March 18, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 821 Comments

How to Import Products from China!

Many of you will choose to import goods from abroad (outside the European Union). If and when you do, it’s essential to fully understand how importing works; what extra costs are involved, time frames for delivery etc.

For many new traders, Importing sounds like a nightmare to go through. But in fact, it’s not that complicated at all IF you know the basics behind the importing process – payment, shipping, taxes and customs. In this blog post I’ll try to cover most of the important aspects of importing from China and other countries outside the EU.

What does “importing” mean?

In general, importing means that you’re buying goods from a supplier outside your country. However, in my examples I won’t be counting European Union countries as goods can be freely moved across the EU without paying extra import duty or VAT. For most of you, China and the United States will be the top two countries to import from, so let’s cover them in detail.

Shipping Methods

Shipping costs will make up a substantial percentage of your total product cost, so it’s important to keep them as low as possible at all times. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger your order, the lower ‘per item’ shipping costs you’ll face. There’s no point in importing one pair of unbranded shoes from China as the shipping costs will be far more than the cost of the product itself. Volume is the key to success when building your eBay business around an “Importing from China” product sourcing concept. But that doesn’t mean you have to start off with full container loads either!

Here are the 4 most popular shipping methods you can use to import goods from China:

1) Regular Post. This means normal, regular China Post which can take up to 6 weeks to arrive. No online tracking is provided. It can be used for parcels under 2kg. Usually, you will only use regular post for samples and again ONLY if time is not that important and you can afford to wait a few weeks for a package to arrive. China Post is not the most reliable system so be prepared for lost/stolen packages.

If at all possible, I try to avoid using China Mail for any shipments as the delivery time is simply too long.

If your supplier is located in Hong Kong, you can use HK Airmail which is way more reliable, comes with a tracking number and usually arrives within 5-10 days.

2) Courier. Shipping with a courier company will be the most suitable method for most people starting out IF it involves small, lightweight items. With courier companies such as TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx you pay a premium price for each kilo BUT you get fast delivery times and an online tracking facility. These days most courier shipments take just 3-5 business days to arrive in any Western country from anywhere around the globe. I personally use TNT and DHL most of the time as their prices have worked out lowest for me. For a 50kg package, expect to pay around £4 or £5 per kilo.

3) Air Freight. This is somewhere between courier shipping and sea freight. Shipping times vary from company to company, but in general range between 5 to 10 days which is not bad at all! With Air Freight costs will be significantly lower than with courier companies, but extra work is involved when the goods arrive in your destination country. With Air Freight you’ll usually have to handle documentation and customs clearance on your own (unlike with courier companies), which for many newbies may seem impractical. Of course, you can always outsource these tasks to a freight forwarding company at an additional cost.

With Air Freight, expect to pay £2-£3 per kilo for a 100kg shipment.

Air Freight is usually cost effective once shipments are in the range of 100kg or more UNLESS very bulky items are involved; if that’s the case your only viable option is to use Sea Freight.

4) Sea Freight. This is the most popular shipping method used by big companies to import goods from China. The cost per kilo (£100-£150 per pallet, even less if you can order full or half-container loads) is very low but the downside is the lengthy delivery time. Depending on where you’re located it will be in the vicinity of 30 to 40 days in most cases.

Just like with Air Freight, you’ll have to take care of the documentation, customs clearance and delivery of goods from the port to your home or office. It’s not that complicated to be honest – I do this on my own on a regular basis, but I understand that for newbies it could seem too complicated and that’s why I recommend using a freight forwarding company that will take care of all the procedures and deliver goods right to your door.

Also, with Sea Freight it’s very important to calculate all the EXTRA COSTS involved once the goods arrive in your country. Your supplier will usually give you the FOB price, which means that the goods are loaded onto the ship. But that’s not the end of the story! Once your shipment arrives at the port there are all kinds of extra charges, such as:

  • Unloading charge;
  • Port fees;
  • Docking fees;
  • Storage fees;
  • Clearance fees;
  • Etc.

And I’m not talking small figures here! These fees can run into hundreds of pounds! That’s why it’s crucial to take these numbers into account BEFORE you order any goods so that you know precisely what your final product cost will be.

Again, the easiest way to keep these costs under control is by using a freight forwarding company. You can ask them to quote for door-to-door delivery which includes all the fees associated with Sea Freight shipping.

Even with all the additional fees Sea Freight is still the cheapest shipping method for imports from China. Remember that it’s cost effective ONLY if your order is big enough. Usually, a half pallet or one full pallet will be enough if your margins are right. Again, this will depend on the kind of goods you’re importing, their value and weight. Sometimes Air Freight offers the same savings as Sea Freight with the added bonus of much speedier delivery.

In general, Sea Freight is better for bulky items or in cases where the shipping time is not that important. Personally I try to stick to couriers and Air Freight as often as possible as I just can’t stand the long wait involved when using Sea Freight. (but then again I deal mostly with small, light weight items).

Advantages of Using a Freight Forwarder

Here is some good news – I have recently started recommending a freight forwarding company called Woodland Global. You may already have heard about them if you’re an active member of The Wholesale Forums as Darren, who works for them, is a member there and he helps people with questions about importing.

Woodland Global is a great company to deal with and so far I have only heard positive feedback about them:

  • There are no yearly or joining fees;
  • They’re UK based and very easy to get in touch with;
  • They’re fast because they ship containers from China on a weekly basis;
  • Their pricing is very competitive, even for small-time importers;
  • They will deliver goods to your door and take care of all the documentation.

In a word – Woodland Global is a perfect solution for small-time importers! Their fees are very affordable and they’ll even deal with small orders. If you’re interested in their services and need a quote, get in touch with Darren on TWF or simply use the contact page on their website.

Imagine the kind of opportunities this opens up to you, especially if you’re just starting out on your journey and you’re still looking for the perfect niche? Most people stay away from bulky items as they don’t want or don’t know how to deal with Sea Freight shipments effectively. Now, with the help of a freight forwarding company, it’s suddenly not so much of a problem anymore!

Woodland Global can even pick up goods for you in China and deliver them to the nearest port. However, if possible, always try to arrange shipment of goods to a Chinese port via your supplier, as this will often work out to be cheaper.

Shipping from the US

If we talk specifically about importing from the USA, the cheapest option for sending parcels is with the US Postal Service. They’re reasonably priced, especially if you don’t opt for their fastest shipping method. You can send up to 30kg per shipment and the closer you get to that 30kg mark, the cheaper the price per kilo.

Even if your order comes in at 50kg, you can simply split it into 2 shipments and still send it via USPS. Of course, this will only work with small, lightweight or valuable items, not furniture or LCD TVs. For bulky items you’ll want to go back to using Air Freight or Sea Freight.

As you can see, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but in general you should be able to make your decision based on these 3 major factors:

1) Size and weight of the shipment

2) How long you can wait before the shipment arrives

3) Value of goods

In other words, the best shipping method will depend on your order!!!

Payment Options

When dealing with ANY supplier for the first time, you have to be extremely careful. There are so many scammers operating out there in the wholesale industry, so before you decide to send money to your supplier, make sure you do all the background checks available to you to make sure you’re dealing with a legit company. And even then, always, always start with a small trial order to avoid huge losses if that supplier turns out a scammer.

When you have done all the checks and verified the supplier, you can place your first order. Which payment method is safest to use? Usually, suppliers will accept the following:

Wire Transfer – this means sending money from your bank account to the supplier’s bank account. This is the most common payment method used in B2B transactions. Wire Transfer doesn’t offer ANY protection, so only use this method with suppliers you trust 100%. Sending money to a supplier in China can take up to 5 working days.

Transfer fees will vary from bank to bank but in most cases will be in the region of £10-£30. Most banks offer international wire transfers at a reduced cost when you use the bank’s ONLINE banking facility. Finally, the fee you pay your bank to carry out this transaction is usually a fixed one which means that the more money you send per transaction, the lower per pound fee you’ll pay.

Most Chinese companies will accept wire transfer as a default payment option. If they don’t, it may be a sign that something dodgy is going on. Make sure you only send money to the company’s bank account and not to a personal bank account, no matter what story the Chinese supplier tells you.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even though your bank may charge you only a fixed fee for making the payment, that there are usually additional fees involved. Banks typically add a markup to the exchange rate and so you end up having to pay more to send money overseas.

TransferWise:​ ​Companies that specialise in international money transfers could save you a substantial amount of money if you’re looking to make frequent transfers to your Chinese suppliers.

FCA and FinCEN regulated, TransferWise are ​up to eight times cheaper than banks​ when it comes to making international payments. They always convert money at the mid-market exchange rate – ie. the rate you see on Google is the rate you’ll receive. The only fee you’ll pay is a small, upfront fee on the value of the transfer. You can also ​make global USD payments to your Chinese supplier​ and with their fixed fee of $2 + small % cost of currency conversion, their rates are very competitive.

Setting up the payment is simple as well. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information and state what currency you’d like to pay them in and then fund your transfer. Options include bank transfer and debit/ credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.

With over 3 million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.

You can find out more about TransferWise in my post ​here.​

Credit/Debit cards – one of the safest ways to pay for goods is by using your credit card. Chinese suppliers will vary rarely take credit card payments but companies in the EU or US will, in most cases, be happy to accept credit card payments. Some companies may add on a small extra fee to cover the fees they have to pay themselves when they accept a payment by credit card.

Why are credit cards good for paying your supplier? First of all, with most card issuers you can initiate a charge-back if something goes wrong with your order or the supplier turns to be a scammer.

Secondly, most cards offer a cash-back or points system where you can actually get some money back in the form of bonuses from your bank – be they frequent flyer points or extra cash in your bank account.

Lastly, if the supplier accepts credit cards it’s a pretty good sign that he’s legit, especially if we are talking about suppliers in the UK and US. Why? Because it’s not that easy to set up a merchant account and start taking credit card payments. Companies have to undergo a strict verification process to be able to take card payments and this is something most scammers won’t do.

PayPal – I’m sure you’re fully aware of what PayPal is and how it operates. These days, most Chinese suppliers will accept PayPal payments. All your payments with PayPal are protected, so you can always open a dispute and request a refund if a supplier has scammed you. Now, you will not always win those disputes, but PayPal’s most recent policy is generally buyer friendly and sellers are the ones who have to prove that the transaction was legit and the goods were delivered.

Again, it’s not that easy to open a PayPal account in China, which is why scammers try to avoid using PayPal and will push WU, MG or other similar, unsafe payment methods. As with a wire transfer, make sure you’re sending money to the PayPal account of the company you’re dealing with and not a personal PayPal account.

Escrow – Legitimate suppliers know how important safe payment methods are to buyers and that’s why when dealing with suppliers on Alibaba, you now have the option of using Alibaba’s escrow payment system.

What is escrow? With escrow, you first send the money to an escrow company and they hold it for you until you receive and inspect goods and only then release the money to your supplier. It is by far the safest payment method as you ONLY pay your supplier once you have received and inspected the goods.

Western Union, MoneyGram etc. – NEVER ever deal with a supplier who only accepts Western Union, Money Gram or similar payment methods! The only time you should use Western Union is when you are ordering product samples as WU transfer fees are much lower than bank transfer fees.

But only do it with totally verified, trustworthy suppliers. When you use WU, you can’t actually send money to a company; only individuals can send and receive money via the WU network.

Most scammers will only accept payments via Western Union. If branded goods are involved, it’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with a scammer!

Personally I try to stick with PayPal when dealing with Chinese suppliers and PayPal or credit card when dealing with US based suppliers. Wire transfer is usually ok for European suppliers and manufacturers, if we are talking about verified suppliers.

Currency Exchange Rates

There’s not much really you can do about currency exchange rates; you simply have to accept them as an additional cost when dealing with suppliers abroad. If you’re dealing with large amounts of money (in excess of £10k+), you can look for currency exchange companies that may offer you better rates. Personally I have never used such companies as I’m only dealing in high profit margin items these days where 1% doesn’t have any impact on my bottom line.

If PayPal is the only payment method offered by your supplier, you simply have to accept PayPal’s exchange rate as it is. If wire transfer is an option, you could probably get a better rate from your bank BUT they’ll take a commission on an international transfer which will offset all the savings you would make on the currency exchange.

If you have a really strong, long-term relationship with your supplier, and you’re 100% confident they won’t scam you, try offering a PayPal Mass Pay option to your supplier – in return for a percentage from the total you have to pay (PayPal won’t charge any fees to a supplier using Mass Pay).

So for example, if you pay $1000 via PayPal in the usual way, PayPal will charge a fee of around $30 and the net amount the supplier will receive will be $970.

But if you agree to using Mass Pay, the supplier might charge you only $980, generating savings for both parties. $20 may not seem that much but that’s only if you send $1000. For larger payments this method can save hundreds of $ in fees! REMEMBER, only do this if you’re 100% confident about supplier you’re dealing with!

To sum it up – factor in currency exchange fees as an additional cost that you can’t do anything about! PayPal will probably turn out to be the best payment method for you, especially if you sell on eBay (buyers will also pay you via PayPal, simplifying cash flow for your business).

Taxes

When you import goods into the EU from abroad, you have to pay two kinds of tax before the goods are actually released to you:

  • Value Added Tax (VAT)
  • Import Duty

The VAT rate is different for each European Union country, so make sure you check your country’s specific VAT rate before making any calculations. The current VAT rate in the UK is 20%.

Import duties vary widely from product to product so do check the accurate rate with the help of this free online calculator:

http://www.dutycalculator.com/

Import duty will be usually be in the range of 2%-5%, but with some products it can be as high as 10% or even more. On the other hand, with some product groups you won’t have to pay import duty at all, so be sure to check out that online calculator to see exactly how much import duty you’ll have to pay for your particular goods.

REMEMBER!!! Import duty is payable only on the goods’ value, but VAT will be applied to the TOTAL of:

Goods’ value (price paid to the supplier)
+
Shipping
+
Import Duty

So VAT is calculated on the value of the goods + shipping + import duty. I just wanted to clarify this as people often get a nasty surprise when they see a bigger number than the 20% of the goods’ value they were expecting.

Register for VAT or not?

Many people who are just starting out importing will ask this question – should I register as a VAT payer before I import goods from abroad? The answer is NO, NO and NO! Without going into numbers and complex calculations, you will want to stay away from VAT registration as long as possible (that is, until you reach the maximum turnover after which you HAVE to register for a VAT number by law).

So just remember that you don’t have to register before you reach the threshold. The current VAT threshold in the UK is £77K over the previous 12 months. You can even ask for an exception to be made if your turnover exceeds this amount temporarily. You’ll find more details on the HM Revenues and Customs website. VAT thresholds vary from country to country, so if you’re based outside the UK, be sure to check the local laws regarding VAT registration.

Read more about VAT registration for small businesses here.

EORI Number

A few years ago the EU introduced an EORI number to monitor imported goods. This number is used for statistical purposes and there are no extra costs involved.

You’ll find more information about EORI on the HMRC website. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re a registered business it’s a good idea to register for EORI before you start your importing activities or else the process of receiving your shipment when the goods arrive in the UK may be delayed.

EU regulations, CE mark.

With some product groups you have to be extremely careful when importing goods from China, or any other country outside the European Union as you must ensure they comply with EU rules and regulations. Some sensitive product groups are:

  • Health & Beauty products
  • Electronics
  • Children’s toys and equipment
  • Food
  • Chemicals, drugs, creams etc.

What you’ll find is that most Chinese suppliers will tell you that all the certificates are in order : DON’T take their word for it! If you can, verify that all the documentation is genuine so you can import those goods into the EU without any chance of them being seized and destroyed at customs.

Copyright & Patent Issues

Another sensitive question – patents. You’ll eliminate copyright issues as long as you stay away from branded items and items with branded designs (such as kids’ toys with Disney characters, company logos, movie characters etc.) With patents, the situation is more difficult as there is no easy way to find out whether an item you want to import from China doesn’t breach any registered patents. What you can do though is ask your supplier about potential issues with this BEFORE you place your order.

Patent issues often come up with electronics and specific instruments and devices, so if you’re dealing with some really fancy device or piece of equipment, make sure the supplier’s products don’t use any patented, protected technology.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid of the importing process, but start small.

It’s not as complicated as it looks, especially if you use courier as a shipping method. With couriers you don’t have to worry about long shipping delays or customs clearance as they will take care of all the documentation for you.

Take it step by step – place a small order on AliExpress and see how it works out. On AliExpress you’re protected by an Escrow Payment System, so if something goes wrong with your order, you can always open a dispute and get your money back.

Good Luck!
Andrew 

821 Comments
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  1. Caroline Conceicao

    Hi Andrew! Thanks for help us.

    If i want to buy cosmetics and accessories from Alibaba to uk, and sell those itens in my own website, I have to registre my business or I can buy an sell things without a registre until reach 77k to pay VAT threshold?

    And what is the maximum order (£) I can do before became a business? I mean, to receive my order with any problem.

    thank you so much for your help.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      You have to register at least as a Sole Trader (or Ltd. company) if you want to import goods from China and re-sale to make a profit.

      You can, of course, import those products as an individual, that’s fine – for personal use. But if you want to re-sale them, you need to register a business.

      It has nothing to do with turnover thresholds.

      Andrew

  2. Hello Andrew!

    I’ve come up against a few problems, i’m using the alibaba trade assurance service to protect myself during a trade. However the supplier seems to be reluctant to put the product specifications within the ‘product quality standards’ section of the contract.
    Instead they’ve put comments such as ‘ everything is intact, everything works fine’ in the ‘product description and specification’ section only. I’m sure you’re familiar with the contract format and im sure like me, you see this as a knock against a reason to buy!

    Any advice on what i should do? FYI these people accept debit cards for payment, which you’ve mentioned is a good sign

    Also if i were to go with a longer shipping process (20 days or something) with a service like china post, do these guys ( like DHL ) deliver straight to my door?

    Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for your answer, but I am still confused with VAT . Do I have to pay VAT to the HMRC for my order?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you don’t have to do that as shipping terms already include it.

  4. Hi Andrew, I done my first shipping from China today. China’s partner (seller) recommend to me shipping as “duty free air door to door delivery-tax including ” DPD. Does it means I do not have to pay “import duty” or VAT? Could you please explain me how this shipping method work. Many thanks for your help

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marcin,

      Yes, that means that taxes are already included in the final cost price you pay.

      There are two ways Chinese suppliers usually can offer DDP terms:

      1) They use a courier who offers this as a service;
      2) They use a EU based warehouse as middle men/processing facility where all shipments from China are cleared through Customs and then delivered to final destination in Europe.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  5. Hi Andrew

    Something i forgot to mention,

    My supplier seems to be giving me an option on maybe not declaring the full amount of the package to customs when they drop it off, I’ve tried to be very clear to declare the true value of the product so it can be taxed properly, id like to avoid a random payment/charge months down the line

    The handling fee i mentioned, is this a fee that is only charged if my parcel is intercepted and checked? in which case if declared correctly it would certainly be a cost that i would have to bare?

    thanks again

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that’s correct.

      Handling/customs clearance fee applies ONLY if the correct value is stated on package, and it is above the limit and package goes through Customs Clearance process.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  6. Hello Andrew,

    I’m about to make my first ever import for a relativity small sample amount of 550 GBP, I’m fairly confident with my research into my supplier ect and understanding of the whole process however I’ve a few questions regarding all of the ‘outgoing’ costs I’ve taken into account, i fear i may be missing something!

