[Android] How To: Get Amazon Appstore – and daily free apps – from outside the USA

As I am sure most of you know by now, Amazon has their own app store for Android, cleverly named Amazon Appstore. Via this app store users can do the customary buy paid apps and download free apps; however, in addition, Amazon has a free app of the day gig that gives away paid apps for free every day. And to their credit, lately Amazon has been giving away some nice apps. Unfortunately, Amazon Appstore is currently USA only so our friends outside the USA are unable to take advantage of goodies offered by Amazon Appstore. Well, don’t fret my fellow non-American Androidites — there is a way to get around Amazon’s silly geographic restriction and allow everyone to take advantage of Amazon’s daily free apps; and if you feel the desire to do so, you can even purchase paid apps from Amazon Appstore… all without ever having to set foot inside the country we like to call United States of Wall Street America.

Disclaimer: Officially Amazon Appstore is USA only. The instructions listed below allow you to go around this restriction. By doing so, that means you are probably violating Amazon’s terms of use. So proceed forward at your own risk. Amazon is fully within their rights to terminate any accounts they deem to be fraudulent. Don’t come crying here if that happens to you. dotTech and Ashraf are not responsible for your actions and the consequences resulting from aforementioned actions. This article is being written only to help non-American users to use Amazon Appstore, to purchase apps and download legitimate freebies Amazon gives out every day. We are not encouraging any fraudulent activity.

What You Will Get Once You Are Done

Once you reach the bottom of this guide, you will have full access to Amazon Appstore. That means you can get the free apps Amazon gives out daily and download the always-free apps available on the Appstore. If you opt to use a valid credit card (instructions on how to do this later in this article), you will also be able to purchase paid apps from Amazon. Using a valid credit card, however, is optional and not required. You don’t even need to own a real credit card to get access to Amazon Appstore if you follow the instructions listed in this guide.

Quick commentary on why you may want to be able to purchase from Amazon Appstore. Believe it or not, despite the larger selection on Android Market, I find to date I have purchased more apps from Amazon Appstore than I have from Android Market. Why? Simply because developers run excellent sales on Amazon Appstore that are advertised very well by Amazon. These sales make some paid apps worth the purchase, e.g. I bought Root Explorer from the Appstore for $0.99 whereas it is regularly priced at $3.99. So while some people may only be interested in the paid app giveaways, others may be interested in purchasing from the Appstore, too.

What You Need

Amazon does not geo-lockout users. In other words, Amazon Appstore is useable from anywhere in the world once you have it installed. The way Amazon restricts Appstore to USA only is by requiring Amazon accounts to have a USA address, phone number, and credit card. Thus if a non-USAian is able to supply Amazon with a USA address, phone number, and credit card, they too can start using Amazon Appstore.

Therefore, for this trick to work you need three things: A “valid” address in the USA, American phone number, and American credit card. How will you get them? That is what this guide is for silly.

Before We Begin

Before we delve into the process of getting Amazon Appstore, you need to make a decision. You need to decide if you want the ability to purchase paid apps from Amazon. As I mentioned above, there are advantages of being able to purchase from Amazon Appstore primarily in the form of good discounts.

If you don’t want the ability to purchase paid apps, that is OK — skip down to the next section of this guide. However, if you do want the ability to purchase paid apps, you need to purchase a virtual USA credit/debit card before continuing. Purchasing a virtual credit/debit card will give you a real credit/debit card and billing address to use online. You can purchase whatever you want with the virtual card and you will be billed through the virtual card provider you purchased from; in this case you will use the virtual card to purchase apps from Amazon.

I have never purchased virtual cards before so I cannot recommend or vouch for any service. The only one I know of is US Unlocked which charges you $10 for a virtual USA debit card + billing address. I’m sure doing a search on Google will reveal many other similar services at potentially cheaper prices. [Use US Unlocked at your own risk -- I have never used them so I don't know if they are safe or not. I have only heard of them.]

