New: you can see the AliExpress shipping guarantees directly on their website by clicking on this link.
Several factors are involved in the process of shipping an AliExpress order and one of them is customs. Normally this does not happen, but from time to time someone buys from Aliexpress and is unlucky enough to have their order detained by customs.
Although AliExpress has a guarantee that protects the user very well (it is very well explained in this section), it is normal that you are concerned about what may happen, so in this guide, we will explain everything you need to know.
- 1 First of all, what are customs?
- 2 When does a package go through customs?
- 3 I have received a notification from customs, what do I do?
- 4 Post Office vs Private Couriers: Which shipping method is best to avoid customs?
- 5 How to avoid paying customs when buying from AliExpress
- 6 Get more tips for shopping at AliExpress from your country
First of all, what are customs?
A customs office is a public office established at the border that is in charge of controlling the goods that enter and leave to check that they comply with customs regulations, collecting taxes on purchases that come from abroad.
So if I buy from AliExpress will my order be stopped at customs?
No, not at all. To begin with, it depends on the value of what you buy. To see more tips on customs in your country, scroll down to the last paragraph and you will find links to specific articles for different sites.
When does a package go through customs?
All the orders pass a double customs: in the country of origin and in the country of destination. Therefore it is completely normal that the tracking number shows that the order has been stopped by customs. But just because it passes through customs doesn't mean that they will stop it and check the contents of the package.
In the first place, and although it is not usual, it could happen that your package is stopped at the customs office of origin and returned to the seller. This happens very rarely, but if it does, both the sellers and AliExpress will agree and give you your money back. Many times this is the reason why the tracking number shows “cancelled”, as customs has detected something irregular in the package and returns it to the seller.
You don't have to worry about anything, just contact the seller to get your money back. Remember that to get your money back you must open a dispute on AliExpress, but it is best to talk to the seller first so that they are happy and know why you are opening the dispute.
On the other hand, when it arrives in our country, it can happen so much that it is stopped or that it passes by and arrives to your home: all the packages pass through customs and that it appears in the state does not mean that it has been stopped. In case the package is detained by customs, you will be sent a notification with the steps to follow for the package to clear customs.
What each expression means:
Below is a glossary of common phrases used in the order tracking at AliExpress. Remember that you have more information in our Guide to Tracking Your AliExpress Orders.
– Failure to enter the sorting center
It doesn't have to mean anything bad, just give it some time or if you are worried ask the salesman what happened.
– Arrived in the country of destination, pending customs clearance
– Start of customs clearance
Your package has arrived at customs, which does not mean it has been detained. Wait for the status to be updated.
– Pending customs clearance
– Error in customs clearance
Don't panic either, it sounds serious but it doesn't mean anything bad. Be patient.
– Finished customs processing
Patience here too, it's a normal state.
– Held by customs in the destination country / Held by custom
Here's the bad news: they'll probably contact you soon to let you know how much you have to pay. If the order is through the Post Office, they may manage it for you and the letter carrier will charge you something when the package is delivered.
– Customs clearance completed
Nothing to worry about, your package has cleared customs and is on its way to your home.
I have received a notification from customs, what do I do?
If your package has been stopped, you will receive a letter asking you to go to Customs or a check of the payment of the product so that we can calculate the customs costs according to what the product has cost. Even if the seller has put a lower amount, we recommend you not to play around and say the real price of the product, otherwise, customs could make an assessment and it will probably be higher than what you paid, raising the costs.
Can I not accept the package?
Despite what the legend says, it is not always a good idea not to respond to the customs letter from your country to return the product to the seller. When buying from AliExpress, the buyer is responsible for any customs charges, so “going through” means losing the money for the order. However, if you are too lazy to do the paperwork and the product is not very expensive, you may be able to pay for it.
On the other hand, if you don't pay attention to the letter, the product will return to the seller, so maybe you can reach an agreement with him and he will refund part of what you paid. However, keep in mind that if you do not pay attention to the customs letter your data may be “marked”, so from now on your orders will be blocked. That said, this is not a tragedy either because you can always order things in the name of a friend or family member.
Do I have to pay customs or import fees?
