Amazon launches free shipping to Israel — with numerous caveats

Among limitations on new service: option is only available for products sold by and only available for orders over $80; import taxes may be high

Illustrative: A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from in Palo Alto, California, June 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma/File)
Illustrative: A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from in Palo Alto, California, June 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma/File)

Online retail giant Amazon has begun offering free shipping on some of its products to international destinations — including Israel.

Though the move will come as welcome news to many in the country, it arrives with quite a few caveats.

The newly added option is only available for products shipped and sold by, and does not include any third-party sellers. Among those products, many do not ship internationally and are thus of course ineligible.

The offer is only available for orders over $80 — which are subject to Israeli import taxes. The taxes are calculated using the order’s total price including shipping fees, so tariffs for items with costly shipping will be high.

Finally, the option of “FREE AmazonGlobal Shipping” is only visible at the final stage of checkout, before payment is made, and sets expected delivery times at 12-17 business days — not ideal for buyers who need their order in a hurry.

All these limitations mean an online shopping bonanza may not be in the cards just yet, but local shoppers may very well find cases where the benefit is worth their while.

Meanwhile Amazon is still said to be preparing to officially open up shop in Israel.

If Amazon sets up warehouses locally, it could lower the price of Amazon products for the Israeli consumer and cut back on delivery times.

Israelis averaged two online orders per second during 2017, according to data from the Israel Postal Company, with the nationwide total coming to 61 million packages, 15 percent more than in 2016. Clothing and shoes, housewares, accessories, gadgets, vitamins and cosmetics topped the Israeli shopping list.

Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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