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I'm going to Germany for 3 weeks in December. While I'm there I'd like to order a few things off Amazon.de and have them delivered at the place I'm staying in (it's a paid apartment and the owners are not around). Can I sign up in Amazon.de and set the shipping address to the place I'm living in? Will I be able to receive packages etc.?

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    Why not? Just add your name, c/o the family name of the owners, and the complete address. – JoErNanO Oct 3 '15 at 10:10
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about mail order services which are not particular to traveling/travelers. – Flimzy Oct 3 '15 at 10:47
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    In my opinion it deserves to stay open, at least till it has got a good answer. Being abroad as a tourist, in the house of other people, makes for a different situation than using mail shopping at home. – Willeke Oct 3 '15 at 11:25
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    @Flimzy This is specific to travelling people. If you don't travel, you don't need to ask this question. – yo' Oct 3 '15 at 16:22
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    @Flimzy Asking if Amazon can ship to an address where I don't live, my name is not on the mailbox and I may be a foreigner there -- yes, that's something one doesn't encounter unless he moves is ass out of his warm chair at home. – yo' Oct 3 '15 at 19:51
26

Last time I was in this situation I was careful enough to include the name of the house owner to the destination address (that's what c/o is for), so that the postman knows where to ring/in whose post box to place the package. Something like this will work:

John Doe
c/o Addams Family
0001 Cemetery Lane
Chicago, US

For completeness sake, the equivalent of c/o in German is p.Adr. which would result in:

John Doe
p.Adr. Addams Family
0001 Cemetery Lane
Berlin, Germany
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    While it will work, there is no reason to use English abbreviations in German postal addresses. – Carsten S Dec 18 '15 at 0:11
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    @CarstenS So what would be the German equivalent? – JoErNanO Dec 18 '15 at 8:40
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    c/o will be understood, if German is preferred, the equivalent is p.Adr. ("per Adresse"). – Thorsten S. Dec 24 '15 at 0:45
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    FWIW, I've never even once seen "p.Adr." in Germany, and I personally wouldn't have understood it w/o this answer, but c/o is used frequently. – hiergiltdiestfu Jul 6 '17 at 13:36
9

It is not exactly clear why it's on travel but just write your name and the address on it, it's not like the postman is going to run a check against the land registry to see whether the package is addressed to the owners and refuse to deliver if not. When I was in Germany in a similar situation in 2007 I had zero problems receiving packages, including a laptop mailed from Japan. Can't imagine the situation changing materially since.

However, if you are worried then Germany has a ton of pickup locations, check About Pickup Locations for Amazon Deliveries for more.

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    "ton of pickup locations" - maybe, but some of them (at least those closely working with or run by DHL) require a DHL customer account (Postnummer), which again might be difficult to obtain from abroad. – O. R. Mapper Oct 3 '15 at 18:10
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    If you enter your address, we're back at the problem of how to receive something while not at home, right? I'm not sure whether the post company will send the chipcard to addresses abroad, and when I signed up, if I remember correctly, the letter with the chipcard arrived some time in the course of a month. That is, the OP might not be able to time the receipt of that letter to be exactly during the 3 weeks of their stay in Germany. – O. R. Mapper Oct 3 '15 at 18:42
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    I recently had to replace my DHL chip card. They promised 14 days, but it took them at least three weeks. Hermes Paketshop is an option, but you will have to show some ID to retrieve your package. – user19361 Oct 4 '15 at 9:06
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    Reference for my above remarks: DHL's FAQ says for getting a free chipcard, you must "be resident in Germany". While they might or might not check actual residency (by requesting a copy of the residence registration), it is unlikely they will send the chipcard to a foreign address when it's only available to people with a German address, anyway. – O. R. Mapper Oct 4 '15 at 21:20
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    Last time I did the Packstation card with someone, it required printing a PostIdent form and going to a post office to show ID before they started producing the card (which is a magnet stripe card, there is no chip on it). Packstation is not a viable solution for a short stay. Regular mail is. Amazon sends DHL or Hermes. Hermes might end up a Paketshop (Kiosk, local store, whatever) near your address or a neighbour. DHL will end up either with a neighbour or in the post office where you need to show ID to pick it up next day. Always put your real name. – simbabque Oct 5 '15 at 9:40
5

As Aleksandr mentioned, the first step is to convince Amazon to try and ship to a new address. When I tried things like that, the Amazon site asked additional verification questions before they shipped it.

Amazon will then give the parcel to DHL. There are some reports how DHL subcontractors are under extreme time pressure and will not spend much time to resolve problems if nobody answers the bell or if they can't find your name on the door. If they can't deliver the parcel, it goes to a Deutsche Post office and the recipient gets notified. (If they find the address but nobody answers the bell, they might give the parcel to a neighbour and put a note into the mailbox.)

In the post office, you will have to identify yourself before they hand the parcel over. There could be a hitch if you can't show that you're living at the address, or if they haven't seen that kind of ID before.