    I’ve accounted for duty/shipping cost/VAT and currency exchange charge ( if any ) but i dont quite understand other things like the ‘handling fees’

    My supplier have said they would be using DPD which is their ‘cheapest’ express postage which would, if i’m correct.. deliver right to my home address? ( the box amount should be fairly small and weigh under a KG

    My main question is, with regard to what I’ve mentioned what are any costs that are ‘less obvious’ that I must account for

    I am not VAT registered as you recommend and would like the product delivered to my home address
    Additionally, my supplier are allowing me to pay by Visa/debit – would you take intemperate this as a ‘good’ thing that demonstrates a reason to trust? i’ve read its a safer payment option

    Thanks for your help!
    home to hear from you soon

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, if it’s via DPD, that will be a courier delivery, to your door. There won’t be any excessive extra fees associated with this shipping method. You will have to pay a Customs Clearance fee which is usually no more than £20 to £30.

      Yes, of course – a card payment shows that they are 100% legit as scammers can’t use credit card payments – you can easily reverse a card payment and get your money back.

      Hope this helps Adam & Good luck with the first shipment! 🙂

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks very much, great information!

        So the cost for DPD to handle the customs of my import is usually around 20-30 pound no matter the weight?, in that case what is the ‘handling’ fee which I’ve found is 2.5% or 11 GBP which ever is more ?

        If a price is quoted that is over the limit, it is 100% certain my package will be searched? it contains electronic goods

        Is there any other fee i may be missing?

        Thanks again!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          The handling fee probably is the same Customs Clearance fee in this case.

          No, it’s not 100% guaranteed that your packaged will be manually checked/searched at Customs.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  7. Hello Andrew,

    I’m hoping to move into the realm if importing used phones from a certified Chinese based provider ( these people seem to have all of the ‘checks’ for a reliable Alibaba supplier, however of course i remain sceptical)

    I understand for such devices there is no import tax applied which is great, however VAT is still applied at 20% for the UK.

    You mention that it’s perhaps not a good idea to apply for VAT registration as a starter, i was hoping to recover a portion of the VAT by using the VAT rebate scheme ( i’m fairly new to the concept, forgive my ignorance if any! )

    Would i be right in saying in order to reclaim VAT in anyway at all, i need to be registered? ( my income would be far below the threshold )

    An example:
    ( i neglect the shipping cost here )

    I import a product of value 100 + 20% vat ( Import VAT = 20 )
    I receive this product and then sell online for 200 + 20% vat ( Sale VAT = 40 )

    Would I be able to claim back the difference of (Sale Vat – Import Vat)?

    This 20% on all transactions really bites into my margin, i’m sure I’ve got something completely wrong!

    Thanks for your fantastic posts!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Liam,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, your calculations are right. BUT you’re missing the important point here – when you become VAT registered, you have to charge that VAT on end sale – £40 in your example. Yes, you get £20 back but still, using your example, your end profit is £100.

      Now, take a look at same example if you’re NOT VAT registered:

      * Import a product of value 100 + 20% vat ( Import VAT = 20 ) – cost is £120
      * Sell the item for £240 (no need to charge VAT as you’re not VAT registered)
      * Profit – £240 – £120 = £120

      So, by NOT being VAT registered your profit is actually £20 more compared to a VAT registered situation.

      And this is exactly why I recommend that people don’t sign up for VAT BEFORE they reach the threshold.

      Hope this helps!
      Andrew

      1. Hello Andrew,

        Thanks for your quick reply!

        Ah yes i see your point, so as a non VAT registered i personally don’t have to charge VAT on my products but I have to pay the VAT when i buy them for resale

        Another factor to this is that i wish to sell on eBay ( in conjunction with paypal ), which themselves have some fees that jeopardise a decent margin.

        I think i’m getting confused because on my excel sheet I’ve prepared it suggests VAT registration is an advantage ( assuming i’ve got it all right for the realm of ebay selling! )

        I’ll try to communicate it across as best i can: ( all in GBP )
        Firstly non-VAT registered:

        Product + Postage import = 278.36
        Vat on import at 20% = 55.67
        Total import cost = 334

        Sell for 395
        – ebay business account fee ( 5 % ) = 20.54
        – paypal fee (3.4%) =13.43
        – paypal 20p fee per transaction = -0.20
        Sale price after fees = 360

        Profit 360-334 = 26

        Vat Registered scenario:

        Product + Postage import = 278.36
        Vat on import at 20% = 55.67
        Total import cost = 334

        Sell for 395
        – ebay business account fee ( 5 % ) = 20.54
        – paypal fee (3.4%) =13.43
        – paypal 20p fee per transaction = -0.20
        – 20% vat on sale price before fees = 79

        Sale price after fees and VAT = 281

        Since registered, eligible for a tax rebate claim.. so accounting for that

        VAT on sale – VAT on import
        79-55.67 = 23.4 ( is 23.4 the amount of VAT i now need to pay? )

        So now instead of adding 79 to the 281 ( sale price after fees ) i add 23.4 to 281 giving a sale price after fees and rebate vat of 337.43

        giving a profit margin of 337.43-334
        profit of 3.43

        Have i got something wrong here? i can totally see the potential of what you’re saying but for some reason it’s not showing in my figures, apologise for the long post!
        Thanks again

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Liam,

          Yes, you would have to pay VAT on purchases and imports but you wouldn’t charge VAT on end sales.

          I won’t go into details on your calculations but VAT on fees doesn’t change it – being VAT registered you will still pocket LESS money compared to a non-registered VAT seller.

          Only time when it is valuable to register for VAT voluntary is:

          1) IF you sell 5% or 0% VAT rated goods (like some children product groups). Then you can claim back VAT on expenses but won’t have to charge VAT on end sales;
          2) IF you heavily invest in early days of business – buy equipment for example and spend MORE in VAT than you get back in sales.

          If none of these scenarios apply to you, don’t waste your time on these calculations 🙂

          Thanks,
          Andrew

      2. As an R.E to my last message

        i notice i’ve mixed the title of those calculations up on the peice of paper i used to do my calculations , you’re totally right!

        – Non vat profit is 26 pounds
        – Vat registered profit, even with the VAT rebate is only 3 pounds ish!

        That’s very interesting, I’ve found so many resources online treating the vat refund system as a huge advantage, are there any cases if you’re under the threshold where the system could benefit you?

        Also while selling on ebay as a business seller, how would vat work for me if i do not have a vat registration number?

        Thanks again!

  8. Hi Andrew,

    I am looking to make my first order on some branded small toys from either the US or China, however I am now a bit concerned about them been fake. Are all branded items fake on Alibaba?

    And from your other comments, for my first order of around US$500, I would not need to register for VAT or even an EORI number to begin with?

    Are there any other things I would need such as certificate of origin etc?

    Thanks Phil

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, all “western” brand products on Alibaba and in general – China based websites, will be FAKE. Only real items you can find there are Chinese own brands.

      No, you don’t have to register for VAT and most likely won’t need EORI number too for an order worth just $500.

      As for other requirements – depends on the product you’re importing so you need to do some research on the topic, based on what you will be importing.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  9. Hi Andrew
    Great article I’m very new to the concept of importing but would likly go down the air fright route at first untill I was in the position to purchase a higher number of goods.
    I am thinking of the disabled elderly markets in disability scooter and electric wheel adjustable beds rise and recline chairs
    Trolled hm customs to find codes to try to work out costs and can’t find what I’m wanting
    Any advice ‘re this with on line eBay store and a storage unit/ shop

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your comment.

      First of all, for such bulky items, you will have to use Sea freight and nothing else. Courier or Air freight will simply be too expensive.

      As for the tariff codes, you can find them on your own using this page:

      https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  10. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for taking the time in posting such informative articles. This is the first place I’ve come to find detailed answers to many questions.
    I have one question that I’m hoping you might answer for me…
    I have recently been developing a dropshipping store through Shopify, using Oberlo and AliExpress as my main tools for stocking the store. The structure of the store is complete, I have my domain, logo, theme, pages, etc all complete and all that’s left to do now is to find reputable suppliers who can provide quality products which I can advertise. This is where I’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block…
    I want to start as I mean to go on and do everything by the book so only want to stock products that meet all necessary regulations. My products will be children’s clothes, I am based in Ireland and I intend on shipping worldwide. Therefore I have to make sure the products adhere to regulations in the UK, EU, US, Canada, etc, etc. and for example, UK Regulations require that children’s clothes must adhere to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, the Children’s Clothing (Hood Cords) Regulations 1976 and the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985.
    I’m aware that as the importer of the goods, if anything were to go wrong with any of the products, I am held liable. Therefore, I want to make sure that my suppliers and their products adhere to all necessary regulations. This is where my problem is. I have read that even if I ask a supplier to guarantee that their products meet all regulations, even if I ask for supporting paperwork, that could itself be fake and I am still liable.
    Can you advise me what the best route forward from here is without having to spend weeks trawling through regulations, suppliers, paperwork, etc, as I really want to get my store open now that I’m at the final hurdle.
    Any help and advice would be much appreciated and I’m sure would help others in similar situations.
    Kind Regards
    Fin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Fin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m afraid that starting a business in a niche like that WILL require you spending some good time on reading regulations etc. as children’s clothes is not an ordinary product and it does require very specific certifications in place for products to be safe to be sold in the UK/EU. And yes, it is correct – no matter what, YOU, as an importer will be liable for meeting these standards.

      If you find large manufacturers in China who work for EU market, they will often have done testing already (ask for proof and validate through Testing Houses) but they also will ask for quite large MOQs. Alternative route is to do testing on your own (expensive) – you can find local testing houses and ask them for prices/quotes on such testing jobs. But it won’t be cheap, that’s for sure.

      To sum it up – IF you’re on a small budget, this product/niche may not be the best one for you. Alternatively, you could consider buying goods from EU based manufacturers or importers (say in Poland?) that will have all the paper work in place.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew for the advice. I certainly didn’t make life easy for myself picking a niche like children’s clothes as my first stab at dropshipping! However, as I’ve already set up the store, bought the domain, came up with a name and designed the logo, and as I’ve also done quite a lot of research already into the various UK, EU and US regulations, I think that I’m going to run the course with this one as I might as well use it as a stern test of the whole system. I’m not one for always looking for the easy option. I prefer it when I take a tough route and make it easier. More satisfying!

        However, you have made a very good point which I had considered about using EU based manufacturers instead, but every manufacturer/supplier on Oberlo Supply seems to be from China. Can you recommend a good tool/method for locating EU suppliers for my Shopify store who would be signed up for dropshipping? I can’t seem to find any.

  11. Hi Andrew,

    Such an informative website especially for newbies. Can i ask a question…

    I have set up an order in China for 200 dollars worth of shoes to be sent to the UK via UPS. I am not a registered business though, will this affect my shipment? Will i be able to receive it?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      You don’t have to be a registered business to import products from China, so that’s not a problem.

      As long as you haven’t ordered anything illegal (like copies/fake shoes), you should receive your goods, yes.

      Andrew

  12. Ogai Mafuse

    Hi Andrew,

    I can’t tell you how much you made our lives easier seriously I watched some youtube videos they all are after money and subscription which is kinda buisness for them but i am lucky enough to find you or your site 🙂
    my question is all these shipping methods can apply to USA amazon FBA as well?
    second i am a full time a young mother do you think i can make some profit of this business idea?

    kind regards

    OGAI

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, same principles will basically apply to the USA too, including importing for an Amazon business (there are some specifics though so check out my Amazon related posts on this).

      ANYONE can make profit with importing as long as they educate themselves on how this all works, put solid effort into product research and other steps of the process.

      Andrew

  13. Hi Andrew,

    This is a very helpful article and I appreciate your great knowledge. I just received an order from Alibaba – a small 3.5 kg box with 200 pcs of metal key rings. The invoice attached to the parcel is for 200 pcs x $0.075 = $15 what was probably reported to TNT, but I really paid by card $292 including shipping, and after my complain I received the invoice for this amount, 200 x $1.46 = $292. What should I do now ?? I should wait for information from TNT or report a correct invoice and pay VAT and duty ?? Also, I’m not Vat payer. Where can I find step-by-step instruction how to pay VAT and import duty ??
    If you find Andrew few minutes to answer my question I will be very thankful.

    Bart

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bart,

      You need to contact TNT about this situation and ask them to redo the clearance process and charge accurate import duty & VAT.

      More on this here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/shipment-without-customs/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  14. Hi I have a few mats I have designed. They are training aids for adults and children and are to be much like yoga mats and/or interlocking jigsaw type printed foam mats. Though not overly weighty they will either be rolled up or in clear plastic packaging . I am thinking of an initial order of maybe 500.(guessing quite a few pallets worth?) As a complete novice to importing what would you recommend as my most sensible option? Hopefully the mats will sell and I repeat order but at what point would it become a must to use sea freight?…..anything else I should know?…..and thankyou for the most interesting article

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Suzy,

      That kind of product can ONLY be shipped cost effectively using SEA freight and nothing else! And the more pallets you send at a time, the cheaper it gets. I would recommend making your order at least 3-4 pallets big, if not more.

      And get in touch with a freight forwarder to organise shipping for you:

      https://www.woodlandgroup.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  15. Hi Andrew,

    Your posts are so helpful, the HMRC website baffles me at times! I’m just starting out a baby and children’s clothing boutique online and have ordered £429 worth of stock from wholesalers in China on DHGate. This is from 4 separate sellers and the cost does not go over £126 per seller. Iv had a telephone appointment with HMRC business helpline today and have come away more confused than before. Do I need to register for an EORI number now? The orders are coming via China Mail, Epacket, Royal Mail and DHL. What do I need to do now? I spent less than £500 on purpose as that’s all I can afford to lose if things do go wrong. Iv found wholesalers who have already sold items to British retailers. Because I’m just starting I wasn’t too worried about the 4-6 week shipping. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sadie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You don’t have to do anything right now, relax 🙂

      As you have made orders and all of them will be sent via air mail, courier methods – you just have to wait until packages arrive in the UK.

      IF there will be any taxes to pay, courier company or Royal Mail will inform you about them. And no, you don’t need an EORI number for such low value shipments.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  16. Hi andrew,
    I recently purchased fujifilm Instax film for polaroid camera from hongkong to resell them in UK which was shipped through dhl and I paid import and custom tax. The fujifilm UK has contacted me asking me to take my advert down from eBay because it’s unlawful to sell fujifilm instax film imported from outside EU to sell in UK. I am confused because I carried out my research before I made the purchase from Hongkong. Btw the above Information is extremely helpful.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oshin,

      If Fujifilm takes part of eBay’s VERO program, they have full rights to take your listings/products down.

      Those are the rights of brand owners, not much you can do about that.

      Andrew

  17. Hi Andrew
    Thanks for all the information you have provided. I am thinking of buying some jewellery items from China worth £250. And the weight is around 6 kg. it will be through courier service like DHL. As I am new to all this, can you please advise on how much should that cost and how much VAT and import duty do I have to pay and when do I pay.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mab,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Shipping costs – these you need to ask your supplier – ask them to get a courier shipping quote for your order. It’s not worth finding your own shipping as suppliers in China get much better rates than we do.

      As for the import duty and VAT – approximately it will be 25% to 30% of your order value, so £60 to £75 or so.

      DHL will inform you about these payments – either prior delivering the package to you or afterwards. You will just need to pay the invoice they provide.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you for your reply.

      2. Thank yo u for your reply. One more query please. If my goods are less than £150 do I still need to pay duty on it. I just want to experiment with little stuff and minimum costs.
        Will appreciate your advice.
        Thanks

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Mab,

          Here’s a post that goes into detail on values/thresholds:

          https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  18. Hi Andrew

    Just came across this site (interesting).
    I am looking to import from china some solar thermal tubes and tank ( Solar Thermal) do you have any ideas of the customs required codes for importing such products in to the UK. I m having trouble locating them, also what the approx likely cost of importing would be.

    Alan Dale

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alan,

      You need to find these products in the tariff code list:

      https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

      There you will find the import duty too.

      Andrew

  19. hi andrew im looking to import 10 mini motor bikes from china. i have all prices etc which im happy with but being told i need a import license is this true as i have never heard of this before. if it is true how can i go about getting one thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jack,

      Who told you about that? That you need an import licence?

      Haven’t heard of it in the context of importing goods to the EU – as in general there are no such importing licences unless specific products are involved like high risk chemicals or similar.

      Andrew

  20. Hi, im planning to import 300 hair bows from China (USD15 total) It will be a small box I guess. So curier will be the Best option, right?
    Do I have to pay vat and import duty?
    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cibele,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, for such small order courier will be best method. If you don’t need fast delivery, you could even use Chinese Mail but it is very slow, 4 weeks and doesn’t have tracking.

      No, you won’t have to pay any import duty or VAT on such small order.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  21. Dear Andrew,
    Thank you for all the information that you have posted here. It’s really helpful. I am looking into importing children cartoons DVDs for purposes as a reseller. Will there be a customs duty or import vat on the items? I understand that children picture books are exempt from taxes and was wondering whether the same apply to DVDs of children’s cartoons.

    Thank you,
    Julie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Julie,

      Which country you’re planning to import these DVDs from?

      Let me know.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,
        It will be from Malaysia and China. Thanks.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Don’t do it!!!!

          Those are fakes/copies and illegal to sell.

          You can’t get genuine DVDs from countries like China.

          1. What about Malaysia? It’s purchased from a trusted distributer. Do you know what are the taxes and duties for children’s cartoons please? Or is there no distinction? Thanks.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Same thing, they are all copies/fakes and illegal to import and re-sell.

  22. Samantha Marshall

    Thank you so much for this overview.
    I am thinking about importing and you have given me lots to think about.
    Especially Woodland Global, EORI, VAT and Import Duty.
    You ROCK!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Samantha! 🙂

  23. Hi Andrew

    My supplier in China has quoted me FOB for the port in China. Does that mean I have to hire a forwarder in China to bring the order to the Amazon fulfilment centre?

    Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irene,

      Yes, you will need to hire a freight forwarder for shipping, customs clearance process but it doesn’t have to be a Chines company.

      You can use UK freight forwarder like:

      https://www.woodlandgroup.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  24. Hi Andrew. Loving your posts and advice – thank you. I wonder if you could clear something up for me? I import womens clothing from China. I have had 3 shipments so far. On the 2nd shipment the supplier offered me a cheaper, faster shipment than previous so I took it. My shipment arrived but then I received a bill from customs. I then understood why 1st shipment had been more expensive.
    I paid it and obtained an EORI number. (I’m not VAT reg’ as below threshold). Third shipment is on its way atm and i’ve gone for more expensive, slower delivery through UPS, door-to-door which includes in the words of my supplier ‘all duties and taxes’. My problem is is that I want to be sure that i’m paying everything I need to legally. I receive minimal documents with my shipments and my supplier struggles to give me info outside of product info’ . I’m pretty sure i’m paying import duty at correct rate but i’m concerned about whether the 20% VAT is being paid.

    Is this normally paid via customs at the same time as import duty is paid?

