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Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered (#5)

May 9, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments
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questions-answers-5It’s time for another Q&A session. As always I have received a lot of questions from you over the last few weeks and so have picked out the ones I think would be most beneficial for others or those that are simply the most interesting in nature.

Here are the topics we’ll be covering today:

  • No VAT & Import duty charged by a courier?
  • How best to import & ship electronic cigarettes in wholesale?
  • Which PayPal account do I need?
  • Which course is best to start with?
  • How much to invest in each trader on eToro?
  • Can the same principles be applied to Amazon?
  • What taxes are there to pay when buying from Ali Express?
  • How to import bulk garden furniture from China?
  • Do you need a separate business address for eBay?
  • Do Chinese suppliers include VAT in their prices?

If you have a question you would like me to answer in future Q&As, get in touch with me here.

Please note: I do not edit or alter your questions in any way as I want them to remain authentic and exactly how they were sent to me, so please excuse any small grammar or spelling mistakes.

Let’s get started!

Andrew, I Just read your blog, thank you.

I have just started importing small amounts of costume jewellery from China, $100 to $160 a time to sell.

I received my first delivery last week, I have not been asked to pay any Import duty or VAT.

Will I be billed at a later date?


Most likely this has happened because your supplier in China under-valued the shipment, meaning they put a lower value on the customs form/invoice and that’s why you didn’t have to pay any taxes on your import. This is very common practice by Chinese suppliers and the reason why I always specifically request them to show the FULL/REAL value of the order on any customs forms and to attach the invoice to the shipment.

It also could be a case of your courier company sending your tax invoice later on, via the post. Some companies do this instead of charging up-front, before the delivery.

Either way you should call your courier company to clarify this as you really need to make sure you pay the full VAT and import duty on your order to keep everything above board and completely legal. Plus you won’t be able to account for this transaction correctly if you don’t do this.

If the courier needs any further information from you, such as an invoice, just send over the required documents and get this settled asap.

Andrew, what is the best way to import e-cigarettes and accessories. Is it, as your post suggests, just to go through an intermediary like ‘Woodland Group‘? I have been put off of importing anything as it seems to look quite inexpensive until it comes off of the boat.

If the duties are around 25% do I understand correctly that using e.g. Woodland Group would be around the same price; or would that make the total price goods + 25% + Woodland Group charges?

Lastly, I believe that there is always theft of goods if you do not have a whole container to yourself. Is this your experience?

With small and lightweight products, like electronic cigarettes and accessories, you can use couriers instead of air or sea freight. It will be easier for you to organise plus you’ll get your order much faster.

All you have to do is ask your supplier to arrange shipping via a courier company and add the shipping cost to the proforma invoice.

You can read more about various shipping methods in my Importing from China guide.

If you plan on importing e-liquids too, then you’ll want to use freight as liquids can’t be sent via courier services. Again, with small packages it’s best to avoid sea freight and use air freight instead.

To help you with the air freight process, you can use Woodland Global or any other freight forwarder to take care of shipping, customs clearance and delivery of goods to your door. The total price you pay will consist of:

  • Products
  • Shipping
  • VAT & Import duty
  • Clearance fees

The exact Woodland Global fee will depend on your order size, value etc. so your best bet is to get in touch with them directly and get a complete, door to door quote.

As for your last question – it is very unlikely that part of your shipment will be stolen if you use a reputable freight forwarder, such as Woodland Global, but you can of course always take out insurance to fully protect yourself in case of such a rare occurrence.

Hi Andrew,

Sorry to bother you again.

As suggested from PayPal website, I notice that eBay sellers can apply for micropayment accounts, which is great if you are selling goods less than £5.

The problem is – sometimes you also sell goods more than £5. So my question is

1) How many PayPal accounts can I link to one eBay account? Would be great if the goods less than £5 is linked to the micropayment PayPal account, and another one to the standard PayPal account.

On the other hand, before I start selling on eBay I plan to buy some stuff first to gain 10-20 feedbacks. I have already registered a limited company for my eBay business. But the problems are:

2) Do I need to apply a premier/business PayPal account just for gaining 20 feedbacks? (Or just personal is fine?)

3) Is it okay for me to just upgrade to business PayPal account only if I start selling?

4) Is Premier account not allowed for eBay business seller with limited company registered?

I look forward to hearing from you.

I’ll answer your questions one by one:

1) You can only link one PayPal account to your eBay account. With that being said, you can set different PayPal emails for each listing you run so theoretically you can use a micro payment account for some items and another account for more expensive items. So theoretically it can be done, though I’m not sure how that would tie in with PayPal T&Cs.