The suggestion of a c/o address sounds sensible, but I haven't tried it.

  • Don't forget to mention that if no-one picks up the parcel from the post office (and no-one has asked them beforehand to store persons for a particular recipient), it will automatically be returned to the sender after a week or so. – O. R. Mapper Oct 3 '15 at 21:42
  • I'm doing c/o all the time for sending stuff to work and for putting nicknames on post cards as well as parcels. German postal services like DHL, Hermes, Deutsche Post, GLS and DPD all know how to deal with that. Also see de.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – simbabque Oct 5 '15 at 9:43
  • @simbabque, there is a difference between a parcel where someone has to sign and a plain postcard. – o.m. Oct 5 '15 at 15:32
  • @o.m. I know. That's why I mentioned both. Ordering stuff from Amazon to your workplace using Max Mustermann\nACME GmbH is totally fine and both DHL as well Hermes will handle it. The same you can put o.m.\nc/oMustermann on a postcard. Both will arrive perfectly fine. :) – simbabque Oct 5 '15 at 15:56
5

A solution to several of the problems raised in the other answers might be to contact your hosts and arrange with them that you can order the item to arrive before you do, (if they live there and are willing to accept it for you or at their home address where they can arrange for it being delivered or collected.) I am sure many hosts will do, maybe at a small charge.

If the online seller is giving you a hard time, your host might even do the actual ordering but in that case you may have to send them the money before they order, that requires more trust than just accepting a package.

5

If you want to use amazon.de for ordering goods, one option is to not use your address at all and to have your goods delivered to a Hermes Paketshop. During checkout, the Amazon website will allow you to select one and shows its opening times. If you select this option, you will receive an e-mail when your delivery is at the Paketshop and then you can collect it from there during its opening times.

In many major cities, there are gas stations with pretty good opening times (e.g., 6:00-22:00) available as Paketshops. You need some form of ID (e.g., passport) to collect your items.

The advantage of taking this route is that you don't risk your package being delivered to the neighbour in case you are absent when the postman comes. Depending on the neighbours, the packet can be tricky to collect, especially if you don't speak German. Alternatively, the package can be taken to the next post office, which may have inconvenient opening times (some close at noon-ish on Saturdays, for example). Also, the Hermes Packshop has the advantage over the DHL Packstation that you don't need to register in advance (and thus do not have to wait for a couple of weeks for your Packstation card to arrive).

4

Amazon has unified accounts for their sites in various countries many years ago. If you have an Amazon.com account then you can use Amazon.de with the same account (not sure if you still have to do a registration step the first time you use it). You can specify an arbitrary delivery address. If you want to test that, you can buy me a gift :)

2

The real concern is avoiding tripping fraud prevention mechanisms. Given the amount of hacking that is going on lately, many organizations are on a hair trigger. Warning flags for them are shipping address being different from billing, credit card being used for online purchases in a different country, brand new online account created, package being sent to a hotel, etc.

I've noticed Amazon in general is fairly lax about fraud prevention, and you should continue using your account on amazon.de instead of registering a new one. You should notify your bank, but often the problem is not with them (since the store and its credit card processor carries the cost of fraud as well). So, your luck will depend on the store you order from. Shopping in a physical store has higher chances of success.

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    "Warning flags for them are shipping address being different from billing" - this claim sounds questionable to me, given that the whole point of separately asking for a shipping address and a billing address is to enter different values there. Also, at least in Germany, with services like PackStation (that only accept parcels), receiving parcels at a different address than the bill (sometimes sent separately as a letter) is commonplace. – O. R. Mapper Oct 3 '15 at 18:15
  • @O.R.Mapper Well, if you were a thief, you wouldn't send the package to the person receiving the bill, now would you? Perhaps I should have said "new address." However, if you're shopping at a new online store every address that isn't the billing address is equally "new." Of course people may want to ship to various addresses, but it's still a warning flag. – Aleksandr Dubinsky Oct 3 '15 at 22:31
  • If you were a thief, you wouldn't care a lot about what happens to the bill; you could just as well receive it along with the parcel if you don't intend to pay it, anyway (it's not like your current address would be kept secret otherwise, as you still use it as the delivery address). In fact, sending the bill to someone else might draw unnecessary attention and alert someone something fishy is going on. Also note that a lot of online parcels work by either paying upon ordering, or paying to the delivery service upon delivery. In these cases, the "billing address" is merely the address ... – O. R. Mapper Oct 3 '15 at 22:44
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    @AleksandrDubinsky You seem to be claiming that asking for billing and shipping addresses separately is some sort of trick question designed to catch fraudsters. It's not. It's a non-trick question designed to allow you to send things to anyone you want, anywhere you want. – David Richerby Oct 4 '15 at 0:06
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    Amazon may ask you to re-enter your credit card information rather than use a stored payment method when you enter a new address. But it is not a problem for them. – Calchas Oct 4 '15 at 20:14

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