iHerb vs Vitacost: Which Is Better? My Review

iHerb vs Vitacost: Both offer a similar selection of healthy goodies, so what’s the difference?

Come check out the updated 2016 Vitacost vs iHerb review at my new blog – click here to go to Olga’s Laundry Blog.

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately and a couple of weeks ago I placed my first iHerb order. I had heard a lot about the website, but somehow never had any need for their products. However, when I found myself on the market for supplements I started looking around and comparing prices. And I realized that Whole Foods charges $10-15 more on some of the stuff I need! AND you can save $5-10 off of your first order with a referral code! It was a no-brainer for a cheap frugal person like me.
And then I got sucked in – there is just so much to choose from. Some of the products I needed weren’t in stock on iHerb, so that is how I discovered Vitacost. Shortly after that, a second order was placed, and ever since I’ve really gotten into the whole “healthy option” thing and my purchases have ranged from eco-friendly dishwashing tablets to shampoo to vitamins with a lot of stuff in between.

When I did my initial online research, I noticed that there wasn’t much information comparing iHerb and Vitacost – most of the search results were outdated forum threads or websites promoting their referral codes, none of which is very helpful. At this point I think I have enough experience to compare the two and with that I decided to jot down a detailed review/comparison. I have to warn you that it will be pretty subjective though – I’m basing it all solely on personal preference and experience.

And… yes, I will share a Vitacost link that will give you $10 off of your first order of $30 or more and my iHerb discount code (VMC661) that will save you $5-10 off of your first order. Enjoy! ♥

Okay, so first the basics:

  • iHerb.com is an online retailer that offers primarily supplements, and also a wide range of eco-friendly cleaning, makeup and food products. They’ve been in business since 1996 and ship all over the world
  • Vitacost.com started dealing online in 1999 and were a health and wellness products catalog before that; they also offer international shipping and sell a lot of supplements under their own Vitacost brand

Winner: tie – not a huge difference between the two at first glance

Selection:

Both companies boast over 35 000 products in their catalog, however in my experience I can find most Vitacost products on iHerb (excluding their own brand obviously), but not vice versa. For example, iHerb has a great Ecotools selection, while Vitacost does not. However, Vitacost has a Drugstore section with “common” stuff, as well as a “Request a product” feature if you really want them to carry something (haven’t tried it, so can’t comment on how/whether it works!).

Winner: iHerb – they seem to have more products that fit my needs (I personally don’t need to order drugstore items online, however I can see how this would be convenient for people living abroad) and a wider selection of beauty products. Hopefully, Vitacost will start catching up! They add on average 250 new products a week.

Website:


This is a tough one. The iHerb website looks a little bit like it’s stuck in 1998 (and this with the new version of their site!), but I like how they have easy access to the daily deals section and a “Best Sellers” list. That is really awesome when you’re searching around for something, but don’t have a specific product in mind – it also makes for a lot of “ooh, I need this!” moments, but it’s all part of the fun. The Vitacost website is a little more modern looking, however their deal section is not easily accessible at all (in fact, it’s pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for). I also don’t like their “tabbed” product view where in order to access the ingredients, information and reviews you have to make several separate clicks.
One more thing – on iHerb the “Notify me when in stock” feature actually seems to work, while I’ve had no such luck with Vitacost. I leave my email address and wait patiently, only to accidentally come across the product and see that it’s back in stock, although I’ve clearly not gotten any messages about it. And I do check my spam folder!

Winner: iHerb – quite frankly neither website is GREAT, but for me the iHerb one is a little easier to navigate and has that awesome Best Sellers feature, as well as a clear and simple Daily & Weekly Specials section. Vitacost does have a neat and convenient app though!

Signup bonus:

Both companies offer a discount on your first order.

  • iHerb – $5 off of $25+, $10 off of $40+ when you enter a code at checkout (my code is VMC661, or you can follow this link)
  • Vitacost – $10 off of $30+ when you sign up via a link; you’ll be able to access the discount code immediately (click this link to access the discount)

Winner: tie – both are a great deal, however Vitacost sends you more email after you sign up (not necessarily a bad thing – I’ve received codes for 10-15% off in their newsletters)!

