How to buy stuff from international online stores (e.g. Amazon.com) from Malaysia

I mentioned the above online and as a result I got a few questions about the process of buying and getting stuff delivered to addresses here in Malaysia.

It’s actually not that difficult and I’ve bought a whole bunch of stuff from international online stores. In the past few years, I’ve bought USB microphones, SSD hard drives and even Teva sandals for Zack. This post explains how.

Buy Directly from Online Stores

The first and simplest method to buy stuff online is directly from the stores. All you need to do is to check out with your credit card and Malaysian mailing address. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted worldwide, and many online retailers deliver internationally (it is the 20th century after all). Shipping is expensive due to the long distance, but in under 2 weeks you’ll be the proud owner of rare items that can’t be found / are too expensive in our local stores.

Online stores I’ve bought from with good experience:

  1. Amazon.com
  2. Other World Computing
  3. B&H Photo Video

Buy Through Middleman

Most stores including Amazon.com will ship items internationally. Sometimes though certain items can’t be shipped overseas because they are sold through Amazon but shipped from the merchant. For example, this super-cool geek tshirt is sold through Amazon but is shipped by ThinkGeek, and ThinkGeek won’t ship to Malaysia. (Yes I bought that online too).

Can’t ship to Malaysia

Update 9 July in response to Winnie: Amazon will also state on some pages if it is not able to ship outside of the US. You will also need to provide your address when you create an Amazon account. With your address, Amazon will also tell you when you try to buy something that cannot be shipped to your country.

In situations like this, you’ll need a middleman in the US to receive the packages and then ship it to you. There are quite a few options here like HopShopGo / ComGateway, vsHUB and vPOST Asia. Many online merchants offer free shipping domestically within the US, so you only have to pay for the shipping to Malaysia through one of the options above.

HopShopGo a.k.a. ComGateway

I’ve only used HopShopGo before because they partner with PayPal and give PayPal customers a 10% discount. Unfortunately this means that HopShopGo only accepts PayPal as a method of payment. However, I’ve found their rates to be reasonable. As a rule of thumb, the shipping fees are about 40-50% the value of the product. Looking at their shipping rates, I think vsHUB is more expensive. Also, I usually buy a few products together to save on the shipping fees.

The biggest drawback for using these middleman is that you don’t know what the final cost for shipping to Malaysia will be. They all provide shipping rate calculators but you won’t know what kind of box the retailer will pack your items in, and the shipping cost depends on that box. Don’t buy if you’re on a tight budget

Import and Custom Duties

UPDATE:Some items will incur import and custom duties. If that’s the case, the DHL/UPS/FedEx guy will collect money from you when he delivers your packages. Out of 7 shipments I’ve made with HopShopGo, I have only been charged for duties twice. The 2 times I’ve been charged for duties were because:

  1. The total shipment value was over RM1,000
  2. The shipment was mainly electronics

If I’m not mistaken the duties cost about 10-15% of the shipment value. So if your shipment value is about RM1,000 expect to pay up to RM150 in duties. The last time I had to pay duties (Sept 2012), the DHL guy said to me that I can try splitting my shipments so that the total value is under the RM1,000 mark.

Please don’t ask me how much custom duties you will incur for your item. I don’t work with the customs department and I have no way of knowing.

At the end of the day, shopping online may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who want to, where there’s a will there’s a way. Happy shopping!

P.S. You don’t always have to buy from overseas. Pei Chyi offers lots of women’s clothing and accessories at great deals on her blog shop – The Chick Habit

57 Comments on "How to buy stuff from international online stores (e.g. Amazon.com) from Malaysia"

  • winnie says

    Thanks for sharing the information with us. I just wondering how can we know whether the products sold by Amazon do deliver to Malaysia or we need to use 3rd party delivery?

    Then i read from Amazon website, they do have associate program. Do you know whether Malaysian can join the program or not and how they do the payment to us since they not using paypal?

    • blogjunkie says

      Hi Winne! Good question, I updated my post with the answer

  • fcrist says

    Or, you could just use http://www.youramericanshipper.com. They will store merchandise you buy online from any US store for 6 months (!) and consolidate it for you in larger packages. This will save you $$$. I used them 8 times until now and saved a bunch in transportation costs.

    • blogjunkie says

      Ooh, thanks for sharing that. I will definitely check them out

  • Mana says

    emm..do you think amazon can ships copic marker to malaysia?
    i would love to buy them but im just too afraid that copic marker would get a tax duty import. what do you think?