    For example, for this third shipment of 55kg I have paid a total of 399USD, but my supplier is unable to give me a breakdown of costs.
    If i’m not hearing from customs as I did for 2nd shipment then I do hope this covers all costs I need to be legal. Thanks in advance

    1. re last post I should note that the 399USD is delivery only, not including my products cost.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lisa,

      You don’t pay VAT or import duty to supplier – they can’t clear customs for you.

      Goods must be declared to Customs when they reach UK and then you pay VAT and import duty.

      I really don’t know what supplier has talked you into but most likely they just under-declare goods and they slip through customs without you getting charged with anything.

      Andrew

  25. Hi Andrew,

    Really useful post thank you. I do have a question however, I am looking to do my first import. The items aren’t large and will probably total about 20kg however the quote from the supplier for door to door courier is high. When looking on the courier website I could arrange this for half that.

    My question is can I arrange for DHL or FedEx to collect the item and courier across from China to the UK?

    Many thanks,

    Victoria

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Well, usually it is the opposite – UK prices are higher.

      BUT if in your case you can get cheaper price on your own, yes, you can do that – arrange courier to pick-up the shipment from supplier.

      Just contact the courier company and ask them for details on how you can arrange it.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  26. I’m about to order 100 items that weigh 200g each so around 20kg in total. The supplier sent me a quote saying that he charges £300 for the whole order including shipping. The item was supposed to be $3 (£2.10) so it would be £210 for the item and only £90 shipping. He said he will send it with FedEx and he said will take 8-10 days with a tracking number. Is this too good to be true?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Leon,

      It is a VERY good price for a courier shipment, yes….

      Too good to be true? Hard to say, hard to say…

      If the product is very small, maybe they have very good rates etc.

      pay with PayPal to be safe and £300 is not that a lot of money to risk with – make sure you do as many supplier checks as you can and see how it goes!

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for the reply,

        The item is a deck of 56 cards. The supplier was a 4yrs Gold member who had gone through the supplier assessment and also offers trade assurance. His company name and address have both verified. I went for it and paid through paypal but I’m still anxious because this seems like too good of a deal, the item only being $3 to begin with is already a huge bargain.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          If it’s a dec of cards, the shipping fee is ok, as item is very small.

          I just hope those cards – it’s not any kind of branded game?

          As if it is – it will be FAKE/COPY!

          Stuff like Cards against Humanity etc. – you can’t buy these from China, they will be fakes.

          Andrew

          1. The cards are inspired by party games like cards against humanity however they aren’t a direct knockoff of any of the existing games. They seem to sell a lot of eBay due them them being a fraction of the price of the more popular games.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            I would seriously investigate whatever they don’t breach any IP rights – use well known logos etc.

            As that would instantly make them illegal to import and sell.

            Andrew

  27. Hi Andrew,
    I have just setup a new LTD company and will be shipping goods from Alibaba China to the UK. The shipments will be light weight small items around 1 to 2 kg per shipment. I have done a test order for $350 and my items arrived with TNT courier fine after 5 days. What I would like to know is should I have been charged import duties as I was not charged any extra.
    Will this cause any problems with my tax returns if I’m not charged on my imports? Should I be declaring any imports from my side or should it all be done by the supplier?
    Thanks for your help in advance.
    Steve

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you should have been charged import duty & VAT on that order worth $350.

      Most likely supplier put lower value on customs declaration. Please check this post for more information:

      https://andrewminalto.com/shipment-without-customs/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your help, one other thing I would like to know is say my products cost a total of $250 and shipping courier is $100 would/should I pay import duty on $350 or $250 for the cost of the products only? I hope that makes sense.
        Thanks again.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Steve,

          Import duty is paid on product’s cost, so in your case – on $250.

          VAT is calculated on: Good Cost ($250) + Shipping ($100) + Import Duty

          Hope this helps! 🙂

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  28. HI Andrew great article, I am shipping goods in to the UK through air courier door to door.

    Do I still need an EORI number and will my goods be ceased if I do not get one in time?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Leo,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Lol, no – your goods won’t be ceased if you don’t have an EORI number! If it will be needed, courier company will simply inform you that they need it.

      It depends really on the value of the shipment – if it’s small, less than few hundred pounds, you won’t need EORI number.

      But in any case – it’s free and easy to register for EORI online, so I would recommend you register for it anyways, just in case.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Mahera malik

        Hi Andrew, I have started a business in beauty and am purchasing items from Alibaba.com. The companies are genuine and I have requested branded products (named my business). I speak to the suppliers via WhatsApp and they keep me up to date with the orders. Now I am in the process of importing my items to uk, one of the suppliers has advised me to get an eori number as one of my items is too heavy to be transferred by air freight and will be cheaper via sea freight. Is this true? The cost they are giving me is 564 usdfor delivery via tnt. The order is a total of 106kg made up of 5 cartons each around 36 kg. Will my customs charge be very high? And also which is best method to get my items to uk? I also have another order with a total shipping charge of 400usd. I
        Do not want to be paying an extortionate amount of money on shipping as I want to make profit. Could you please advise me? Thanks. Mahera

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Mahera,

          Yes, you’ll need an EORI number for sea freight shipments. (it’s free to get and easy to register for online).

          Best method to get your items to the UK is by using a freight forwarding company. Contact WG about this service:

          https://www.woodlandgroup.com

          Customs – import duty & VAT depend on shipments VALUE and not what shipping method you use.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  29. Matthew mayes

    On air freight is that £2-£3:with tax?

    I put a order of 30kg to woodland trying to charge me. £396

    On air freight

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matthew,

      30 kg is way too small shipment to use air freight for, at least cost effectively.

      A 30 kg parcel should be shipped via courier.

      Air freight is usually used with shipments that weight at least 100 kg. BUT it also depends on the size of the shipment and goods value. In general air freight is used to send more valuable goods as it is still more expensive than sea freight.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  30. Hi Andrew,
    Your post was really helpful, thank you.
    I am planning to import small order from Russia to the UK,for about £700-£900 and to sell it in the UK through eBay or other online platforms.
    My following questions are:
    1. Can I import famous brand clothing&shoes from Russia,if yes, what type of documents I will need to provide, the point is that those goods are very good copies from China,not original brands.
    2. Do I need to register the company in the UK, or I can do it as an individual?

    Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Of course you CAN’T do it!!!

      It’s against law to sell copies of branded goods.

      Don’t do it.

      Andrew

  31. Hi Andrew,
    I am currently taking with a supplier on Alibaba and was wondering about shipping. The supplier has suggested that for over 100kg he would send via railway ? He said it would take between 20-30 days and would be delivered to my door no customs clearance needed ? Can you give me any advice as I have never imported before.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Yeah, suppliers will tell you everything and then when goods arrive you get stuck with a massive bill.

      You should use a freight forwarder to ship goods from supplier to your door – they will also give you final quote, including all the fees, custom clearance etc. Contact this company for more information:

      https://www.woodlandgroup.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  32. John Calladine

    Hi Andrew,
    some great information here; much easier than the ‘official’ sites that just aim to confuse!
    I have been trading for quite a long time, and am vat registered. I am considering placing a small order with a Chinese company for wood slabs (for use as table tops, etc.) I want to begin with a very small order of around £700 as a trial for the product and service. The Chinese company has quoted CNF prices, but I note from your comments that this is an expensive way of shipping goods when such a low order value is involved, (the goods will be quite large and heavy). Is it possible to handle the customs clearance, etc. ourselves when the goods arrive at UK port, as we can collect using our own vehicle, or is this just too complicated and should be left to the experts? Obviously I am trying to make the process as cheap as possible, but have no experience with this.

    Regards,
    John C

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I would recommend you keep things simple and let freight forwarder handle all that for you.

      You’ll pay less at the end and save yourself from lots of problems, trust me.

      So get a FOB price from supplier and contact freight forwarder (like Woodland Global) for a “Door to Door” quote.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  33. Scott Shanks

    This is a great bit of content.

    Really helped me out!

    cheers

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Scott!

  34. Hi Andrew,

    With Door2Door shipping through UPS for example, are the VAT & Duty charges included in the price, or will I receive an invoice once delivered?

    Goods are being sent from A supplier in China to me in the UK.

    Kind Regards
    Zavier

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Zavier,

      VAT & import duty is never included in shipping quotes/fees.

      Those will be separate costs you’ll pay when goods arrive in the UK.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  35. Dale Parker

    Hello Andrew,
    I am importing video wall panels from China. The manufacturer is on Global Sources, and looks totally legit. According to Global Sources the company is 25 years old, dues $250mil USD per year and has 3 factories. Google searches seem to confirm all this as well. I am still leery of just wiring a $30K deposit into the ether. If there is no real recourse, I will. My plan is to send my partner to view the cabinets in the final phase of production when they are “burning in”. When should I be expected to pay the final $70K? Is there a way to make that happen when the product is safely received by a 3rd party like the shipper?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If such large sums of money are involved, you want to first get factory inspection done:

      https://andrewminalto.com/china-factory-inspection/

      It will only cost you $100 and will make you feel much safer dealing with them.

      Then, you can do another – pre-shipment inspection before you pay 2nd half of the money:

      https://andrewminalto.com/pre-shipment-inspection/

      And you can even hire an inspector to be at the factory of the day of dispatch so you know 100% that your goods are handled over to freight forwarder.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  36. Hi Andrew
    I’m also ordering from China for the first time, everything was fine until I asked for the quote and I noticed that the estimate for the delivery cost was way too expensive.

    So for 60 items , each item weighing 390g they said the delivery (tnt)would cost $290.
    Is that right? That’s 5 dollars for each item to be shipped.

    Seems odd to me
    Your blogs very helpful for first time buyers.
    Thank you
    Faatma

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Faatma,

      That price sounds reasonable to me.

      The problem is the size of your order – it is too small to expect cheap shipping costs. You would have to buy more to get lower cost per item via courier shipping. But even then, 390g items should be shipped via sea freight to get “normal” shipping costs. So you would want to order at least one pallet full of goods or more, use a freight forwarder and sea freight and then you’ll get very low shipping cost per item.

      If you can’t afford making that bigger order now, simply accept the more expensive courier bill.

      Andrew

  37. hi lm just ordering first time from Ali express and asking for a sample they ha e asked me which method l want to use for shipping and have said l can choose ems or DHL but there’s quite a bit of price difference between the shipping which is the best one to choose .

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Just go with the cheapest one which will most likely be EMS, right?

      It is slower than DHL but you should still receive the package within 5-7 business days.

      Andrew

  38. Woodland Global website is not available anymore and i contact them last year for a small order value of £700 and they replied they don’t deal with small orders

    1. Andrew Minalto

      £700 order is really too small to be shipped via sea freight…

  39. Hie Andrew thanks for the information above. I want to purchase handbags from a supplier in China but I want to get 1 sample first. I’m in Zimbabwe and I want to use DHL kindly tell me how I can find out all costs I should pay for the goods to get here.the handbags are less than 5kg

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You need to ask your supplier to arrange shipping and invoice you for shipping costs.

      Then you will see exactly how much it will cost.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  40. Simon Hartley

    Hi Andrew,

    Really like your content. Very helpful and informative.

    However, I think I’m very confused about VAT and I was hoping you could clear things up for me.

    I’m in the process of my first order with a value of around £2000. I’m using a freight forwarder and sea freight to keep things simple and not too expensive. I am not VAT registered and I’m not sure if I should voluntarily register.

    I see you clearly say it’s best not to, but why?
    My understanding is that if I am not VAT registered I will have to shell out a hefty sum for VAT when the goods arrive. However, if I voluntarily register, I would be able to claim that lost money back.
    To me that seems massively beneficial.

    Am I missing something?

    I hope you can help. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Simon,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you’r indeed missing something – when you register for VAT, you’ll start to charge VAT on selling prices too! This basically means that you have to increase your prices or reduce your profit margin. In either way, it is a dis-advantage and I talk more about it here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-mistake/

      https://andrewminalto.com/vat-registration-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  41. D.G. BARTELS

    Thanks a stack for all that useful information Andrew.
    Doug.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Doug!

  42. Hi I’ve been looking on dhgate website at makeup brushes and cosmetics they are offering free shipment via dhl, my question is it too good to be true! Although the items I’m looking at buying are from top sellers on their site….. also I have read that these items are excluded from duty tax, is this correct?
    Many thanks 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment.

      That’s perfectly normal – many sellers on DH Gate and Ali Express offer free shipping, even via courier companies like DHL.

      As for duty rates & VAT, you can check it on this website:

      https://www.dutycalculator.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks for that!, are there any free sites to check duty etc as that on charges?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, you can check it on HMRC website:

          https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

  43. Hi Andrew,

    I have a small order (£200) from Alibaba and they are sending my goods to the UK via TNT Economy. Am I right in thinking I will need to contact TNT and work out with them how to get my goods from UK port to my door? As this is a test shipment (to see how it all works more than anything), I’m not registering as a Sole Trader and don’t need an RNOI (?) number?

    Thanks,

    Kris

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      No, if it was sent via courier, TNT, you won’t have to do anything.

      Courier company will deliver goods to you, contact you in case you need to pay customs or they need EORI number. You just have to wait and see what happens! 🙂 Make sure you have given supplier your correct address and phone number as they will call you if they need any assistance from you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Kris! 😉

  44. Hi Andrew

    If I’m importing small items from China amd using a courier door to door. Why do some companies still quote EXW and FOB, its irrelevant is it not? Products are picked up from place of business of factory to my door.

    Great site you have here.

    KInd Regards
    Wayne L

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Wayne,

      It’s irrelevant IF the supplier organises courier shipping.

      But if YOU organise courier shipping, there will be different procedures and cost involved based on FOB or EXW prices.

      To keep things simple, I would recommend you ask courier to organise shipping via courier – it will be cheaper and easier for you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  45. Hi Andrew,

    I am happy to find out articles like yours. It is much easy for as to understand the subject to became importers.

    In my case I will ask you couple of things, since your post is very clear.

    I am looking to place an order with Alibaba, as you advised I want to start with small quantities or samples for example, I need to to be clear, if my order is 400 units and the cost of it is £200.00 to £400.00 pounds for example, do I still need to register for VAT? Or just place the order, of course the purpose is commercial and I will make profits of that but I need to know if only getting the EORI number is enough.

    And the second question is, I want to sell the items online creating a website or ebay, it depends, do I need to register myself as a Soletrader?

    Many thanks for your kind advise.

    gabriela

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gabriela,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, you DON’T have to register for VAT, don’t do it! Even EORI number is usually not required for such low value shipments (but you can register for that anyway, it won’t harm you in any way).

      Yes, if you intent to start a business online selling these products for profit, you will have to register as a Sole Trader.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  46. Hello, I have a question.

    It is well known that if YOU import the goods in EU/ USA, you are supposed to comply with all the regulations.

    But what about drop shipping people? If someone buys the product from a Company which is registered abroad, then the buyer is going to be an importeur and the Company is not responsible for the compliance of the imported goods in that country?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sergey,

      Yes, if the SELLER is registered outside EU, buyer is effectively importer and all the regulations apply to him/her.

      Andrew

  47. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks so much for the article, it is proving to be incredibly helpful. I wanted to get your advice on my situation.

    I am currently importing two pieces of art from China to exhibit in the UK with the potential to sell. I have a service that will do the shipping for me. My question is if I would need to attain an EORI number and if so, would I need to ensure that I am registered as a sole trader through HMRC before that?

    Or would you advise it would be better for me to have the art pieces shipped as a gift (as I’m not sure if it will even sell in the UK) and upon selling it- register as a sole trader? In the case that the art pieces are shipped to me as a gift, would I need to apply for an EORI still?

    Many Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry but I have no experience with art imports.

      Please call HMRC and ask them directly what you’ll need.

      Andrew

      1. No worries Andrew. Thanks so much nonetheless!

  48. Hi
    Very help full article Andrew. Thank you.
    I’m currently processing my first order from china 🙂
    Items ready for collection with in 2 days.
    Just received an email from my supplier asking me to provide some more detail.
    Here is what I was asked for:

    And do you need certificate of origin? FA or CO?
    Do you need original BL or telex release BL?

    Would you be able to advice

    Many thanks
    Pete

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Pete,

      Your freight forwarder should inform you on what documents they’ll need from supplier.

      But yes, certificate of origin and BL will be required anyway.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew
        Any idea which certificate of origin? FA or CO? and which BL original or telex release BL

        Cheers
        Pete

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You need to confirm this with your shipping company.

  49. Hi Andrew,

    I am a regular at your site and have learnt a lot, so thanks.

    I wonder if I could take your advice on my first “proper” order on Alibaba. So, I did the research on Terapeak and identified a product, which I then sourced with a Chinese supplier on Alibaba. I am confident that the company is legit and have received a sample. Basically it’s a clothing item.

    So I am going to order the MOQ of 150pcs for my first bulk order. The package won’t be that large or heavy (think 150x a small clothing item I would imagine 1 medium/large box). My contact for the Chinese company stated that the order isnt large enough for sea freight.

    I just got the quote and will soon be paying 50% of the product costs to start production.

    So onto my queries. I am unsure of shipping and calculating the total cost of getting the product to my door (import duty, VAT, customs clearance etc). Now the Chinese supplier has quoted me $168 (USD) to ship to my door using a courier (UPS/FEDEX). What do you think of this quote, is it any good? I imagine if I use this quote there will be additional costs on top, like customs clearance, VAT, import duty etc – in which case how do I calculate what these will be?

    The other option is to obtain my own quote via Woodland Global or my own courier company. I have already been in contact with Woodland Global who state they can handle an order of any size and they just need dimensions/weight etc to give a quote and calculate best method (sea/air freight). What do you think of my shipping options? And how can I calculate all the costs involved to get the 150pcs to my door? Basically I am trying to work out the total costs involved and ensure there is still a profit to be made, before I commit.

    Onto another point, my Chinese supplier wants payment by bank transfer. I am confident they are legit company. How exactly do I pay by bank transfer when I need to pay in USD and make sure they receive the correct amount (i.e. I pay bank charges/exchange rate)?

    My final question (sorry there are a few) is regarding Trade Assurance. How exactly do you pay via this method – I received the invoice as an excel attachment. Do most companies accept this method of payment. I paid for sample via Paypal but they say Bank Transfer (it is to company account) or Western Union (which is a no no) for bulk order.

    Many thanks for your time.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      1) For such small shipment courier is the ONLY option! Don’t even consider sea freight or air freight – this order is way too small for those options – they will be more expensive.

      2) Just go with the supplier organising shipping – if you try to arrange courier at your end, it will always be more expensive than supplier’s options in China.

      3) Use this online calculator to see exact VAT & import duty rates for your order:

      http://www.dutycalculator.com

      4) You can go to your bank and make this transfer there OR if you have decent online banking, you can do it online – do currency conversion and make international transfer.

      5) You have to ask supplier to put the order together on Trade Assurance platform and then make payment via that platform (bank transfer or credit card).

      Hope this helps!
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew, much appreciated.

        Fortunately it gave me a further free search on Duty Calculator. Apparently my item has a “12% import duty rate but is exempt of VAT”. Can this be correct, for VAT to be nil? This has allowed me to work out the costs (but currently I have 2 calculations, one with 20% VAT and one with nil VAT). Thanks again.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, there are products with 0% VAT rate.

