How to use Amazon Alexa in non-supported countries

We explain how to get Echo functionality no matter your destination

Using Alexa in non-supported countries

Amazon Alexa is more ubiquitous than ever, with the smart assistant’s tones now filling homes in a total of 89 countries.

After initially only being supported in the US, Canada, UK, India, Japan and Germany, Alexa can now work in far less obvious places, from the Cayman Islands to Cambodia and plenty in between.

Read this: The best Amazon Alexa skills

But it’s not as straightforward as just logging on to your local Amazon, ordering an Echo Dot and receiving all the same functionality. Below, we’ll explain how to actually get Alexa if you live internationally, which features you’ll have access to and some potential workarounds if you're having trouble.

How to use Amazon Alexa in non-supported countries

How to buy an international Echo device

The first thing you’re going to need if you want Alexa is, duh, an Alexa-enabled device. If you live in the US or Europe, there’s plenty of those to choose from, but it’s not quite the same story if you live in the likes of South America or parts of Africa.

Your options, generally, are fairly basic - you can only buy specific international versions of the Echo Dot, second-generation Echo, or Echo Plus. Right now, there isn't an international version of the Echo Show.

And if you want to buy one of these devices, you’re going to need to do head to Amazon US, Amazon UK or Amazon DE — they’re not simply available at Amazon Mexico, or wherever you local Amazon lies.

We’ll come onto the functionality of these three international versions below, but there’s a couple of other factors to consider, too. Power sources vary by product, and there’s naturally requirements with regard to voltage, wattage, frequency and multi-way switching support. And the same is true for Wi-Fi, though we expect if you’re logging on to buy an Echo device, you have that covered.

Since you’ll be ordering from either the US, UK or Germany (generally speaking, those in Europe will have to order from Amazon DE, and everyone else from Amazon US), also be sure to watch out for customs duties and import taxes. Thankfully, if you live in a territory which is part of the Amazon Global program, these are estimated and collected as a deposit upon your checkout. But if not, you’ll be responsible for paying any fees upon delivery.

How to use Alexa in international countries

Supported features

Perhaps before you get around to buying one, you’ll want to know exactly what an international version of the Echo is capable of. As we mentioned up top, you’re not simply granted the same functionality as those in the US or UK.

Here’s the features that Amazon flat-out states are not available through the international version of the Echo: shopping, local traffic and business search, select skills from the Alexa Skills store, location-specific news and information, Audible, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and SiriusXM.

Meanwhile, there’s another band of features that are what Amazon describes as “generally supported”. So, there’s no guarantees, but you should be able to receive functionality for TuneIn, Amazon Music Unlimited (in its 27 supported countries), smart home, timers, calendars, alarms, news, shopping lists and the weather.

The complications sadly don’t end there, either. If you want to set up smart home routines and other advanced features, you’ll do so through the Alexa app on your smartphone. The problem? Access to the Alexa app is very limited. You can check availability in your local app store, but for things like setup and everything else, you’re going to need to head to (or explore the workaround below).

Oh, and we should also mention that while Alexa can usually speak English, German and Japanese, only English is available on the international version, though you can still tweak the Alexa Accent.

How to use Alexa in international countries

What if my country isn’t supported?

Of course, one solution is to simply wait it out for your country to gain full support - Amazon is rapidly expanding the reach of Alexa, after all.

But if you’re impatient, or you’re here because Alexa isn’t playing ball properly in your country, there are a couple of things to try. If you’re finding restrictions in downloading the Amazon Alexa app because you live in, say, South Africa or Israel, you're going to need to experiment with changing your location.

If you're on iOS, that means changing your billing information through your Apple ID (though be aware there are complications afoot with this if you have subscriptions, such as Apple Music), with the process mirrored if you're on Android. This will mess around with your weather services and the likes, though you can also change the location of the device within the web version of the Alexa app. Simply go to Settings > Your Device > General and edit the time zone and address.

More Amazon Alexa how-tos

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