How to buy the best deals from Amazon that don’t deliver to South Africa

South Africans looking to score big on discounts during Amazon’s Prime Day sale can sign up for a package forwarding service to buy products that don’t ship directly to the country.

Amazon’s renowned annual sale for its Prime subscription members is set to take place on 21 and 22 June this year, and will offer over two million deals on a wide variety of products across all its categories.

This includes specials on fashion, home, beauty, and electronics, with major brands like Levi’s, iRobot, Samsung, and Redken participating.

According to a recent survey conducted by Finder, numerous South Africans plan to participate in this year’s promotion.

However, many products listed on Amazon, including its own Echo and Ring smart home devices, do not ship directly to South Africa.

Fortunately, you don’t have to know someone who lives in the States who can courier your package to you after receiving it from Amazon. All you need is a package forwarding service with a US address.

These services have become increasingly popular among consumers who shop across borders for the best deals, or for items which are simply not available in South Africa.

A package forwarding service will provide you with a local shipping address in the US or another country from which you want to order an item.

This will typically be the same location as one of its warehouses in the country.

You will also be provided with a member number that will be used to link a package to you.

When placing an online order on Amazon or another international site, you simply provide the address given to you by your parcel forwarding service, including your member number.

Amazon will then ship and deliver your package to the forwarding service’s warehouse.

After the package’s weight and measurements are confirmed, you will have to pay the applicable handling and international shipping fees.

The service may also offer to include an estimated amount for tax, import, and duty fees which will have to be paid to clear the package through South African customs.

Upon confirmation of payment, your package will be shipped through an international freight carrier like FedEx, DHL, or UPS.

If you opted not to pay VAT, import, and duty taxes up front, or if the estimation was short of the actual amount due, the carrier will send you a bill for the outstanding amount when the package goes through customs.

Once paid, the package will be cleared and delivered to your home.

There are numerous package forwarding services to choose from.

Two popular options available to South Africans are MyUS and Aramex Global Shopper.

One of MyUS’s selling points is that it offers the ability to shop in the United States without paying sales tax. This can save you 7% or more on all purchases.

It also offer discounts of up to 80% on bundled packages that combine different orders.

There are two MyUS membership tiers available to general customers — Free and Premium.

The free tier allows for shipping a single package from one store. This does not include costs for storage, package consolidation, or package repacking.

However, if you subscribe for a Premium MyUS account storage, package consolidation and package repacking is included.

MyUS Premium membership is free for the first 30 days and then charged at $7 (R95) per month or $60 (R813) per year thereafter, not including the shipment costs of the product itself.

In most instances, shipping costs via MyUS are calculated based on the actual weight of the package.

Using its budget economy delivery option starts at $29.99 (R405) per kg and goes up to $78.99 (R1,066) for a 5kg package.

The costs of shipping palletised and oversized packages with linear dimensions greater than 203cm are calculated differently.

MyUS also offers forwarding from UK stores.

A MyUS warehouse.
A MyUS warehouse.

Aramex, which itself is a global freight carrier, also offers its own package forwarding service.

Aramex Global Shopper (AGS) boasts 31 shipping addresses in different countries across the world — including the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.

It comes in two membership tiers: Shop & Ship Basic, and Shop & Ship Flex.

The cheaper of the two, Basic, is priced at R150 for a lifetime membership, and includes personalised global addresses and AGS Protect insurance for protection against loss or damage of your package.

AGS Protect is free for packages up to $100 in value, thereafter you will be charged $1 per $100 on the Basic package.

The more expensive S&S Flex option includes free AGS Protect cover on all orders and a 30% discount on return shipping in the event that your product is faulty or damaged.

AGS shipping from the US to South Africa is currently charged at R233 for the first 0.5kg. Every 0.5kg thereafter will cost an additional R140.

Aramex header

We compared MyUS and AGS to see which offered the best features and shipment prices.

The table below shows how the subscription pricing and features of the two services stacked up.

MyUS vs AGS – Pricing and features
MyUS Premium AGS S&S Basic AGS S&S Flex
Price $60 / R813 per year R150 lifetime R1,500 lifetime
Free trial 30 days No No
Countries you can buy from 2 31 31
Tax-free sales price (7% discount on purchase price) Yes No No
Bundled pricing discount (up to 80%) Yes No No
Shipment insurance  $2.99 per $100 $1 per $100 over $100 Free
Freight company options FedEx
Aramex Aramex
Shipping times 1-10 days, depending on chosen delivery option Up to 6 working days Up to 6 working days

When it came to prices for individual shipments, we found that AGS was significantly cheaper for smaller packages between 0.5kg and 1.5kg.

Anything heavier than that, and MyUS became the more affordable option.

This was without taking into account its bundled discounts on orders with multiple items.

The table below provides a breakdown of what shipping of packages of certain weights would cost on MyUS and Aramex Global Shopper.

It should be noted that these prices are not applicable to oversized shipments with unusual linear dimensions.

MyUS vs AGS – Shipment prices by weight
 0.5kg $29.99 / R405 R233
1kg $34.99 / R472 R373
1.5kg $37.99 / R513 R513
2kg $42.99 / R580 R653
2.5kg $47.99 / R648 R793
3kg $52.99 / R715 R933
3.5kg $53.99 / R729 R1,073
4kg $61.99 / R837 R1,211
4.5kg $65.99 / R891 R1,350
5kg $78.99 / R1,066 R1,493

Taking into account its free trial, as well as the US sales and bundled discounts, MyUS might be your best option this Prime Day.

However, AGS offers a much wider range of countries to shop from, many of which will also be participating in Prime Day.

It should be emphasised that aside from the charges of the package forwarding services, you will have to pay VAT, duties, and import taxes to get your product through customs.

This means you will have to apply an additional percentage-based amount to the purchasing price of your item.

While 15% VAT applies to most products, the duties can range from 0% to 45%.

Below is a list of the VAT and duties on items commonly ordered from international stores, as provided by AGS.

VAT and duties on common items
Item VAT Duties
Beauty supplies 15% 20%
Books 15% 0%
Car accessories and spare parts 15% 20%
Clothing 15% 45%
Digital camera 15% 7%
Gaming console 15% 7%
Guitar 15% 0%
Handbags 15% 30%
Laptop 15% 0%
Monitor 15% 0%
Shoes 15% 30%
Smartphone 15% 7%
Software discs 15% 0%
Tablet 15% 0%
Toys 15% 0%
TV 15% 25%
Video camera 15% 7%
Video game discs 15% 7%

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How to buy the best deals from Amazon that don’t deliver to South Africa