International Kindle FAQ

My post about international release of Kindle received more attention than any other post on this blog so far. A lot of readers are asking questions so I’m going to answer these in this FAQ to the best of my ability. Some of the answers are going to be guestimates since I haven’t received my World-ready version of Kindle 2 yet. I’ll keep adding and changing content here as I learn together with you.

What countries is Kindle available to?

As of October 6th, 2009 Amazon has revealed international version of Kindle 2 eBook reader that officially ships to 169 countries. However you should be aware that some features like wireless, experimental web-browser, blog subscriptions (including this one) are not available everywhere. Number of books that you can buy is also different for every country. Complete list of countries, book counts and other details can be found here.

Why isn’t Kindle available in my country? When it will become available?

Although I can’t know for sure since I don’t work for Amazon and never had, from my experience with eBook industry I can guess that it may be related to one of the following:

  • Amazon didn’t rally enough publishers in a particular country so book selection would have been too small.
  • Some provision of copyright law prevents Amazon from offering Kindle in a particular country.

I’m sure that there are no political/religious/etc reasons behind these limitations. Amazon is in the business of making money. And you can’t make money by turning down paying customers. That’s why I’m sure that they are making efforts to overcome these limitations and ship Kindle worldwide.

But I really want to buy a Kindle now. What should I do?

There is a way to buy Kindle when you are outside US. It has been known and used long before Kindle became internationally available. As of recently you will also need to use proxy server, VPN or similar solution to overcome geographical restrictions.

I have already used gift-cards to purchase Kindle and use it outside of the US. Can I re-register it to my “non-US” account now?

I absolutely see no reason why you can’t. You can de-register your Kindle from your “fake US” account, and then register it with your local account. The downside is that you will loose the ability to download books that you’ve purchased from your “fake US” account. So before de-registering you should download these books to your computer make a secure backup copy. It may be a good idea to use one of the secure online backup services. You can then copy these books to your re-registered Kindle and you should still be able to read them.

Why does the coverage map show that Whispernet will work in my country but I still can’t buy Kindle?

Wireless coverage merely indicates where Kindle wireless will work. This only depends on roaming agreements AT&T has with wireless operators around the globe. However more is needed for Amazon to sell Kindles in particular country as was stated above.

Kindle International Coverage Map

Kindle International Coverage Map

Where can I find Whilspernet coverage map?

You can view the large map by clicking on the small map image to the right. Or you can access the interactive map here.

Is international Kindle DX available for purchase?

Currently only international version of Kindle 2 was released. However there are some rumors and speculations that international Kindle DX will be released next year.

What network does international Kindle use for wireless connectivity?

International version of Kindle 2 uses AT&T 3G GSM network in the USA. Outside of US it uses 3G GSM wireless networks of AT&T roaming partners.

Can I use WiFi with Kindle?

No. Not directly at least. You can download books and magazines to your PC via. Amazon.com website using WiFi Internet connection and then transfer them to Kindle using USB connection.

Does international version of Kindle support non-Latin Unicode characters?

Although I can’t tell for sure until my international Kindle 2 arrives, there is nothing on Amazon website that indicates any changes compared to the US version of Kindle. You can still use Kindle Unicode Font Hack to expand the character range Kindle can display.

Is it possible to upgrade my US Kindle to international version? Will firmware update solve the problem?

No. GSM and CDMA networks require different hardware. This hardware is not easy to replace and doing so will surely void your Kindle warranty. Even if you were able to replace the hardware, you would still need to make lots of software changes to make it work. Nobody was able to do this as far as I know.

What is the story with international book download surcharge of $1.99? Who will pay it? Where? When?