    • blogjunkie says

      They’re just markers so I don’t think it’ll get taxed. And even if they do, it’s 10-15% of the value – your shipping cost will probably cost more than that.

  • am says

    i got books from amazon many years ago.maybe in 2005.someone from the US bought for me as a gift

    i have never buy stuff online but i’d like to try,i wanna buy this small bag from a website,the price is 60usd,and international shipping to malaysia is 35usd

    this is what wriiten in the site

    ———–.com currently ships to the following countries: Australia, Canada (excluding Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon), China, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland (Republic of), Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands (Holland), New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and The United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland).

    International shipping rates valid until 12/31/11 11:59 PM PST. The charge for standard international shipping is $35 USD. For international orders of $400 and above, standard shipping is $50 USD. Free international shipping will apply to all orders over $1000. International orders should arrive within 14 business days.
    Title, Duties, Customs, VAT

    International orders are subject to duties, customs, and value added taxes. If you are shipping your order outside of the continental United States, as a condition of sale, you acknowledge and agree that title to your order transfers to you after exportation from the United States and immediately prior to importation of such order at the border of the ship to location and assume all risk and responsibility for the import clearance, duties, and delivery to final destination. These charges must be paid upon receipt of your order. Be sure to verify the additional cost you may incur with the authorities of the country the order is being shipped to.

    my question,is this shipping rate already include the shipping tax bla bla,like i have only have to pay 35usd for shipping and thats it rite?

    and do u think i’ll get taxed over my humble 60usd purchase?and if i get taxed,how much presumeably the tax is…..

    tq

    • David says

      Tax applies depending on what you buy. I only had to pay custom duties once, when I purchased electronics. DHL will collect from you when they deliver your item.

      Tax / duties are separate from your shipping fee. They are paid to Malaysian Customs, shipping is paid to Amazon / the company sending you the items.

  • Firdaus Hilmy says

    Hi David. I need your advice. Which one is cheaper? HopShopGo/VIAddress/Shipito/MyUS/Bongous to name a few.. Thanks dude for your post!

    • David says

      Sorry Firdaus, I’ve only used HopShopGo before so I don’t know about the rest. They all should have some shipping cost calculator, so you can do your research. Please let us know the results, thanks!

      • Firdaus Hilmy says

        Ouh ok. I’m using Hop Shop Go too =)
        Anyway thanks!!

  • amirah says

    hi, may i ask u something, do u know any website/blog from malaysia that offer us to buy any us online store and they will handle everything included payment because i dont have a credit card..hehe tq

    • Firdaus says

      i can help you!! just add me on facebook.com/ShoppeUnlmtd

  • Lily says

    Hi David,
    I want to buy some items from Amazon.com. Since you experienced so, I need your advice on any of the shiping company the best and cheap. How is the sales tax imposed? Thank you.

    • david says

      Hi Lily, I have only used Comgateway before so I can’t compare and tell you which one is better or cheaper. So far I have been happy with their service.

      Remember to check if Amazon can send the item directly to you. If they can it may be cheaper and you save on the middleman fees.

      • Lily says

        Thank you David.
        I actually want to buy a few pieces of blouse from Amazon.com and I have checked with them, they do not send any apparel directly into Malaysia. So you have any ideas?

        • david says

          In that case you will need to use middlemen like Comgateway (www.hopshopgo.com). It’s a bit difficult to set up because you can only use their service with a PayPal account. I really haven’t tried other middlemen so I only know how to use them. Good luck with your purchase

  • Lily says

    Thank you David for your advice. The assistance given is highly appreciated. Have a nice day…

  • mat says

    Hi bro
    Thanks for writing your experience.

    If for example I bought for my wife and I something.. but only two items. (let say costs around RM1K+).. will that be worth to use this service?

    For example my wife used to buy handbag by getting a person in US to ship it here. So I am not sure which one is worth for money, using freight forwarding or get someone (which not most of the time close to us.. some are traders too) to buy for us.

  • Aaron says

    Hey David,

    Are there any other ways to purchase things online without a credit card in Malaysia?
    Maybe through a phone credit or some other third party whatsoever?

    • david says

      Lazada.com.my and Zalora.com.my will let you buy online and pay cash on delivery

  • Sue says

    Hi David,

    This is the first time I would like to try buying online. Do you ever buy from prubuy.sg? Is it like a middleman? As amazon don’t ship to Malaysia.

    If I buy baby products e.g strollers about SGD600 will I get duty/tax? Just worry on the duty/tax end up to be too expensive.