          You can double check and confirm this manually on HMRC website:

          https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  50. Hi,
    I’m planning to buy goods from aliexpress and sell it on ebay.
    1. I have to pay on top Import Duty + Vat. 25%
    2. To ebay and paypal 14%
    3. Pay tax on profit 20%
    Please let me know if I’m right?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that’s correct Vlad.

      1. I have been offered the same product in UK with VAT invoice that is cheaper rather than I buy it from china and pay import duty and VAT. Could you please explain me how it works. ( 1.from china seller 12 pieces cost me £340 + I have to pay another £100 for cutom clearens. 2. UK seller offers me for 10 pieces £370 with VAT invoice).
        Thanks

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Then buy from that UK supplier!

          It’s usually not effective to import from China such small quantity. You need to buy in true bulk from China to make it cost effective, to keep shipping cost per unit down.

          Andrew

  51. Hi,

    I’m about to make an order from a Chinese factory. The factory has quoted FOB prices and I’ve contacted my freight forwarder for a quote for sea freight. The freight forwarder has asked if I want a door to door or port to door quote. I’m unsure what the difference is? If the factory is offering FOB, do I just ask for a port to door quote?

    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Robbie,

      Yes, in that case it will basically be port – to door.

      Andrew

      1. Perfect, many thanks for your quick reply.

  52. Package mailed from china to USA around mid Jan 2017. It is mid march and no package arrived at my door. Vendor said China post to usps door to door. It’s been 2 months and tracking has not been updated since Jan 19th. Status is still “in transit”. Please advise. Should I be concerned that pkg lost or be patient? Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Faith,

      China post is very slow indeed but 2 months seems a bit too much for me…

      Usually it takes about 1 month or less for such packages to arrive. If it’s 2 months now, chances are that it has been lost.

      This is the reason why I almost never use China post for samples – or anything else for that matter.

      It could be that package shows up though after another month but who can wait that long?

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for responding. Does the seller have to submit paper work to ship such as declaring item? I got a tracking number but it seems to be stuck in transit. Seller said not to worry and that it should arrive at door. Could it be stuck in customs? I had to pay additional shipping costs due to weight. Would calling customs location in my state help? Seller said China post and then to my door. Prototypes were expensive as well as shipping.

        In the future, is there a better way that is economical to ship a few prototypes? From what I have looked at, for large quantities such as 25, then ship by sea and get customs broker to clear it once arrives mainland.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You should have used courier shipping instead (UPS, DHL, TNT, EMS etc.) – that would come fully tracked from door to door.

          Right now I don’t know what to suggest you as Chinese mail items can’t be tracked in the USA.

          Andrew

  53. Just to say a big big thank you….after weeks of asking tom dick and harry, and worrying about all this importing and wanting to start an online business, with suppliers outside the European union…… reading your article and advice has given me great hope and tonight i can sleep peacefully … and also about the vat registration has put my mind at rest and a now i can look forward to starting up….many thanks. ..

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Great to hear that & you’re welcome Nimo! 🙂

    2. I agree. This page is the best I’ve come across I must say. I don’t know how Andrew has time to answer all these questions – he should charge. I rarely bookmark a site but I have this one. Thanks Andrew.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Kris! 🙂

  54. Thank you Boss for your nice explaination . Really helpful for first time importer like me. Highly appreciated !!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Mo!

  55. Jane labas

    Hi. I have placed several orders with Aliexpress. Some of them have been through HM customs and I have been billed. Some of them haven’t.

    How can I ensure that all goods come through customs so I can pay vat and duty?

    I am only ordering small quantities.

    I hope you can help
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jane,

      Please check out this article covering this problem in detail:

      https://andrewminalto.com/shipment-without-customs/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Jane labas

        Thanks so much.

        It’s not illegal to do that is it? I just want to pay!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Well, it is illegal in a way that you – as importer are responsible for paying VAT/import duty on such imports.

  56. James allen

    Hi andrew, nice insightful artical.

    I am very new to importing anything but have been doing research and with your artical have been able to piece bits together but I’m still confused about a few things.

    Once I place my order using the EMS courier option, what do I need to do in order for it to get to my door? I understand I have to pay VAT and customs duty but when do I pay this? Will the courier contact me? Do I need to contact hmrc?

    Also I will be starting off very small, I plan to sell the items on eBay but I am not a registered business so do I need to register for EORI?

    Thank you for your help.

    James

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You don’t have to do anything if courier is used like EMS (your shipment will be delivered by Parcel Force in the UK).

      If it’s a small order, you don’t need an EORI number either.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. James allen

        Thanks for your fast reply. I’m using aliexpress and when I go to purchase an item it shows the total for the item and shipping but says that the buyer is resposible for vat and customs tax, even with the courier option will the courier take it out of the money I’m paying for shipping or will there be an extra cost of the vat etc once it’s been delivered?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, import duty & VAT will be extra, on top of the shipping fee you pay on Ali Express.

          Andrew

          1. James allen

            Thanks for your patients..

            The bit I’m not understanding is when and how I pay the vat and import duty, as the total amount payable when I place my order on aliexpress is for the item and shipping cost

  57. Richard Gibson

    Hi Andrew, I have never imported before and was thinking about drop shipping although I don’t want my customers getting any import or vat bill. Is there anyway I could drop ship itlems but have the import/vat charged to me and not my customers
    Thanks Richard

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      No, that won’t be possible.

      Well – theoretically it is possible but then you have to get an account with a courier company (like DHL, UPS) and arrange them to do this for you. But this means all packages will have to be sent via that courier.

      I’m sure you don’t want to send cheap items from China using an expensive courier service.

      Andrew

  58. hi Andrew i have a order that stuck a customs for days they are a sample i am waiting on
    i have looked up the pakage and it says there held by customs what doe that mean does it mean i wont get them
    can you help me please

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Luke,

      What shipping method was used and where are you located?

      Andrew

  59. Hello Andrew.
    Thank you for your post, it was very useful for me.
    I still have many concerns mostly in documentation. I am new in this . So, I found the supplier, we agreed for a sample ( I will pay for it). Also we already agreed on small quantity (40 pairs of shoes) , even his min was 300 pairs , as you wrote there it is possible to negotiate this question !!! and we will use DHL courier. So now I am waiting for a sample. After it I will order factory inspection, as you also recommended here. And then… I am expecting to get invoice. What is the difference between invoice and pro forma invoice and commercial invoice? What must be in it? Because another supplier sent me excel file without bank information, with no number of invoice, so, even for me it looked not right. So, hot the right invoice must look like? And when I get it, I need to sign it and require their signature too?What other documents from them I need to have to pass customs, before I pay them or after? What about insurance? Do I need to ask supplier if the DHL already did include the cost of it in the delivery price? Because the supplier told me that delivery cost per 1 pair will be 5$ .

    I am sorry if some questions seem stupid, but I am nervous about it and don’t want to miss something really important

    I am looking forward to your reply
    Best Regards,

    Irina

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irina,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Basically invoice/proforma invoice/commercial invoice is same thing when we talk about dealing with Chinese suppliers.

      But simple Excel file with no payment info, no supplier info is not an invoice – it’s just a price offer/quote.

      The invoice should have all your details on it, supplier details (address/bank account/name), products listed, price, shipping terms, delivery time frame.

      But no, you don’t need to sign it. You can simply provide Customs this invoice and they will use it to calculate taxes.

      Usually there’s insurance in place with DHL shipments but you should confirm this with the supplier.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Irina! 🙂

    2. Hi irina:
      i would like just to add that if you try to import through DHL it will cost a lot….NO ?

  60. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the very useful article.
    I would like to ask you 2 questions:

    1. If using a courrier like DHL, does one need to buy FOB from the Chinese supplier? Or can the goods be bought EXW and handled to DHL to ship to the EU directly?

    2. Why do you say that small businesses should not register for VAT before they reach the turnover threshold? If you do not register for VAT, how can you deduct the import VAT you paid when clearing EU customs?

    Many thanks for your advice.

    Regards,

    Louis

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Louis,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1. When you buy goods from China and ship via courier, like DHL, you want supplier to arrange this for you and simply invoice you for goods + shipping costs. If you go with EXW price and arrange courier on your own, you’ll pay more, trust me. Suppliers can get lower prices for couriers in China.

      2. Please check this post explaining why you don’t want to register for VAT before reaching the threshold:

      https://andrewminalto.com/vat-registration-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for your quick reply, point understood about the VAT registration.
        Regarding the first question, could you please clarify:

        1. Say if I wanted to use my own courrier (because I have negotiated rates with DHL and because I do not wish my supplier to know the delivery address), would I need to buy the goods FOB with export procedures done by the supplier, or can I just buy EXW and let my courrier ship the goods directly?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You would have to buy goods based on FOB price, yes.

          Andrew

  61. Manus Lositisuk

    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for your valued article. It’s very helpful for many people especially new entrepreneur. I am ordering new product I invented from China. I would like to get your advice of what is sea forwarding for over 1000 kg (5,000 pieces) I should use from Shanghai China to US. I am new entrepreneur and have no idea about this. It’s important for me especially with low budget.

    Appreciate in advance,

    Manus

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Manus,

      You need to contact a freight forwarder company, like Woodland Global, to get accurate shipping cost estimate for your order.

      I can’t give you that number as it depends on many things (size, weight, location, destination, goods type etc.).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  62. Hi Andrew,

    Your site is great and has so much valuable information for importers! I recently had a strange experience with DHL for a large air express shipment we had to do because we urgently needed our goods. The strange thing is DHL palletized and shrink wrapped our loose cartons and in the process smushed the cartons which changed their dimensions. DHL ended up charging me more than what was quoted because they said their electronic measuring system saw all the boxes as different sizes that ended up being larger than their original size due to being smushed.

    They are trying to bill me 20% more than originally quoted based on the original carton dimensions and weight.

    Just wondering if you have ever encountered this issue and if so any thoughts on how to avoid it in the future and potentially get DHL to honor the original quoted freight price. Their billing department already denied my appeal.

    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, unfortunately (or luckily?) this is first time I hear of such situation.

      Does not sound very fair if you ask me – especially a 20% increase.

      Not sure what to suggest really as probably this is all covered in small print and you can’t do anything about it apart from paying them what they ask.

      Andrew

  63. Hi,

    I am new in the import process and I am getting lost… I hope you can help me out.

    So I have several products that I need to import from China. I had contacted and found all my suppliers, had asked for door to door delivery and got quotes for price of goods + shipping door to door using air shipment only: via Fedex, TNT, UPS or DHL…

    Then came the time where I asked myself: how do I clear the goods from the customs? Pay the duty and VAT to HMRC? I heard that I have to tell HMRC in advance that I am going to import? How does that work?

    On the back of all those questions I started to contact freight forwarder / import agents. They told me that I should not asked for door to door delivery from my suppliers in China… That I should ask for EXW price only and they will take care of the rest under FOB terms…

    Does it really work this way? What turns to be cheaper usually?

    So I sent one of the freight forwarder all what he asked me for: address of origin, weight and dimension of the shipment, etc… I was waiting for my quote and the answer I got is: “The best thing is to do ask your agent to send shipment to a UK airport. And we do clearance and delivery from the airport.”

    So here I am. What do I do? 🙁

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lauren,

      Couriers and freight forwarders are two different things.

      If you use couriers (TNT, UPS, DHL etc.) they will take care of Customs clearance procedure for you and deliver goods to your door. Downside is that courier shipments are very expensive and only suitable for small orders, small items or small items that are high value.

      If your order is bigger/bulkier you’ll want to use a freight forwarder and ship it via SEA.

      For more info on how this all works, check out these posts:

      https://andrewminalto.com/courier-vs-air-sea-freight/
      https://andrewminalto.com/cnf-cif-fob-explained/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks a lot Andrew!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome! 🙂

  64. Christine Bond

    You say start small with imports. but we are looking to source a large filling machine which we are having difficulty finding other than in China. What are your top tips for choosing the best supplier from the long list on the Alibaba website?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Christine,

      Please check out these two posts for further advice:

      https://andrewminalto.com/alibaba-scam-exposed/
      https://andrewminalto.com/top-10-alibaba-scams/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  65. Hi Andrew,

    Your blog is really fantastic. I only have one question,
    If i want to ship my items from my supplier to my forwarder in China ,what incoterm should I write to my supplier? is it FOB or EXW+shipping fee? Thank you.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi David,

      Usually it will still be FOB price, yes.

      Andrew

  66. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve had a supplier on Alibaba ask me to pay a 5% PayPal fee when buying from them (not 3.4%).

    Is this them basically asking me to pay their Paypal seller fee as well? Is this normal?

    Thanks,
    Tim

    1. Andrew Minalto

      This is quite normal Tim, yes, for suppliers to ask 5% extra fee on PayPal payments.

      Try to negotiate it down to 4% or even 3%.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Tim! 🙂

  67. Hi Andrew,

    Excellent article, i am just starting my ‘import from China’ business and this has been very very useful.

    To start my product research and viability study i have created a pretty neat and complex spreadsheet calculator that i can simply punch in the numbers and see all manner of profit and loss numbers etc automatically calculated.

    That said my question is around Import Duty, it seems the only place i can get an accurate estimate of this product by product is the ‘dutycalculator’ you referenced in the article, the problem there is its subscription based and not ready to sign up to that at present.

    I will be looking at importing lots of different products. Is there an alternative way of getting these figures or can you even confirm what the maximum Duty would be from China to UK. I am more than happy to set my calculations on a worse case scenario thus meaning if there is no or reduced duty my margin would be higher. I just can’t seem to find any concrete figures.

    Any steer would be appreciated

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, dutycalculator.com is not totally free anymore BUT you don’t have to buy a subscription there – you can purchase credits for whatever number of calculations you need.

      If that’s not an option, you can get duty rate for free from this website:

      https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff/sections

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  68. Hi Andrew,

    I just wanted to ask, is there any way of knowing exactly what the customs clearance and processing fee will be for an order before actually placing an order on Alibaba?

    Is this based on the cost and bulk of the goods, or is it a fixed(ish) price?

    Many thanks,
    Tim

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tim,

      Yes, it is possible to get that cost before you do any business.

      Yo just need to know what shipping company or courier you/supplier will use and then you can contact them and ask about their custom clearance/documentation fees structure.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks great, many thanks.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Tim!

          1. Sorry I do have one more question!

            Do you usually book a courier like DHL yourself or let the supplier/wholesaler on Alibaba do this?

            Thanks,
            Tim

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Let supplier arrange courier.

            They get much better prices than us.

            Andrew

  69. ChiChi Okoro

    Thank you Andrew,

    I must really appreciate your plainness in answering questions and also for the freight forwarder you recommended (infact that was what delayed me from starting my ecommerce business). I am starting up and don’t have a large capital. However, I have been able to get a product to sell and have decided t purchase some which is about 263kg. due to the insufficient capital, I want to use the sea as my shipping method.

    Is the sea ok for this weight?

    Also, I would like you to talk about postage here in the UK. I tried selling used items from my house on eBay but ended up paying £2.80 for the delivery. This ate into my profit. Kindly tell me how I can overcome this challenge as I intend to sell full time on ebay.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, SEA freight is suitable for a 263kg shipment. In fact, it’s the only cost effective shipping way for an order this size.

      As for shipping costs in the UK – they’re what they’re. Royal Mail is cheapest way to send small packages and if it did cost £2.80, there’s not much you can do about it.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  70. Nadia Anafcheh

    Hi Andrew,
    First of let me congratulate you and thank you for providing such a useful and valid blog, I feel like I was extremely lucky to find you by just browsing.

    I am in the process of ordering some Home/Garden andHealth and beauty product to buy as a sample from AliExpress, could you please advise:

    1- how to find exactly the same product on aliexpress to much up the item I found on alibaba ?

    2- Since you have mentioned that, when it comes to health and beauty, we have to be careful to comply with EU rules and regulation, how I can make sure the product is genuine?

    Thank you in advance and appreciate your help and time.

    Kind regards
    Nadia Anafcheh

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nadia,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) You basically just need to search for same product name on Ali Express and by browsing through listings, looking at images, try to find exact same product. OR if you have already found the product on main Alibaba site, why not simply order sample from there? Most suppliers will happily sell you a sample, even manufacturers. You can read more on samples here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/product-samples/

      2) Rules or regulations you must comply with will depend on the product you’re sourcing. So I can’t give any specific advice here.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Nadia Anafcheh

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks a million for your respond.

        Regards
        Nadia Anafcheh

        1. Andrew Minalto

          no worries Nadia! 😉

  71. Ian Watson

    Hi Andrew,
    Many thanks for your informative blog. I am thinking about starting a small eBay business which would import low value electronics hobby components from China and re-sell them in the UK. If I routinely import small consignments of under £15 value to thereby not have to pay VAT on individual packages, is there anything wrong with this or are there any taxes which apply to the cumulative value of these multiple consignments which I would need to consider?
    Many thanks
    Ian.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ian,

      Please check out this post for more details on this topic:

      https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Ian Watson

        Hi Andrew,
        Many thanks for your response and the link to the import duty VAT thread. If I understand correctly, then it is legal for me to repeatedly import goods from China through the course of the financial year and I will not be subject to VAT as long as individual orders total less than £15 each. However, I note your response to ALT in the other thread suggesting that it may not be legal for him to split his watch orders to avoid paying VAT. I’m a bit confused now over where to draw the line between VAT avoidance and simply just buying small amounts of stock when I need it rather than having it sat around gathering dust. Any clarification would be gratefully received please!
        Many thanks
        Ian.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Ian,

          Yes, it’s a bit of grey area there. Splitting larger shipments in smaller ones is not allowed but then again – how it’s being checked in real life, I don’t know.

          You may want to give a call Customs and find out what they say about this.

          Let us all know what did they say.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Ian Watson

            Hi Andrew,
            Many thanks for your responses.
            Regards
            Ian.

  72. Hi Andrew,

    I have some samples on order from China, but while I wait I am trying to get to grips with what is required when importing larger amounts.

    If I use a courier company, I understand I should contact them once my items have left the supplier and inform them that my shipment will require clearance, is that correct?
    When the items arrive in the UK, how will they contact me regarding any duty and VAT?

    If I choose sea or air freight you suggest a freight forwarder. At what point do I contact them? Is it once my supplier has sent the goods?

    Many thanks for your help,

    Hannah

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Hannah,

      Couriers will contact you via the phone number you have provided to supplier. So you don’t really need to contact them prior unless you want to make sure package gets cleared through customs properly (you have a worry that supplier under-values shipment and it could slip through customs without paying taxes).

      If you use a freight forwarder for sea/air freight, you contact them before you have even placed an order with supplier as you want to get price quote for the order, see if supplier delivers goods to same port as your freight forwarder is located OR freight forwarder needs to collect shipment from supplier etc. etc.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you Andrew!

  73. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your great blog, it’s so helpful!

    We are paying 30% / 70% payment terms, plan to employ a third party inspector to ensure all is in order before full payment and are using FOB shipping terms. My query is that most suppliers seem to request final payment after final inspection but before goods leaving the factory. With FOB, the manufacturer is responsible for transit of goods to the point of loading to vessel however given that goods will have been fully paid by this point there appears to be a significant risk to the buyer during this transit phase of the transaction. How would we reduce this risk as much as possible?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Martin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martin,

      You can reduce risks by paying against release of B/L (Bill of Lading).

