In most cases, when people ask if we ship to XYZ country, we enthusiastically say, “yes”. A few countries give us pause though. For this list, we’re going to exclude the places we’re not allowed to ship to by the US Government like Iran and North Korea.

Here’s our least favorite shipping list:

1. Brazil

There’s a reason that everyone on flights to Brazil are carrying suitcases full of electronics back to family and friends. Although it is not consistent, Brazil will often charge 100% duties on both the price of the item and shipping. This means that a $200 purchase with $100 shipping becomes a $600 purchase. If a customer revolts and declines to pay that $300 duty, we can’t even bring it back to the US without paying $300. Somewhere in Brazil, there is are customs officers sporting some nice solar gear. Update: one of our favorite customers in Brazil says that the abandoned items are auctioned off. Brazil, we love you but your duties policies are really rough.

Photo by Rodrigo_Soldon via Flickr


2. Greece

We removed Greece from our “Ship To” from our US store after several customers were charged 20% VAT (standard) plus a 95EUR customs fee. Ouch! Shipping from our Rotterdam warehouse within the EU is pretty smooth with no exceptional customs fees.

3. Russia

Russia has made it very hard to send shipments to individuals in most parts of the country, although some seem to make it through. UPS has basically given up and “temporarily suspended the acceptance of dutiable shipments sent to private individuals in Russia until further notice.” In our experience, the exceptions seem to be shipments to the far-flung provinces like Yakutia, which are allowed through. We’re happy to now have a good partner in Russia so that we don’t need to worry about direct shipments here.

4. Italy

Using UPS is fine, but shipping by US Post to Italy can be dice-y. A package to Germany will often get delivered in 5 days, about the same time to get to California from here in New York. With Italy, we often see delivery times around three weeks and losses are not uncommon. We’re always prepared to “re-ship” packages to Italy.

5. Canada

You would think shipping to Canada would be pretty easy, right? Well, if you ship by UPS Standard (the cheapest way) and the value of the goods are over $200 CAD, be prepared to be hit with a big customs brokerage charge. It was never clear to us (or our customers) what that charge would be on UPS Ground, so we stick with UPS International for all high value shipments. It is more expensive on the shipping side, but the brokerage fee is included so all in it is often cheaper and more consistent.

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One Response

  1. Chad

    Not so surprising about Brazil. The import costs make a number of items very expensive in that country. From what I’ve read, Apple is trying to circumvent some of these problems by having their manufacturers built plants in Brazil, which will provide for much cheaper products due to being locally made.

    Sending to and from Canada has been a little odd at times. I once sent a letter to an adjoining province and it took somewhere around 10 days to reach its destination. I could have walked faster and delivered it by hand. Another case which was interesting was trying to ship some large LaCie CRT monitors from Canada to the US via UPS, which ended up requiring a specialized form to be filled out, due to certain components contained within the monitors.


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