Update: Amazon is no longer accepting PayPal’s fake developer credit cards. You need to either use a real USA credit card or purchase a virtual credit card to use Amazon Appstore from outside USA.

How To Get Amazon Appstore: Step 1 — Setting Up Amazon Account

To get Amazon Appstore while living outside the USA, do the following:

  • Create a new Amazon account. Even if you have an existing Amazon account, it is highly recommended to create a new one because you don’t want to risk Amazon banning your real account if they get pissed at you for working around their Appstore restrictions. You can create a new Amazon account by visiting the Sign In page, entering an e-mail address (make sure its a valid e-mail address and one not already in use with another Amazon account), selecting No, I am a new customer and clicking on the Sign in using our secure server button:

  • At the next page, fill out the relevant details and click Continue:

If you do it properly, you should be shown a confirmation message similar as the following:

  • At the next page, click on Enter a new address:

  • At the next page you need to enter a valid USA address and phone number:

This address is the “shipping address”. Since you are going to be buying/downloading virtual goods (i.e. apps), you can use any address you want because you won’t actually be shipped anything. Therefore, if you bought a virtual credit/debit card as discussed earlier, enter the address you were provided by the virtual card company. If you did not buy a virtual card/debit card you can enter any valid USA address. For example, you can use Google’s headquarter address, if you wish (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway [Address Line1], Mountain View [City], CA [State/Province/Region], 94043 [ZIP], United States [Country]); or you can use Apple’s; or Microsoft’s; etc. Take note Address Line1 must be filled out but Address Line2 is optional. Also take special care to make sure to select United States as the country — it may have a different country selected by default for you.

The phone number must also be a USA phone number. However, this need not be valid at all — Amazon won’t be calling you to confirm. For the phone number, all you need to do is make sure you use a 10-digit phone number with a +1 at the beginning. I suggest using +15555555555 since that is a valid but not-used phone number (i.e. it a valid USA phone number but no real phone number in the USA starts with 555).

When you have it all filled out, hit Continue:

  • If all goes well you should be brought back to the Manage Addresses and 1-Click Settings page after you click Continue. On this page you should see the address you just entered. Look for Payment methods in the bottom right and click the Add button:

  • For security purposes, Amazon will ask you to sign in even though you are technically already signed in. Thus, sign in by providing the password you selected earlier when you were creating the account:

  • At the next page you need to do two things — enter a valid credit or debit card and select a billing address:

If you bought a virtual credit/debit card as mentioned earlier, enter it in the Add a Credit or Debit Card box, check the checkbox next to Make this my default 1-Click credit card, and click on the Use this address button under Select Billing Address.

Update: Amazon is no longer accepting PayPal’s fake developer credit cards. You need to either use a real USA credit card or purchase a virtual credit card to use Amazon Appstore from outside USA.

If you did not buy a virtual credit/debit card, visit the PayPal Test Credit Card Account Numbers page and pick a credit card type and credit card number. (Any one on the list will work.) Go back to Amazon and enter the credit card type and credit number in the relevant fields in the Add a Credit or Debit Card; enter a cardholder’s name (it can be any name you want); select an expiration date (it can be any date in the future); and check the checkbox next to Make this my default 1-Click credit card. Finally, click on the Use this address button under Select Billing Address.

  • If you do it properly, you will again be brought back to the Manage Addresses and 1-Click Settings page. Now, at the Manage Addresses and 1-Click Settings page, click on the Click here in Click here to make this your default 1-click address:

  • Next click on the Turn 1-Click on button located in the top-right corner:

After you have done all the above, you have successfully setup your Amazon account. All that is left to do is install Amazon Appstore on your device.

How To Get Amazon Appstore: Step 2 — Installing Amazon Appstore

Once you have properly setup your Amazon account as directed in step one, all that is left to do before you can enjoy the riches of Amazong Appstore is installing the darn thing on your mobile device.

