Australian consumers are furious after Amazon blocked them from accessing its international websites, in order to avoid the new Goods and Services Tax regulation that came into force on the 1st of June, 2018. According to the new GST regulations, online retailers, such as Amazon, will be forced to apply the 10% GST to all goods purchased on international websites and shipped overseas to Australia.
On the same day, Amazon restricted Australian users from reaching their international websites, by blocking the content from outside their borders. They can no longer reach US Amazon, instead, they got redirected to their own version of the shopping website. However, the substitute website offers around 60 million products, which is nowhere near the real number that the US store has on offer. So is there anything that can be done?
The answer is yes, but it’s a bit complicated. And before explaining the solution, let’s first examine what’s the real problem here.
Consumers were disappointed that Amazon let them down. However, according to many, this was an understandable move from the company. It was a way to avoid the massive administrative burden of tracking Australian GST from all overseas transactions. Before the law came into force, GST was only applied to items bought overseas with a worth of over $1000. For many, the new law justifies Amazon’s decision. Unfortunately, this leaves customers with not much of a choice, but to try and use other alternatives.
While the first alternative is to turn to other online retailers, such as Alibaba or eBay, the second one is to find a way to unblock its content.
Step One: Get a VPN
As with any other Geo-restricted content, Amazon’s international websites can be unblocked by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is the No. 1 solution for reaching blocked content all over the world. Additionally, what makes a VPN the best choice is its ability to protect your privacy. It means that no matter what you do, it will keep you incognito on the Internet.
A VPN works in a way that it creates a safe and encrypted tunnel between you and the VPN server you are reaching. As an Australian user, you will need a VPN provider that will mask your real IP address, making it look as though you are accessing the content from other locations, most preferably, the US.
A good VPN provider will have a large number of servers, some even offer dedicated servers, which will mask your real IP address and encrypt all of your traffic. Even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) won’t be able to track you. When trying to reach a website, a request leaves your computer and travels to the website’s server, which immediately returns the information you’ve requested. If a website is Geo-blocked, it will prevent the server from returning the information you needed. But with a VPN, instead of contacting the website directly, you contact the VPN’s server. This connection travels through an encrypted tunnel between you and the VPN server. Then, you are assigned with a different IP address. With this IP address, when you access certain content such as Amazon, your real location and identity will be protected, making it look as if you are accessing it from the United States, not Australia. It’s a simple solution to a complicated problem.
Step Two: Forward Shipping
Although Amazon won’t ship products to their Australian customers, other US parcel shipping services will. They provide a US delivery address for retail purchases. This allows you to receive your bought goods without triggering any restrictions. It’s still unclear whether Amazon will block payments with Australian credit cards on their overseas websites. If this is the case, the only solution would be getting a U.S credit card, which only complicates your problem.
Overall, the Geo-block from Amazon is not a serious threat, so getting around it won’t be such a difficult task. However, a VPN won’t help you with the shipping cost. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable to pay much more than before. If you want to keep buying from the global Amazon websites, including the USA one, you will need to think through your options. Depending on what you’re trying to buy and the exchange rate, the cost is going to vary. It’s up to you to make the final decision and whether the end result is really worth it.