Just in case it isn’t obvious, the post is aimed at those who are residing outside US and hoping to order the hugely subsidized gadgets like Nexus devices from Google Play Store in US or UK, and get it delivered to their door steps. I recently ordered a Nexus 4 and have been consistently bombarded with tweets asking how I did that. This post documents the same.
For the sake of simplicity, I restrict the procedure to buying a Nexus device from US. But in reality, the same applies to buying anything from US/UK. There are two parts involved in here.
- One, ordering the Nexus (or any other) device.
- Two, getting it shipped to India (or other countries).
Ordering a Nexus device
For obvious reasons, Google allows access to US Play Store only to those accessing their website from within US. And for not-so-obvious reasons, they restrict the payment options to credit cards with US address only. Yes, there is no option to buy using Paypal or International credit cards.
- So I used a premium US VPN service (though the free VPN services like Hotspot Shield or even TOR should work fine) to circumvent the restriction of US only IP address.
- Initially I tried adding the credit card of my cousin (who resides in US). But Google kept throwing weird technical errors. Then, I was told that I can actually use my own international credit card (I used a Mastercard from Citibank). For this, I had to change my home address and billing address to an US address (more on this later).
The order went through without a hitch and I got the confirmation within seconds.
Note: Most online retailers in US (like Amazon) accept International credit cards. For those who don’t do, you can check out services like USUnlocked.com who provide you with a local credit card with local billing address. This is much safer than giving fake (US) billing address. Also note that, most e-retailers don’t accept international debit cards. So you’re required to have a Visa/Mastercard/AmEx credit card.
Getting the device to your country
This is another big headache for many. Most people wait to see if any of their friends and relatives is returning from US, and get the device hand-couriered. Well and good if you can manage to find someone for this, if not, you can take the help of a freight forwarding service like ShopandShip.
ShopandShip is a part of Aramex, a popular couriering service in India, Middle East and other countries across the world. They specialize in forwarding the products ordered from US, UK & China. You get a personal shipping address for each of these countries, which you’d need to choose while ordering your Nexus device. In fact, I chose this address as my home & billing address inside Google Wallet. Once they receive it, they ship the products to your home address, and the best part is that they take care of getting the products cleared by customs.
As for the charges, it costs a one-time fee of $45 to open a ShopandShip account (or you can use the code ‘
IND76348372‘ (Edit: new code is ‘IND52735173‘) to get $35 off on that), and shipping charges are very nominal too. They charge $10 for the first half a kilo and $8 for every half kg thereon. Quite a steal, isn’t it? (Just for the reference, I found out that FedEx charges $99 for the same). Coming to the customs, it’d depend on the country you are importing to and the category of the product you are getting. In India, Mobile phones have a nominal fee of 2.06% (budget 2013 increased this to 7%), while tablets incur 16.85% duties.
In my case I estimate that getting a Nexus 4 (16GB) would cost me $414 -> i.e $349 + $36 taxes (NY) + $10 shipping + $8.2 duties (India). Nexus 7 (32GB with 3G) would have costed $299 + $30 taxes (NY) + $18 shipping + $55 duties = $402.
ShopandShip operates in all these countries. If your country is not listed in there, you should look for an alternate service like comGateway or Borderlinx. If you don’t mind paying a premium, you would also like to checkout DHL, FedEx or USPS who operates almost every country in the world. Also, we are seeing a huge surge in e-Commerce sites which specialize in importing the gadgets and selling at premium. In India, eBay global easy buy is one such reliable service. There are others which aren’t that popular like firangibhai.com, maniacstore.com, shopyourworld.com etc. We haven’t used their services to recommend them, so be cautious if you decide to try their services.
And yes, the procedure remains same if you want to order anything else from say, Amazon US or Amazon UK or any online retailer from US/UK/China.
To summarize, you need to consider the cost of shipping, custom duties incurred and the USD conversion rate before deciding to order a gadget from US. If there’s a great deal (like Nexus 4), you now know how to get your hands on them right away.