One of the many misconceptions and lies about NZ is that it’s an expensive country to live in. Not only can many items be found cheaply at stores like The Warehouse and Kmart, but for some of the things that cannot, you can order from Amazon.com WITHOUT PAYING CUSTOMS! It requires a bit of know-how tho, so here goes!
The premise of this post cannot be understated, being able to order from Amazon.com duty-free is HUGE! Even when I was living in China I noticed that even Chinese-made products were many times significantly cheaper on america’s Amazon than China’s Amazon clones Taobao & JingDong. Although it might be tempting to order from Amazon.com, doing so would result in outrageously huge customs fees in nearly all countries of the world, making any savings in product price redundant.
The NZ government on the other hand allows for a very generous duty-free allowance, allowing packages under certain value to slip through customs free of charge.
Normally such an opportunity would still be off-putting due to the confusing writing that tends to plague government websites, but this is where Amazon in particular has a solution. They will calculate any customs fees upon check-out, and if their calculation of 0$ turned out to be wrong, THEY will pay for it. So you shouldn’t have to worry that a huge bill will smack you in the face at a later date.*
*Or at least that’s what Amazon claims, and has been the case for all my orders.
Also despite free customs you might expect the delivery fees themselves to be rather hefty considering NZ is at the edge of the world. Although I can’t explain the logic behind it, the shipping is surprisingly low. I paid 10$ delivery for my headphones, which is less than what shipping many times cost from a NZ shop.
It does however come with a much longer delivery time, so it’s obviously not worth it for urgent matters.
How to Guide to Order from Amazon.com to NZ
Log-in and make sure your default address is set to your NZ address. Now when you browse for products there will be a checkbox to filter out only the items that are eligible for NZ delivery. Sometimes this checkbox mysteriously vanishes, and sometimes items turns out to not be eligible after all, but in most cases it tends to work.
Next up put things in your cart for less than around 400 NZD. The exact amount seems a bit mysterious, and depends on the type of product, but whether it will be dutied or not is up to the final checkout to decide. Before you click on the final purchase button, look to see if there’s any customs fee applied, if there is, simply remove things from your cart until the number magically turns to 0. Now you’re ready to order!
You might think you could order many small items for more than 400, and let Amazon be clever enough to divide your order into pieces that each falls under the allowance, but at the time of writing that is not possible. If you have many items, you simply need to manually break it up into several orders.
Of course the items are charged in USD, so by paying with a NZD card you are most likely paying an inflated currency rate. Personally I get around that by getting a free USD card from GoldMoney Personal. But that is way outside of the scope of this article! Happy shopping!