2) No, you don’t need a premier/business account to get your first 20 feedbacks on eBay, a personal account will work just fine.

3) Yes, of course – you can do that at any time.

4) For a limited company, you’ll need to use PayPal’s business account.

Hi Andrew,

My wife and I are in the UK.

We have been looking and reading and searching and figure-figure-figuring which way we’d like to go.

We want to replace our incomes, now part-time, within about a year to no more than 1½ years.

I have been strongly leaning toward Fulfillment by Amazon and Carol to e-Bay selling.

Both of these interest me to be frank.

I’ve begun what seems the rather laborious process of seeking a few suitable products and reliable, honest suppliers in China, via Alibaba so far.

It should be mentioned that we’re beginning with a thin shoestring budget indeed, certainly nothing like the £7K budget mentioned by one of your correspondents.

I’ve read about your various courses, including blog postings about your SIG course (now SIG II I believe).

We’ve each sold a few personal items on eBay but that’s about it so far.

I am wondering which of your courses we might best begin with (SIG is something completely different I gather), EAB or perhaps eCommerce Magnates.

Then there is 60 day Blueprint, which appears to be currently closed – but that WOULD be outside our means just now.

Your suggestion(s) would be welcomed.

And – if you do get back to us – I don’t promise that I won’t have more questions for you…. 🙂

Check out my recently published guide where I take an in-depth look into the different platforms to try and discover which one is best to start with – eBay, Amazon or an eCommerce store. As mentioned in the guide, in most cases eBay is the best first choice and I think that would definitely be the case for you as it works perfectly if you’re on a tight budget. So I recommend getting Easy Auction Business first and starting there.

Once you’re all set-up on eBay, you can look into building your own online shop with the help of my eCommerce Magnates course.

60 Day Blueprint is my premium, flagship program for people who want to work with me one-to-one to build a successful eBay business. The program is currently closed though and won’t be reopened until September.

Hello Andrew,

I’m just wondering on eToro how much do you assign to each of your traders you copy.

I believe 20% is the max.

The more diversified a portfolio you have, the better. It’s all about minimising risk and the best way to do that is by investing in multiple traders.

Yes, 20% is the maximum set by eToro but I recommend going even lower than that. I usually invest 5%-10% in each trader, based on how “strong” their history is. Meaning – the more risky the trader looks, the smaller the percentage of my bank I’m willing to invest.

By doing this I create a portfolio of 10-20 traders at any given time and reduce the risk of huge fluctuations in my account if a single trader starts performing very badly.

I believe this is the key to success in the long term on eToro and other such social trading platforms.

Good Evening Andrew,

I purchased one of your courses in the past but was unable to use the information as my eBay account was suspended due to wrong association.

Can I use your product also for Amazon, as I’m not sure I am able to get back on eBay.

Yes, absolutely – you can do that!

Market research, product sourcing, branding and other topics will all apply to Amazon in the same way as on eBay. Sure, listing strategies and a few other steps will be different but the core idea of the Easy Auction Business course can still be applied to Amazon’s Marketplace as well.

Also, if you can’t sell on eBay anymore, you should seriously consider starting an online shop following my eCommerce Magnates course. This way you can create a totally dependable business that is controlled by no one other than you.

My first time buying from AliExpress seller was good. I waited bit longer as it was holidays for them but then received it quick by DHL no hassles (I didn’t even sign for my parcel) and also no invoice.

On my next order from a different seller I asked if they also sent by DHL and for how much do I need to buy? They said for $190 they will send by DHL express.

By that time I already made my selection of the items I wanted and it came to $163.37 for all the items of 75 pcs handmade jewellery. The shipping cost $9.47 and then I told them that my total is $172.84 so then the seller went and added an extra $17.16(adjusted the price). So I paid the $190 to AliExpress.

The parcel stayed in China for a few days after they said it’s been shipped out and the whole time I was in contact with my seller to ask what’s going on.

And so it arrived in my Country on 25/04/14 and the next day DHL from JHB phones me asking for personnel detail like my id no and email and importer code because there were missing information about the items.

So now I must pay for import tax/duty and also when I asked my seller for proof of payment for DHL express they sent me a excel file made by the store itself and indicating the value of items that weren’t even what I paid for.

If there is any advice you could give me I don’t want to keep looking for trustable sellers. The one I had before had no problems with him and the only reason I didn’t use them again is because most of their items was out of stock.

Import duty and VAT are a normal part of the importing business and something you just have to accept.

