Overseas postage costs

We have a few friends and relatives that live outside Australia and occasionally we send them gift hampers and such. The prices to get things shipped overseas can be horrific. We once purchased about $15 worth of Tim Tam varieties to send to a friend in the USA and after factoring in the postage costs the grand total came to just under $50 AUD.

Tonight, I was going to purchase a signed limited edition copy of a book from the USA for one of our sons, but the postage price alone was $33 AUD which would have made the price of the book plus postage a grand total of $80 AUD.

I know it’s going to cost more to send things overseas due to the distances and logistics involved, but it’s just a shock to the system to actually see the damage done to the wallet sometimes, especially for the times where the postage costs more than the item we’re sending.


I can only speak of shopping in the USA and shipping home. Some companies use the US postal service and have high shipping costs. Others use a specialist company such as UPS or DHL mail services. A recent purchase of a small light weight product had postage charges ranging from $USD6.85 to $USD44.50 from various vendors ! Shop around for shipping as much as for product.

Another option is to check companies such as borderlinx.com.au. I occasionally use them. They are not always as cheap as those companies using UPS or DHL mail, but are a good service and much cheaper than the typical international charges to Australia. Borderlinx (etc) provide personalised US/UK/HK etc addresses for your purchase and then consolidate/trans-ship to Australia.

Edit: Borderlinx is now closed.


Yes, I do agree. I had packed a small box to send to England. The box was purchased from Australia Post. I wished to send it via surface mail, but was told that because it weighed less than 2 kilograms it could only be sent by air. The cost was $65.00, one would have to wonder why this ‘weight’ rule applies; just a means of extortion really.


I send a Christmas parcel too my sister who lives in the USA every year and mail it Surface Mail, it will go by ship, around September and this year a small box off goodies including Tim Tams, Cadbury chocolate, licorice allsorts as well as a few healthy alternatives cost me $65. Was pleased with that because last year it cost $70. This years parcel weighed less and was smaller but every year I send less and still end up paying nearly as much dread what next years will bring as Australia Post put the price up on 1 November.

I was advised by a former Aussie post worker a few years back that the postage cost sharing deals with foreign countries are so onerous that most inbound items from overseas are handled and delivered by aussie post at a cost greater than the postage share they receive.
Therefore postage from Australia to other places has to necessarily be more expensive to make the international parcel business worthwhile.
This discrepancy is obvious when you see that you can buy items from china and the postage cost is usually less than a similar size item from Melb to Syd

I used to send clothing to friends in Ethiopia. It would now be almost cheaper for me to buy an air ticket and take the clothing. The last parcel cost me over $90, and there wasn’t too much in the parcel;.

I agree, too. I have grandchildren in Montreal, and they love to get parcels. I, too, was told, for the last one, that it had to go by air as it was under 2kg - the cost almost AU$58!!! Made the gifts very expensive. I’ve had a similar situation in reverse, where a book under US $20 ends up costing AU$80 or more. I’ve cancelled many an order when I discovered how expensive the postage made the item!!!

I post parcels to Russia on a regular basis and it costs us an absolute fortune! The options we have are if the parcel is under 2kg it can go by sea mail but it’s not traceable and no signature on arrival or if it’s over 2kg it has to be send via airmail which is at least double the price of the sea mail. There is an express option but it ends up taking the same length of time…we learnt the hard way.
I do understand that there are always challenges with advising customers of the time frame of when it will arrive but these are grossly under estimated for things I send to Russia as ‘something’ happens in Moscow :frowning2:
I only wish that the cost was less and that I had the option of sea mail if my parcel was under 10kg and could have it traced.

I posted a parcel to Kenya - tim tam x 1, small milo, Vegemite tube, Cadbury block chocolate, 3 baby onsies and a sticker book and it cost me $110 :sob:

One solution to high Auspost international charges, not for everyone, is to buy products from the US, UK, EU, Japan, Singapore, HK, China, or wherever the product+delivery charges are cheapest. You lose the personal touch but can save $$$$. Of course some of that $$$$ is gouged by our banks in those 3% offshore fees :expressionless:

This does affect our businesses, but as they bleat time and time again it must be the GST not the myriad other disadvantages government has foisted on them, or their inherently uncompetitive prices regardless of GST.

Auspost acting for government supporting Australian business? I think not. Under the guidance of a misguided user-pays mentality Australia seems to have a unique detachment from supporting businesses excepting banks and property developers. While most countries provide subsidies in various forms (from outright money to tax advantages) Australia essentially kicks them by making every government agency have to show a profit on every service they provide, adding to everyone’s costs but their own.

1 Like

unbelievable, that is outrageous…

I purchased a kitchen utensil from Thailand (for coconuts) and it was $6 including shipping. The prices don’t seem consistent. I’d love to know how postage is calculated and how the relationship between the international services works.

Totally agree , they have also done away with the 50g and 250g price points which means that they charge for 500g even if it only weighs 100.
A cynical response might be… As they pay their MD $4million a year they have to find the money where ever they can …

1 Like

From the USA to Australia some businesses use the US Postal Service (generally about as expensive as Auspost for international parcels) and others use UPS or DHL Mail Services. To put the latter services in context, a small parcel (3 jar spoons not available in Australia) by USPS airmail would have been about $USD33, so I kept shopping for price + delivery, and an Amazon merchant using DHL Mail Services sent it for under $USD7, 3 weeks transit time.

I would be surprised if most countries did not have similar choices of services for merchants, even Australia, although I have not heard of any serving Australia with similarly low international shipping prices excepting to China.