Shipping:

  • iHerb – domestic free 1-3 day expedited shipping over $20 (best part – before the code has been applied), $4 flat rate on anything under that. International shipping to over 150 countries, incredibly low International Airmail flat rates based on weight.
  • Vitacost – domestic free 3-10 day shipping over $49 (after discount code), $4.99 flat on anything under; certain products ship free on orders of $25+. International shipping to most countries, however only pricey DHL options are available.

Winner: iHerb hands down – I placed my order on a Tuesday morning and on Thursday it was at my door. And they ship from California! Vitacost took almost a full week (placed on Saturday, received on Friday). However the Vitacost order was VERY nicely packaged – all liquids were taped shut and put in ziploc bags and all glass items were in several layers of bubble wrap. It was actually one of the nicest packaging jobs I had ever seen! But for a company that has two warehouses on both coasts to speed up delivery, the actual shipping seemed to take a bit longer than it should.

Internationally iHerb is also clearly the winner. Their international shipping rates start at $4 for up to 4 lbs, and you can choose whether to add tracking, etc.

ETA 12/09/2014: Unfortunately,iHerb has adjusted their international rates, losing their international advantage. At the same time,Vitacost has started offering better international shipping options, and has switched to free two day shipping via Lasership for US orders, which means that as of today the winner in the category will be changed to Vitacost! Another huge difference is that iHerb does not refund lost international orders while Vitacost does.

You can read more about the change in this blog post.

Prices:

Here’s a comparison of some of the products I ordered (note: these prices change all the time):

  • Beauty Without Cruelty Balancing Facial Toner – iHerb $6.69, Vitacost $6.59
  • Ecover Dishwasher Tabs – iHerb $6.39Vitacost $4.05
  • Biosil 1 fl.oz. – iHerb $23.04, Vitacost $24.88
  • Dr. Woods, Pure Tea Tree Castile Soap – iHerb $8.13, Vitacost $7.29
  • Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo – iHerb $6.05, Vitacost $4.99
  • Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seed 1lb. – iHerb $9.71 , Vitacost $8.99

ETA 05/09/2014: For another price comparison, check out this blog post I recently made – I was pretty surprised just how big the difference between the two is! It almost seems as though iHerb has gotten even more expensive over the last year (or Vitacost gotten less so?..).

Winner: Vitacost – the prices are pretty similar, but overall Vitacost manages to keep most of them a touch lower than their competitor

Deals:

  • iHerb offers a ton of deals – and they are so easy to check! Just click on the Daily and Weekly Deals link right on top of the website and you will see everything that’s currently on sale, as well as a special section for short-date products, freebies and trials. I absolutely love checking the “deal of the day” – those change from Monday to Thursday and then there’s a special weekend deal from Friday to Sunday. To give you an idea – a couple of weeks ago they had all South of France soaps as a weekend deal for just $0.99 (reg. iHerb price $3.99, retail $5.99)!
  • Vitacost – their deals section is somewhat confusing. When you hover over the “Deals” tag in the menu, it gives you a bunch of options, and you have to choose “Super Sale” to see the deals of the week. Then there are the animated banners on the home page that also offer deals. But in my opinion the easiest way to check for sales is by signing up for their newsletter – that way you won’t miss out on any specials, including 24 hour 15% off everything deals.

Winner: tie – iHerb gets brownie points for an easy to access Deals section, as well as fun daily deals, however Vitacost makes it super easy for you to keep up with the deals right from your own inbox.

Extras with order:

As do a lot of online retailers, both companies offer free samples in the hope that you will like the product so much that next time you’ll come back to place an order.

  • iHerb lets you choose one free sample per order, and there is a LOT to choose from! They also included an extra sample+brochure and a branded travel toothbrush 
  • Vitacost gives you two free samples per order, but at the time that I placed mine, the selection was really small. There were about 5 options, 4 of which were those “muscle building” powders and pills. They didn’t include anything extra, but did throw in a catalog that had a 10% discount code printed on the back

Winner: iHerb – my total order on iHerb was less, and yet I got more with them. Even if it’s not something I need, freebies are fun and thoughtful! Plus, their sample selection is immense – lots and lots to choose from.

ETA 10/31/2014: iHerb no longer offers free samples, but charges a nominal fee for what used to be free of charge.

