Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 08, 2020
An experiment in international shipping

The internet, as the name suggests, is international. Except for some authoritarian governments blocking access, you are mostly free to visit websites all over the world. Although I live in Belgium, I can go to the website of a US company. However, once we make the transition from the virtual space to the real world, things become a bit more complicated. If I want to order something from that US company, I might find that they aren't shipping internationally.

Today I started an experiment to overcome this problem. I opened an account at ColisExpat. They provided me with a US shipping address, which is basically a PO box at one of their warehouses. So now I can order a parcel from a US company shipped to that US PO box. When it arrives, I'll get an e-mail, and can then pay them for the international shipping of that parcel to Belgium. If I have several parcels, I can get them repacked into a single one to reduce shipping cost.

I assume there are other companies that do the same thing, but ColisExpat was the one I found when I was searching for shipping options for a particular US company. Of course international shipping is expensive and slow (or extremely expensive and not quite as slow), and adding the fees for one more company isn't helping. I used to fly to the USA for professional reasons or the occasional holiday at least once a year, and do some shopping there, but that isn't an option anymore. Let's see whether this service gets me the things I want to buy from the USA to Belgium.

Not to mention custom duties, tax and all the stuff that comes on top when importing - that is when you are allowed to export/ import.
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