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Import from China Mini-Course - Part 4 - Section 2

"Delivered Duty Unpaid"

If you buy goods from China to be sent to you, you are importing from China.

You're importing even if you're ordering a single item from a Chinese EBay seller or getting a sample of any product from a Chinese company. Every country in the world has some rules about importing, and here are the key basic facts:

  • There are certain types of goods which you are not allowed to import.

  • In some situations you will have to pay tax on your imports.

  • In some situations there will be no need to pay tax.

"Hey! Why are you charging me tax, Rose?"

A lot of our customers at Chinavasion are surprised that they have to pay taxes when they import electronics bought in our online wholesale shop. Some people ask why Chinavasion is adding tax to what they have already paid. But the tax is actually from their own country, not from China. What I say when I speak to customers is:

"Import tax isn't about who you are buying from. It usually doesn't matter where the goods are coming from. It just matters that you're trying to bring something into the country from the outside."

That's why we ask all our customers to do their own research about their own country's systems and regulations before they place their first order. Import taxes in your country probably are not simple to understand.

The rates vary for different items and conditions from 0% up to 50% or even more, depending on country, carriage method, quantity and more, so you NEED to find out this information before you send any supplier your money.

Read our statement for Chinavasion customers about import taxes here


Because import tax is about your country, not the country of the supplier, I am not speaking in this section about special provisions importing from China. I am just talking generally about import taxes, so the ideas I am giving here apply to all importing situations even if it's not China. Whether you have to pay import taxes, and how much, will depend on the following:
  • The type / classification of the goods;

  • The value and/or quantity of the goods;

  • In some situations the way in which the goods are packed and delivered;

  • And the mode of sending, i.e. who is sending the goods and who is receiving. E.g. a company receiving commercial merchandise from a company may have to pay tax, whereas an individual receiving a gift from another individual may not have to.

Every country has different rules and systems. And to add to the difficulty, the rules are not always enforced in a consistent way. For example, in some countries you could import a package and pay no tax at all, and then the next week import exactly the same order, and suddenly have to pay a lot of tax. This may be because the customs office only performs random checks or hasn't got the resources to inspect everything closely.


Import Tax Vocabulary

Even if you're a native English speaker, the terminology of tax can be a bit confusing for a newcomer to importing. Here are the key words you will come across:

  • Duty
    Tax charged on imported merchandise (and sometimes services). It means the same thing as "import tax", although when people talk about import taxes they may also be including sales tax.

  • Excise
    An excise just means a tax on certain goods. Typically it refers to a special tax on a category or type of goods that is levied inside a country.

  • Specific Tax / Specific Duty
    This means you pay a fixed amount of tax for a fixed item or group of items of imported goods, regardless of the value of the goods.

  • Ad valorem Tax
    This means the tax you pay is calculated as a percentage of the total value of the goods. This is the usual way most import taxes are calculated.

  • Tariff
    The word 'tariff' just means a charge. The word can be used to mean the same thing as 'duty' and also can be used to refer to a list of charges and how they are calculated, e.g. "The UK Tariff" is a large document explaining how to estimate import taxes for particular items coming into the UK.

  • Sales Tax / VAT
    This is tax that you pay whenever purchasing a wide range of goods and services inside your own country. It is calculated as a percentage of the price of the goods or service. However, when importing you may have to pay this tax on the goods as if you were buying it domestically. If you are a business, you get this money back by charging the tax to your customers.

  • Customs Broker
    A person or firm licensed by an importer's government and engaged in entering and clearing goods through customs. The responsibilities of a broker include preparing the entry form and filing it; advising the importer on duties to be paid; advancing duties and other costs; and arranging for delivery to the importer.



Read on for the first place you should start for import tax information


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