Discounts:

You’ve probably noticed that up till now iHerb has had somewhat of a lead. Well, here is where Vitacost takes over. First of all, Vitacost offers 4% cash back through ebates (not a member? get a $10 gift card when you sign up). Secondly, they email you discounts on a regular basis, plus with your order you get a 10% off code that is valid for a couple of months. So when you add those numbers, with Vitacost you can save at least 16-21% off of their already super low prices, while iHerb doesn’t offer anything comparable and is overall more expensive than Vitacost.

Winner: Vitacost hands down – iHerb just doesn’t offer any regular discounts or cash back while having higher prices. They do have a VIP program where you can earn a constant discount of 5-14%, but in order to be eligible you have to have spent upwards of $2000

Overall:

Curious to see how the two vendors stack up in 2016? Come check out my updated 2016 Vitacost vs iHerb review at my new blog – click here to go to Olga’s Laundry Blog.

Vitacost. In all honesty I really enjoy the daily deals that iHerb has to offer, as well as their wonderful fast shipping, but as a price-conscious shopper I end up placing most of my orders through Vitacost. Their customer service has always been top notch (when I had an issue with one of my orders, they replied to my email within a matter of hours), and they do a great job with their weekly promotions.

All in all it’s great to have both services available. The fact that there’s competition always ends up being a good thing for the consumer, and hopefully one day iHerb will start offering more discount/cash back options.

And one more thing: for international customers iHerb offers much less expensive shipping to many more countries than Vitacost. Until that changes, Vitacost will continue to be primarily US oriented, while iHerb is doing a huge amount of international business.

Just a small reminder – you can follow this Vitacost link to get $10 off of your first order of $30, and you can follow this link or use code VMC661 for $5-10 off of your first iHerb order of $25+. Enjoy!!!

Have you ever bought from either company? Do you have a preference? Let me know in the comments!

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56 thoughts on “iHerb vs Vitacost: Which Is Better? My Review

    • Alanna Brown says:

      And now:
      There no longer is “International Airmail” for Canadian iHerb customers. I got slammed at the post office because I had chosen “Global Mail” thinking it was the same thing. After researching, I found that Global Mail and Global Mail Plus are ALL under DHL (kind of sneaky). At the border they place a sticker on your DHL parcel with the added Duties/Taxes (Mine was$15! – parcel was under 4lbs and over $20) I will not be buying from iHerb again. Unfortunate because their prices were good. Vitacost may be a little more expensive but they still just send it airmail. Similar companies: Lucky Vitamin and Better Health Int’l – have been happy with both of them).

      Like

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      • John says:

        vitacost ..lmfao 😉 I tried couple of times to live chat and ask some queries about my order . The interesting thing you can never chat with them although the chatting window appeared all the time and agent did ask you ho to assist but fucking you cant write or type anything in the text area. Really disgusting ..Never saw any issues with iherb – with last 10 orders.

        Like

        • Cranraspberry says:

          That’s most likely a browser issue, not a Vitacost issue. I have the same with Bloomingdales chat support – have to switch to Firefox instead of Chrome, otherwise I can’t type a message. Never had any issues with the Vitacost chat, granted last time I used it was several months ago, but whatever works for you!

          Like

        • Mirtika says:

          I used iHerb for a while, but then kept getting dented stuff. I was asked to take a picture, etc. I was like, “What?” I felt like I was called a liar. I did take the pics and sent them and it was sorted out. But I did not like that.

          I switched to Vitacost. They pack really well. When I got some dented stuff, instead of going to c/s, I left a review saying there were dented cans. I got an email asking to fix this issue and I got a refund. They contacted ME to fix it. Since then, no problems. I get my shipment faster than iHerb and they carry stuff I want regularly that iHerb does not (second main reason I switched). I wish Vitacost had the expiration date listed like iHerb: I think that’s a fabulous feature and one that attracted me to iHerb in the first place a few years ago. Both are good places, but for having what I want and getting it fast to me, I prefer Vitacost. I just got 3 boxes today. Everything arrived perfectly and well-packed. I normally get my order within 3 days.

