Importing products

What are your options, and what should you look out for?

What's involved when you want to buy a product from abroad? This article covers the pros and cons of importing smartphones or other products from abroad.

You've finally found your ideal smartphone, turns out it's not for sale here. But fortunately, there is a foreign webshop that does offer it. So what are your options, and what should you look out for?

Why import?

Even though we have listed many suppliers, it can happen that a specific model is not available. The first Apple iPhone, the Palm Pre, and more recently, the Google Pixel phones come to mind. However, that didn't stop people from importing one. Just because they necessarily had to have it. We completely understand that!

There are some things to consider before buying a product from another country. The main ones are:

  • Compatibility
    Every country works with different network frequencies. Check that the imported device can handle the frequencies your network provider uses.

  • Language
    Check if the device supports your language. English is often present. If you do not speak that language, importing a product is not recommended.

  • Sim lock
    It is not that common anymore, but some products have a sim lock. That means they can only handle SIM cards from a specific provider. Unlocking can be very cumbersome. Better make sure your product is sim lock free.

  • Different power plug
    Every region uses its own power plugs. For example, US, UK, and Italy products use different plugs. Consider a plug adapter to plug them into your wall socket. But since most products nowadays are charged via USB, buying a new charger or using an existing one is best.

  • Warranty
    When buying products abroad, rules and warranties apply to that country. In case of defects or disputes, it is less easy to get a replacement product or your money back.

Costs of importing

Congratulations! You've decided to get your product from abroad. Sometimes additional costs apply. Often these are VAT, import duties, and possibly administration costs.

Make sure you map out the total costs and then ask yourself if you think it's worth it.


Besides ordering and having products shipped from abroad, there are some alternatives. Some sound like an open door, but we'll mention them anyway.

  • Package forward services
    There are services where you can rent a postal address to send packages to. They will then forward them to you for a fee. The disadvantage is that these are often expensive.

  • Pick up yourself
    People who live near the border can make a trip to the local phone store of the country where that product is for sale. Or combine your vacation with a trip to the local phone store and take it back home. Plan on travel by plane? Then check the customs website to avoid any surprises.

  • Via friend/acquaintance/family
    Do you know someone in the country where a product is for sale? Then consider sending the product to them and letting them forward it.