A few months ago I wrote about who is paying for customs clearance.

Well, in general: YOU!

But they great thing is…. Some Chinese stores offer a new service. THEY pay for the custom clearance costs. This sounds great and it is!

Unfortunately there are also stores that ask you to pay them so they will handle the customs duties. This might be fraudulent!

So in this article we go a bit more specific.

Whose customs need to be cleared?

who pays for custom clearance?If you missed the previous article please follow this link. It’s a must read if you ever paid for custom duties.




A small recap

Custom duty and sales taxes are levied by your countries customs. And for the handling of these costs, the expedition company asks another amount. They call these clearance costs.

To lower the costs, tried to keep the total amount of your order below the exemptions for customs and VAT in your country. Try to divide your orders in smaller packages; this is very well possible with free shipping.

Some stores will pay or refund you the custom costs

In the previous article we discussed that SheInside – as it was called by then – or SheIn – as it is called today promotes this service as one of their unique selling points.


This is what SheIn describes:

When you shop on SheIn website, there is no VAT (Value Added Tax) or any other tax you need to pay. The price you see on each product, is the final price you need to pay. When your order is shipped and arrived in EU member states, SheIn will do the customs clearance, and pays the VAT tax. Therefor, the package will be directly shipped to your door, and you do not need to pay any VAT or duty.

Now, here are some countries that will enjoy such wonderful service, they are:  France , Spain,  Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium.

So I need to make some nuance to my previous statement. This service is only offered to European Union members. And SheIn is handling all costs. I don’t know exactly how they do this. But it is a great gesture.

For all the people from non-EU countries in the world – and there are a lot more – let’s hope this service will be extended to your country too!


Lightinthebox offers a similar service.

When you check out at LightInTheBox (one of the most user friendly Chinese stores and also listed at the NY stock exchange) you can opt for extra insurance. This is also possible with their sister site: MiniInTheBox.

No more duty costs!The insurance costs are around 4% of the total value. If you need to pay custom duties, VAT or other costs, LightInTheBox will refund you the money. I dedicated a full blog to this service, follow this link: No more duty costs!

So far the good news!

And now the bad news…

This week Björn from Sweden mailed me with the following question.

He bought 3 computers from a Chinese manufacturer and when the order was ready to be sent off to Sweden. The seller insisted that he has to pay customs in China before the goods could be sent off.

Alarm bells!!!!

Back to the first question of this article.

Who pays for custom clearance? You do!

Whose customs needs to be cleared? It’s yours!!!

There is no reason why you should pay to clear the Chinese customs. It’s export! China should be happy that the products leave its country and that the money is rolling in. (If you are a legal advisor and know that I’m wrong on this aspect, please let me know! I just write from my guts feelings and Google searches).

When a question like Björns comes in, you must be alarmed. You are probably dealing with a fraudulent site/seller/manufacturer.

It is almost a year ago that I first wrote about this.

Asking for money to clear the Chinese customs or asking to pay for the storage time at the Chinese customs are methods scammers use to steal your money.

I like to refer to this blog: Beat Scammers Insides.

Beat Scammers InsightsI still like this blog because it shows you in simple steps how a normal looking buying process is a complete setup to scam you. If you never read it, do it now. It will change they way you do your online purchases.


The bad news is that when this questions comes, you already paid for the products and… you probably lost your money already.

(I’m sorry Björn. Please prove me wrong, I hope so for you!)

Let us know what you think

Please leave a comment. Tell us how you handle the customs duties and costs. Have you ever been asked to pay them in advance? And did you receive the products with no problems?

Write it down in the comment box below.

Wishing you a wonderful week!


PS: Please don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook and other social media!

Like us on Facebook!


Founder of StartBuyingInChina. It all started as an hobby. I liked to categorize the few Chinese stores I knew. After 6 years over 150 blogs were published. I created a wonderful online course about Safe buying online in China, and served over 1.000.000 people. Thank you for being here!

    5 replies to "Who pays for Customs Clearance? UPDATE"

    • Belen

      Hi Bastiaan!

      Do you know if buying things from SheIn from Sweden is still being as you explained in the post? Or if is there some changes in swedish laws? I want to order some clothes, but first I want to be sure that I will not have to pay 25% of VAT when it arrives.

      Thank you so much!

      • Bastiaan

        Hi Belen,

        We just bought some cloths at SHEIN. For as I know, Shein pays the taxes – IF YOU GET TAXED – see their policy. you must send them a message.
        I never had any problems with Shein and taxes before. Although if possible if separate my orders in smaller parts (when the offer free shipping).
        I cannot answer you specifically about the Swedish tax law.

        Wish you well!

    • LNWeaver

      That’s good to know that clearance falls on the importer. There are a lot of industry standards it’s hard to figure out. I bet hiring a customs clearance service can help with these kinds of shipments.

      • Bastiaan

        Hi It depends on the size of your orders. I wouldn’t suggest a custom clearance service for individuals.

    • Tomas Killington

      Buying items from China is something that I have been tentative about. I never knew that you should never pay customs to the country that your item is coming from. Also, knowing that there are agents out there that can help with clearing customs will help me feel more comfortable buying things from different countries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.