          Like

          • Cranraspberry says:

            Thanks for sharing, Mirtika! I agree – Vitacost does an amazing job of packaging everything. I recently ordered a bottle of Braggs apple cider vinegar (the Vitacost price is literally half of what we used to pay at our local supermarket), and was a little concerned how the glass bottle would handle the shipping process, but to my huge surprise it came in a special box surrounded by cardboard padding inserts that would make breakage virtually impossible!

            Also, since I wrote this review they have definitely increased shipping speed – I keep planning to write an updated comparison, since so much has changed. The downside is that their free shipping option is now LaserShip, and those guys are really hit or miss… I normally pay a little extra for a (slower) UPS Ground update to get that extra peace of mind.

            In any case, I’m glad that you are enjoying Vitacost as much as I am, and congrats on three boxes of goodies! I’m about to place a large order of Christmas goodies – healthy stocking stuffers are the best. 🙂

            Like

  2. Misty Murase says:

    So glad to have found this comparison. I’m going to have to try iHerb. I ordered from Vitacost several times but this past experience was so horrific I won’t be giving them my business anymore. Long story short, BAD customer service, SLOW shipping(I am still waiting for my order), despite the fact that they claim you will receive your order within 1-4 days if you order before 1pm. I never even received an order confirmation and when I called customer service to find out if my order was received, the representative was rude and kept berating me that I had not placed my order before 1pm. I explained to her that I was not trying to make the 1pm deadline, which she did not seem to understand. I definitely won’t be ordering from Vitacost again!:-(

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Oh no, so sorry to hear about that! I think shipping times are off right now for all home deliveries because of the snow, but that’s really no excuse to be rude to you over the phone. 😦 Hopefully you’ll get your package soon – they included a ton of delicious Kind bars in my last shipment, so maybe that will somehow make up for the delay.

      iHerb shipping is spectacular though. I recently placed an order on a Friday, and it was on my doorstep the following Tuesday, and that’s a shipment from CA to MA!

      Like

      • sandra says:

        Yes shipped from Cal. says it all. I work for an online business and the majority of our manufactures are located in the Northeast. Talk about back orders, due to weather! I hope our customers understand, We are never rude, give out free samples on most orders, and offer free shipping all the time. We also sell on Amazon, they do not allow us to give any kind of samples or customer thanks-yous that would encourage clients to go directly to our site.I work at idealceuticals.com. Before this company, I ordered a lot from Vitacost and had good experiences.

        Like

  3. Mirtika says:

    I had been shopping iHerb for a few years, but lately I switched over to Vitacost. I liked how they packed the stuff (iHerb sometimes sent me stuff damaged from poor packing) and I found I got my Vitacost goods withing 3 days, once 2 days. Superfast. Faster than iHerb, and that matters in the warmer days. I like both sites, and I like the “trials” feature at iHerb (though they’ve been slow to increase the inventory on that). Still, speed of shipment and well-packaged with good prices, yeah, Vitacost. I wish they had a better search engine. Doing site searches there can be frustrating. (well, ditto iHerb).

    Like

    • sandra says:

      I like VitaCost also, but sometimes I buy my supplements from idealceuticals.com. They don’t have as many selections as vitacost but they carry a lot of choices of high end skin care, which I buy a lot of. Great prices, and always free shipping too, No minimum order to make.

      Like

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  5. Paul says:

    I have used Iherb a lot and noticed that tyey got considerably worse after Easter 2014 with dispatch times going from 8 to over 48 hours.
    I also find their support staff not being truthful and a general decline in helpfulness, that said, I have never missed an order or recieved a bad product ( i just have no patience with suport people that really know nothing about their own products!) I will try Vitacost but first I intend to harass then on why their shipping cost is 2.5 times that of iherb! Wish me luck.

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Best of luck!!! Let me know how it goes. In the US we are spoiled with free shipping, and I just cringe when I actually have to pay for it, so I can imagine how shipping rates can influence your decision to purchase or not!

      Like

      • Paul says:

        so far Vitacost have said their shipping is more because they do not subsidize with high unit costs. i showed this to be untrue with a side by side comparison of what I buy. I buy a lot and it was around $1 difference over 15 items.

        Like

  6. Nathan says:

    I stopped using Vitacost because they will spam you with multiple emails on a daily basis. This got so annoying that I finally had to block them. Now it automatically goes to my spam email which I delete in seconds without opening. I will try iHerb and hope they’re easier to deal with than Vitacost.