      This means that you pay remaining balance ONLY when goods are loaded onto ship. Supplier is protected too as without B/L you can’t process goods through customs.

      So ask your supplier whatever they can accept final payment against release of B/L.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for your response. Much appreciated 🙂

        Have a nice day!

        Martin

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Martin! 🙂

  74. I have been told that once I am a VAT registered trader I can import from china with 0% vat. What doe sit exactly mean, because the only price I can see on aliexpress is for example just $400 ~ 304.51gbp. Is this net/gross for me? what is the VAT rate for this??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, it’s not 0% VAT, it’s more complex topic you can read more about here:

      https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-imports-acquisitions-and-purchases-from-abroad

      Prices on Ali Express are without VAT, so you have to add 20% for that + import duty + clearance fees.

      Andrew

  75. I’m a ebay seller from the US are you able to help me find products to sell on my site. Will your program help me?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cynthia,

      Yes, my Easy Auction Business course works Worldwide and I have hundreds of customers from the US.

      And yes, Market Research, finding products to sell on eBay, is covered in my course.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  76. Hello Andrew,

    My brother Patrick and I used Woodland Global on your recommendation and we did save over£1000 on shipping costs although it did take a while to arrive. We were prepared for this but we had an issue at our FOB.

    Our supplier gave us a price for the products and to transport them to the designated FOB. We also agreed a price with Woodland Global. Everything was running smoothly until my supplier contacted me and informed me they are being chased to pay documentation and handling fees by a company called IFB in Hong Kong. As we’re new to this we thought that this price was included in Woodland Global’s price to get the shipment from the FOB to the UK.

    I spoke to woodland global and they said the supplier should bare these costs. I spoke to our supplier and maybe they did not understand but they said they don’t pay for shipping and handling. The shipment was stuck until IFB were paid so out of convenience I footed the bill of about £240 and our product was delivered a few days later.

    Who should bare this cost of these ‘hidden’ charges?

    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karl,

      This is really supplier’s fault. They should cover these costs if they offered you FOB price.

      Andrew

      1. ok great thanks for your help Andrew!

  77. Adrian Stead

    Great article Andrew.

    I live in Australia and will be importing small wooden items into Amazon UK from India. The government website suggests with my commodity code of 4421909790 I won’t have any duty to pay. Can you confirm this and also advise about VAT. Will I, as a non-UK resident be required to pay that and any other taxes?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adrian,

      I’m sory but I don’t know answers to those questions.

      This is something you’ll have to investigate on your own.

      As far as I know, you’ll have to register for VAT in the UK but I’m not 100% sure.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  78. Hi Andrew,
    This is a really great post. A comment and a few questions:
    –USPS–while it’s cheap I heard it’s not a good idea trusting them to deliver your import.
    –is there a private closed group/forum people discuss reviews on various freight forwarding companies? As you mentioned, there’s a lot of scammers, so I need to almost know someone has used them with success (and not just anybody.. but someone I can tell is real–maybe a well known private business). Or at least a forum/group people list issues/scammers they’ve been faced with.
    –there’s some freight forwarders (I think they are freight forwarders) that use dhl/fedex/… themselves (cause they have accounts with better discounts), amongst other options. Is that legit/real? I can import my commercial goods under their account, and the courier say Fedex, would be ok to import those for my business even though the account belongs to another business? And if so, is there any anyone have used to recommend (know it’s not a scam)?

    thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kei,

      Are you based in the US? And want to import from China?

      Andrew

  79. Hi Andrew
    Have been looking to start up my own little business just small to start of with. I see you say to stay away from branded products as they can be hard to find and not much profit margin. I came across a website called brandsdistribution based in Italy. Have done as much research as i can to make sure they are legit and all seems ok. Was just wondering if you had heard or come across them any info you have on them would be helpful
    Regards Mark

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      As far as I remember, they’re legit, yes.

      If that’s the same company, I remember them advertising on The Wholesale Forums many years ago, so they should be legit.

      As always, start with a small trial order and see how it goes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  80. Hi Andrew
    After my second order from China I have received a invoice from TNT which I was expecting as VAT was due, but I am a bit confused as to what DPF is as I have been charged £20 + vat.
    Please could you explain?
    Some forums say it is the cost of TNT paying the VAT for me. If this is the case can I not pay the VAT directly and avoid the DPF?? Also is DPF the same amount every time whether your order is £100 or £1000.
    Many Thanks in Advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tracey,

      This is the cost for Customs Clearance procedure, paying taxes on your behalf yes.

      £20 is actually very cheap. If you would do it on your own, and look for your own Customs Broker, it would cost you a lot more.

      Yes, this cost is pretty much fixed.

      Andrew

      1. Many thanks Andrew for your reply..
        I will bear this cost in mind on my next order 🙂
        Tracey

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Tracey!

  81. Hi Andrew, I want to get some samples sent over what kind of quantity should I be asking for? and how much do you think I should spend on samples? I want to test to see if they sell.

    Is ali express stock generally more expensive than ali baba?

    last question can i get samples from different suuppliers or would i be better sticking to one only?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      I will have a dedicated post on product samples tomorrow, on my blog. So stay tuned for that!

      But yes, Ali Express is more expensive than Alibaba as AE is a retail website essentially.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  82. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for this valuable information. I am in the process of importing for the first time. I am importing plates which are microwave, and dishwasher safe, is there any regulations, or certificates I need to be aware of?

    Also I am planning to sell it through Amazon FBA , can the freight forwarder deliver it to my home ?address so I can label it, and send it off to Amazon. I am starting with small order of 400, it might be 14 boxes, but will be very heavy about 15 kg a box. Thank you in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Huria,

      No, I’m not aware of any special certification needed for products like these apart from the usual CE mark.

      Yes, freight forwarder can deliver to your house, no problems. When contact them, ask for a Door to Door quote – this will include delivery of goods from China to your house.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you Andrew, sorry another question. The Chinese company quoted me a price of $535 from Chaozhou to London port, does that sounds ok?

        I am thinking it will be cheaper than fright forwarders but still need a quote for custom clearance, and port to door delivery from fright forwarders.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Get a door to door quote from freight forwarder and then you can compare it.

          If $535 is just freight cost, expect a LOT of extra fees to be added @ port side when goods arrive.

          So I recommend to use a freight forwarder with a door to door service. Then there are no hidden charges.

          Andrew

          1. Ok, I will do. Thank you for your help.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome!

  83. […] most of these shipping questions already in dedicated posts on this blog, which you can find here: How to Import Products From China & CNF, CIF and FOB […]

  84. hi Andrew
    I want to buy perfume from china which courier recommended me?
    want order in boxes max 3 to 5kg .
    thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Abih,

      Perfume from China?

      Don’t tell me it’s branded perfume…

      Andrew

      1. hi andrew
        its not a branded perfumes the seller told me the smell is like a branded perfumes but the packing and bottle with his own brand.
        I can have problems if i buy perfumes from china?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No, if they’re un-branded, then no.

          Andrew

          1. which courier recommended me for perfumes?
            thanks

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Depends on what your supplier can arrange really as very few couriers nowadays carry LIQUIDS from China.

            So you have to ask your supplier about this.

            Andrew

  85. Hi Andrew,
    i like to bring cosmetics from thailand to start sell it online the lab and the company I order product would have everything for me like FDA and etc. as I like to bring a bit of amont first to see how its work, do I need to register anything for the beginning? or I can just start selling it and do it later, please help

    best regards

    Leon

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Leon,

      Are you based in the US?

      Andrew

  86. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for all the valuable information. I just read this article and one about EORI
    I am decided to import from China first time. My question is-

    If supplier arranging the courier then how should I provide my “EORI number” and other details to the courier such as “tariff code”.

    And if supplier is selling with the FOB incoterm, does it means I have to arrange for the shipment? if so then how?

    I will be so greatful to you if you answer my questions.

    Best Regards
    Sid

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sid,

      you don’t need to provide EORI number at time of sending goods. You’ll only need it when goods arrive in the UK and need to be cleared through customs.

      FOB price won’t include courier fee, no, so if you want to use a courier company for your order, ask supplier to get a quote for you and include that cost in your invoice.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks a lot Andrew 🙂

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Sid!

  87. Hi Andrew,

    First of all, thank you for this incredibly helpful article!

    I am about to expand my e-comm business with Amazon FBA and start importing from China. The total weight of the shipment is 230 kgs and I got a quote of £580 for air freight (FOB Hong Kong) and custom clearance from a UK based freight forwarder called Air & Cargo Services Ltd.

    Does this seem like a reasonable price and have you ever heard of this company? I got in touch with Woodlands as well, but they haven’t come back to me yet.

    Many thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Audrey,

      I haven’t heard of that company, no, but the rate is ok, yes.

      Andrew

  88. Peter Duke

    My friend is importing a bath from China. The bath has arrived at the UK port. The English company dealing with transport etc to his premises has asked the question if he is a private individual or a company. What is cheapest for taxes etc.? He could be either

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      Technically it shouldn’t make any difference but IF the bath is for personal use and his business has nothing to do with baths etc., he should clear it through customs as individual as otherwise how he will be able to book these costs under business accounting?

      Andrew

  89. Hi Andrew,

    When shipping from China with a courier who arranges the courier me or the supplier?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joe,

      Supplier organises courier.

      This way it’s much easier & cheaper.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew,

        At what point do I pay VAT/duty? How do I pay?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          When goods arrive to the UK.

          Courier will inform you about customs clearance procedure, payments etc.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  90. […] 6. How to Import Products from China! […]

  91. Hi, Thank you for this great and easy to understand article. I was getting bogged down in understanding importing tariffs, commodity codes andthe taric and falling deeper into the rabbit hole.

    I will of course keep reading elsewhere because i imagine rules have changed in 3 years but thank you for the beginning stepping stones!

    I’m going to start with DHL.

    Thank you
    Alex

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Alex!

  92. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks greatly for all the information and for really taking your time to respond to comments and questions.

    I wish to know if it is against the law to import used branded mobile phones into EU.

    Also is it against the law to import accessories like motherboard for mobile phones.

    Regards

    Edwin

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Edwin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, why would it be against the law? I see no problems with doing this.

      Andrew

  93. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for writing this very helpful and insightful article. I have a question about shipping. This is my first attempt sourcing products and selling in the UK. My Chinese supplier is quoting me $1600 (via DHL) to ship 17 cartons to the UK. Each carton size is 30x64x59cm and each carton weighs 23kg. As i write it seems like it’s a lot of weight actually. Most likely I will start off with maybe 4 or 5 cartons.

    My first question is, is this a reasonable price to pay for shipping in your opinion? I’ve already emailed woodland group and i’m waiting for a reply.

    Second, what is the difference between Woodland Group and a company like DHL or UPS for example?

    Third, this question what is freight forwarding? (sorry this question may be answered in your answer to question 2)

    Many thanks!

    Patrick

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Patrick,

      Order of that size should NOT be shipped via courier (DHL). It’s simply too big, too heavy to be cost effective that way.

      You want to use sea freight to get a reasonable shipping price. You have already contacted WG so you’ll see for yourself how much cheaper sea freight will be.

      Difference between is that companies like WG (freight forwarders) – they only deal with commercial shipments, mostly via sea (containers etc.). they do not offer C2C services like DHL, UPS, Fedex etc. They won’t deliver a letter or small package for you in 2 days from the UK to the US for example.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your quick reply. I’ve emailed Darren directly now as the guys on the main contact page are very slow in responding. Hopefully I’ll have more joy from Darren.

        Thanks again for your assistance and a brilliant article.

        Patrick

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Patrick! 🙂

  94. Hi Andrew,

    This blog is fantastic and just what i needed! but I was hoping you could help me with a few questions.
    I have decided to import tutu’s, hats and bibs and i have ordered a few samples from aliexpress to check the quality and time for delivery. I am completely new to this (a nurse by trade hence my lack of understanding) Is it possible to haggle on aliexpress if i order in bulk?
    This Initial order is free shipping via airmail or china post so am i right to think that it will go to my local post office for me to collect? if so will i have to pay royal mail a fee?

    If I’m happy with the quality i will likely make a bulk order, but these items are very low in weight so would i be better getting a courier? UPS are quoting me £133 for a 15kg 55x42x35. this seems expensive. if i went for shipping or air mail what air/ports do i use? any?
    aliexpress also offer free shipping even on bulk items via ‘sellers shipping method’ but I’m worried i will incur hidden charges with this.
    The supplier i am dealing with has offered free DHL delivery with a large order, would this be door to door?
    sorry for the multiple questions!
    Thanks for your time

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amy,

      Before you do anything else, please research/find out laws & regulations on importing such goods.

      These are children clothing items, which in EU have very strict regulations on materials, colouring etc. to be used, certification etc. I don’t deal in this niche so I don’t know the details but I highly recommend you research this before you import anything. I’m sure you don’t want to breach the law and don’t want to get in any trouble if something happens to your customer kids.

      Andrew

  95. I was looking a logistic company and found your blog post. I read a great recommendations here about “woodland group”. Please don’t be offended but it smells like a hidden advert in your post. I tried to check out their website and they don’t have address nor phone number. Companies like them just don’t look legit. Just like they want to hide it. When you come to a problem you never can reach them just send a “contact form” and hope you get answer in 24 hours. This has turned me down.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Imre,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can guarantee you that Woodland Global is 100% legit and genuine company. You have nothing to worry about.

      Also – I don’t get ANY compensation/commission from them whatsoever! I recommend them because they’re best at what they do, with weekly shipments from China and very competitive prices.

      They have all the addresses and phone numbers on website. For UK region check here:

      http://www.woodland-group.com/contact-us/europe/uk

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  96. Vindya Perera

    Hi andrew,

    Without knowing I have Import some car alloy wheel center caps from china.mercedez ,audi etc.So it was DHL courier post .so now my parcel is in custom clearence event about a week.As this is my first big order from china and I have no Ideia what will happens next.Will I loose my ORDER?
    I am an ebay business seller.Please help with some information.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You have to wait and see what happens.

      If it has been already a WEEK in Customs, call DHL and find out what’s going on.

      But these are fakes obviously, something you can’t resell so in your best interest would be to reject the shipment and get money back from supplier.

      Andrew

  97. sam davids

    Hi Andrew,

    This blog is amazing, I have one question.

    I imported some goods from my regular supplier from China, and i sent the funds through paypal (£2200)

    But the issue is that the products are all defective. i have tried to message the supplier but they are saying im lying.

    My question is, would i be able to open a chargeback claim with paypal and get my funds back?

    and if i could what does it involve?

    Thanks again

    Sam

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      Say supplier that you’ll open PayPal case and get your money back that way.

      Maybe they start to re-think their strategy then?

      If not, simply open case in PayPal for goods not as described. You should win it and get your refund.

      If that doesn’t work, last resort would be doing a charge back via your credit card company.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  98. Irene Wong

    Hi Andrew,

    Currently I have a customer from UK would like to purchase some branded watches from me ( from Hong Kong), and most of the branded watches I purchased are from EU countries. The reason behind due to his watches volume per month ain’t big enough to get such discount from his current supplier, as compare to mine. So, any possible ways that I could ” resell” those watches to him and what procedures or ways I need to be consider.

    Irene

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irene,

      Sorry, what is your question exactly?

      You can sell those watches to him, why not. I can’t see any problems with this transaction.

      Andrew

  99. Abdalla Eisawi

    Hi Andrew

    Hope you can help with this quick query. I’m intending to import electronic plastic enclosures that will be used as parts for assembling medical simulation items (i.e. teaching clinical surgical skills). There are other components such as timers (like one used in kitchen) which I will also import.

    I understand that ‘medical equipment’ is VAT exempt. Is that restricted to the end electronic product sold to customers ONLY after assembly or does that cover the parts purchased to assemble product AS WELL. It is notable that some parts like the timer component is not inherently a medical device but will be part of when. How does customs work out as well.

    Kind Regards
    Abdalla

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Abdalla,

      I’m sorry but I can’t give advice on such specific situations.

      You should simply contact HMRC and ask them directly.

      Andrew

  100. Lickson Munjoma

    Hi Andrew,

    I have read your blog plus your answers to various question and you are exceptional. I was wondering if you could help me understand the process of importing from China to UK in respect to what I want to buy and sell.

    I am planning on ordering necklaces, (50pcs at £0.4 per pc) +(24pcs at £0.6)+(24pcs at £1)+(12pcs at £4). All this comes to 110 approx and its free shipping with Express EMS. I am guessing what’s left for me is paying the duty, VAT and probably the delivery cost to my door.

    As I am not sure, I was wondering if you could point out further things/costs I need to be aware of during this process and also what documentation do I need from the wholesaler or myself. I want to try to be as legit as possible, to have a good foundation for my customers.

    Thank you, much appreciated.
    Lickson

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lickson,

      You’ll pay approx 25% in VAT & import duty, so that’s say 30 quid on top of £110 you pay for products + delivery. Then there will be small customs clearance/processing fee (usually £10 – £20 PER shipment).

      As you use EMS, goods will be delivered to your door @ no extra cost, via Parcel Force.

      Documentation – you need invoice & proof of payment, that’s it.

      Andrew

      1. Lickson Munjoma

        Wow, awesome and thank you for the quick reply. Do I have to go to some office to pay the fees or is there some kind of direct debit involved?

        Kind regards

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’ll pay a simple invoice issued by the courier company.

          Andrew

          1. Lickson Munjoma

            Awesome. Thank you again for your help

            Kind regards
            Lickson

          2. So when does the EORI number come into play? Do you have to give that to the supplier in China to put on the shipment? I’m still a little confused exactly how EORI works.

          3. Andrew Minalto

            Hi Kerry,

            EORI number will be asked by either freight forwarder (if you use sea freight for example) OR when goods arrive in the UK, for Customs clearance procedure.

            Thanks,
            Andrew

  101. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    I’ve recently requested some product samples from china (Mobile Accessories)

    But DHL is asking me to pay Duty and VAT on that sample parcel.

    I just wanted to make sure as an individual buyer and seller (Ebay seller), do I really need to pay VAT? I’m not even registered for any business or VAT.

    And if so, does it mean when I import in volumes, I need to pay VAT even though I’m not registered as a business?

    Thanks
    Nrupen

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course.

      You have to pay import duty & VAT (over certain value) on imported goods.

      It doesn’t mater you’re a business or not, VAT registered or not.

      Andrew

  102. […] live in the UK and want to import some goods from China – I have found a supplier and am ready to place an order with delivery via sea freight. However I […]

  103. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

    Hi Andrew,

    Even though I am U.S. based and am looking to sell on Amazon, there is a lot of relevant information here for me, so thanks SO much!

    I have a question about communication with companies I’m looking to source with on Alibaba:

    In my initial correspondence with companies, my experience has been that about 50% will respond to my business e-mail, or ask me to contact them via their business email instead of communicating via Alibaba’s message center. I have to say, I prefer to communicate this way as well, as I find Alibaba’s message center less efficient.

    Do you feel there are any real risks of communicating with business outside of Alibaba as long as actual purchases are done using Alipay and all Trade Assurance requirements are meet in writing inside of Alibaba’s system? I was even thinking that perhaps I could copy and paste prior discussions into Alibaba’s message center at the end, but maybe this isn’t needed?