Installing Amazon Appstore is very easy but it does involve sideloading. (Sideloading is the process of installing non-Android Market apps on your Android device.) To get Amazon Appstore installed on your device, do the following:

  • On your device go to Settings -> Applications -> check Unknown sources:

Once you check the checkbox for Unknown sources you will get a warning message similar to the following:

This warning message is basically telling you to be careful what apps you sideload onto your device. The warning message looks important because it is important: Do not sideload any and all apps you find. (Especially don’t pirate apps.) Only sideload apps you get from trustworthy sources, like Amazon Appstore. In fact, I keep sideloading disabled on my phone until I specifically want to install an app from non-Market sources, like Amazon Appstore; and I suggest you do the same. (You can enable/disable sideloading as you please. Once you sideload an app, enabling/disabling sideloading won’t affect the installed app.) You are the sole responsible party for your actions. Don’t come whining here about how your device died after you sideloaded an app.

If you do not see an Unknown sources option under Applications, your device may not allow for sideloading. (Many AT&T devices do not, yet.) You can try to custom mod your phone to enable sideloading – such as how Locutus mentioned you can do with SuperOneClick; or you can suck on your thumb until sideloading is enabled on your device or until you grab a new device.

  • Once sideloading has been enabled, download and install Amazon Appstore on your device. You can either download Amazon Appstore’s APK (installer file) directly onto your device by visiting the download link (alternative download link) on your device; or you can download Amazon Appstore on your computer then transfer the APK to your device. Once Amazon Appstore’s APK is on your device – either by directly downloading or transferring – use a file manager to install Amazon Appstore.
  • After Amazon Appstore is installed, the only thing left to do is run it and log into the Amazon account you just created (using the e-mail address and password).

Conclusion

After you have done all that is mentioned above, you should have a fully functional Amazon Appstore on your device. You will now be able to get every paid app Amazon gives away for free and download any regular free apps. If you opted to purchase a virtual credit/debit card you will also be able to purchase paid Amazon apps. Life is good, ain’t it.

[Thanks Baloo | via Modaco]

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33 comments

  1. non qualified stock options and amt

    Unquestionably believe that that you said.
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  2. JohnA

    I am in UK and found that this method worked well at first, downloading directly to my tablet. I am now getting geographic restriction message when I try to do this so I think they are now checking IP address.
    Is there any way I can hide my IP address or make it look like a US IP?
    (Android 2.2 on Archos 70IT)

  3. Roland

    Thanks. I’m up in Canada. It is probably the fictional credit card that they caught on. Nothing changed on my phone other than my daily present from Amazon. Happy that it worked for a bit. I still get updates from the one that I received- so it is good..

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Okay since Amazon Appstore has stopped working for people outside USA, that means one of two things. Either Amazon started blocking by IP or they started not accepting fake information. My guess is the latter because if Amazon started blocking IP people in the USA could not use Amazon Appstore when on vacation outside the USA.

    When blocking fake information, my guess is Amazon is no longer accepting PayPal’s developer credit cards. It isn’t logical for them to be able to block real USA addresses or “real” phone numbers. So that means if you want Amazon to work again you need to find a real credit card number to replace your PayPal one. You could purchase a virtual credit card, or use a friend’s.

  5. Happy Pinoy

    @Ashraf: Yes, Ashraf and John, I installed the app on my tablet, straight from the Android Market. It seems Amazon’s filter is particularly strict against my IP address. Tough luck for now, but am hopeful a remedy would be found soon. Makes me wonder what Amazon’s gain is in limiting the beneficiaries of its freebies only to those in the US. :-(

  6. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @John C: Thank you! I was wondering why it is working for some people and not others. Your explanation (of browser vs app) makes complete sense and is most likely the culprit.

    And you are welcome. :-)

    @Happy Pinoy: I still don’t believe Amazon is using an IP filter. Can you try what John C suggests?

