dominican RepublicUSD00
El SalvadorUSD00
French GuianaEUR2222
French PolynesiaXPF2000020000
Hong KongHKD00
Irish RepublicEUR15022
Isle of ManEUR00
Ivory CoastUSD00
Korea, Republic ofKRW150,000150,000
New CaledoniaXPF30003000
New ZealandNZD250250
Puerto RicoUSD00
Reunion Island ofEUR00
Russian FederationRUB5,0005,000
Saint BarthelemyEUR00
Saint MartinEUR00
Saint Pierre and MiquelonEUR5050
Saudi ArabiaSAR3750
South AfricaUSD00
United StatesUSD800800
United Arab EmiratesAED1,0001,000
United KingdomGBP13515
Wallis and FutunaXPF10001000
*Information is for reference only. For the most up-to-date information, please check with your local Customs authority.

It is important to remember the items you purchase are non-prohibited for export or import. There are strict government regulations and restrictions on a list of products that cannot be shipped, and carriers have their own Dangerous Goods (DG) policies to prevent flammable or explosive content onto their planes. We will try to list most of these information in this section, but note it will not be an exhaustive list. Again, please check with the Customs authorities or an experienced parcel forwarder agent for more details. Fail to comply may result in carrier refusing to ship your order, confiscation by law enforcement authorities, or criminal consequences on serious offence.

Lithium Batteries

As you may know, there is a risk of certain lithium batteries catching fire. New regulations restrict the shipment of certain types of lithium batteries, which are considered “dangerous goods”. Although not all lithium batteries are affected by these regulations, be sure to check your product specifications carefully against the restrictions below.

CAN be shipped
  • Laptop with battery outside of laptop CAN ship, as long as battery is under 100 Wh and packaged with equipment (same box, inside of another box).
  • Camera & camera battery CAN ship.
    • Per NEW regulations only 1 battery per shipment with equipment.
    • Must be sent in box, no longer shipped inside of padded pouch or poly bag.
LITHIUM-ION INSIDE EQUIPMENT Regulations have not changed for iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc.
CANNOT be shipped
  • With Equipment - All instances are prohibited
  • In Equipment - All instances are prohibited
  • Loose - All instances are prohibited
  • Over 2.7 Wh and less than 100 Wh per battery and more than two batteries per box, OR
  • Over 2.7 Wh and less than 100 Wh per battery and more than 8 cells per package.
  • I.E. - Power banks, battery packs, cell phone batteries, laptop batteries.
  • All external battery packs and power banks are now regulated to ship and listed as hazardous.
Other Important Information
SCREENING We will screen the batteries in all electronic items at our export facility and will not be able to ship any items to you that fall into the above categories. That may mean that the product has to be returned to the merchant.
DAMAGED or DEFECTIVE We will not ship any lithium batteries (ion or metal type) that are confirmed or suspected to be defective or damaged.
MORE INFORMATION International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Commonly Prohibited Items

Export and important regulations restrict the shipment of the following categories and goods.

CANNOT be shipped
  • Cash (banknotes and coins)
  • Travelers checks
  • Any monetary instrument in bearer form
  • Counterfeit or imitation money
  • Credit cards and credit card readers
  • Cigarettes
  • Electronic cigarettes and liquid
  • Cigars
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco products including chewing tobacco
  • Restrictions apply. Please carefully check Lithium Batteries and Electronic Products that require them before you purchase any lithium batteries or electronic items that include lithium batteries.
  • Certain radio transmitters and cordless phones may not be approved for use in your country.
  • For the safety of our staff and that of our carriers, we prohibited the shipment of sharp objects.
    • Axes
    • Darts
    • Bows and arrows
    • Bayonets
    • Etc.
  • Gambling equipment and apparatus
  • Poker chips
  • Lottery tickets and other similar prize tickets
  • Frozen items, items requiring refrigeration
  • Fresh flowers
  • Living plants, trees, bushes
  • Seeds
  • Perishable foods (e.g., cheese, milk, yoghurt, eggs, meat, fish, seafood)
  • Live bait
  • Baby Food or related products (US Import only)
  • Drink powders and syrups such as coffee creamers, flavoured syrups, artificial sweeteners
  • Food gift baskets, frozen foods
  • Dietary supplements including acai berry tabs and supplements, weight loss kits, amino acid supplements, adult male supplements, alertec supplements, anabolic 7, diet pills, fish oil vitamins and supplements, herbal supplements, vitamin supplements
  • Bodybuilding supplies, nutrition bars, protein drinks, traditional Chinese tonic
  • Bullion, gold and other precious metals
  • Loose precious stones
  • Gold, silver and platinum jewelry
  • Antiques
  • Rare coins
  • Sex toys, clothing and equipment
  • Pornographic material
  • Erotic publications (e.g., videos and DVDs)
  • Products or beverages containing alcohol
  • Counterfeit or 'pirated' goods; items that infringe intellectual property rights (e.g., trademarks, copyrights or patents)
  • Documents and personal mail
  • Ashes, human remains


We are required to submit any items in this category for review. At the discretion of the authorities, the product may be seized for further investigation.