Yes, the payment of customs is made by the buyer. This is not something exclusive to AliExpress. On all international websites, the buyer is responsible for knowing the customs regulations of his or her country and paying the customs costs in case the package is stopped, since:
- Duties and other taxes are not included when buying unless the seller specifies that the shipment is “tax-free”, i.e. without customs.
- AliExpress purchases normally come from outside your home country and must cross international borders. Each country has its own regulations.
Therefore the buyer is responsible for paying the customs fees and making all the arrangements.
What documentation do I have to submit to clear customs?
The documentation may vary depending on the country, so it is best to read the message that you have received from customs or to ask directly to the post office or customs which papers they need. In general, a screenshot of the AliExpress product will suffice, showing the tracking number and proof of payment so that customs can check what you are buying.
Customs Terms and Responsibilities at AliExpress
Sometimes, problems with customs can occur and many times you go to our comments section to see what AliExpress will or will not do with your customs problems. Well, here are some tips that the platform recommends about customs conditions and responsibilities:
- Your local post office or customs office can give you more information about customs regulations in your country.
- Customs charges, taxes, or import duties are usually paid directly to the courier company.
- The seller will not be responsible for delays in shipment due to customs.
- Products with domestic shipping offered by some sellers are shipped from your country and are duty-free.
Post Office vs Private Couriers: Which shipping method is best to avoid customs?
Not all shipping methods are the same, as we explain in our Ultimate Guide to AliExpress Shipping Methods. Most free shipping comes through your country's postal system (the same one you usually get letters and invoices from). This system has the disadvantage of being somewhat slower, but the great advantage is that customs are more easily avoided due to the large volume of packages that have to be processed each day.
After many years of buying from AliExpress, we can attest that private couriers (DHL, FedEx, etc.) have customs costs more often unless the seller points out in their ad that they will take care of them.
How to avoid paying customs when buying from AliExpress
But thousands of people buy from AliExpress without customs problems, what's the catch? According to several readers of the blog (and regular buyers on AliExpress), what works very well is telling the seller to mark the package as a gift. Many sellers offer this. Although we haven't tried it, so we don't put our hand in the fire for it. That's why we explain some alternatives below.
From AlixBlog we recommend that if it has been more than 45 days and you do not know anything about your package, contact the seller to ask if there is a problem. Until then, don't worry, the product will most likely arrive.
Small orders to avoid customs
What we can confirm is that in most countries it is preferable to make small, low volume, low-cost orders. If you are going to buy several products from the same seller you may want to order them separately. To do this, it is best to place the order a few hours or a day apart, so that the seller cannot put the orders together with the same tracking. You can also contact the seller to ask them not to send everything together because you want to avoid customs.
National warehouses without customs costs
For quite some time now, AliExpress has warehouses all over Europe and America, so you can buy the best Chinese and international ones by receiving your order in record time and without customs. You only have to filter your search by choosing the country from which you want to receive your product. Remember that the European Union is a free trade area and all shipments are customs-free.
Products with customs fees included
When buying large products such as vacuuming robots or cell phones, sometimes we can find some sellers who include a mark on both the photo and the product description that the shipment is free of customs, with the text “tax-free”. You may pay a little more in difference to other sellers, but you will have the peace of mind of not having to do additional paperwork. If in doubt, it is best to contact the AliExpress seller.
Get more tips for shopping at AliExpress from your country
The AliExpress sales platform ships to almost every country in the world, but in every country delivery times and customs work differently. We have compiled the best tips for shopping in most English-speaking countries in the following articles:
- How to Buy from Canada on AliExpress
- How to Buy from the United Arab Emirates on AliExpress
- How to buy on AliExpress from India
- How to buy on AliExpress from Australia
- How to Buy from France on AliExpress
- How to buy on AliExpress from the United Kingdom
- How to buy on AliExpress from the United States
- How to buy on AliExpress from Germany
- How to buy on AliExpress from Portugal
In our blog, we explain the best brands and products that you can find for sale in AliExpress, but we also have a section with tutorials where we collect the best tricks and tips to buy safely on this famous online sales platform. In our Ultimate Guide to AliExpress, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions that you can ask us through the comments section.
Have you had problems with customs at AliExpress? We would love to hear your opinion, do not hesitate and leave us a comment below with your experience of buying on this platform.