The Challenges of an International Giveaway

I was daring with my last giveaway, and opened it up to worldwide entries. The challenges to this not only include higher shipping, but also customs, duties, and import taxes. These must be paid on the receiving end, and there is no way to accurately calculate what they might be. Amazon offers estimates for them, but admits the estimate may or may not be accurate. (See “About Customs, Duties, and Taxes.”) That got me wondering if I couldn’t somehow order through a different branch of Amazon if need be, say in the UK or Germany. I queried the CreateSpace community, and heard from someone who had indeed done this. That was hopeful.

The non-US winner turned out to be in Australia. Australia, however, doesn’t seem to have a branch of Amazon, but the overseas shipping from the U.S. didn’t seem too outrageous. Still, I didn’t want my winner having to pay anything to receive their prize, so I looked for an online bookseller in Australia who took Paypal.

To find that I used GetTextbooks.com. It’s a great site for finding where any book is being sold online and for how much. It searches by ISBN, author, or title. The book I wanted to send was listed at TheNile.com.au, so I contacted them and they were very helpful. They accepted Paypal and had free shipping to the recipient from their US warehouse. Book price included import fees. All I needed was the recipients postal address and phone number to fill out the forms.

The total cost was a little more expensive than buying it in the US ($20 USD for a $12.95 book), but it was worth to me it because this was a giveaway prize. Plus with Paypal there are no currency conversion fees, and I’ll get a little bit of it back in royalties. So it all worked out very well in the end, and I would definitely do a worldwide giveaway again.

Update: I chatted with an Australian on the CreateSpace community forum and learned that import fees aren’t applicable for purchases under $1000. I also learned that since this was a prize, it was technically a gift, not a purchased item. Therefore it could be declared a gift on the Customs Declaration form and be exempt from import fees. I’m recalling that the same applies to gifts sent to Europe.