People enjoy purchasing items from abroad for different reasons. These include lower price tags on the commodities, uniqueness of the item, or even simply that the item one is looking for is not found locally.
To be able to purchase items from other countries online, you must have an account on an online website that specializes in international online business.
What are the processes involved?
Buying items from abroad for the first time can be a rather daunting task if you are not guided through the process or if you are guided by someone who has inadequate experience. To begin you need to identify a suitable overseas online site that lists the items that you want.
You must then register an account on their platform and make your purchasing requests via your account. Account registration on most sites is an easy task. You just have to follow the guidelines provided during the course of your registration.
Some sites require you to have an online wallet while others simply need the details of your credit or debit card to make payments. It is worth noting that most of these sites have advance payment criteria. That simply means you have to pay for your product of choice in advance and wait for the delivery.
Points to note
Before buying anything online that is shipped from other countries, you need to be conversant with your government’s regulations on imports. You need to have some knowledge of taxation issues as well. Some items might be zero-rated on tax while others are not.
This information helps to avoid discrepancies at your end. Let’s say, for example, an item costs 10 dollars on your chosen online site. You pay that and the delivery charges as well and expect delivery. But when this item gets to your country, it may need clearance from the customs department. There may well be an import duty to pay.
Now, that may send the overall price way up. So you need to know all this in order to make an informed decision about whether to buy or not.
Case Example: Buying Snus online
Snusdirect sells Swedish snus online in various forms. If you want to buy snus online, and you live outside Sweden, you first need to establish whether snus is prohibited or accepted in your country. If you are unsure of this information, just visit the customs section on the website to check.
The website also offers information on payment methods, taxes involved, and even shipping and delivery. Unfortunately, in the European Union, snus is prohibited. However, if you are in the US and place an order for snus, the shipping costs you pay include custom duties and government tobacco excise tax. You will be sent your snus package via UPS Express Saver DDP (delivery & duty paid).
Other crucial matters
As the purchasing client, you have to ascertain whether the item you are intending to import is lawful in your country. Therefore, you are advised to adhere to the laws of your country to bring about a smooth and effective flow of business. There is no point in buying an item online only for that item to be held by port authorities at the entry point in your country.
On many online shopping platforms, most orders submitted from abroad are likely to be subject to excise tax and customs duties. The destination country may also add a fee levy on the item, therefore sending the price even higher.
If you are the person receiving an international order item you may have to pay these excise taxes, customs duties, and fees. You will not be able to receive your goods until you have paid all these additional charges, usually at the point of clearance with the authorities, once the item has reached your country.
Customs regulations and policies are different in every country. So, before buying from abroad, it’s important to ensure that you contact the relevant customs personnel for advice on the product you wish to purchase. This will also help you to know how long you can expect to wait before you receive your item.
Customs clearances do take time and the exact delivery dates outlined on your product profile might vary if the product you are importing has to be cleared by customs.
Payment methods and safety
Most international online shopping platforms accept card payments via MasterCard, Visa, or even American Express. Allowed also on some of these platforms are bank wire payments direct to designated bank accounts.
Everyone wants to ensure the safety of their online transactions. As such, the cards mentioned above are fitted with security codes as protection from fraud. Most online shopping sites also have methods for detecting intrusion by fraudsters.
These sites usually incorporate end-to-end security protocols in partnership with the various banking institutions and financial payment sites. All of this ensures your safety while transacting online. Online shopping sites do not store credit card details and there is encrypted communication between them and the online payment platforms that are connected to these sites.
However, there is some personal information that most of these websites always retain and keep. This includes information on the kind of gadget used to log into the site, the web browser used, the items viewed, and the search terms that you key in.
Some of your personal information is also retained by these sites if you create an account. This includes name, location, and contact info and some will securely store your payment details. This helps the site to accurately validate your online transactions.
Terms of service
Every international online shopping site has its own unique terms of service. It is very important to understand these terms before embarking on your shopping expeditions on the platform. If you don’t read through their terms of service, you might end up purchasing an item with no avenue of redress if things go wrong.
For example, a common complaint when buying from abroad is that the item has not arrived in time. However, the turnaround time should be listed in the terms of service section. So you have to read and understand this section to avoid disappointment.
Buying goods from abroad is easy and will give you access to a much greater choice of items. However, there are a few things to remember. In particular, you must check the legality of the item you want to buy. Also, make sure to read all the terms and conditions especially relating to Customs and Excise Duty.