    • david says

      No, I haven’t bought from prubuy.sg before. Amazon *does* ship to Malaysia – just not all products. I really wouldn’t know what will get duty or tax. Please remember that I don’t work in customs so I’m not an expert at all.

  • Anton says

    You can also use a little bookmarklet ( http://projects.nasherd.com/amazon/intl/bookmarklet.htm ) to find which products could be shipped to your country via marketplace sellers on Amazon – I find it very useful

  • jacqueline says

    hai, David
    i want to order some products from amazon, can you help me?

  • nurmuzdalifah says

    Someone told me when recieving international shipped packages, they will be hold at the Malaysian customs. Then, we might need to pay about RM200 or so just to clear the custom taxes. When paying, as in, we have to go and collect at the customs office personally. Is this true ? Because one of my friends actually bought an album (music) on amazon and it just delivered straight to her house. I hope you can help me

    • david says

      Answer to your question has already been answered above

  • Anonymous says

    Is HopShopGo using Fedex or DHL for local delivery?

    • david says

      Does it make a difference? As long as it gets to your doorstep right?

  • amy says

    hi David…
    i read in one of ur comment that u had once paid for custom duties on electronic gadgets.. can i know how much does it costs u? i intended to buy some electronics from amazon but i’m afraid that the price+duties would be more expensive than buying it locally..
    thanx!

    • david says

      Hi Amy, I just checked my HopShopGo account and out of 7 shipments I’ve only been charged for duties twice. The 2 times I’ve been charged for duties were because:

      1. The total shipment value was over RM1,000
      2. The shipment was mainly electronics

      If I’m not mistaken the duties cost about 10-15% of the shipment value. So if your shipment value is about RM1,000 expect to pay up to RM150 in duties.

      The last time I had to pay duties, the DHL guy said to me that I can try splitting my shipments so that the total value is under the RM1,000 mark. Perhaps you can try that too.

      Do let us know how it turns out for you so that I can update my post to share the info with others reading. Thanks!

      • amy says

        Hi David..
        Just want to share, I consulted with one of my friends about all this shipping+duties stuff because he basically bought all of his Apple merchandises directly from US (he’s an apple geek just like you). He said that he only paid the amount displayed on screen and no duties were charged on him.
        He bought all of his gadgets from the apple store and the shipping costs are free. The packaging is also private and confidential so that nothing regarding the content is displayed on the box.
        Since i intended to buy an Apple merchandise, I think its better to buy it directly from Apple than other resellers.
        I just placed my orders and will be receiving it in 1 week. I’ll let you know how it’ll turn out but for now lets keep my fingers crossed! =)

  • Hi all, my sister lives in the USA for 20 years and currently I am ordering all the stuffs from there cos they have awesome sales throughout the year. And currently I am also acting as a middleman for large circle of people who wish to order anything from the US stores. My charges are much lesser than HopShopGo, vsHUB,..or others services. Once I quote you the rate , it will be included from International shipping rate to Malaysia taxes and duties plus locally delivery charge. I sometimes do the hand delivery if timing is allowed and you must be around Bangsar or KL triangle areas. For more info, please log on to Facebook.com/Caroline Trendy or [email protected] or [email protected].
    Thank you David for posting all the infomations which are so informative and helpful for others.

    • david says

      Thanks Caroline for providing an alternative service. Do let us know if you have a website with further details

      • Hi David,
        I only have my FB account for doing this in a smaller scale pls don’t ask me to ship big large TV or anything that are bigger than my size of 1.58m in height
        Thank you.

        • keny says

          I had sent u email, please reply, thanks

  • hafizuddin says

    hi david,i want to know did amazon.com sent an email when they had shipped our item?

  • hafizuddin says

    can i use atm card that have visa logo for online payment

    • david says

      Hi Hafiz. Yes, Amazon will email you when you place an order, and when the order is shipped. I think you should be able to use the ATM card, but best to check with your bank. Happy shopping!

  • Andreas says

    To make a long thing short:

    No duties as long as the total CIF (Cost+Insurance+Freight) of the item doesn’t exceed 500.00 MYR.

  • Joyce says

    Good day ! If it’s free shipping. Any duty and tax for freight included ? CIF (Cost+Insurance+Freight)

  • Serene says

    Hi David,
    Would like to check with you if I buy the stuff less than USD300 will I get tax? I read some post say if less than USD300 won’t get tax but some say will. It really confuess me. This is my 1st time buying thing from Amazon. All is baby stuff coz there lot more cheaper than Malaysia? Thanks!

