Monday, July 23, 2018

Amazon: Free Shipping IS BACK!

this post contains affiliate links, so if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may be compensanted. Thanks in advance for your support!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted here that Amazon had launched FREE Shipping to Israel on certain products, and then that quickly ended, much to everyone's dismay. Serious disappointment was going around.

BUT it's back now - and here's what you need to know:

It's not for everything - please take note that free shipping is only available for certain products sold and shipped by, and items sold by third-party sellers are subject to other shipping terms. To take advantage of this deal, you'll also have to place an order of $75+, so you will have to pay taxes and fees, as that's above the tax-free threshold. You'll see the total at checkout, though, before you comfirm the purchase. (I've been playing with my cart, and sometimes it's still worth it to pay those fees!)

Update: I'm hearing from people that they are able to get free shipping by crossing the $75 threshold and then applying a coupon. Then they chat with Amazon about getting the fees refunded. Check out coupons here:

You also have to make sure you CHOOSE the free shipping option - the default may be a faster shipping method that comes with a fee.

Additionally, Amazon apparently is imposing a weight limit on free shipping items. I'm not sure what the limit is, but I am guessing you can't order furniture and stuff like that with free shipping. Still - I think this is going to be a GOOD thing, don't you?

See below for a primer on Import Taxes when you order online!

package from purchase abroad - tax free!

Shopping online and wondering what to expect regarding taxes and fees? This guide will help you understand the basics that apply to residents of Israel when shopping online from overseas. Most of us shop this way to save money, so who wants a tax bill surprise when the order gets here? This post will help you avoid a tax bill (legally, of course!).

Note: the same regulations apply to packages sent from abroad, even if they are gifts!

Here's the rundown (the full regulations can be found on the Israel tax authority's site)

Your purchase or package, no matter what currency it was in, will be translated into US Dollars by the tax authority to determine if it's taxable:

Purchases up to $75/Packages with a declared value up to $75 - no taxes

Purchases or packages with a declared value above $75, up to $500 - no customs taxes, but VAT will apply in most cases (17% currently), and Purchase Tax (variable rates) may apply (purchase tax applies to very few items at this point!)

Purchases or packages with a declared value over $500 - subject to all taxes (VAT , Purchase Tax (if applicable), and Customs Tax)

Please take note that purchases and packages (even gifts) of up to $75 in value will be subject to customs clearance fees if they arrive using an EMS service* (about 35 shekels), and if the value of the purchase is higher, the customs clearance fee can be higher as well. Other fees are often added on by shipping companies, as there is really not much oversight! I recently saw a bill that included the following fees: Handling fees, Import approval fee, VAT, Computer fee, Unloading fee, Storage fee. Watch out for these fees from shipping companies/courier services. I recommend you always try to get your packages via a service that guarantees your fees have all been prepaid.

Please be aware that the purchase price only (not purchase + shipping) will determine whether an item will be taxed. Once it is found to be taxable, however, applicable taxes will be calculated on the purchase price + the shipping price.

One more important point: If you order multiple orders from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs may combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes. They may not. But it is a possibility you should be aware of before you place multiple orders.

If your order is stuck in customs, or if you feel like you were charged tax by mistake, you will need to contact the customs office nearest you.

Here's the contact info for the various offices, taken from the meches website. I couldn't find any email addresses, sorry.

Tel Aviv

Derech HaHagana 137, Yad Eliyahu, Tel Aviv
Tel: 03-942-1730
Fax: 03-942-1733


Mercaz Shatner, Givat Shaul B, Jerusalem 91999
Tel: 02-652-6193
Fax: 02-651-1589


Sderot Pal Yam 19, Shakmona, POB 245, Haifa 31999
Tel: 04-866-4130
Fax: 04-666-9803


Central Post Office, The Red Mall, Eilat 83100
Tel: 08-632-6476
Fax: 08-866-9702

Some of these regulations are different from what some people seem to believe, so please refer back to this guide if you are about to place an order and you're not sure what to expect from the tax-man.

If you're not sure where to start shopping online, I've compiled a list of websites that offer low cost shipping to Israel! Please be sure to check it out! Let's help open Israel's marketplace and bring down our cost of living without bringing down our standard of living!

Some of my favorite websites to shop from are: ~ iHerb ~ AliExpress ~ eChemist ~ iWOOT ~ Amazon

Be sure to check out the whole list!

*Examples of EMS services - Express Mail, Fedex, UPS and other express delivery services. Sometimes DHL is EMS and sometimes it is not.

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