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Are you receiving emails even after unsubscribing via the link in the email footer? I’d let them know – I unsubscribed almost immediately, since they do send way too much, and haven’t had an issue since. iHerb are great about that, I think I only get a couple of emails a year from them.

      Like

  7. Ken Young says:

    I can say from personal experience that Iherb.com is much (I really mean that!) better in terms of shipping to overseas. With Vitacost.com, they use DHL Global Mail where the rates start at $12.99 for up to 3.6 lbs. With Iherb, they use DHL Express-International where the rates start at $10.00 for up to 6 lbs. Not only is DHL Global mail much slower, I can’t understand why it is more expensive than DHL Express-International, which allows up to 6 lbs of weight for $10. I really don’t know how Iherb.com can have such good international shipping rates but it certainly doesn’t augur well for Vitacost.com! As a result, I don’t think I’ll buy from Vitacost.com in future.

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ken! I completely agree – I think Vitacost’s main focus is the North American market, and they aren’t even attempting to compete with iHerb internationally. I know that iHerb even has customer support pages and reps in local languages, to make the ordering process much easier for folks abroad!

      Like

  8. Julie Woodman says:

    Just found this site! I have to agree with Ken. I’ve been buying from iherb for years at a flat rate of $4 shipping. When they were out of something I needed, I tried Vitacost, and the same product would have cost me $40 to ship.

    Yes, it has changed, and may vary from one country to another. iherb have some sort of arrangement with Australia Post, which costs more than it did, but is still reasonable. I spent $100 on my last order (it’s sometimes useful to buy in bulk), and maybe because of the large order shippingt was only $4. I was pleasantly surprised.

    I am a VIP customer, so I get extra discounts. The service is excellent – emails replied to by next day. So for me there is no question – iherb wins!

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      I’m really glad you are able to get such inexpensive shipping to Australia with iHerb! I know that a little while ago the international shipping charges changed, and there was quite an uproar on facebook… Looks like they learned their lesson and figured out a way to keep the charges reasonable. Enjoy your healthy goodies!

      Like

  9. Elsa says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It was very helpful as I’m from Europe originally and I did not even know where to order vitamins & magic potions online in the US!

    Many thanks also for your link (the $10 referral discount). I used it today without any problem at vitacost. I was pleasantly surprised.

    Like

  10. Sunny says:

    In the summer 2015, I ordered from iHerb and I selected special DHL shipping for US$8.00. And I thought that’s all I had to pay for shipping. To my surprise, DHL sent me an invoice for another Can$21.92 for clearing Customs and Duty. I know that these supplements are duty free. I felt being ripped off for the extra delivery charge which was not up front.

    Like

      • Sunny says:

        Yes, I did. And they said it wasn’t them who charged me. It was DHL and they have no control of it because DHL acted as Customs broker to clear the goods for me. However, I’m quite aware that there’s no customs duty on the supplements that I ordered.

        Like

        • Trokari says:

          iHerb is correct in this matter since they have no control over what happens at the customs. If the goods were duty free and DHL still did declare them for some reason, I think you shoud’ve contacted DHL and asked why they declared them.

          Like

  11. Jiro Olcott says:

    I am so disappointed in iHerb service. I am a repeat customer but they failed to even get my order out of the door because they could not complete the transaction with my bank in the UK. They tried some ‘small charge’ verification method that I was actually a real customer. However, repeated calls to my bank failed to trace iHerb’s transaction requests. After days going around in circles I just cancelled my order and went with HealthMonthly.co.uk. I think iHerb should stick to their local California market and forget the international market until they have their business processes sorted out seriously.

    Like

  12. Dee says:

    The last time i ordered from iherb I got a prop 65 notice about cancer causing substances ie lead. I’ve started to doubt if iherb products are authentic. The brand i was buying was megafood vitamins. I know they don’t contain leaf so what gives? Are their products authentic?

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Hi Dee, I can understand your concern! Megafood actually produce a series of supplements that they call “California Blend” that do not have that Prop 65 warning. Many of their other formulas do, and all the supplements sold through iHerb are authentic.

