We choose to buy things on AliExpress for two reasons: we can find things there that we can’t get in our own country, or we can get the same things for much less money.
Let’s get this straight. The Chinese market is easy to use for both people who buy in bulk and people who just want to buy one thing. The first person can save money on production costs and make a lot of money, while the second person can buy anything he wants, even silly things.
If you think about it, it’s pretty easy to buy things on AliExpress. With just a few clicks, you can order as much stuff as you want. You just have to pay for your products and put in your address. Within a few weeks, the goods you ordered will arrive at your door.
But what if we only buy a few of the wholesale items? Could AliExpress’s import tax cause problems? What can you do if the customs office stops the package?
AliExpress, import and customs
Buying online lets us find useful products quickly and easily, even if they are made by companies in faraway places. There are three main things that make it easier to get products from other countries today:
Globalization helped bring consumers’ tastes closer together, which made it possible to sell the same products in different parts of the world.
– the digitalization of stores, which can now show off their goods on an online showcase and sell them to customers all over the world;
– International agreements and treaties that support free trade by changing the way customs duties are set.
As a result of all of this, big companies like AliExpress have grown up, whose job is to connect companies and customers online.
AliExpress was made for business-to-consumer (B2C) customers who buy products occasionally for their own use. However, it’s not unusual for small businesses to stock up on this platform.
In fact, AliExpress lets you buy even wholesale goods with the help of its famous coupons: for a higher price (usually more than $100), the buyer gets some very good coupons for discounts.
A small business owner would spend an average of $100 to get a small number of items for his store. To be fair, there are a lot of people who use AliExpress to buy things for their businesses that are hard to find in their own country.
AliExpress is a platform that usually, but not always, hosts Chinese shops. This means that you can do business with foreign companies, which is good for international trade.
But even though there are lots of ways to save money, there are still problems with the trustworthiness of the suppliers, the quality of the products, and the AliExpress import tax.
AliExpress import tax: I should pay duties on AliExpress products?
When you buy things from companies that aren’t in your country, your transaction will be governed by a set of trade rules made by the country where you live.
Depending on where the factory or the person you bought the goods from is located, the rules could be for regional trade or for international trade.
In the first case, for example, countries in the EU benefit from the free trade principle in the Common Market, or countries in North America have special agreements in place. In the second case, each country has an international agreement with a third country, like China, or they have a bilateral agreement with the other country.
These agreements make it easier for goods to go to and from China. They also make it easier for companies in the two countries to compete with each other. This makes sure that imported goods are safe for consumers and that there are controls over them. In fact, the agreements aren’t just based on the customs tariffs that the EU or your home country uses. They also cover things like protecting the health and safety of consumers, protecting intellectual and industrial property, and making sure that imported goods are sold at a fair price that doesn’t get around national taxes.
Customs duties are a type of tax that must be paid on goods that come from other countries. Because of this, goods bought on AliExpress will have an AliExpress import tax added to them.
In general, all goods that are brought into the EU from outside the EU that are worth more than €22 must go through customs. If the value of the goods is more than €150, they may also be subject to customs duties.
Some concrete examples:
Customs officials won’t check a package with a value of less than €22. For packages with a value between €22 and €149, you’ll have to pay VAT and postage fees. For items worth more than €150, you’ll have to pay customs duties, VAT, and postage fees.
AliExpress and customs: how the package is delivered.
When you buy things on AliExpress, most packages aren’t very big, so you can send them through the mail or with a private courier.
When small packages are sent by mail, the local postal services take care of the process. Local postal services usually handle the customs clearance of all packages that come from other countries and are brought into the country where the package is going. If the sorting agents find any problems (with the paperwork, the type of goods, the price, etc.), they will send a request to the shipper, who will have to explain more.
If your package is sent through a private company like DHL, TNT, or UPS, it will have to go through Customs. If there are any problems, you will have to talk to the Customs office in your home country to explain what happened.
AliExpress and Local Post
When you buy in bulk from AliExpress and the items are sent by mail, you’ll get a tracking number that lets you follow the transaction on the Chinese platform and on the website for your national postal service. This code, which is called a “tracking number,” lets you know where the goods you bought are at any given time. You can find more information on the website of your national postal service. There is a place to search for shipments, and you can also see the history of your shipments from the time you left China.
Every postal service will have a place where you can enter your package’s tracking number to find out where it is. When you see something like “Processing at the International Exchange Center,” it usually means that it has arrived at customs.
In general, though, if the words “stopped at customs” or “held by customs” show up on the tracking, it means that your package has been stopped in one of the postal warehouses, that it has been checked, and that some extra payment is needed.
