6 Tips for International Purchases

Have you ever wanted to buy something from another country but aren’t sure how to bring it home with you? Have you considered all the complicated factors that go into shopping internationally? Things like currency exchange, shipping and handling, or even product quality are all potential roadblocks to buying something overseas.

If you are planning on making a large investment or payment, consider doing your proper due diligence before moving any money around. These tips will ultimately help you make smarter choices when traveling with purchases internationally and will be an especially useful tool at the border.

Register Your Purchase

If you live in the United States, anything and everything that passes through international boundaries to get there must go through Customs and Border Protection. In order to avoid any confusion or delay, make sure that you get whatever you have purchased and plan on bringing back with you is on their registered list of incoming items.

By doing this, you’ll get a Certificate of Registration, and you’ll want to keep it with you at all times during travel.

Research Certain Exemptions

If you travel back to the U.S. with more than $800 worth of foreign merchandise, you might have to pay a duty fee. In order to get around this, if you are traveling with family members, you should all consider combining your personal exemptions.

Regardless, don’t forget to find out if any personal exemptions apply to you based on which country you are coming from and what things you plan on buying. If you end up having to pay your duty fees, just know that they must be paid before you can reenter the U.S.

Know Your Restrictions

A few items are fully prohibited from ever entering the U.S. via a personal shopping spree. Firearms, plants, and meat products are a few of the most common. Unless you have a special circumstance allowing these to pass through, keep in mind that you will certainly not be able to bring these home with you. Make sure to check out this list of prohibited items before you go!

Avoid Counterfeit Goods

Some international places are well-known for selling knock-off designer items that are familiar to U.S. travelers. Be wary any time you see what would usually be an expensive item back home for super cheap in a street market. Chances are, the item is a deliberate fake to trick people into spending money.

If you are deliberately trying to buy a knock-off version of something, keep in mind that you may run into trouble.

Work On Your Haggling Skills

One of the best parts about traveling and purchasing abroad is the chance to talk the seller down in price. Unlike your usual U.S. buying experience, most sellers will negotiate with you when trying to get a better deal. But again, you’ll need to determine before-hand whether the product is genuine or not, otherwise, you could end up wasting your time on a faulty product.

Mail It Back

If you have so many things that they won’t fit in your luggage back home, you might want to consider mailing your things back. Though the shipping will cost you an arm and a leg, it might end up being cheaper in the long run because you won’t have to pay the $800 duty fee mentioned earlier, since that only applies to items you have with you while you travel.

Now that you have these few tips with you when you travel, you’ll be more prepared to meet the challenges ahead that come with making international purchases. Keep in mind that you can never be too prepared, so always do more research than you think you need.