      You can see Megafood’s official response to that question on Amazon:
      “Prop 65 (legislation in the state of CA ONLY) regulates levels of naturally occurring lead, which are dramatically lower than the FDA standards that we utilize. Many of our products test well below the Prop 65 level, however there are some that typically test at or slightly above. For those items, we have created a line of California Blends specifically for sale in CA to adhere to Prop 65. Because we feel our original formulations are incredibly effective and safe, we opted not to reformulate them entirely, but offer something specific for CA. For this reason, these blends have altered potencies and ingredients to bring them down below the Prop 65 lead level. This results in entirely different products, and in most cases, decreased potency, especially when it comes to botanical support.

      Because we work with fresh, whole foods, the levels of naturally occurring lead are greater than you would find in a lab-produced synthetic vitamin, and all lots of product we produce are verified and test well below the FDA’s safe standard.”

      Happy New Year!

      Like

  13. Salah says:

    Vitacost is a joke . I placed an order internationally, they charged me TWICE what iherb charges and even after 14 days the items have not arrived. Customer service is the worst I have seen in ages. When I compained that my product didnt arrive they told me to wait 60 days before to consider it lost. By comparison iherb takes about 3 days to arrive. That is incredible internationally. It is like someone is waiting to pick your order and run to the airport. My family sometimes does not beleive how fast they ship and deliver. Never had problems with them except they keep changing their discount structure quite often. Customer service great. They immediately take action.

    Regret the day I tried Vitacost because I am still waiting for my package.

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Salah, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, although frankly I’m surprised that their support didn’t take good care of you – I’ve had nothing but good luck with them. A good “last resort” in these kinds of situations is to publicly reach out to them via facebook or twitter. That way your issue will get escalated to the highest level managers who will hopefully be able to do something for you.

      Like

  14. Trokari says:

    Currently iHerb offers over a half cheaper international shipping that Vitacost. For example shipping to Finland via Airmail is € 3,57 (even less in USD) whereas Vitacost’s cheapest option is DHL at over 8 USD.

    Like

  15. Wayne says:

    You said Vitacost has better delivery??? Your experience is the complete opposite of mine. I can get an order from iHerb in Korea usually (almost always) less than a week. Vitacost, on the other hand, is seriously SLOW for international delivery. I am currently waiting on an order from Vitacost that I PLACED ONE MONTH AGO. Lets see: 1 week versus 4 weeks…the winner is definitely iHerb.

    Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Thanks for your comment Wayne, but I clearly state that in my opinion iHerb is better for international orders. Domestic (US) delivery is faster and better through Vitacost. In any case I hope your package reaches you soon!

      Like

      • Wayne says:

        …I’m only 3 years out of date! LOL I’ll have check out your newer version. Thanks for the nice, well-organized article nonetheless.

        Like

    • Cranraspberry says:

      Yikes, just realized that you were commenting on the old post from back in 2013… In the 2016 update I actually added a separate category for international shipping, where iHerb is the winner.

      Like

  16. Kitty says:

    Iherb international shipping is very poor. I had ordered some supplements which I am quite aware that it’s duty free. Total purchase was around $70, which include $10 shipping by DHL. However, DHL sent me a letter asking me to pay an extra $30 for clearing customs, processing fee and duty. I had no choice but to pay the fee of about $27, after showing them the tariff rate for the supplements is 0%. I asked iherb why I had to pay extra fee since I already selected the special shipping of $10 through DHL, and they said it’s not them who charged me. It was DHL that acted as Customs Broker and they cleared the package for me. Other companies charge shipping which include clear Customs. And besides, the items are duty free.

    Like

    • Wayne says:

      Wow, my experience with iherb international shipping has been just the opposite. I have ordered about 30 shipments over the past 3 years and everyone of those shipments were delivered without any problems at all. And, almost everyone of those orders arrived in less than a week. I think the longest delivery time I had was 1 1/2 weeks, during the holidays. I have never had any single item lost. I have never been charged any extra fees via customs agents. (BTW, I don’t work for iherb nor do I own their stock.)

      Like

      • Cranraspberry says:

        Thanks for the great discussion and for sharing your experience, guys! It’s tricky to write about international shipping not having any personal experience with it, so I think future readers will find your comments very helpful.

        Like

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