Amazon Prime launched just over 10 years ago, and it’s fair to say that customers love it. Although the company has been cagy about subscriber numbers, it’s safe to say there are tens of millions of subscribers who use Amazon for everything from streaming television shows to easy home delivery.
What many Amazon customers might not realize, however, is that Amazon Prime isn’t just an American thing. Amazon offers Prime services in a number of global markets. According to an Amazon representative, the company currently offers Amazon Prime (renamed Amazon Premium in several markets) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Although Amazon declined to discuss member demographics in individual countries, here's a look at how Prime works in different countries. Although fast shipping, free photo storage, and early access to sales remain the same in each country, the specifics can vary dramatically:
Just over the border, Amazon Prime is similar to its American cousin—with one big difference. Canadians don’t have access to Amazon Instant Video, which makes watching hit shows like Transparent and The Man in the High Castle considerably more difficult. When Transparent first aired in Canada, it didn’t stream on Amazon…it streamed on a local homegrown Netflix rival called Shomi.
In addition, music streaming and free Kindle book rentals are not available either. For Canadians, the main Prime advantages are free photo storage (already offered by Google, Apple, Yahoo, and a host of other providers) and free shipping. Subscriptions are U.S. $58 yearly.
In one of Amazon’s biggest foreign markets, viewers can stream all the shows they want. Amazon Prime Instant Video (branded as Amazon Prime Video) debuted in the summer of 2015 for Japanese viewers, weeks ahead of Netflix’s push into the Japanese market. The Japanese market is so important to Amazon, the company says, that they also plan to develop original programming for the country.
Prime subscriptions cost U.S. $32 a year, and largely replicate their American counterparts. However, there is one local twist: Amazon offers Prime members a Scheduled Delivery feature, where a courier shows up at your home or office with an Amazon delivery at a specified time.
Germany is a major market for Amazon Prime in Europe. The service (which recently had a price increase) is popular with German consumers, and offers photo storage, Amazon Prime video streaming, free Kindle book lending and access to Amazon Pantry for an extra fee. It became even more similar to their American product in late 2015, when Amazon Prime Music was launched. However, there’s one big difference: For some items and in some locales, Amazon Prime offers same day delivery. The service costs U.S. $54 yearly.
However, German shoppers could get a big change in their Prime experience next year. According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Amazon is building two warehouses in Munich which could offer same-day Prime Now deliveries to customers in that city.
Crossing over the Rhine, French customers don’t have access to the same Amazon Prime as their German counterparts. That’s intentional: In 2014, France banned free shipping for online book retailers in a bid to protect sales at brick-and-mortar stores. In response, Amazon started charging $.01 per shipment.
The Gallic counterpart is called Amazon Premium. This Prime-like service offers next-day delivery, photo storage, and Kindle book lending for U.S. $54 yearly.
Due to international licensing issues and other legal considerations, Prime streaming is not available in that country.
In both Italy and Spain, Amazon offers a low-frills service that offers photo storage, free delivery, and not much else. Amazon Premium in Spain and Amazon Prime in Italy offer quick delivery (one business day in each country) and photo storage. In each country, the services cost U.S. $22 yearly.
Much like the United States, Germany, and Japan, the United Kingdom offers a robust set of benefits to Prime subscribers. They get streaming video, Kindle book rentals, same-day delivery in major cities, and a host of other benefits. The United Kingdom is also one of the only markets where music streaming is available as well.
But there’s one thing about Amazon Prime which customers dislike intensely in Great Britain: Its price. Amazon Prime costs $115 yearly; the subject of continued complaints from British customers as the service costs considerably more than it does in nearby European countries.
In a report issued earlier this autumn, investment firm Bernstein found that Prime has been fueling much of Amazon’s international growth, and that Amazon Prime is a success in Germany, Great Britain, and Japan.
While Prime isn’t necessarily a fit for all markets—countries where deliveries can be slow or have significant rural populations aren’t useful for Prime’s very suburban/urban customer-centric vision, there’s no doubt: Around the world, Amazon Prime is a hit.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the launch of Amazon Prime Music in Germany in late 2015, the branding of Amazon Video in Japan, and the current pricing of Amazon Prime in the United Kingdom.