One of the joys of the internet is that we can source unique products from wherever we want in the world. Where we used to rely on local high street stores for our fashion, now we can mix it up with fresh new styles from overseas. And this is especially true when it comes to footwear.

Although the US and Canada are home to some of the most popular global shoe brands, Europe is increasingly the place to find new styles, cutting-edge designs and awesome limited edition sneakers. So if you’ve found some cool sneaks that are shipping over from Europe, you’ll likely be able to rock these styles no matter where you live.

However, in the world of import/export and cross-border purchases, there are some important things to consider. Here we list the 5 most important things to consider when you order a pair of shoes from Europe (or from anywhere in the world for that matter).

1. Sizing Differences

What’s your shoe size? And what’s that shoe size converted in Europe or the UK? Like power outlets, there is no global standard for shoe sizing. While some countries share the same measurements, there is no hard and fast rule for this.

You’ll find plenty of charts online which can tell you how to convert your shoe size between European, UK or Japanese sizing, or you can just look inside the tongue of your sneakers. Bear in mind that even though it might say your size, there can be very slight differences between sizes with different brands. It can be worth reading forums about certain shoes or even asking the customer services of the brand in question whether your size runs large in their product line.

2. Local Tax Discounts & Shipping

When you buy shoes from overseas, of course, you’re going to have to pay slightly extra for shipping. Free Shipping has become a common trend among eCommerce stores, but international free shipping is still a rarity.

However, this increased shipping fee might be slightly offset by not having to pay local taxes. VAT in Europe, state-based sales tax in the US, and other locally imposed taxes may not be applicable for certain purchases, saving you a percentage of the purchase.

3. Import Charges

Import taxes can greatly vary, but for small purchases, they often aren’t disruptive. Each country has import policies, which you should review prior to purchasing internationally. As the buyer, these import taxes will be your responsibility and will usually not be charged when ordering your product, so consider them as a potential add-on to the final invoice price.

4. Returns

Got your new shoes from Europe but not so sure about them now? Some big brands such as German behemoths Puma and Adidas have such a huge presence globally that you may be able to return them to a local store for exchange or credit. If you found a pair of shoes from a new designer or a boutique company and they’re not quite what you expected, then they will, of course, have a return policy, but you should check individually before you purchase.

Standard return policies will say that the customer will need to pay the return shipping cost and they will refund the original purchase in full, but policies may vary.

5. Local Suppliers

If you’re not sure about importing one pair of shoes from overseas, you can always check with the brand if they have a supplier in your area. Even if they’re a small company they may have a contract with a store in your state, or at least in the same country. This will mean that issues such as sizing and returns aren’t such a barrier to you getting those super cool limited edition trainers.

Of course, if you spot a pair of shoes that are so epic that you’ve just gotta have ‘em then you won’t mind the challenges! After all, being a trendsetter does mean taking a chance from time to time.

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