  7. John C

    @Happy Pinoy:

    If you try to download the app from your PC/browser you get the dreaded “geographical restrictions” error. But downloading from your phone (via the Amazon App) works beautifully (and I’m in Portugal ;-)

    Oh and Ashraf, THANK YOU for posting these instructions – I’ve been getting apps for a week now. It’s also nice to be able to download on multiple devices – some apps don’t work on my Sony Xperia X8, but then I just download them on my daughter’s Huawei U8510 (which, despite some negative reviews, is an excellent entry-level Android phone, especially for the price – €99 here in Portugal :-)

  8. Happy Pinoy

    I followed all the instructions very faithfully. I enrolled a new account, used a US address and telephone number, and also credit card. Maybe Amazon had employed a strict IP filter. But I sure do hope a trick to overrode this will be found soon. Let me know, okay? Thanks a lot. :-)

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @jayesstee: Ah, I see. Well, thanks!

    @KaparAugust: Glad to hear it works!

    @Happy Pinoy: That is odd. As I mentioned to other people I know for sure you can download apps while outside the USA because I did it myself while I was on vacation earlier this year; and people in this thread have posted comments on how it worked for them. It could be that Amazon has recently started blocking based on IP.

    Can you double check to make sure you entered a USA address, phone number, and credit card? Did you create a new Amazon account or use an old one?

  10. Happy Pinoy

    Hi. I followed the ‘work around’ instructions very carefully. This is the message I got when I attempted to download:

    “We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

    I am from the Philippines. Any further work around on this?

    Thanks much.

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Lamont Cranston: I bet it is. Although I understand the economics behind it, sometimes it astonishes me how the same product differs in price so greatly across borders.

    For what it is worth, if your lady friend ever decides to not be your friend, there are companies that do “package forwarding”, which is basically what you are doing now. They will charge you, of course.

    @Frank:As far as I know, Amazon does not block downloads based on IP. I know this because I have first hand experience using Amazon Appstore while not in the USA and I know other people who have, too, as you can see based off the comments in this thread.

    What exactly is happening? Are you getting an error? Is the download just stopping? If you provide more details I may be able to help.

    @jayesstee: I’m confused. Super sneaky about what? xD

    @Ruchir Bansal: While I feel the praise is undeserved, thank you for it; and you are welcome!

    It probably selected India for you as country by default because you live in India. You can easily change it to USA, though, and the registration process will work just the same.

  12. Ruchir Bansal

    This direct comments system is the only feasible system.Thanks so much.
    I always knew that if there is a way possible nothing can stop him.A true genius and the most charitable one indeed bcoz if Ashraf was Amazon.without doubt.everyone could benefit and ultimately I am sure only America will not benefit Amazon in any way although it thinks so.
    I followed everything and now in India,I have installed it and now instead of asking for payment card no. details on mobile,it just starts saying purchase started and installs and works perfectly.Although Getjar Gold has many many around 30-40 and many are Gem.For everyone.
    When I made a new ID,it still selected India as default in dropdown,but that maybe bcoz of cookies.My Anchorfree saved me from all annoyances ands should work for all.Or free Comodo VPN that is tested perfectly working although Login needed.
    Thanks Ashraf-friend,philosopher and guide.

  13. Frank

    Hi.
    As usual Ashraf is great
    I managed to get into Amazon store but the download was canceled
    I think that the server recognises that my IP address is not in the usa
    but is is only an assumption I wonder if I am wrong

  14. Lamont Cranston

    Grand stuff indeed Ashraf, thanks very much for the heads up. The beauty of this is I already have a lady friend in the states.
    Who in turn allows me to use her address for shipping of notebooks and the like. She then forwards said items to me. So much cheaper than purchasing in OZ, even with the current exchange rate!

  15. tejas

    The FAOTD is awesome. I’ve snagged quite a few apps. Some I may never use, but you never know. I’ll Download/Install, and if it’s something I don’t need right now, Uninstall. But it’s waiting for me in My Apps if I want it.
    Checking the FAOTD is how I start my mornings now. ;)