AliExpress and private couriers
When it comes to private couriers, the Customs are in charge of them. The job of the Customs Agency is to check the packages or the permissions and paperwork that are needed for that type of goods. The Customs Agency is also in charge of keeping an eye on goods that look suspicious or that probably can’t get into the country of destination because of laws there.
Both the documents and the things that are being shipped are checked by customs.
The first step is for the people sorting your package to look over the customs bill and any other paperwork that came with it. Here, they can see what kind of product they bought, how much they paid for it, how many items they bought, how much each one weighed, and other information about the goods. A second check will look at the declared price and, because of that, the customs and VAT taxes that need to be paid in the country where the goods are going.
Follow-up checks will be done on the type of goods to see if they meet national regulations or not.
The checks happen in the International Exchange Centers, which are like huge warehouses where millions and millions of packages pass through every day. Sorting staff use logistic systems to speed up the customs clearance process and report any problems right away. This makes the work go faster.
AliExpress and customs: the reasons why a package could be blocked
An AliExpress package could be stopped at customs for various reasons. Let us see together what they could be, by providing some examples:
AliExpress packages are often held up at customs because the price listed on the package is likely to be less than what the goods are worth. Some business owners put a lower price on their goods so they can pay less tax and take advantage of international agreements. Since there are no duties to pay on goods worth less than €150, a business owner could say he spent €130 when he really spent €200. Since duties are based on the type of product bought, this is a big savings;
AliExpress package is being held up at customs because it doesn’t have the right paperwork. A common way to avoid paying customs fees is to mark the contents of the package as a “gift.” The word “gift” is very general, and it doesn’t tell you anything useful about the products you bought. On top of that, the product given as a gift is considered a personal item that is sometimes bought and for which different customs taxes can be added than for goods meant for trade.
The customs office stopped an AliExpress package because it had items that were against the law in the country where it was going. There are some goods that can’t be brought in from other countries because they are bad for people’s health. This is why it’s only safe to eat them if they come from a reputable company. For example, drugs, exotic animals, archaeological artifacts, corals, shells, and products made from endangered animals like ivory;
If an AliExpress package has illegal goods in it, it can also be stopped at customs. Some products can’t be brought into the country, but they can be bought there if you get permission ahead of time. This is true for explosives, weapons, some plants, chemicals, alcohol, and anything else that can’t be sold without a license;
Customs won’t let an AliExpress package through because it has fake goods in it. As we’ve already said, counterfeiting is against the law in most countries, and people who have an industrial patent can report it.
AliExpress and customs: what to do if the shipment is blocked?
What to do when customs stops a package? If you don’t want your AliExpress package to get stuck at customs, the best thing to do is to follow the rules, learn about customs laws, and only do business with serious companies on that Chinese eCommerce platform.
When you go to AliExpress, you can see right away if a store is trustworthy by looking at the feedbacks that other customers have left. AliExpress also lets you talk to the store through a section for instant messaging, where you can negotiate prices for all your purchases with the online store.
If you don’t want your AliExpress packages to be held at customs, make sure you don’t buy goods that aren’t allowed in Europe or that need extra paperwork to be brought in. If not, and you still want to buy them, find out what certificates you need and only work with Chinese companies that specialize in them.
Ask the store to send you all the necessary paperwork with the package. This should include the true value of the goods and how much you paid for them. You won’t make any money by avoiding taxes, and giving wrong information will only make it take longer for the goods to arrive. Make sure to add your contact information, like your cell phone number, so that the local post can reach you at any time if something goes wrong.
You can easily avoid counterfeiting if you learn about the legal rights to industrial property in your own country. For instance, each country will have a database with all the trademarks and patents that its citizens have filed. This database could be looked at online. The EU has its own database called the EUIPO. With it, you can get all the information you need about registered trademarks and industrial property rights in just a few minutes.
If the AliExpress package has already been held up at customs, you will have to wait for a message from your national postal system or call your local post office. The people who work at the post office will help you figure out why the package didn’t get through customs and tell you what paperwork you need to get the goods cleared for importation. You might be asked for more paperwork, like a copy of your ID, your tax ID number, your VAT number, if you have one, and a copy of the invoice showing that you bought the product. This seems like a lot of work, but don’t worry! You might be able to do everything online from your office, saving you a lot of time.
If the AliExpress package is stopped because there is something strange about the products, the Customs Agency might look at it. You could be contacted for more information and to provide more proof that you bought the products.
How to buy products from China without being afraid of customs
In any case, the customs clearance of products is something that can very well take away a lot of time from your business. Entrusting the sale negotiation with AliExpress to a third-party company specializing in Chinese imports is probably the best solution for your business.