  • ahmadalbab says

    Just done buying…hoping item arrived safely and in-time… buying from both one direct from amazon+shipping, and one buying from ebay n used hopshop for shipment….. here the cost incured using hopshop…. item actual weight 0.24kg, volumetric weight 0.34, chargeable weight 0.5kg, declared value USD 91, International Shipping Charges: 24.90-10%=22.41, Fuel Surcharge: 2.74, Mandatory Insurance:(Declared Value & Shipping at 0.65%.) 0.75
    Total shipping cost US$ 25.90……is this price still low comparing to others service provider eg: vpost, youramericashopper,
    91+25.9=USD 116….. still less than RM500, anyway experience with both amazon & hopshop was beautiful, very prompt n fast response…..thanks dude for ur guidelines….

    • Congrats! Glad I could guide you through your first time

  • Rose says

    I want to ask a question. How do I write my address on amazon? Can’t just use jalan bla3 and taman bla3 right?
    Since this is my first time trying I don’t really know how. Can you give me an example?

  • David says

    Here’s what I don’t understand. If I register my Malaysia address with Amazon, and my credit card has the same address, will they ship to a 3rd party in the US like hopshop? I want to buy some clothes and somebody above said Amazon doesn’t ship apparel to Malaysia.

    • As explained..

      Most stores including Amazon.com will ship items internationally. Sometimes though certain items can’t be shipped overseas because they are sold through Amazon but shipped from the merchant. For example, this super-cool geek tshirt is sold through Amazon but is shipped by ThinkGeek, and ThinkGeek won’t ship to Malaysia. (Yes I bought that online too).

      So if the merchant does ship to Malaysia, you don’t need a 3rd party

    • Oops sorry, misunderstood your question. Yes they will ship to 3rd party even though your registered address and credit card billing address is Malaysia. Mine is the same and I ship stuff to HopShopGo all the time.

  • joseph says

    So if they ship to my name can my mom take on behalf of me ? because i wont me around kl all the time im mostly working outstation ,kinda new to shipping got hooked on amazon and eBay lol

    • Amazon doesn’t deliver the package to you, they use a shipping company like FedEx / DHL / UPS. So it depends on their policy, but usually they will allow other residents of the delivery address to accept packages on your behalf. You mom just needs to sign for the delivery.

  • Laila says

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the post. It’s awesome
    I used to shop in ebay all the time, but I’d give amazon a shot after reading your blog.
    By the way, I heard that Amazon does provide international shipping, isnt it?
    I usually go through a third party to ship my stuff back from US. I’m very happy with the service so just want to share with you here for reference. The company is called parcelzoom.com, they’re pretty cool since they give the members a bunch of benefits like free US address, 90 days storage and even free consolidation

  • James says

    I bought some stuff from Amazon before. First time, delivered to relative’s address in US and bought using Malaysian credit card. The address is not an issue. A’zon will ask you where you want to ship to. I just bought something & it is on its way to Malaysia, hope it arrives safe & sound.

    I’ve bought ebooks too. Although there’s some info online about getting 2 A’zon account, gift cards, proxy sites & jumping over hoops to buy the book, you don’t have to do that. You just need to set your “region” when you are on A’zon. Not sure if is because there is a US address in my account but if you want to buy ebooks, the address doesn’t really matter.

    I wrote more about it on my blog here http://jameswoo.net/free-or-cheap-ebooks-in-malaysia/ if anyone is interested. Only time books are cheaper here in Malaysia compared to the US is when the Big Bad Wolf sale is on.

  • kabutongu says

    Hello David,
    I jus want to ask. How about if I want to pre-order the Ps4 console from amazon. Does the total payment that I paid include the tax? And do I nid to pay the tax fr the particular stuff? The price for the stuff would be Rm 434 after include the shipping fees. Thank you

  • Elaine says

    Hi I haven’t tried buying fr overseas b4. I plan to get scuba gear fr US. Can u help guide me how to get it in safely n most cost effectively?? Tq

  • Fannie says

    Hi David.thanks for the great post!learnt something new today..I plan to buy some protein bar at amazon..do u think it will involve duties ?

  • Lisa says

    Hi David. I want to buy a blender’s brand of Blendtec on Amazon who is selling $399.99 and marked free shipping there but I never purchase anything on Amazon before. May I know is it the Malaysia custom will be charge me about 10-15%? The price of Blendtec selling in Taiwan is 29800 taiwan dollar. So it’s really worthy for me to buy on Amazon.