International data roaming is expensive. When I visit Canada with my US iPhone, I’m offered a rate of $15.35 per megabyte for data roaming. Average book is at least 300 kilobytes. This would translate to around $5.00 additional cost per book. So Amazon’s surcharge of $1.99 actually looks like a bargain compared to that.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around who is going to be charged this amount and when. My understanding is that only customers with US shipping address would be charged extra $1.99 per book when travelling abroad. Customers from all other countries are never charged anything above the actual list price of the book no matter where they download it. However this is reflected in the book price which is $2.00 higher than for US customers.

Why Australian Kindle is sold without AC power adapter for charging when customers in all other countries get one?

No idea. My guess is that it has something to do with safety regulations in Australia.

Why blog subscription and experimental web-browser are turned off for my country?

Wireless data costs. You can easily use 1 megabyte of traffic just by viewing several Wikipedia pages. In fact homepage of this blog would amount to roughly one megabyte of data if you factor in all of the images. Since Amazon doesn’t own wireless networks it has to pay for all this data. It would be too expensive for them as profits from book sales would not cover it.

My guess is that Amazon was able to strike some kind of special deal with wireless operators in Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan to make this work.

Why do newspapers and magazines come without pictures outside of US?

Same reason – wireless data costs. Images would increase the amount of data that needs to be transferred causing Amazon to loose money on subscriptions. Hopefully in the future when international wireless data becomes cheaper this should no longer be an issue.

Other questions or corrections.

Let me know if there are other questions that you believe should be covered in this FAQ. If you believe that some data became outdated or inaccurate – drop me a comment and I’ll what I can do.

International release of Kindle 2!

Kindle International Coverage Map

Kindle International Coverage Map

Well, my speculations actually came true and even sooner and on a much larger scale than I have expected: Kindle 2 World version is available for pre-orders and will start shipping on Monday, October 19. Generally, International version of Kindle 2 is identical to the one that was released in February, except that it uses AT&T 3G network for book downloads and Internet connectivity in the US and roaming partner networks in more than 100 countries outside of the USA. I’ve glued together a full coverage map and a a table that lists different features and restrictions that apply to different countries.

Kindle is currently not available in the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

Yes, unfortunately Kindle is not available in Canada yet but Amazon promises to fix this as soon as possible. They wouldn’t want to miss such lucrative market after all.

Residents of other 169 countries can buy the international version of Kindle here.

For each country features like whispernet and browser availability vary. In general the picture currently looks like this:

Country Wireless Duty included in checkout price Typical book price Browser and blogs Books under $5.99 Total books
Aland Islands No No $11.99 No 25,000 160,000
Albania Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
American Samoa No No $11.99 No 45,000 180,000
Andorra No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Angola No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Anguilla Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Antigua and Barbuda Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Armenia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Aruba Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Australia Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Austria Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Bahamas Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Barbados Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Belarus No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Belgium Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Belize No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Benin No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Bermuda Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Bhutan No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Bolivia Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Bosnia and Herzegovina No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Botswana No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Brazil Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Bulgaria Yes! No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 35,000 170,000
Burundi No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Cambodia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Cape Verde No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Cayman Islands Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Central African Republic No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Colombia Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Comoros No No $11.99 No 35,000 0
Congo No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Cook Islands No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Costa Rica No No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Cote d’Ivoire No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Croatia Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Cyprus No No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Czech Republic Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Democratic Republic of the Congo No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Denmark Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Dominica Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Dominican Republic Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Ecuador Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
El Salvador Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Equatorial Guinea No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Estonia No No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Ethiopia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Falkland Islands No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Faroe Islands No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Federated States of Micronesia No No $11.99 No 45,000 170,000
Fiji No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Finland No Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
France Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
French Guiana No No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
French Polynesia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Gabon Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Georgia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Germany Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Ghana No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Gibraltar No No $11.99 No 25,000 170,000
Greece Yes! No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Greenland No No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Grenada Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Guadeloupe No No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Guam Yes! No $11.99 No 130,000 290,000
Guatemala Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Guernsey No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Guinea-Bissau No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Guyana Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Haiti Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Holy See No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Honduras Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Hong Kong Yes! Yes! $11.99 Yes! 100,000 280,000
Hungary Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 65,000 280,000
Iceland Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
India Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 270,000
Ireland Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Italy Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Jamaica Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Japan Yes! Yes! $11.99 Yes! 100,000 280,000
Jersey No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Kenya Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Kiribati No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Lao People’s Democratic Republic No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Latvia No No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Lesotho No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Liberia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Liechtenstein Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Lithuania No No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Luxembourg Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Macao Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Macedonia Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Madagascar No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Malawi No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Malta No No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Marshall Islands No No $11.99 No 45,000 170,000
Martinique No No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Mauritius No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Mayotte No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Mexico Yes! Yes! $11.99 Yes! 100,000 290,000
Moldova No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Monaco No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Mongolia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Montenegro Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Montserrat Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Mozambique No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Myanmar No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Namibia No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Nauru No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Nepal No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Netherlands Antilles No No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Netherlands Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
New Caledonia No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Nicaragua Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Niue No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Norfolk Island No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Northern Mariana Islands No No $11.99 No 45,000 180,000
Norway Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Palau No No $11.99 No 45,000 170,000
Panama Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Papua New Guinea No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Paraguay Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Peru Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Philippines Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Poland Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Portugal Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Puerto Rico Yes! No $11.99 No 45,000 180,000
Reunion No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Romania Yes! No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Russia Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Rwanda No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Saint Kitts and Nevis Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Saint Lucia Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Samoa No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
San Marino No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Sao Tome and Principe No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Serbia Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Seychelles No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Slovakia Yes! No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Slovenia Yes! No $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 25,000 170,000
Solomon Islands No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
South Africa Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Spain Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Sri Lanka No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Suriname Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Swaziland No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Sweden Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Switzerland Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Taiwan Yes! Yes! $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Tanzania Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Timor-Leste No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Togo No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Tonga No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Trinidad and Tobago Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 290,000
Turks and Caicos Islands Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Tuvalu No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Uganda No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Ukraine Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
United Kingdom Yes! Yes! $11.99..$13.99 (incl. VAT) No 70,000 280,000
Uruguay Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Vanuatu No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Venezuela Yes! No $11.99 No 35,000 180,000
Viet Nam No No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Virgin Islands, British Yes! No $11.99 No 100,000 280,000
Virgin Islands, U.S. Yes! No $11.99 No 45,000 180,000
Wallis and Futuna No No $11.99 No 35,000 170,000
Zambia No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000
Zimbabwe No No $11.99 No 35,000 160,000

Amazon Kindle 2So wireless is available in 100 countries, however browser and blog subscription only work in these 3:  Hong Kong, Japan and Mexico.

EU countries have slightly higher typical book price because it includes VAT.

If you read this page on Amazon.com there is little fine-print about international use of Kindle:

Kindle (U.S. & International Wireless) customers from the United States can travel internationally and still get books in less than 60 seconds. Customers have the option to wirelessly download books, periodicals and personal documents via Whispernet for a fee or transfer files from their computer for free.

  • International Book Service: Download books from your Kindle’s Archived Items or the Kindle store via Whispernet for $1.99 per book.
  • International Subscription Service: Receive all of your newspaper, magazine, and blog subscription content via Whispernet for a weekly fee of $4.99.
  • International Current Issue Service: Download individual issues of newspapers and magazines from your Kindle’s Archived Items or the Kindle store via Whispernet for $1.99 per issue.
  • International Personal Document Service: Transfer personal documents to your Kindle via Whispernet for $.99 per megabyte (rounded up to the next whole megabyte). For more information about transferring personal files to your Kindle, see the Transferring, Downloading, and Sending Files to Kindle Help page.

It took a lot of effort to put this table together so if you feel it’s a helpful and intereseting piece of information – spread the word and link to this post.

In the future I’ll post updates to the table above on a regular basis.

If you end up buying Kindle 2 from outside of US, please drop me a comment to share your experience.