I am the first person to want to spend my hard earned money in Israel, to support the country and its economy. However, everyday consumer goods and services in Israel often come with large price-tags.

How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Come with a large one.”

A large number of consumer goods and services are overpriced and spending money on them often just fills the coffers of the über-wealthy Israeli elite.

How do you therefore purchase products and services in Israel without spending a fortune and compromising on quality? The answer, the Internet.

There are more and more online retailers offering free shipping worldwide, but even this can become a game, especially when you consider customs charges and import taxes. Does it pay to shop and ship to Israel?

Products

Clothes

ASOS is a UK-based website, it describes itself as “a global online fashion and beauty retailer and offers … over 50,000 branded and own label product lines across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery and beauty.”

This is high end fashion at affordable prices. I recently purchased a pair of jeans for NIS 100, I was able not only to specify my waist but also my inside leg (saving on additional tailoring charges). I waited a week for the jeans to arrive, I found them wedged tightly into my mailbox and thankfully no need to visit the post office. They were perfect fit. After a few days I noticed a fault. I emailed the customer service team and received a response within a few hours. They had arranged for a new pair to be shipped, they just needed me to return the original pair. With a proof of postage and a receipt and they would refund the cost of the return postage to my credit card.

There is no minimum order quantity.

www.asos.com

Books

Books in Israel are expensive, especially English language books. My local second-hand bookstore sells many used books at the same price as new books on Amazon. “But Amazon charges you for shipping”, I hear you say.

Have you tried The Book Depository? It’s also a UK-based company and it has free shipping worldwide. The prices of the books are cheaper than a high-street store and somewhat comparable with Amazon. If the books get lost en route, they’ll send replacements.

There is no minimum order quantity.

www.bookdepository.com

Electronics / Gadgets

Deal Extreme is based in China and offers free shipping to Israel. A great site with a huge range, just be careful with quality as most of the products are Chinese-made. Be aware of cheap replacement batteries and other such products as they have been known to cause fires. This is a very popular site with native-Israelis.

www.dx.com

Services

TV services are expensive in Israel. I have never signed up for the services of Hot or Yes! I had a plan from the outset.

Television

A VPN (virtual private network) connects you to a server in the country of your choosing (UK, US, Canada etc) and gives your computer the identity of that country (a local IP address). Once connected, any website you visit will assume you are in the country of the server you have connected to. Voila! Now you can access on demand TV or radio, including ABC, BBC, Fox, Hulu and Pandora Radio, over the internet.

I have used several services and the one I currently use, StrongVPN, works very well and costs me only $55 a year. A mere fraction of paying for cable TV in Israel. The online technical support is available 24 hours a day and is very efficient considering the price.

www.strongvpn.com

Customs and Purchase Taxes

As of January 2012 personal imports are free of import taxes up to $75 and customs charges have been eliminated on packages up to $325 (NIS 1,200).

It is important to note that the cost of shipping is included within these limits and purchases must be for personal use.

The advantage of free shipping and no minimum purchase requirement is that you can split your purchases and avoid charges.

There are a few products which are not exempted from purchase taxes and include: -

  • CD’s
  • DVD’s
  • Car Parts
  • Answering Machines
  • Cell Phones

It is advisable to check with the Israel Tax Authority for a full list.