Hack 15 Search Internationally


Use different eBay localizations to look for things outside your home town.

When you search, you're not searching all of eBay; you're searching a subset of auctions made available to your localized version of eBay. Depending on where in the world you live, you may be using any one of the following sites:


eBay address



















New Zealand












United Kingdom


United States


Although all these sites share the same global auction database, each one uses the native language and currency of the region it represents. What is dramatically different, however, is the selection of categories, and thus the search indexes.

This means that a search for decorative dog collars at www.ebay.ch may yield different results than the same search at www.ebay.co.uk.

2.8.1 Expanding Your Search

This limitation on international searches is nothing more than a matter of scope, and the scope can be customized. There are effectively three different levels of scope in eBay searches:

Within your own localization

The default scope when you search is to look only in the categories that are native to your localization. Some categories are linked to categories on other eBay localized sites, so when searching for dog collars on the U.S. eBay site (www.ebay.com), for example, you will most likely see a few auctions priced in euros or Pounds Sterling, as shown in Figure 2-4.

Figure 2-4. International searches show a greater percentage of foreign auctions
All items available to your country

Go to Search Advanced Search, and choose your country from the "Items available to . . . " listbox. When you search, you'll see more international items, but only those where the seller has intentionally stated that he or she will ship to your country (or, more likely, that the seller will ship "worldwide").

All items, everywhere

Go to Search Advanced Search, and choose "Any country" from the "Items available to . . . " listbox. This will show the greatest number of search results, but it's important to realize that your searches may include auctions by sellers who are not willing to ship to your country.

There are several ways to tell if a particular auction is from a different localized eBay than your own, such as the language and currency used throughout the auction page. But there are two auction details to which you should pay particular attention. One is the Shipping section, which lists the parts of the world the seller is willing to ship to (or "worldwide" if the seller has chosen no such restrictions), and the other is the category in which the item has been placed.

2.8.2 Making Sure the Seller Will Ship to You

When performing international searches, you'll inevitably run into sellers who are willing to ship only to bidders in their own country or continent. Since international shipping can often be a royal pain in the neck, this is understandable. The problem is that many sellers simply don't bother to change the Shipping option from its default (domestic shipping only) even though they may be happy to ship anywhere.

Note to sellers: those who are willing to ship to more parts of the world will get more bids. See [Hack #69] for details.

So the first thing to do is check the description. Sellers who are adamant about not shipping internationally usually say so in big letters, with stern warnings to anyone in another country who dares to bid on their items. But if there's no mention of it, and you really want the item, then all you have to do is ask.

Since some sellers are intimidated by shipping internationally or may have had bad experiences with bidders from other countries, you should take special care when writing the seller.

Just use the Ask Seller a Question link in the auction page and write something like:

  • "Hello! I'm interested in this item; would you be willing to ship to the United States?" Keep it short and sweet, but also make it clear that you're a serious bidder and have every intention of paying quickly.

  • "Pourriez-vous possiblement envoyer cet achat chez moi, aux États-Unis? Merci!" If you're writing to a seller who speaks a different language, don't be afraid to write so that they will actually understand you.

With any luck, and assuming you've left plenty of time before the auction closes, the seller should send you a favorable reply. Et voilà!

2.8.3 Viewing Foreign Categories

Each global eBay site has its own selection of categories. Although you can include foreign items in your searches, you can't browse foreign categories from your local eBay site. Naturally, you could switch to any of the foreign sites listed at the beginning of this hack and browse from there, but this can be exceedingly difficult if you don't understand the language.

When viewing any auction native to your local eBay site, you can jump into the auction's category by clicking the category link at the top of the page. But you won't be able to do this for most foreign auctions: the category will still be there, but the link will not. In order to browse a foreign auction's category, you need to view the auction from its native eBay site.

The URL of the auction will look something like this:


Simply change the domain name to match the native site of the auction. If you're not sure which site to use, simply look at the country specified in the auction details. For instance, to view this from within the French eBay, just change the domain to ebay.fr, like this:


The currency and language of the site are automatically changed to reflect the localization you choose. More importantly, the category line will become a link, which you can then click to view other items in the same category.