I used to send parcels to my relatives in Europe and the postage was always very expensive and then some of our parcels also never arrived so we stopped sending the parcels. I do order stuff on-line from various countries across the world and the shipping on those can range from cheap to horrendously expensive. Weight does not seem to be the main issue, it just appears to be whom that organisation uses for their shipping. When I have a choice of companies for the one product I will go through them until I find one with a reasonable shipping cost.
I guess as has already been said that other countries may have a choice of postal services whilst we don’t.

I think you have hit the nail on the head! When you consider, that we import many times more than we export in terms of parcels, and the Asian countries obviously have ridiculously low postage rates it is easy to see that Australia Post has to make money somewhere. They cannot possibly make money on the millions of Ebay and Amazon parcels which have been send at rates, which would never cover Australian processing expenses. So they make it on the customers, who have no choice but to use their service, those who send parcels overseas.
I can buy items from China which cost less than a dollar inclusive delivery, but I have to pay one dollar to send a letter in Australia.
When I migrated here over 40 years ago, Australia Post parcel service was one of the cheapest in the world; sadly it has become one of the most expensive ones since.

The international postage compensation system was and remains based on the premise that inbound and outbound will approximately cancel each other out so the revenue streams work.

In our case it has become exceptionally lop sided because our businesses have become insular and largely non-competitive (in multiple ways) against those off-shore. It is not the GST, it is price, range, in rare cases even service, and maybe some currency manipulation.

I recently purchased a product from the UK for about what a domestic source wanted just for postage/shipping (SYD-MEL). There would have been some profit for the manufacturer, shipping to the UK with perhaps a middleman or two, profit for the retailer, and then shipping to Australia all in that amount.

Looking at Auspost (this government and probably the alternative look at everything as profit centres not services) and jacking up prices to get P and no L could be seen as counter-productive to the wider issue of competitiveness. Sidestep the question of what our taxes are supposed to be used for beside paying and keeping our extraordinarily large number of illustrious pollies who always vote with the identical outcome as if there were only 5 of them.

Every time Auspost raises its prices it is another kick to local businesses. There needs to be a serious study of how Auspost affects the competitiveness of on-shore shopping as well as Aussie competitiveness for exports with an national win-win outcome rather than looking at each component (prices and shipping) in isolation as has always been done.

I couldn’t agree more. Since my husband retired we have stopped using Australia Post to send gifts to family and friends in Ireland and the U.K. We buy direct from E-bay or through other stores. No items have ever been lost in the post and can easily be returned if there are any problems. We also buy books from The Book Depository with free postage to Australia. We also send our Christmas & Birthday Cards online and have saved hundreds. Goods arrive on time and I have even bought good quality items in the U.K. from the House of Fraser where clothing is delivered by courier, directly to my door in country Queensland, within 6 business days, whereas we get no mail delivered to our home in Goombungee, Queensland. I am disabled and my husband has to visit the Post Office to pick up any mail. It is the worst service considering the amount of money being earned by their CEO.

1 Like

Having never exported I am unaware of costs but it’s a long way to UK/US/Europe. Besides distance, we have to contend with the Australia tax and (I believe, cronic) lack of economies of scale eg population:arable land, AU dwarfs all OECD (inc CAN).

I have found Amazon’s shipping prices are not prohibitive and they allow you to tack on small items that on their own would be prohibitive (although the search for international items is unreliable) and many items are still not available.

Carparts can be bought much cheaper from many Nth Hemisphere stores. BandH (NewYork) charge US$12 for most items (sent via DHL). Altho some multinationals still attempt to force Australians to purchase locally (esp technology behemoths), there are stacks of workarounds, (if you can bother), and of course plenty of risks. As the Apple executive essentially told Ed Husic’s inquiry - we charge what they’ll pay. Ebay does a fair job to minimise ‘rip offs’, and there are a number of US based ebay stores that offer good value freight on smaller items (eg BIC warehouse). I think this - US sales/purchases - continues to improve for Australians. Of course then there are some ridiculous exchange rate ripoffs. A couple of CC’s help minimise these, checkout ozbargain forum. The exchange rate tho is what it is.

I guess where I am going is that, and yes it benefits me no end, there appears to me to be a massive discrepancy with postage costs for smaller-medium purchases originating from China. Afaik these sellers have their mail costs subsidised by the State, how else is it possible?

And if so, that is extremely unfair. Furthermore it is this perceived unfairness (inc. IP theft on a grand scale) that contributes to ‘insular’ voting. I believe these issues are integral reasons why people voted for Trump. ‘Free’ Trade, a misnomer to the swathes of semi skilled, under-employed and low paid across the western world.

Are the soapboxes still happening at the domain?


1 Like

I purchase many items from overseas as I cannot find them here in Australia, and the way AP is performing, its no slower than buying goods here in Australia, but its a lot cheaper. For gifts to the US and/or the UK, its worth adding an in-country address to your Paypal, Ebay and/or Amazon account and getting the goods sent direct so you avoid the goods ever arriving in Australia simply to get exported again. There are a lot of businesses online who will send to the UK or the US or most other countries, but refuse to send to Australia, so this gives you a much wider choice of items and even if the website picks up that you are not in the country they post too, they will remove taxes and VAT. Amazon, like Ebay, have deals with Fedex and AP so that large sellers can mail their goods at a much cheaper rate, cutting postage costs. Those that quote rates of over $60 for a small item are simply not wanting to post to Australia because going down to a post office and queuing is anathema, when you can do it online. The average US seller has absolutely no idea what postal services are offered in the US and the massive cost differences, and they don’t care. Its all done online; they print out the stamps and the courier picks up the parcel and gets it on its way.