AliExpress Customs in 2021: A Complete Guide

by Tim Howard

As amazing as it is, buying from AliExpress, to be in direct contact with the sellers and eliminating any middle man, there are some concerts that might arise when it comes to the shipping part of the process. It does not always happen, but as luck would have it, sometimes it is possible for your package to be detained by the customs. This article will provide you with a complete guide to deal with AliExpress customs.

Aliexpress Customs and Charges

Is it normal for my AliExpress package to go through customs?

You should know that it’s normal for each and every package to go through customs, in fact, they go through double customs. When you’re tracking your package, it might show that it is passing through customs. But that is no reason for you to panic, at least not yet. Since it is a mandatory procedure, the shipping updates will display the step in the process. It is not always that the contents of your AliExpress package are checked.

How do I know if my AliExpress package is held at customs?

Sometimes, on your AliExpress dashboard, it may show that your order has been cancelled even though you haven’t cancelled it. The reason for it might be that your AliExpress package has been stopped by customs at the place of origin itself. This might happen if the customs has detected something wrong in the package, either the documentation or the contents.

This is quite rare, but if it happens, both AliExpress and the particular AliExpress seller agrees to give you your money back. Let the seller know what’s happening and open up a dispute on AliExpress so that the process goes smoothly and you get back your money.

Second, the way to know if your AliExpress package has been stopped by customs in the country of destination is to wait for a notification from the tracking of shipment. The notification details everything you need to do in order to retrieve your AliExpress package from customs.

The best way to know whether your AliExpress package is held at customs is to stay in touch with the postal delivery company handling the shipment. You are usually sent a tracking ID that is in this particular format: 2 Alphabets + 9 digits + 2 alphabets that indicate where the shipment has originated from (usually CN for China). 

For regular updates, you should just visit the dashboard in your AliExpress account and live track your parcel. In case your delivery is through a private service, call them and ask for details.

Earlier I mentioned notifications that inform you of your shipping status. Here are some notifications that you might get, next to it I’ll mention whether or not it is worth panicking:

NotificationThe reaction it deserves
Failure to enter the sorting centreThis is even before the shipment has gone to the transport company, so there is no way it has anything to do with customs.
Arrived in the country of destination, pending customs clearanceLike I mentioned before, every package has to go through customs. Still normal.
Start of customs clearanceThe process of customs scanning begins. Not worth a sweat.
Pending customs clearanceThere could be a hiccup in the process, but it isn’t relevant to what is in your particular AliExpress package.
Error in customs clearanceThis might sound urgent, but it isn’t. 
Finished customs processingThe processing is done, but the jury has not come to a decision about whether or not it can go on.
Held by customs in the destination country / Held by customIf you receive this notification, you might have to worry a little but. Still not worth panicking. The customs agents will send you a notification detailing exactly what needs to be done in order to get your package.
Customs clearance completedOnce all that has been done, this notification can only mean one thing: You’ve been united with your AliExpress package.

What should I do when my AliExpress package is held at customs?

Keep an eye out for a letter from the customs department at the shipping address you mentioned. The letter usually states a request for you to go visit the state customs and check payment details so that the customs can calculate the amount of tax that needs to be paid on the AliExpress package. 

This problem usually arises when the seller has documented an amount lower than the original price. Customs agents are trained to identify this. So if you’re called up, you might as well be honest and let things proceed from there. If they catch you in a lie, you will probably have higher costs than the one you need to pay.

Should I accept the package?

It goes without saying that if you were really looking forward to the package and it was something sought after, it should be worth going through what comes next. If the cost of customs is too high to bear and you send it back, make sure you negotiate with the seller and get some of the money you paid for it back.

But you can’t always do that. If the issue during customs is with the documentation and with the info provided, you can contact the seller and immediately rectify it. On the other hand, if you have ordered something from AliExpress that might be a legal issue in your country, you have to accept it. The same goes for counterfeit products. 

If you don’t look out for that letter from customs I mentioned earlier, and you miss it, your name will be blacklisted and you won’t be able to receive any packages, including that of ALiExpress, that goes through customs. But that really isn’t an issue, because you can always just give the name of a friend or a relative to be put on the package.

Am I the one who has to bear the customs fee?

This is not exclusive to AliExpress packages. If you’re ordering something online from an international website, bear in mind the customs regulations for your country so you can be prepared for the costs. 

On AliExpress, unless the seller has specified that that product is tax-free, you may be subject to customs fees and import duties.

The documentation you may need to clear customs:

Every country has varying requirements. You will usually be informed about what you will need in the notification that you receive from customs. But this is the listicle of what is generally asked for:

  • Screenshot of the ALiExpress product you ordered
  • Tracking number
  • Proof of payment

Some tips to stay prepared for shipments from AliExpress:

  • Stay updated with regards to the customs regulations in your country. You can head to the local post office for information about the same.
  • When you’re paying customs, you pay the courier company in charge.
  • It may be that the product you’re ordering off of ALiExpress is being shipped locally. In that case, your shipping should be duty-free. Keep your eyes open.

What shipping method should I prefer for my AliExpress package?

If you’re looking for free shipping, I’d suggest you opt for the country’s local shipping system. This method can be a bit slower but it has advantages. They get several large packages every day and customs can be avoided.

Getting your Aliexpress package through a private courier service such as DHL and FedEx would mean quicker delivery but it also means customs costs. Sometimes, the seller agrees to bear them, but quite often that is not the case. Make sure to check with the seller before you finalize.

What is the best way to avoid my AliExpress package from getting stuck at customs?

Any possible solutions that there may be to avoid customs on your AliExpress package are a hit and miss. Sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not.

  • An often used ruse to get a package through customs is AliExpress customers asking their sellers to market their package as a ‘gift’. This might work sometimes, but to some customs officers, it is very ambiguous. For a package to pass off as a gift, it needs to come from an address that’s not a company and has to be under the value of €35 to avoid the eyes of the customs.
  • Ensure there is no missing documentation. The content declaration form needs to be properly filled. Sometimes a seller has a history of wrongly filling up these documents in order to save up on taxes. There could be a mismatch among the product quantity, price and any other detail relevant to the AliExpress package.
  • Keep in mind the destination country’s regulations and do not order anything that is prohibited or illegal in the country.
  • In general, if you’re planning to order multiple things from a single seller, make sure to place the order a few hours or a few days apart so that the seller cannot put all your orders in the same package. That way you’ll get small shipments and avoid customs.

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