    Thanks,

    Julie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Julie,

      It’s perfectly fine, yes, as long as the deal is done via Alibaba.

      I use email/Skype all the time to communicate with suppliers in China as I agree, Alibaba’s message system is somehow user un-friendly.

      Andrew

      1. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

        Great, thanks again for your quick reply!

        Julie

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Julie! 🙂

  104. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m thinking to import some mobile accessories from china and got a question to myself that do I need to register a business and have EORI & VAT number before starting any process?

    or I can just have a parcel from Chinese supplier without any hassle? the goods won’t weight beyond 35-40kg. together.

    I’m planning to sell this accessory on eBay and amazon.

    your advice will be lifeline to my new venture.

    Thanks
    Nrupen

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nrupen,

      No, you don’t have to register a business to start importing from China. And you definitely don’t have to register for VAT!

      You may be asked for an EORI number on order this size but you can just wait for your shipment to arrive and then register for it, if courier asks for it.

      Andrew

      1. Nrupen Patel

        Thanks very much Andrew,

        I highly appreciate your efforts to answer my question promptly.

        if in case, I would be asked EORI number, is it a long process to obtain one? and is it awarded to an individual like me?

        Thanks once again for your guidelines.

        Regards,
        Nrupen

        1. Andrew Minalto

          EORI registration process usually takes 2-3 days.

          And yes, you can get it even being an individual.

          Andrew

          1. Nrupen Patel

            Great …. 🙂

            Thanks very much Andrew,

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome! 🙂

  105. […] ordering some supplies from China. I have never imported anything to the UK but I read your blog post regarding importing and found it very […]

  106. Hi Andrew,

    I have imported some children’s clothes from ali express and dhgate, and after reading your articles and searching online I have gotton the impression that unless I am a big supplier and can afford to go out to china and inspect the manfacturers myself I shouldn’t be importing and selling.

    I’ve only sold a few bits, and what I have sold has been really popular, but now im hesitant of ordering anymore stock in. I was in the process of registering with HMRC and getiing public liability insurance but now I have a big black cloud hanging over me and think I should just stop befor eI get into trouble.

    Any advice or clarity in simpler terms would be much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anna,

      Sorry, why do you get such feeling?

      I have never said that you have to be big or go to China yourself to import….

      Can you please clarify?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  107. Hi Andrew

    Really appreciate the time you spend helping us all, dedication and knowledge is amazing.

    Okay, I am setting up a cosmetics (creams, oils, soaps) company and want to import private label products from a good trusted supplier on Alibaba, these will have my own logo which has just been applied to be trademarked.
    This company are 5 years gold supplier and a member of trade assurance.

    My questions are:
    Are there any other or surprise restrictions if the manufacturer have the correct certification (FDA, GMP, MSDS, SGS) for importing purposes? I know there are rules for cosmetics but I think this will be covered by the manufacturer?

    I am undecided to have the company based either in the UK or Hungary, I believe there is no stamp duty on cosmetics to these 2 countries, just the import tax/VAT at 27% for Hungary and 20% for the UK?

    The sales will be mainly an online store and Amazon, obviously if the company is registered in Hungary I have to charge VAT on the first sale, no threshold like the UK. What I want to know is how do I charge Vat online in my store if I am selling to the world basically, do I just account for the sales and VAT where the company is based for example Hungary and charge no VAT to other countries, how does it work please? What is the best way of doing online sales with VAT?

    If i am not registered for VAT (say UK based and the threshold of (£82,000)), and I buy goods from China, I will have to pay 20% VAT on the goods as it was delivered there, correct? I can then still claim this back after 3 months even though I am not registered?

    If I am based as a company in Hungary, I cam sell on Amazon UK/Europe with no problems, you don’t have to be based in the UK to sell on Amazon?

    Any help appreciated, I have had a few coffees to day so excuse any questions which seem obvious:)

    Thanks

    John

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment but with so many TAX related questions and a rather complicated company set-up outside UK, you should consult an accountant and talk ind detail through all these questions.

      Sorry, I’m not an accountant or tax advisor.

      Andrew

  108. Armando Monell

    Hi Andrew,
    Im looking to import phone cases from china and sell through FBA, any recommendations as to getting them in to the amazon warehouse after customs. i do know they have requirements you must meet but do you think some suppliers will meet the amazon expectations if you tell them what those expectations are?
    Thank you
    (of course this route is to be taken after I’ve done several business with suppliers and trust their quality etc)

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Armando,

      FBA gives very specific instructions on how goods, cartons must be labelled for sending them in.

      So you just give those instructions to supplier and see if they can follow them.

      Andrew

  109. Hi Andrew,

    Great article, but I am thinking of buying a few bits from AliExpress and selling them on eBay. It will only be a low amount of stock, possibly spending £70 maximum at a time so will I have to worry about taxes and other things or will the low spend not warrant further work?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Please check out this guide on thresholds for VAT/import duty:

      https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  110. What problems can be encountered when importing licensed goods? Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ryan,

      By default it’s against law so you could be sued by trademark holder if you sell these goods online.

      If it gets that far. BY that I mean – Customs can also seize and destroy such goods before you even receive them.

      Andrew

  111. Hi Andrew,

    I would like to ask if there is any issues with the invoice provided by suppliers to be in Chinese?

    Puan

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, Customs may ask for an English version.

      Most Chinese suppliers will provide invoices in English or English + some Chinese.

      Andrew

      1. Thank you for your reply Andrew! Your website is really informative.

      2. I have another question regarding the EORI number. Is it true that for low value goods (< £2,000), I can use the dummy EORI numbers when importing?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Haven’t heard of a “dummy” EORI number, lol, but there’s a certain threshold for courier shipments when you don’t need an EORI number at all.

          Not sure how much the threshold is though.

          With sea/air freight you always need an EORI number.

          Andrew

  112. Hi Andrew.
    I have got square eyes from reading so much of your website.
    I am just about to start out importing from China and have found your website invaluable for all the information you have provided.
    I am new to all this and have no experience at all.
    I am looking at importing HDMI cables and after reading through some of the comments I am wondering if I need CE and RoHS certificates for this?
    The suppliers I have been talking to have the certificates displayed on their Alibaba pages.
    If I do need them for customs clearance could I use the suppliers or would I need to get my own?
    Would the cables be stopped at customs without them?
    I’ve searched for hours but cannot find this information.
    Many thanks for website.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      No, customs won’t ask for them.

      But to sell them in EU, yes, these products need to be certified (supplier certificates are fine, as long as they’re genuine).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you for your time and advice.

  113. […] so that you don’t get scammed or get low quality goods. I have complete guides on the entire order process and supplier verification, I have detailed the top 10 most common scams so you know what to look […]

  114. Hi Andrew,

    I have already imported two shipments from China using a UK based forwarder. I am now looking at a new product which is slightly heavier than the previous. I have received quotes for the shipment and estimates for the duty/vat by my forwarder. The cost per unit works out at a lot more than the actual unit cost itself! I need to look at ways to reduce this ideally without increasing the order quantity.

    My supplier has provided me a quote (for the shipment) using their shipping co. and it works out around £250 cheaper than the quote from my forwarder. My question is, is there any reason why I shouldn’t use the suppliers shipper? Also if I was to use theirs, would I need to organise the clearance myself and how would I organise to have the cleared goods uplifted from the airport and delivered to me? Normally my forwarder delivers to my door.

    For your ref, my prices are FOB.

    I would appreciate any advice you could offer.

    Rachel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rachel,

      You could of course go with supplier’s shipping price BUT be warned – you’ll face extra costs when goods arrive in the UK – airport fees, clearance fees, storage fees etc. etc. which could actually be more than £250 you theoretically save.

      If you need to bring down shipping cost per product WITHOUT increasing order size, maybe consider using sea freight instead of air freight, which will be cheaper.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your advice. I think I will avoid using the suppliers shipping company to be on the safe side and will look into sea-freight options.

        I think your website is fantastic by the way. Lots of invaluable advice 😉

        Rachel

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Thanks & You’re welcome Rachel! 🙂

          Andrew

  115. James Holland

    Thanks Andrew.

    I’ve been working with a few factories in Zhejiang, China for a couple years. Mostly sourcing, QC and sales. Now looking to start exporting to the UK myself. I was initially very nervous about the documentation process, but it doesn’t seem to be as complex as I thought.

    On a side note for all those sourcing directly from Chinese online stores and factories. The below may help you:

    1. Bargain! Bargaining is a cultural characteristic, so don’t feel guilty asking for a lower price. Be warned however that if you push too low, don’t be surprised if the quality of the product is lowered- They certainly won’t be using their profit to accommodate a large price reduction.

    2. Verify that they understand what you what. They are after all using a second language to communicate with you, and may very well misunderstand some of your points.

    3. Make sure all additional costs are included in your quotation. Particularly for those sourcing directly from factories, you will want the unit cost, mould fees (If you are using your own design) and set -up fees.

    Good luck 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment James & Good luck with your new venture! 🙂

      Andrew

  116. Sunita Shrestha

    Hi Andrew

    I am trying to start business, importing electrical goods from china and selling on ebay. I have no business experience before.

    I have registered a company on company house. I am unable to open a business account, the bank refused my application.
    Q1. Can I pay the chinese supplier using my personal bank account? Can I pay them online? or Should I go to the branch to make a payment?
    Q2. Can I use my personal bank account on ebay for the customer to pay online? Can the customer pay cash on the branch as well? I can not see through how this payment system works?
    Q3. Can I confirm that courier company like, DHL, UPS calculate the custom/vat for us?

    Thank you so much Andrew.
    sunita

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sunita,

      1) Yes, you can. You can make payment online too.

      2) Yes, you can use your personal bank account to set-up PayPal account, that’s fine.

      3) Yes, correct.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks a million Andrew, you are amazing

        1. Sunita Shrestha

          Thanks a million Andrew, you are amazing
          Hi Andrew again,

          Now I am being pain. May I please ask if there is a difference on custum payment if I make a pay to the supplier by my personal account?

          Thank you
          Sunita

          1. Andrew Minalto

            No, there’s no difference.

  117. Vicky Buckle

    Hi Andrew,
    Its my first attempt at importing from China and I am finding your blog so useful, thank you. The product I am looking at is u shaped pregnancy pillows, they come vacuum packed but the supplier is quoting 120USD for a sample to be shipped via fedex, surely that is steep considering product is only around 15 USD and i think they are only sending one sample. What sort of price should a sample cost. It weighs 3.2kg. Also a 100 piece order would apparently be in a 7CBM container. I wont place an initial order that large but do you think these costs and sizes seem right, i imagine a 7CBM will cost a lot to ship. I did cover the 10 point check for the supplier on alibaba.
    Thanks
    Vicky

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Vicky,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It is quite large pack, even vacuum sealed so it could cost $120 to send via Fedex. It could cost a bit cheaper via EMS so you may ask your supplier if they can ship it via EMS.

      But when you place your real/big order, you want to use SEA FREIGHT and nothing else. Courier is out of question for such bulky items. And to make sea freight cost effective you’ll want to order at least 100-200 units+

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Vicky Buckle

        Hi Andrew,
        Thanks really helpful. Re the sample how long does EMS take roughly?
        Do you still recommend Woodland Global for freight forwarding, I would rather use one of these companies as a newbie and think it will be a little more straightforward for now.
        Thanks
        Vicky

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Vicky,

          EMS takes about 4-6 business days from China to UK.

          Yes, I still recommend Woodland Global as my nr.1 freight forwarder.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  118. Ivan Garcia

    Hey Andrew
    Came by your article today after seeing you post something on defining snf cif and fob anyways im currently trying to order brown rice from alibaba 50 pounds and im getting the option of sea freight or air cargo will this effect a fowarding company? im in miami and was hoping alibaba was like aliexpress where things get delivered to your doorstep but it isnt….I need help ensuring that my shipment wont get lost somewhere…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ivan,

      Why are you ordering just 50 pounds of brown rice from China? What for?

      Andrew

      1. Simon Zhang

        Ya Ivan. I’m confused too for why are you ordering brown rice from China?
        Are you going to resell it, or to eat ownself?

        And, just last few days, I went to alibaba to search for shipping services. And I was curious about the shipping fees, and so, I asked a shipping company about the air cargo and sea freight . Honestly, I don’t really understand about them, but for a 50 pounds of items, about 22kg, it will cost you about $110 for shipping by air cargo as how I was told by them when I chat with in alibaba. Basically, if you want to ship by air cargo, it costs you $4.9/kg. And this is what I am told too, if you want to buy bulky items, you have better choose sea freight, as it is calculated based on cbm,cubic per meter. So generally, it should be cheaper, however, lots of taxes are applied too..

  119. Lee Hampshire

    Hi Andrew

    Amazing article as everyone else has said!

    I’m new to being self employed and am doing this as well as my full time job. I have registered a ltd company but know nothing about it – I just have the urge to try and be more entrepreneurial.

    Yesterday I registered for tax purposes so I could get an EORI number to import and then found your page saying don’t do it…!!

    Can I put it on hold again? Can you recommend a free book keeping program/method for my incomings and outgoings for VAT etc?

    Many thanks

    Lee

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lee,

      You mean you registered for VAT?

  120. Hi Andrew
    Don’t usually bother writing a response to pages.
    I have just started my own business importing from China. You page was read with great interest, well I got to the end of the page where you said Good Luck, so I must have found it informative.
    So…I just wanted to say thank you for finding the time to write this.
    After all, it is all about research!

    Thank you
    Donna

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks & you’re welcome Donna! 🙂

      Andrew

  121. Hi Andrew
    I am interested in your final point about not registering for VAT, obviously this sounds very convenient, however is it possible when dealing with customs? Do you not have to declare you are planning to sell the large volume of goods you are importing?
    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      Yes, its totally fine. You can still import goods without being VAT registered.

      Please don’t mix up Vat registration with business registration as such – these are two different things.

      Andrew

  122. Hi Andrew

    I have been reading up on your blogs for a bit now and was wondering if I could just refer to Jarek’s post from 15Feb. I too have been ordering very small bits from AliExpress just to get a feel for various products and have used the free shipping via China Post option. You mentioned you pay import taxes and VAT when you collect the package from the post office but mine have been delivered to my door or through my letter box. As far as I can work out I’m not having to pay anything as they are of small value. If I did have to pay anything would they be retained at my post office until I fetched it?
    Thanks!
    Lindsey

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lindsey.

      Please check out this article for more information on taxes for such imports:

      https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  123. Hi Andrew,
    great post, seems very popular.
    What am I missing here is a way how to save on international shipping cost thanks consolidations in China (mail forwarding services like http://www.tiptrans.com). Those expenses tends to be high, specially compared to product price when you are using air shipments.

    Sure this makes no sense for Aliexpress if they ship for free, but for taobao or other sources it does make a change.

    Cheers!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Marian, may do an article on Chinese mail forwarders in future!

      Andrew

  124. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve previously imported a couple of small orders and had them shipped via my supplier’s courier, no problem..

    However, I’m about to import a slightly larger order and I’ve read that if you import by post, and the value of the goods is above £2000 pounds, you have to fill in a SAD (C88) form. Does the same apply to importing via courier too?

    Also the actual value of the goods is less than £2000 but with shipping it will be more than £2000. Will this make a difference?

    Chris

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You don’t have to worry about documentation if you still use a courier – they will handle everything.

      Only thing – if you haven’t registered for EORI number yet, you should do it now as for higher value shipments EORI number will have to be provided to courier company.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew that’s good to know.
        I got my EORI number last time so don’t need to worry about that.

        Cheers

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Good stuff Chris!

  125. Nick Corbett

    Hi Andrew
    Like most people on here I am new at this. After endless research into this I have found a product I want to import. Initially I am hoping to order 10 pcs that weigh 10KG each so a total of 100KG. The company I am dealing with have quoted a price for shipping with fedex to be a total of 853$. Does this sound lik a true cost? Your advice would be appreciated.
    Nick

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, that sounds about right, if the products are not that big in size.

      100 kg packages are not great order size to be honest – it’s too heavy/expensive for courier shipment and too small for sea/air freight. So Ideally I would recommend you increasing the order size so you can use cheaper shipping methods.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew/Nick,

        I would say you can still go for the sea freight anyway, as you say, it’s generally too small to make it efficient, but as you’ll still only pay around £180 anyway if it’s >2cbm. (Obviously plus vat+duty etc and maybe a bit more to get FOB instead). If you’re happy to wait that is.

        But as you advised, you’d be better ordering more upto the 2cbm minimum to make it more efficient on sea.

        Paul

        1. Nick Corbett

          Hi Andrew
          Thank you for your reply I appreciate it. just one other thing. The company I have been in contact with are including paypal commission on the bill. Is this Normal? I have done as much research on them as I possibly can and they seem legitimate but as this is new to me I need to be extra cautious.

          Regards

          1. Andrew Minalto

            Yes, this is totally normal when doing business with Chinese suppliers. And even ones in UK or USA as PayPal does take a fee on all payments, unlike with bank transfer when supplier gets all the money you send them.

            Andrew

  126. When starting selling products from china to european customers, dropshipping might be a good idea.
    Do you have contacts / experience to fulfillment services in china that would be usuful? I have bought products on ebay coming from china and it seems the postage is very cheap. But what do you say?

  127. Hello.
    If I import a bulk of food supplements from china. Is the duty calculated on what I pay the CHINESE supplier or on what will be MY selling price to customers?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      The price you pay your supplier of course.

      NOT re-sale price.

      Andrew

  128. Hi, I have a supplier that is quoting shipping inc all import duties and tax what documentation do I need to check this will actually happen?

    Thanks

    P.S. from China to the UK.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      That sounds fishy to me…

      Are you sure it’s e legit supplier?

      How will they take care of customs clearance, fees on your behalf?

      Scammers usually use this tactic…

      Andrew

  129. Hi Andrew,

    I would like to by some tiny wooden laser cut stars from China but the prices suppliers are giving me say: Moq 3000 which is perfect, and price $0.38 a piece price. Fob. This sounds really expensive, I would ask them but I fear I will sound amateur, which I am and they may try to rip me off. 0.38$ for one tiny wooden star, are they trying this already? many thanks in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ama,

      I don’t really know how much these products cost so hard to say if it’s expensive or not.

      Can you get them much cheaper anywhere else?

      Andrew

      1. Hi There and thank you for your quick reply.

        Sure I can get them of eBay from China,around 99p for 100, but this is my competition? Is that allowed? I’m selling for around the same plus a little postage, I thought alababa would of been ideal to source such a product? But I thought 0.38 piece?, then I thought to ask you if this is the right route

        Once again Many thanks

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You can of course buy from your competition, that’s not against any rules (to stay on safe side, can use different eBay account – just so that seller doesn’t see that you re-sell these items).

          But if you can get these for 99p for 100 from eBay, maybe that Alibaba supplier meant 0.38 PER 100 piece pack? And minimum is 3000 packs.

          That would make more sense to me.