CANNOT be shipped
  • Controlled chemicals, including substances that are precursors or chemicals for manufacture of dangerous drugs or psychotropic substances
  • Narcotic drugs
  • Unlicensed drugs including synthetic cannabis (often packaged as 'herbal incense', 'herbal potpourri' or similar descriptions)
  • Infectious substances

Firearms and Weapons

The following list only describes general categories of these types of products. It is not exhaustive. Each item has to be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific ingredients.

CANNOT be shipped
  • Guns, including
    • Revolvers
    • Rifles
    • Pistols and other firearms (or parts thereof)
    • Starter pistols
    • Rifle scopes
  • Ammunition and associated products; bullets
  • Offensive weapons, including
    • Mace
    • Pepper spray
    • Stun guns
    • Tasers
    • Martial arts weapons
    • Hand grenades
    • Flick knives
    • Throwing knives
    • Brass knuckles, 'knuckle dusters'
  • Imitation weapons, including
    • Toy guns
    • Toy pistols
    • Toy grenades

Explosive, Toxic and Dangerous Products

The following list only describes general categories of these types of products. It is not exhaustive. Each item has to be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific ingredients.

CANNOT be shipped
  • Irradiating apparatus and radioactive materials
  • Explosives including gunpowder and dynamite
  • Firecrackers and fireworks
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Asbestos
  • Cigarette lighters, gas lighters
  • Poisons
  • Hair regrowth products, e.g., Rogaine
  • Goods that are potentially flammable, including
    • Perfumes
    • Colognes
    • Eau de toilette
    • Fragrance spray
    • Makeup remover
    • Aftershave lotion
    • Nail polish
    • Nail polish remover
    • Some hair care products
    • Aerosols; any product in an aerosol can
    • Compressed gas or gas cylinders
    • Fuels
    • Gasoline (petrol)
    • Gas torches
    • Engine oil
    • Motor oil
    • Essential oil
    • Lighters with fuel; lighter fluid
    • Turpentine
    • Paint thinner
    • Household cleaners
    • Paint and paint guns
    • Varnishes
    • Stains
    • Solvents
    • Glue and adhesives
    • Paintball tanks, guns and grenades
    • Printer toner cartridges
  • Laboratory chemicals
  • Chimney cleaner
  • Drain cleaner
  • Oven cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Pesticides and fungicides
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Antifreeze
  • Automotive products, including
    • Brake fluid
    • Coolants
    • Degreasers
    • Hydraulic fluid
    • Power steering fluid
    • Transmission fluid
    • Vehicle cleaning solutions
    • Performance additives
  • Please carefully check Lithium Batteries and Electronic Products that require them before you purchase any lithium batteries or electronic items that include lithium batteries.

Weapons and Warfare

We are required to submit any items in this category for review by the government agency responsible for export compliance. Depending on their decision, the product may be:

CANNOT be shipped
  • Munitions of war
  • Any products or intended for use or which could be used in chemical or biological weapons, missile technology, or nuclear proliferation
  • Any items specially designed, modified, adapted or configured for military use and any 'dual use' items (those with both commercial and military/police uses) including but not limited to
    • Projection telescopes specially designed for use with Super High Power Laser ('SHPL') systems
    • Handcuffs, leg cuffs, ankle cuffs, police-type batons
    • Polygraph (lie-detector) equipment
    • Military helmets
    • Night vision equipment (e.g., goggles, binoculars)
    • Bulletproof clothing; flak jackets
    • Nuclear material
    • Surveillance and eavesdropping equipment (including hidden cameras, infrared and thermal imaging cameras)
    • Lasers, radar, sonar systems
    • Telecommunications equipment designed to operate underwater, or at extremely high or low temperatures, or to withstand radiation
    • Spraying or fogging systems
    • Software used for active flight control purposes, or designed or modified to use 'cryptography' employing digital techniques performing any cryptographic function other than authentication or digital signature; military encryption software; software employing a key length greater than 64 bits for the symetric algorithm
    • Aircraft and aircraft parts
  • Any other goods subject to government export restrictions or requiring an export license
  • Items destined for countries subject to U.S. or international embargoes
  • Items addressed to U.S. or international lists of prohibited persons and entities

  • Seized by the agency for further investigation, or
  • Shipped to you if the agency decides it is legal to export it, or
  • We will notify you that it needs to be returned to the merchant, shipped to another domestic address, or disposed of.

Some online stores require a local phone number for orders?

There are a number of APPs and service provider that can provide you with a local number for free or for a small charge: Skype, Sonetel, GlobalCallForwarding, etc. If you are using parcel forwarding service, you can ask the agent if you can use their contact number as well.

Some merchants require a local credit card and billing address?

  1. Use Whre’s Global Checkout concierge service. We will handle the payment issue and order the item(s) for you, in addition to calculating the shipping charge, and duties & taxes for you.
  2. Some parcel forwarding services such as Borderlinx and MyUS also provides a shopping assistant service for a small fee.
  3. Contact your credit card issuer and request for a secondary address be added to your card. For this, you might need to use local friend/family’s address or use the parcel forwarder’s address as your secondary address. But most credit card companies will allow this.

What is USPS form 1583?

USPS Form 1583 is needed when packages shipped from merchants via USPS to your parcel forwarding company in the US. For other major shipping couriers such as UPS, FEDEX, DHL, this form is not required. This is merely a USPS policy for third party to receive the shipments on your behalf.