So what is Parcel Forwarding?
Basically, Parcel Forwarding companies will give you an address; say in America. When shopping online, you then use this address as your shipping address. Once your goods are received at the Parcel Forwarding Company, they’ll give you a quote on shipping and then ship them directly to you in Australia.
There are many benefits to Parcel Forwarding:
- You can shop at stores that only ship within the US/UK
- You’re not at the mercy of insane international shipping costs (many stores charge a premium for shipping internationally)
- Nearly all Parcel Forwarders offer consolidation, which means if you have multiple packages they will pack them together into one package and remove excess packaging to keep the cost down
- Many mail forwarders offer concierge services; this means they will buy the items on your behalf. This service is fantastic as there are certain online stores that won’t accept internationally issued credit cards or request ridiculous amounts of documentation to confirm your order.
What should you look for in a mail forwarding company?
- A Street Address is a must, not a PO Box. Many online retailers will not ship to PO Boxes
- Check that courier and registered items (i.e. Any item that needs to be signed for) are accepted
- Ensure all costs are made clear – will you be charged for each parcel received? Will you be charged for consolidation or invoice creation?
- How heavy are the items being sent? It sounds good getting a PS3 sent over; but if the shipping eats up all the savings, you might as well have bought it at home. When in doubt, email the store and ask what the shipping weight of the item is.
- Be aware that PayPal will not let you add your US address to your Australian PayPal account.
- Remember that the current customs import limit in Australia is $1000 – parcels with a higher declared value will attract customs charges.
Things to consider when selecting a Parcel Forwarding Company…
At the end of the day, this is like buying shoes. Don’t rush, take your time and do some research. You need to weigh up your Parcel Forwarding needs:
- How often do you shop at online stores that don’t ship internationally? If it’s regularly, a subscription service will probably be better value for you.
- Of the stores you frequent, how many of them really charge a lot more to ship to Australia? There is no point balking at a $30 international charge when most mail forwarders start at around the same price.
- How many parcels would you be receiving on a monthly basis? This is important to work out how much consolidation you would need – if it’s a lot, make sure your service includes free consolidation.
- How long can your parcels be stored for free? (For example, I want to ship item A & B together but item B won’t arrive for another week).
So which Parcel Forwarding Company should you choose?
Basically what I did was I looked back over the last three months, worked out how much postage I had paid getting stuff sent internationally (a special Hi to the eBay seller who charged me $15US to send an item which cost her $2.40US to send); I then calculated how much that would have cost to get sent to the US address and then used a weight calculator to figure out how much roughly it would have cost from US – Australia. Unsurprisingly, Parcel Forwarding was still a very attractive option.
During my research of Parcel Forwarding, I honestly started to believe I must be really dumb since every website confused me. Each one operates a different way and has different inclusions/exclusions. I also found that googling the name of each company did bring up some…shall we say, interesting…comments. I originally was going to put together a nifty little table comparing the different companies, however the number of factors needing to be accounted for made that impossible – make sure you put together a checklist of what is most important to you, read through the info each site provides and ask any questions before signing up.
Parcel Forwarding Companies
Bongo offers both a subscription service ($15 per month) and a pay-per-use with no monthly fees. All parcels are forward via DHL, and can be tracked online. I was a Bongo customer for over a year and was very happy with their service.
Read our interview with Bongo US
Carrie My Shopping
A shopping and Forwarding Service from the USA to Australia.
Accepts US Parcels and forwards them on to any country in the world. Offers a range of shipping options from UPS to DHL
Does the purchasing on your behalf and then send the parcels onwards
My US/Access USA
A well established mail forwarder, but on the pricey side for sign up fees. I used them several years ago and had no issues with the service.
Parcel it On
Offering you parcel forwarding and mail forwarding services, assisted online purchasing and personal shopping services.
Offers online management of parcels.
No monthly fees and offers a fee-free concierge service.
Owned by PayPal, VPost have no sign up fees, however my experience of their customer service was this it was very poor.
Parcel Forwarding from other countries…
My UK Mail will give you a UK address and then forward on your parcels.
UK Brands Worldwide will purchase and ship your favourite British brands direct to you, worldwide, from British retailers who do not provide overseas delivery.
Skypax offer both parcel forwarding and shopping concierge services from the UK to other parts of the world