Amazon to Singapore Buying & Shipping Guide

(May 2014 update: Shipping charges are checked to be up to date.)

This guide is written for Singaporeans or those living in Singapore.

It should help you decide whether to buy from Amazon. I have bought items from all Amazon branches except from China, Italy and Spain branches.

For buying digital content like mp3, ebooks, etc, read Guide on buying Amazon Digital Content Outside of US.

1. Introduction

Why buy from Amazon?

1. Even after including shipping cost, some items are still cheaper than local prices. This is particularly true for books and video discs from Amazon US.

2. Their variety is huge.

3. Their customer service is excellent. They have great return and refund policies. You'll have to pay for return shipping charges though.

4. There is no GST if your package (including shipping cost) is under SGD$400. If you want to get SGD$600 worth of stuff, you should split them up into two orders, each under $400.

When is it not suitable to buy from Amazon?

1. If you need the item urgently. Shipping time varies. Shipment may get delayed at customs, post offices, etc.

2. They usually don't ship electronics to Singapore. Visit Amazon Global page to see products that ship globally.

To buy electronics, you can use services like vPost, Comgateway or Borderlinx (Citibank card users only) who act as third party forwarder to ship your items to Singapore. surface shipping is free for certain dollar amount so you just have to pay for the forwarder's shipping charges. I once paid $25 to vPost to ship a software package, the size of 3 CD cases, which is very expensive. For Comgateway, it's US$23 to ship a Kindle and case.

3. Generally, the more expensive the item is in Singapore, the more you'll save from Amazon. When price differences are small, it's not worth the effort and you should support local retailers instead.

4. Sometimes, you can find books cheaper on Book Depository. Generally speaking, lower-priced books are cheaper there.

I shop on Book Depository often as well.

2. The different Amazon branches

Let's talk specifically about each Amazon branch. The shipping charges listed below are all meant for shipments to Singapore.

(box) is a per shipment charge, (item) is per item. There can be many items in one box shipment.

Sometimes Amazon might ship items in separate shipments (at their cost). It happens when your items come from different fulfillment centres.

Also listed are the sales tax, which is only applicable to their local residence. You can deduct the sales tax from the listed price. For example, for a $100 Euro book from Amazon Germany (sales tax of 7%), you'll only need to pay $93 Euro. Shipping charges still remain the same. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • AmazonGlobal Saver 17-31 days (only to Singapore and India)
    Free for purchases above US$125 in value, typically for items such as books, discs, and selected items
  • Standard Shipping 17-31 days
    Books - US4.99 (box) - US4.99 (item)
    Disc - US4.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)
  • Expedited Shipping 12-19 days
    Books - US13.99 (box) - US5.99 (item)
    Disc - US13.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)
  • Priority Shipping 3-7 days
    Books - US29.99 (box) - US5.99 (item)
    Disc - US29.99 (box) - US3.99 (item)

I've had rare occasions where boxes take two months to arrive.

Generally, the more expensive a book is in Singapore, the cheaper it is in USA. It depends on currency rates of course.

Bulky or heavy items have additional surcharges. Anything more than 5 pounds (2.26kg) is considered heavy. The weight surcharges are as follows:

  • Standard Shipping - US1.99/lb
  • Expedited Shipping - US1.99/lb
  • Priority Shipping - US2.49/lb

So if you are shipping a 5lb (2.2kg) item, that would translate to an extra US$9.95. (source) - (Sales tax: 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard airmail 7 - 10 days
    Books - UK5.49 (box) - UK2.99 (item)
    Disc - UK2.09 (box) - UK1.49 (item)
  • Expedited Shipping 5 - 10 days
    UK10.99 (box) + UK4.99 per kg
  • Priority Express 2-4 days
    UK19.99 (box) plus
    Disc - UK1.99
    Books - UK2.49
    Others - UK4.99 per kg

Sometimes books here are cheaper than on Amazon US. This price difference is due to exchange rates and often the book distribution agreement. Their per item shipping charge is lower.

The delivery is about 10-14 days, from my experience with Standard airmail. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 8-12 weeks
    Books - CA9.99 (box) - CA5.49 (item)
    Disc - CA4.99 (box) - CA2.49 (item)
  • Expedited 2-4 weeks
    Books - CA15.99 (box) - CA8.99 (item)
    Disc - CA9.99 (box) - CA3.99 (item)
  • Priority 3-7 days
    Books - CA19.99 (box) - CA9.99 (item)
    Disc - CA19.99 (box) - CA4.99 (item)

If you're not going for Priority shipping, the shipping time is very long. The per-item shipping charge is quite high. (source) - (Sales tax: 7% for normal products, 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 7-9 days
    Euro9 (box) and Euro4 per KG
  • Express 2-12 days
    Euro28 (box) and Euro8 per KG

Items sold in Europe are relatively pricey. You might be able to find some electronics that can ship direct from Amazon Germany.

The delivery is about 2 weeks, from my experience with Standard shipping. (source) - (Sales tax: 5.5% for normal products, 16% for electronics)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro12 (box) - Euro1.50 (item)
  • Priority 7-14 days
    Euro14 (box) - Euro6 per KG
  • Lightning 2-4 days
    Euro28 (box) - Euro9 per KG

Again, items in Europe are pricey. In addition to box charges, standard shipping has per-item charges, and express shipping has per-KG charges. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro14 (box) + Euro5 per KG
  • Express 2-6 days
    Euro25 (box) + Euro5 per KG

Items from Amazon Italy are also quite pricey. I've not bought here so I can't comment on the shipping time. (source)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • Standard 12-15 days
    Euro14 (box) + Euro4 per KG
  • Express 2-6 days
    Euro20 (box) + Euro9 per KG

Items from Amazon Spain are quite pricey. I've not bought here so I can't comment on the shipping time. The standard and express shipping times are the same but at different charges. (source) - (Sales tax: 5%)

Shipping charges and delivery times:

  • International Express 2-5 business days
    Per shipment - 600 yen (box)
    Books - 400 yen (item)
    Discs - 300 yen (item)

The only shipping option is International Express. The per shipment charge is expensive, but per item charge is relatively cheap.

Shipping is very fast. I've the shipping date confirmation on a Friday and it was here next Monday.

In general, the Japanese books in Kino are 20-30% more expensive than Amazon Japan (with per item charge but no per box added). Buying from Kino means you don't have to pay the hefty per shipment charge. Again, if you're buying a few books, Kino's price doesn't look very good already.

Amazon third party merchants

If Amazon doesn't ship the item you want overseas, try the Amazon third party merchants. Merchants who can ship overseas will indicate on their page with "international shipping available". Each merchant has their own shipping rates and time. Generally, their shipping is more expensive than Amazon.

There's no consolidation orders for different items even if bought from the same merchant. E.g. If you buy a book and a DVD from a merchant, it will be shipped out in two boxes, and hence there will be two per-box charges.

3. Examples on calculating shipping charges

I shall use Amazon US shipping rates, the Standard Shipping, for these examples. Price of the items are not included.

For an order of 1 book:
US4.99 (box) + US4.99 (item)

2 books:
US4.99 (box) + (2 x US4.99) (item)

2 discs:
US4.99 (box) + (2 x US3.99) (item)

1 book, 1 disc:
US4.99 (box) + US4.99 (book) + US3.99 (disc)

The box charge, or per shipment charge, is always there.

By the way...

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