          Andrew

          1. Hi There, I think I may need to confirm this with them then first to confirm the pack size. thank you so much for your time. Very much appreciated 🙂

          2. Andrew Minalto

            No worries, you’re welcome Ama! 🙂

  130. Hi Andrew,

    I’m ordering for the 4th time from a supplier and this order is double the size of previous orders – around 140kg. I understand that air freight would be the best option but after contacting Woodland Global (who we’ve used in the past for sea freight shipments) they’ve quoted £1400 as the goods are classified as ‘dangerous’. Our supplier states they have a forwarder who they’ve used for years and their price is $6.3/kg but we’d have to clear customs on our own and arrange for delivery from Heathrow to our address (which is only around 20 miles so we wouldn’t mind having to pick up ourselves). You state it’s fairly straightforward to do this on your own (as you do it yourself), but I can’t seem to find any information on exactly what the procedure involves? Will we be contacted when the goods land at the airport? What documentation do we provide?

    I would appreciate any and all information you can provide please 🙂

    Many thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      Maybe that $6.3 per kg is just for freight, not including all the associated airport/clearance fees which WG included in their quote? They can be quite big…

      But if you want to take the risk, you’ll simply need to find a company who can do customs clearance procedure for you. I think WG also offers this service, if not – you can maybe ask them for a recommendation on company who can do this for you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Do you not have a company you would recommend/have used in the past?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Same WG can do this for you.

    2. You still even just use sea freight if you’re not bothered about shipping time. For example, I have a shipment of 100kg that I thought might be best via air frieght as it’s only 0.2cbm, and with WG you end up paying for a minimum 2 cbm price anyway. It still came to around £300 vs £180, so I still went with sea freight instead.

      (In fact I found another product I wanted in the same port, so I’ll effectively have 1.8cbm shipping free available on that one).

  131. Hi Andrew

    I recently tried to order 20kg of chlorine dioxide (10kg boxes x2) from a company in China. Yes, they trade through Alibaba but did refuse payment through Paypal and instead advised me to use Ali Payment Secure. Secondly, I checked their status and found out that they have a gold status. My problem however, stems from the fact that my order costs $160 whilst shipping costs $365, which means shipping is more than double my order. But this is according to them of course. I feel like something is not right here, please help. They say the shipping company they use is FedEx. I asked them to use USPS, they said USPS decline, stating that they don’t do chemicals. The company is in Langfang city in Guangyang district and I live in South Africa. Please help Andrew, if the price is fair then i will just pay.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cyrill,

      I don’t have any experience with importing chemicals but it’s def. more expensive (shipping) compared to regular goods.

      So with that in mind, $365 for a 20kg package seems very reasonable.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  132. Hi Andrew can you help please . I have friend who lives in China she will arrange for me a container of 700 smart electric boards to UK but am unsure what is needed for her to get thee to me . Does she need licence as its only a one off and do I need licence to bring in . We looked at air freight but most say only to airport so I have asked her about ship although to fill container would be 700 I think more beneficial can you help please and give me idea of what is needed by U.S. To do this .thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Carrie,

      Yes, as far as I know, she would need an export licence to do this. You don’t need any licences, no.

      As for organising shipping via sea freight or air freight, I recommend you contact a freight forwarding company who can help with all this, including customs clearance and delivering goods to your door:

      http://www.woodland-group.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  133. Hi Andrew
    I’ve just spoken to woodland global and their figures for shipping are double/nearly triple what you’ve mentioned on your website for sea freight. I’m waiting for a air freight quote as its only 60KG.
    Is the amounts you have listed in line for 2015?
    Best regards
    Ken

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ken,

      60kg is really too small of a shipment for sea freight.

      That’s why you probably get high £ per kg price.

      Andrew

      1. I can see where Mat was going with this!!
        I’ve been contemplating a move into this field for too long now. Trying desparetly to find a way out of this office job I’ve been in for the last 15 years. Reading your bloggs I feel I’m getting closer. Keep up the good work.
        Cheers
        Wab.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Cheers & good luck with the business Wab!

          Andrew

  134. hi Andrew
    My father open a small shop and the sell is good recent years so he ask me to order the machine for him in china.
    It my really first time to import big machine (i only buy some small item from china).I make a research for 2 months for the product and finally find a supplier.I already ask the inspector to inspect company I want to buy the product and everything is alright.
    The product value around 80000$ to 100000$ and about 3000 kg.The point is about the shipment and payment for the product.The company CNF price is around 2000$ more than FOB+shipment price if i do arrange shipment myself.And the payment method is they divide to 2 part first 40% for place order and 60% when the product dispatch or on board.Otherwise I pay 60% for place order and 40% when the product is in the shipment company hand.And payment pay by Paypal or escrow.

    Would you recommend me which one is better??Or any other method for this type of situation?
    Do I need to do any more thing to secure the machine??
    Do I need to under go any contract or document with the company about such product.

    I am so scared and I am not joking around just to look cool, most of the supplier that I contact think that I just kidding and wasting their time and sorry for my bad English.

    Any help on this matter would really be appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      What kind of machine is it?

      1. hi Andrew
        It shoe machine or lasting shoe machine to be exactly and other shoe machine in total of 4 machine.But the most important of all is the shoe lasting machine

        Looking forward to your reply
        Paul AI

        1. Andrew Minalto

          How you’ll make sure that machine is new, in working condition etc.?

          To me it seems too much risk…

          Andrew

          1. Pual Ai

            hi Andrew

            I should explain in more detail, the company is establish company for 18 years (I did use the inspector to get for those detail) and when we place order it will have a contract and invoice involve.
            when the pre-order machine finish we will have the inspector inspected it for us and when the machine on aboard for shipping we will have the inspector check it for us.if we use freight forward for it,they will check the machine before handle it.
            Or is it better for me to go there myself to check the machine before handle it???

            Looking forward to your reply
            Paul AI

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Ok, but what about service, repairs etc.?

            I just think it is too risky to buy such a machine from China.

            I always buy all business machinery we have locally, so I get full service, warranty, repairs etc.

  135. Hi Andrew

    I’ve stumbled across your blog today when looking for some transportation prices for importing from China. it’s a great blog and I’ll be back.

    I have two questions if you wouldn’t mind.

    1) Firstly, we are about to import from a Chinese company and they have given us a price for door to door shipping using UPS, their price more or less ties in with what you state above £4-5/Kg for courier shipping. The only thing is that I’ve calculated the price on the UPS site and also using the DHL rate card and it comes out at closer to £17/Kg on UPS and £13.50/Kg using DHL. Obviously this has led me to cast some doubt onto the Chinese supplier so I wonder if you could let me know where you get the £4-5/Kg price from as I wonder if I’m missing something here. The total weight is around 158Kg which whilst too heavy by the standards that you use above, the goods still have a great margin if the shipping is at the price that the Chinese company quote and it seems easier than arranging the air freight which the Chinese company quote at only £230 cheaper, if we’re to use a forwarding company to clear customs and deliver on then this would get eaten into even more so it seems easier door to door.

    2) An unrelated question here but something that I picked up on reading through the comments below your post. We have imported previously from India, Canada and have had some very small orders from China via Ali Express. We have never had an EORI number in the past, do we need to do anything about this now or is the EORI number used during import only?

    The Indian company when sending the items have misdeclared the value of the goods and marked them as a commercial sample in the past (same as the Ali Express small orders), we have asked them not to do this but they seem to like doing it. As a result the goods have come through without any charges being levied, do we have a duty to contact someone about this? Being VAT registered we collect VAT when we sell the goods in any case but there may be a small amount of Duty to pay.

    The goods coming in from Canada were all declared correctly, Duty, VAT and Parcelforce customs clearance charged but we still didn’t need an EORI or at least we’ve never been notified about this requirement so I’m slightly confused as the the requirement for this.

    Any help much appreicated.

    Cheers

    Mat

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mat,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) First of all, courier account holders get much better rates than what you saw on the website, by as much as 50% and more. Secondly, as it’s a large shipment, further discounts apply. Lastly, in China they get even better rates than say we in the UK so at the end – they always get much better deals and price of £5 per kg on such large shipment is totally normal.

      2) EORI number is needed when imported shipment is above certain value point (can’t remember now how much it was) so that explains why you didn’t need it previously. As you will use courier now too, you don’t really have to worry about EORI. If they ask you for it, then register. If not, no need to do it.

      Yes, you should have contacted courier company for those under-valued shipments, provide them with correct invoice etc. so they can charge you VAT and import duty properly.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Thank you for your fast response, it really is helpful.

        In answer to 1, I guess we would prefer to arrange for the importation ourselves as if we dealt with a scamming supplier we would only lose the cost of the goods and not the shipping cost if the supplier didn’t provide the goods. Do you know what the requirements are to have an account with a good discount like you mention, does it require a large spend? I think the Chinese companies shipping agent quoted $869 for the 158kg, converting that on xe.com that’s actually closer to £3.50/Kg if we could get near there with our own account that would be great!

        In answer to 2, noted about the EORI no. If I understand correctly, if we need it we’ll be asked to provide it and it’s not needed for courier imported goods where the courier act as importer.

        Do we have a legal obligation to contact the courier company about misdeclared shipments and if so, do you think I ought to do something about it now? It’s over a year ago now. Also, how does this work with smaller items sent by China Post which arrive via Royal Mail marked as commercial sample, what should you do in that instance?

        Thanks again for your help, it really is appreciated!

        Mat

  136. Sonja McCaughran

    Hi Andrew
    If I were to start off very small, probably just on ebay, will ebay let me use my personal ebay & personal paypal account or would I need to start off with business accounts for both.

    Thanks

    Sonja

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sonja,

      Yes, sure, that’s fine.

      Andrew

  137. Hi, i’m hoping you can help on this matter.

    If I am going to be importing goods from Vietnam into Southampton docks, how easy is it to collect the goods myself, and would I need particular documentation to do so?

    Many thanks
    Matt

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      You can’t simply go in and collect your shipment.

      You need some one who can clear goods through customs – like a freight forwarder/customs broker. Once they clear the goods, you pay all taxes, port fees, processing fees etc., then yes, you can collect your goods from the warehouse.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew, many thanks for your response.

        Matt

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Matt! 🙂

  138. Hello
    How r you, Iwant to know that it is okay to send money through HSBC bank in company name as seller iI asking for 50% advance as I am importing water fountain in India.secondly how can Icheck company is fake or real.TNT courier ccompany is good for door to door delivery.

  139. Hello
    Your post are helpful for newcomers.I want to ask I have finalize to import water fountain from China to India . Seller want 50% advance and wants to transfer through HSBC in company name how can I sure that this is real or fake company.Secondly I want door to door courier he is offering TNT courier.Is TNT courier deliver door to door and clears customs . Waiting for your reply.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kuber,

      To check whatever it is a genuine company or not, you want to do inspection on them:

      https://andrewminalto.com/china-factory-inspection/

      That does not guarantee that they will deliver you goods though. But at least you’ll know that company is what they say.

      Yes, TNT will clear goods through customs and deliver to your door.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  140. Hi,

    I would like to import baby play mats from China. Supplier delivers it to Felixstowe. Where and how can I pay import tax without going to Felixstowe myself? Is it possible to arrange to get goods delivered to my UK address too?

    Thanks,

    Rita

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rita,

      Yes, it is possible with the use of a freight forwarding company, such as WG:

      http://www.woodland-group.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  141. nick chambers

    Hi can you help me please? I am looking to set up a new brand of graffiti spray paint in the uk and I am sourcing from China. I am looking to import all the products but don’t no much about importing. I am trying to get samples sent to me but some company are telling me that they will only send by sea as air is to expensive £90 for 3 cans by air as they are classed as dangerous. If I send them by sea I need to pay for 1 cubic metre is there any other way for me to send my sample? Or other ways to ship smaller amounts other then paying for 1 cubic meter?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      No, I’m afraid there isn’t.

      Paint spray is considered high risk item and you can’t send it via air, so only way to do this is via sea freight.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        I’ll be organising a LCL shipment through Woodlands global in a month’s time, I’m sure I can put Nick’s samples with mine to help him out and then send locally at this end. Feel free to forward my email address to him (and you don’t need to publish this, obviously).

  142. Hi Andrew,

    Great article and really informative.

    Just about to venture into the e bay selling arena and looking for a bit of guidance on how to proceed really. My first order is likely to be about 200kg with a value of $2100 +/- as I am yet to get down to the negotiations with the suppliers. Ideally looking to have the customs elements taken care of for me would a courier take this size of shipment? If not will have to look at airfreight / forwarding agent.

    What sort of costs can I expect to pay upon arrival of the goods in the UK?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Couriers can take really any size of shipment BUT costs will be outrageous!

      For a 200 kg shipment worth just $2k, your best bet is to use a freight forwarder and ship via Sea freight to keep costs down to minimum. Woodland Global can do this for you, including customs procedure and delivery to your door.

      You will want to contact them to get exact quote.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  143. […] my blog and training courses, I mostly talk about brand new stock sourced from wholesalers or imported from China. But what about liquidation and clearance stock? Can you make money by buying and re-selling such […]

  144. Andrew

    I have read you blog with real interest (most of it anyway, so forgive me in advance, if after I ask my question below, it seems like you’re going over old ground.)

    Basically I am carrying out a major home renovation project and want to order 100m2 of quality limestone tiles from China for my own use (not a business. – Min order quantity BTW.) My brother lives in Shanghai so he will organise big pallet at his end – probably going to be a couple of tonnes weight but not huge volume wise. This will cost me about £1500

    As a very rough guide, what other costs do you think I might incur when the pallet arrives at a port in the uk and will I need to pay duty/ VAT?

    Thanks

    Peter

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      Yes, you’ll have to pay VAT and import duty when goods arrive in UK + additional port charges, customs clearance fees and other expenses.

      Best way to know how much exactly it will cost is to use freight forwarder who can offer door to door service. This means you’ll know exactly how much everything will cost. Get in touch with this company to get a quote:

      http://www.woodland-group.com

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  145. Hi ,
    Andrew
    I want to buy a moble from ebay.com and the mobile is coming from china to India and the cost of mobile is $200 and shipping is free , I want to know what are the extra cost(duties) of the mobile coming mobile from china to india

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry but I’m not familiar with import tax system in India.

      Please do some online research on your own to find out exact tax rates and procedure.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  146. Hi,

    I’ve been using pandacourier.com for shipping.

    They are really ok and trustfull.

    I was using taobao agents. They are ok. yoybuy, buywithagents or bhiner. Very nice and safe.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Michael!

  147. gavin rice

    Hi andrew

    I have taken the jump and started looking into importing from china
    i have done alot of reading up on best ways to deal with shipping

    I have agreed a price with a company in china on a product
    on the quote it says FOB Taiyuan which from what i have read means they will get it to that location inclded in the price and i have to get a frieght forwarding company to deal with it from there BUT on the quote they have put EXPRESS FEE TO UK $100 so im confused should there be a shipping fee if its FOB and if that is the price to deliver to me from what i have read $100 seems very cheap
    I have done my checks on the company and they seem very good

    as this is my first import i have only ordered small 12kg parcel of small hand tools (no blades) value of $180 is a fright forwarding company the best route for a parcel of that size

    Many thanks Andrews

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gavin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      From the looks of it, they have already included a courier fee for door to door delivery. $100 sounds about right for a small 12kg package if sent via EMS for example. You should of course double check this with supplier.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      P.S. And in general no, for such small shipments freight forwarding companies are not cost effective at all and you should stick with courier companies for packages less than 50kg or so.

      1. gavin rice

        Thank you very much Andrew you have eased my worrys
        So when it comes to customs charges ect as its a door to door service do i not need to worry about all that or will i still have the charges once it gets to the UK.
        Again thank you for your reply and keep up the good work on this site its gold dust to us taking the leap into importing.

        Many Thanks

        Gavin Rice

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’ll still have to pay VAT & import duty, yes, but courier will sort out all the documentation and just send you an invoice for you to pay.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  148. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for your very good explanation and recommendation.
    I have just one question. I booked a flight ticket and I’m going to Canton Trade this spring.
    I read a lot of about it. I have been successfully trade on eBay and Amozne, using mostly suppliers from Alliexpress and Alibaba. I was wondering if I could get better prices (and the same good quality) if I contact face-to-face with factory managers on trades. I read that it is not worth to buy items on Canton Trade (as they are expensive), but is factory offer better price then Alibaba and Aliexpress?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I don’t know Monica as I have never been to a Canton show myself. From what I have heard, it’s good for large buyers, I mean – really large buyers and people who just looking for new products/niche ideas as there in one place you can see so many different products. If you want better prices, better way to spend your time in China probably would be to get a translator/local person who is working with product sourcing and visit factories together (ones you have researched online and also new ones) and maybe make some deals that way.

      You’ll find many factories on Alibaba so you can still get in touch directly with factories/manufacturers via Alibaba.com

  149. Hello Andrew ! Great blog. I am just starting with trading bussines, I am reading and do research. I would like start import small amounts from China and when I get it, set up company and start trading. I have ordered 7 pieces of jewelery from China and planning resell it in the future. I don’t have any tracking number. I have two questions regarding EORI form and product certificates/ testing. I had a look on Application for Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) for non VAT register. They are asking in point one of the form about Applicant’s trading name but formally I have not set up company yet so how I could fill in. Further in point five they are asking legal status, at the moment is not company, if so do I have choose other and in details below the form call it individual ? When I will set up company and legal status will be changed do I have to fill in this form again as Sole proprietor ? Also they are asking Contact details of freight agent to be used but I would like use DHL on start. Where I can get list of products needs certificates/testing ? Thank you. Kind Regards. Margarit.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Margarit,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If that order is small, just 7 pieces of jewellery, you don’t need to apply for an EORI number at all so don’t over-complicate your life at this stage 🙂

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew ! Thank you for Answer. I am planing bulk order from China so I will need EORI number anyway. Section 8 of EORI form is: Contact details of freight agent to be used, what if I will be using DHL. In first section of EORI form they are asking applicant’s trading name. Is it means I can not import since I will register as sole trader and then fill in by the name of my company ?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, contact details will be DHL in that case (company who ships the package).

          Trading name – if you’re not registered as business yet, you’ll simply enter your name there and write – individual.

  150. Hi Andrew,

    I tried to get some information about free delivery through China Post but could’t find anywhere.
    Basically, I am going to import a smaller amount of goods from China into UK for the very first time. Supplier I intend to choose says that delivery is completely free as it goes via ‘China Post Air Mail’ (taking around 3-4 weeks time). As I observed it is very common way of shipment to UK and a lot of suppliers offer that including those being a long time on Chinese market. I want to use this way as I need to save as much as possible on transportation for my trial order. My question is simple, how and when I will pay import duty fee and VAT to the Customs? Will I get a seperate invoice for that from the Customs? When exactly I will need to pay for duty and VAT? or will China Post (or UK local mail) deliver an invoice for me for duty and VAT due? Simply, how does it work with duty and VAT charges using this free shipment option.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Have a good day

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jarek,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, many sellers on China offer free shipping via China Post, especially for small and cheap items. But it is very slow indeed, sometimes it can take up to 6 weeks to show up and it doesn’t come with any kind of tracking so be prepared for lost shipments too.

