How to shop internationally online

Have you ever wanted to buy a product, but couldn’t buy it in Brazil? Or did you find the same product at much lower prices in another country? If you are part of one of these groups and want to learn the safest ways to do it international purchases with as few risks as possible, follow this article.

TecMundo has prepared an overview of the most frequent questions and answers when it comes to shopping in stores in other countries. When you finish reading the text, we hope that you have resolved all your doubts regarding the amounts that may be charged and the risks assumed in purchases of this type.

What do you need to have to make an international purchase?

To make a purchase on foreign sites it is no longer necessary to have an international credit card. Credit cards need to be enabled by banks, but they still have high fees that not all international stores accept.

Fonte: Shutterstock

The vast majority of banks that offer university accounts already make international cards available when activating contracts. In some cases, the customer needs to go to the branch to enable purchase options abroad.

The problem with international cards is the cost. Apart from the 6.38% Tax on Financial Transactions (IOF), this modality generally uses the “tourism” exchange rate, with a price much higher than the commercial value of the currency. Currently, there are cheaper alternatives, which we will show below.

How to save on international purchases

One way to avoid paying so much when buying is to use a virtual wallet service, which works like a foreign card account. You carry the wallet (by boleto, TED or Pix) with a balance in reais and this amount is sent to the wallet in the country where you intend to buy. In this way, you pay only 1.1% of IOF and use a more affordable monetary quote.

Facilitating Services

  • CambioWallet: For purchases in the US, we recommend the CambioReal virtual wallet, which gives access to a virtual Visa or Mastercard debit card that can be used at any US store. It is a company with over 17 years in the market that offers one of the best quotes to save on purchases in North American online stores.
  • Importa Fácil: the Brazilian Post has a very interesting system for those who want to import individual products. Check the service’s official website for how orders can be placed to ensure that products are shipped and received without a hitch.
  • If you want to buy products from the United States, but you can’t because sellers only deliver to US addresses, a great option is to use SkyBox. The service is paid and intermediates between stores and consumers, creating a physical mailbox in the US for foreigners.
  • PayPal: Using accounts on this service, users do not need to expose their credit cards to unknown sellers. By purchasing PayPal credits, it is possible to buy products in foreign stores without carrying out the transaction directly, as the service works as an intermediary, however it has a more expensive quotation than virtual wallets.

How to choose the seller?

This part is one of the most important of the entire process, after all, if you choose a seller without analyzing all the necessary items, it is possible that the ordered product will never arrive at your house. The first step is to assess whether the seller (or the online store) delivers the products in Brazil. If not, you can use a redirector service. These companies receive the package — in the foreign country — and send it to the address in Brazil.

Today, this service is common and many people already use it. Just be aware of the redirector’s reputation and the guarantees it gives so that the package arrives safely in Brazil. To use the redirection service, you need to put the address of the redirector as the recipient of the order in the foreign country. The cost of this service varies depending on the size and weight of the package, typically between $50 and $150.

If the seller delivers on Brazilian land, it is very important to check his reputation with other buyers who have negotiated (something very similar to what happens in the Free Market). You should check whether buyers have rated the deals positively.

international purchases

Another point that deserves analysis is the type of delivery offered by the seller. First Class International is usually the cheapest type of freight, but delivery times vary widely (this can take weeks or months). Priority Mail is tracked and if it goes over $50, it charges the added 60% of import. Express Mail is the fastest and most expensive of all.

What are all the fees involved?

As is well known, there is a range of fees that are charged for products that are brought in from outside the country. The problem is that few people know what they are and what they represent. Check out:

  • Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS) — Charged for any and all goods that exceed state and municipal limits or national borders. In other words, it is the value added to all products, as any “change of hands” is considered circulation.
  • Tax on Industrialized Products (IPI) — Charged on all products that are not handcrafted or manufactured. For imported products, the fee is charged on the value of the product with the import fees already added.
  • Tax on Import of Foreign Products (II) — All products arriving from outside the country are taxed with this tax. It is important to emphasize that no taxes are charged for the output of products.

What happens at customs?

For most importers, customs is a real villain, as it is in it, or in customs, that the departments responsible for supervising imports and exports act. In these sectors, comparisons are made between what was declared by the person entering the country and what actually exists in the packages.

There are a number of “buts” in customs. Many products that are considered “for personal use” (click here to read the IRS baggage concept) are not tariffed, so they do not have additional fees. However, this only applies to those who travel to buy the products, and as we are talking about international stores, the conversation is a little different.

According to Agência Brasil, for individuals, imports cannot exceed US$ 3,000. Currently, up to US$500 the simplified tax corresponds to 60% of the purchase and includes the product values ​​and eventual fees (front and insurance). In the case of purchases from US$ 500 to US$ 3 thousand, ICMS also falls, together with the R$ 150 referring to customs clearance.

international purchasesFonte: Shutterstock

debunking myths

Generally, purchases that together do not exceed US$ 50 dollars are not taxed as imported products. But it is important to note that this is not a rule, as it all depends on the buyer’s luck; in other words, if customs suspects that there is contraband in a batch of imports, it is possible that all products there will be taxed.

Another important fact is that many believe that if the products are sent as a gift, there is no import tax. The truth is that this myth works the same way as the previous item: it all depends on whether customs inspect the product or not.


There are a number of products that are not taxed, regardless of the amounts charged for the materials. Books, magazines and periodicals are considered cultural goods, so they are not taxed. Medicines with prescription for a specific individual cannot be taxed either, as well as goods purchased in international free shops.

international purchasesFonte: Shutterstock

Main stores

The main stores that offer secure shopping are Amazon, AliExpress, Gearbest, Shopee, Wish and BestBuy for Apple products. Sites that bring together sellers, such as eBay, are also widely used, but in this case it is necessary to evaluate the seller’s reputation a lot to avoid “headaches”. You must always remember to analyze if the products can be shipped to Brazil; otherwise, it is necessary to use services such as SkyBox.

TecMundo hopes that the main doubts of most users have been resolved with this article. It is important to emphasize that there are risks in purchases of this type, so it is recommended that all legality is followed during purchases – so you can claim your rights if something goes wrong.

If you know of other ways to buy at international stores, let us know. Take advantage of the comments space to also say what you think about the tips in this article.

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