The fact that you were lucky and avoided paying taxes on your first shipment doesn’t change the law. In fact – you should really contact the courier company that made your first delivery and ask how you can properly declare the shipment and pay any tax owed, as otherwise you’ll be unable to properly account for that purchase.

As for the 2nd purchase – simply do what DHL is asking and provide all the documents so that they can calculate the correct amount of tax for you. You can print out an invoice from Ali Express directly if your supplier can’t provide one.

Hi Andrew,

I have been looking around on your website for quite a while now and would appreciate if you could give me some information on importing outdoor furniture from China.

I have a small order in place ready with the Fob prices already quoted for 5 sets and 150 dollars shipping to Hull, UK, however I am very curious of the extra charges of tax, customs etc. I take it if I was to pay a forwarding company they take care of all of this?? How much do freight forward companies charge for this?

Yes, the FOB price will increase dramatically once you’ve added tax, port fees, clearance fees etc. With small shipments like this, port fees alone can double the product’s price so I always recommend using a freight forwarder for sea freight shipments.

A freight forwarder will give you a door to door quote that will include ALL fees so you know exactly how much you’ll pay in total, to get the goods to you in the UK.

VAT and import duty will add approximately 25% to the product’s price plus there will be various other charges such as sea freight and customs clearance. However it’s very hard for me to advice what the total cost will be as there’s no set number that applies to all products – really the best thing to do is get in touch with Woodland Global and ask them for a door to door quote.

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for taking the time to write the blog it has opened my eyes; however I’m unclear of a few things. I’m hoping you can make sense of them.

I’m just getting started in eBay and want to import to sell through eBay.

I work part time and therefore will use my spare time to run the business.

Once you’re happy with the product and supplier do you send the courier to the factory to pick the goods up, therefore you know it will be door to door and reduces the risk?

With regards to an eBay business, what do you use as a Business address?

When importing product do you use your house number or somewhere else to deliver to? Obviously having a business premises will add to the costs! And also delivering stock to your home address may need a change of use (or am I thinking to hard about the if and whens and jumping the start to early!)

When registering for the EROI number is it still ok to use if you’re not in business yet and bring still in bulk items to you home address?

I’ll answer your questions one by one:

1) Yes, if the goods are small and lightweight, you can use a courier company for a door to door delivery. This is the easiest way to send products from China to the UK. But it’s only cost efficient for small orders of small items. If the products are much bulkier, heavier or are very cheap – then you’ll want to use sea freight or air freight instead. Check out my Importing from China guide to learn more about the various shipping methods available.

2) You can still use your home address for eBay, even when you’re a business seller.

3) Again, you can simply use your home address if you don’t have a separate office/warehouse. This is totally fine and exactly how most people start out. You don’t need to rent an office in the beginning just for the sake of having a business address.

4) Yes, you can apply for an EORI number as an individual and yes – you can still use your home address for this as well.

Hello Andrew!

Quick question on importing – I am new in importing furniture from China, are China manufactures allowed to include there vat ( china VAT) with the product price, because when the good arrive in UK I pay 20% VAT on the total goods price I am not VAT registered yet but doesn’t make sense why I should manufacturers include VAT with the product.

No, no and no.

Chinese VAT has nothing to do with exporting to the UK so it shouldn’t be added to the product’s price.

You’ll only pay VAT and import duty when your goods arrive in the UK.

I hope you learned a thing or two from these questions & answers. Remember, you can submit your question here and it may be featured in a future Q&A session!


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  1. Hi Andrew,

    Great work and service definitely will be purchasing from you soon.

    I have one question I’ve come across this DS Domintion company which sells its product in teaching people how to sell on ebay using amazon as a dropshipping, is this legal? And is it worth buying their services. They have pro level at $20 then I think elite level at around $ 90 then they sell affiliates but you have to pay them every month a fee to sell their affiliates. https://dsdomination.com/


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Akean,

      Yes, it is perfectly legal.

      But I haven’t seen that particular course so can’t really comment on that….


  2. Hi Andrew

    Just wondering how you keep track of your ebay sales? I have been using a spreadsheet which I can enter each sale in that then totals that up in a monthly spreadsheet. But the more sales I make the more of a hassle this is. Im thinking of just waiting till the end of each month then downloading my sales records from ebay, but then I wont be able to keep a running total of how the months progressing

    Do you know of any other ways

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      I do it on a monthly basis, by downloading monthly reports from eBay.

      But I know that there are online accounting software/services that allows you to INSTANTLY import eBay sales automatically so you have up to date information. I haven’t used them though so you’ll have to do some research on this.


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