      As for paying taxes – these packages will be delivered by Royal Mail in UK, so you’ll simply pay VAT & import duty when you collect shipment from your local post office.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  151. […] read your blog post on importing from China and was wondering if I could ask a couple of […]

  152. Veronica Daus

    Hi andrew im doing dropshipping currently and now i have restriction on my account due to delayed deliveries from my suppliers in china.will it be better them to just order in bulk and send it fr australia?or is there a way that i can use a more efficient cost effective postage for individual customers around the world?tnks veronica

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Veronica,

      if you sell on eBay, dropshipping is pretty much guarantee to fail concept. You can read more about it here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/dropshipping-business-model/

      so yes, I would recommend you buy products in bulk (at same time getting better prices) and send them to your customers on your own. You’ll gain much better prices doing this way, offer 24 hour dispatch and quick delivery times.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Veronica Daus

        Hi andrew tnks fr ur quick response.im a member of dropshipcn too should i just cancel that then?also could i ask ebay to reinstate my status rather than waiting 90 days?tnks veronica

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Have they suspended you for 90 days?

          If so, better just to wait for that period to end.

          1. Veronica Daus

            Hi andrew they havent but i was reading forums where it says its usually about that long?does it take that long though?veronica

          2. Andrew Minalto

            It totally depends on what kind of suspension you had?

            Usually they say this in the suspension email you receive – whatever it’s temporary or permanent ban.

            Thanks,
            Andrew

  153. Martin Chapman

    Hi Andrew –

    like many others on here i am starting up my own online business. Having completed my market research I’m confident that i have a good angle on things and I’m now looking at the importing aspect of the business and have taken on board the use of a freight forwarder to make my life a load easier.

    Although i have read through heaps of messages and as always your great replies i am in need of clarification, a list or tick box of stages to complete. In my case i will be setting up as a sole trader and will not be registering for VAT (do i still have to pay vat if I’m not claiming it?).

    Could you possibly provide a 1-10 steps of the start up process, please 🙂

    The blog is awesome and has helped me a lot.

    Regards

    Martin.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martin,

      Yes, you’ll pay VAT on your imports, even if you’re not VAT registered.

      Let me know if you have any further questions.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  154. Hello Andrew,

    I have been buying from my current supplier (based in china) for 7 months now never sent more than £2500 (via PP & WU), but as my business grows soon i will be sending £10,000+. What would you suggest is the safest method to send this amount to someone that i have never physically seen before. i am very sceptical about this as he is only a 2YR Gold supplier. I just feel like they are playing the long con. What would your advice be?

    Thank you once again, Your a Godsend!

    Sam

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      If you feel that they’re playing the long con, you should start looking for a new supplier asap.

      Apart from that, I would stick with PayPal only OR do Escrow payments via Alibaba. Don’t use Western Union for such large payments. You shouldn’t use it even for current level payments.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Thanks for your response.

        Last time i tried to make a payment via Escrow on alibaba, it kept declining my debit card and i called my bank and they didnt have a clue abput what to do, have you ever heard of sn issue like this before?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You can’t use a debit card on Alibaba, only credit cards are accepted there.

          1. ok thank you, last question which one of your products do i need to buy in order for you to help me take my ebay business to the next level?

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Hi Sam,

            I would recommend my EAB course:

            http://www.easyauctionbusiness.com/secret/

            Thanks,
            Andrew

  155. Hello, I want to buy small jewelry pieces from Ali express to sell online in UK. Do I need to register as a business to sell the items online? And do I need a tax number / to import these ? What else would I need ? I’m not very business smart and would like to know that I am carrying things out correctly .

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jay,

      No, you don’t need to register as business in the beginning – you can import such goods as an individual, no need for a tax number or anything else. If it all works out for you and you start getting regular sales in, then you have to register as Sole Trader with HMRC. read more about this here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-tax-registration/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  156. Peter Mason

    Hi Andrew,

    I wonder if you could advise. I am an expat living in Hong Kong and want to sell products to UK consumers. I have no problems with finding the factories / inspection etc as this is my background. My question is what am I required to declare to the relevant UK agencies such as customs and HMRC when selling the product, as I will be classed as an exporter in HK and not an importer.

    Thank you,

    Peter

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Peter,

      If you live in HK and register your business in HK, you’ll be paying taxes there and only register in UK, when you reach UK’s VAT threshold, to start paying VAT in UK. In the beginning it’s not necessary.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Peter Mason

        Hi Andrew,,

        Thank you for your reply, especially on a Sunday.

        Am I correct in my understanding that if I shop direct to my customer and the value of the goods are under £40 then there are no import duties or VAT to be paid by the recipient ?

        Thank you once again.

        Peter

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Please check out this guide Peter:

          https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

  157. I am thinking of importing mobile phones from China to resell in the UK. The question is will the customs fully open the boxes, because once the sellophane wrapping has been removed and the items disturbed they will immediatley look second hand and i will not be able to sell the items as brand new.
    Gratefull for any reply
    Many thanks
    Stuart

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, customs will never open wrapped items, that is unless nothing is said on boxes themselves. And even then, they would probably contact you first, ask for more information about products, invoice etc.

      Usually they just open the box if they’re in doubt what’s inside the shipment.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  158. hi I have read your blog and its fantastic well done you for putting in so much work to help others. I am trying for the first time to sell things on ebay and I found a supplier on alibaba from china and the package is 2.5kg in weight (£120 for items) and im just waiting for a quote from dhl for door to door delivery am I expected to pay anything more than for the products and to dhl i.e VAT, Customs etc and around how much extra am I to pay if that’s possible to answer with the info I have given you. Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, you’ll pay roughly 25% on top of that for VAT &import duty.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. thank you for your help and good day to you.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          no worries, you’re welcome!

  159. Hello andrew,
    I have been looking around for products, and very recently I have contacted about 10 suppliers about hard drives most of the replies i have been getting they tell me to get into contact with them via skyps, then further on down they show there deals, which involve iphones etc… This is about 7 replies in a row i have had, should i stay away from these as they are advertising brand products?… Also how can people buy stuff from ebay from say Hong Kong or China and not het charged for import etc
    Thanks In Advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joshua,

      Are they Gold Members on Alibaba?

      1. yes a few (if not, all) of them are gold? and they are advertising IPhones as free gifts after spending a certain amount then they give you the individual prices.
        even though the product I am asking them about is an unbranded hard drive?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Sounds like a 100% scam to me!!!

          I have never received free iPhones as gifts when ordering from China, lol

  160. Hello,

    This article is something which i was truly looking for so far. Really informative.

    I am planning to import little girl dresses from China like Tutu n Chiffon dresses. Is it mandatory to have IEC for that. I am working as a sole proprietr . Please let me know what percnt of import duty do i need to pay for this…

    Regards,
    Nikky

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nikky,

      Sorry, not sure what you mean by IEC?

      You can calculate exact taxes on such imports using this website:

      http://www.dutycalculator.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  161. Hi Andrew
    I am looking to start selling imitation jewellery in UK , importing from india. I dont have any import license and am a newbee to the entire process but a strong desire to start trading. Could you be kind enough to help or suggest what all I need to consider. Do i have to have import license, and what taxes, custom clearance etc is required. ALso if import license is necessary to import jewellery from india(even on a small scale) are there any vendors here who lend their license legitimately. I want to be trading legally.
    Thanks in advace,!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi TG,

      You don’t need any special importing licence. You can simply order goods and pay VAT and import duty (25% roughly) when goods arrive in the UK.

      It works pretty much in same way as with importing from China, so feel free to re-read this article for more information.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  162. Hello
    I would just like to thank you for all the time you take to help others start off,
    I have read everything you have wrote and took the big step on 12 Dec to start my ebay business.
    I have ordered a few times of my supplier and received the parcels them fedex have invoiced me with the Duty (No VAT as baby clothing) My first order was 1200 dollors and all was fine, My second order was 728 dollors i have just received an invoice from FedEx with duty and VAT, I have emailed them to see why this is and just received an email back stating it did not have the age of the child clothing on the invoice.
    I really do not know where to go from here as i do not see why the first parcel with the same wording the invoice (Baby 100% cotton dress) came through no problem. Any help on the on this matter would be wonderful.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You should call FedEx and ask whatever you can change invoice or send further details to them on items in the shipment as your order has been declared in wrong way. If you can get your supplier to amend the invoice to add age right beside Baby 100% cotton dress, that would also help probably.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  163. Hi andrew this has been most helpful reading through the posts, i just need to clear some things up if you can help,
    we have been buying from china for a few months now most come through on free post, but one order has come through by dhl, if the correct value of the goods is marked on the package am i right in thinking that dhl take care of all the vat, import fees etc and we just pay them via a waybill which they send and thats it, all above board for resale?

    also were looking to import and start selling sex toys is there anything we need to know in order to import these, such as licences etc ive tried looking on the hmrc sight but i cant find anthing about these products.
    many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Answer to your first question – YES, that’s totally correct.

      As far as I know – no, you don’t need any special permits or licenses to import adult products/toys.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  164. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks and keep on the good work.
    I need to import some phones this company in China. Can you help do some checks about the company?
    It is Shenzhen Electronic Co. Ltd. RM 1421, Green net Building. Zhenzhang Road. Huaqlang north st. Futian District. China.
    Company authentication registered address number 301. Year of registration. 2005. Legal representative: Chengcheng legal firmfirm. Bureau date of issue 26/04/2008. Expiry 26/04/2018. Registered capital 1,000,000RMB. Sounds genuine?
    But they will accept only Western Union
    Hear from you.
    Regards.
    Piyam.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Any company that ONLY accepts Western Union is a scam in my eyes.

      You can’t even send money via WU to a company – only to an individual!!! Any decent company will happily take bank transfers, many will take PayPal and even Escrow.

      So if that company only takes Western Union, stay away from them!

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Thanks for all the information you have provided. Its really encouraging. It always appears very daunting to me trying to figure out how to bring a product to market.

        I’m interested in having a product manufactured in China and go on to sell on ebay. I would like to have my own brand name on it.

        Any advice you can offer on how I can do this? Do I have to pay any special taxes or follow a different process?
        I have been trading as a sole trader doing various things but I have a strong desire to create and sell my own product.

        Any advice will be very helpful! Help!!

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Ojay,

          The procedure is pretty much the same as with any un-branded product you import from China.

          Only thing, I would recommend that you register a trademark for your logo as sometimes Chinese Customs ask for proof of brand ownership. You can register a logo trademark online here:

          https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property/trade-marks

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Hi Andrew

            Thats really helpful! Thank you so much….

            I have found your site very informative. And the fact that you take time to reply to everyone is truly commendable.

            I hope I can come back to you, if I have more questions..

            Kind regards

            Ojay

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Ojay! 🙂

  165. SteveDemocratus

    Just wanting to check. I have ordered one mobile phone from CooliCool at a cost of £103. The phone will be shipped from China so how much extra would I be expected to pay before it reaches my front door?

    Thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It will be approx. £25 in taxes when phone arrives in the UK.

  166. […] How to Import Products from China – More than 300 comments […]

  167. Hi please help. I purchased a number of phones from a seller in China 10 days ago via direct payment into his bank account. After payment, the seller then informed me that I would have to pay customs tax of $380. He said that my items were stuck at china customs, and would be destroyed if customs fees were not paid. I’m really reluctant to pay any further funds as the seller initially informed me that he would cover the costs of customs fees. He refuses to allow payment via paypal.

    Any help on this matter would really be appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shezzy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m sorry to bring this up but unfortunately you have been scammed…

      You’ll never see those phones or your money again. And if you send even more money, you’ll loose that too.

      This is a very common scammers scheme. You should have really checked out supplier before you sent any money to them.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  168. Hi Andrew

    Having read your article I am very seriously thinking of importing stock from China. My previous experience has been very limited to buying items from auction houses and reselling on eBay all within the UK.Which I have to admit has gone pretty well.

    Now I have done some research into ‘hot sellers’ on eBay and am now keen to get started with a more focused target audience, however my biggest worry is ensuring that I buy legit products. As the beauty sector is prone to dodgy fakes that can be harmful I am very cautious about who I would use as a supplier.

    It is proving a minefield when placing an order for stock on Alibaba as the requirement is for rather large orders but ordering on Aliexpress, which allows for more affordable and realistic small orders doesn’t allow me to be confident with the supplier as there do not seem to be the same checks available as if you where to order through Alibaba. For example; company registration number, A&V check, escrow facility etc.

    As I am only beginning and have a students budget I am looking at ensuring I buy safe legitimate stock but that also allows for some profit (I guess that’s what we are all after!)

    My question is, do you know of places I might start researching the buying of smaller amounts of stock from sellers who can prove they are reliable and trustworthy. This is of particular concern to me because fake beauty products could be harmful to customers and that is obviously a primary concern.

    I must apologise if this is long winded.

    Bw

    Amy-Jo

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Buying from Ali Express is actually safer than buying from Alibaba. On Ali Express all payments are protected by Escrow and you only release money to supplier once you have received and inspected goods. Also, there’s a feedback system in place which is usually a good indicator on any seller there.

      BUT there’s another aspect – if you’re looking to buy BRANDED goods, forget about Ali Express, Alibaba and China altogether! You can’t buy branded products there! China is only good for un-branded goods and nothing else.

      For branded products you want to look for UK, USA based wholesalers.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi

        Great article. Sorry I have a few basic questions. I’m looking at selling some jewellery on eBay and have bought a few bits but can’t seem to calculate whether I wll get charged this end. Firstly I have ordered a few small items off ebay, approx £1 per item, free shipping from China and Hong kong. Will I get charged this end on these items? Also I ordered some goods from ali express, cost approx £45 with free shipping, again jewellery. Will there be charges on this? Saw about keeping it under £150, should I keep my orders under this or keep under £15 with potentially no charges? Sorry bit of a ramble, hope this makes sense!!

        Thanks in advance

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Emma,

          There are few things you have to keep in mind so please check out this guide first:

          https://andrewminalto.com/import-duty-vat-threshold/

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  169. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks so much for this post, it’s incredibly informative and I’ve already returned to it twice since finding it

    I have a question about UK Import Declarations. I’m just starting out and I’m buying stationery items on Aliexpress to sell within the UK only. All my purchases are small (less than £15) the packages arrive from China with customs declaration sticker, completed by the seller.

    When I read on HMRC website about importing, it mentions the CHIEF system and having to declare my imports. Is this the case for me, when it appears an export declaration has been made, should I still be declaring these goods as imports? Especially given the low value of the items.

    In the future, I might start buying the same goods in slightly larger quantities – I checked the commodity code and it attracts 0% duty, and will have a customs declaration completed by the seller.

    I’d be really grateful for your views on these two scenarios and whether I need to be declaring these once they arrive with me in the UK?

    thank you again for taking the time to answer all of these questions 🙂

    Claire

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Claire,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If you just import £15 worth of goods, you really don’t have to worry about this.

      When you orders increase, courier company will do the customs clearance procedure for you and just send you tax invoice. So again, you don’t have to do this on your own.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  170. […] was wondering if you could give me some advice. I’m looking to start importing from China and I think I may have found a profitable product to sell on […]

  171. Hi Andrew,

    I wish I had seen your blog much earlier… it was an eye opener and very informative…

    May I request you to post some beginners guide stuff for exproting from India? BTW, am Raj from India looking to export Spirulina powder and hence this request…

    Thanks a lot for the great work…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Raj,

      Great to hear you find my blog valuable! 🙂

      Not sure I could provide on exporting from India though as I’m not based in India and don’t know anything about local laws and procedures…

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  172. Hi,

    Your article is fantastic, I have a question… Iam thinking of buying faux leather beds to sell online, could you recomend the right place/market where I can purchase.

    Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Yahya,

      Have you tried looking for suppliers on same Alibaba.com?

      Andrew

  173. Andrew, once the supplier has sent parcel to airport, what is my next step?

    Do i contact the chosen airport, and supply all relevant paper work ect?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Leesa,

      Is your shipment sent via a courier company or air freight?

      if it’s a courier company, you don’t have to worry about anything as they take care of everything.

      if it’s air freight, shipping company will contact you when goods arrive in the UK and then you have to organize customs clearance process and delivery of goods to your home.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thankyou andrew, it is via Air Freight… Once the shipping company contact me will i then notify HMRC to pay the Vat?? or will that shipping company do the paper work?

        Appreciate your advise.. this site is so informative

        Leesa

        1. Andrew Minalto

          you’ll need to use a customs broker to do the declaration for you.

          usually shipping companies also offer this service.

          Andrew

  174. […] solution to this is to start importing products in bulk from China or another country where manufacturers are located. This is what most successful eBay sellers do to […]

  175. great post thanks a lot, I was interested in how to get around customs taxs, I read on ebay that there’s a 98% chance you don’t get charged on ordering items on ebay from china, I have never been charged ever from china but America is a whole diff ball game Jesus there back and strict!

    Anyway setting up a online business and this post helped. Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Im sorry but I do not consult on tax evasion.

      And you should re-consider your business strategy if you can’t make it work when paying taxes.

  176. richard mann

    Hi iv ordered some fabric from Bangkok at value of £32 how much will import tax be pls.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      If the order value was just £32, you won’t have to pay any taxes when goods arrive in the UK.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  177. Adrian Samuel

    Hi Andrew
    On the cusp of getting samples of a new product from China in readiness for importing.
    This really is the most comprehensive article I have read on this topic. Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Great to hear that Adrian! 🙂

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  178. Hi Andrew
    Thanks for posting a great deal of sound advice and for taking the time to answer all,these questions.
    I am going to build my own house and have an idea to just buy all the solar panels, heat pumps, ply wood etc from suppliers in Chine chuck them in a container and ship to the UK filling up any space with extras I can pass on to others in the same position. The extras will cover the shipping. Do you see any problems do this?
    Thanks again for your time. Richard

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      If you have a person in China who can do the “shopping” for you, then it might work yes. The biggest problem will be quality of materials you’ll purchase. I personally would never buy a heat pump or solar panel directly from some supplier on Alibaba for my personal house as you never know what they can send you… these items could be un-tested, or b-grade or something and last just few months.

      Also, many of building materials probably require UK/EU certification to be used in your house in first place, so you would have to know what you can and what you can’t import.

      Lastly, I can’t see you making much savings while doing this if you just import plywood and other cheap materials. Container shipping costs will probably eat up all your potential savings.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  179. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks so much for this informative page, it was a great help to me. Can I ask you a question and it might be a silly one. I am looking at importing designed rugby jerseys into Ireland from china. I have built up a relationship with a company that I found on Alibaba. They seem great. I sent the design over and received the samples and I am really happy with them so I am almost ready to make an order with them. The total weight of the order is 93KG and the value of the items is total 4550USD. I understand that VAT & Duty needs to be added onto that but I am confused, since I am not registered for VAT, do I pay the VAT to the manufacturer in China or to Revenue in Ireland upon delivery?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You’ll pay VAT and import duty in IRELAND, once goods arrive. Courier company will contact you about this when packages arrive in Ireland.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  180. Hello Andrew,
    Thank you for a great guide. I am thinking of importing and selling ecigarettes on ebay. I have found a supplier on Aliexpress who will deliver free of charge via DHL from china.
    I intend to start small with 200 or so pieces to start off with
    In this case will I need to register on the EORI scheme, register with the CHIEF system and find the correct commodity code for HMRC purposes or will DHL take care of this for me?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      Most likely you’ll have to register for EORI, yes. You can do this online from HMRC website.

      As for everything else – DHL will take care of that when goods arrive in the UK. They will do customs clearance for you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew