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Normally it doesn't happen, but once in a while someone buying from AliExpress has had the bad luck of having their order stopped at customs.
What are customs? A customs office is a public office or fiscal institution established at the border in order to record the flow of international traffic of goods that are exported or imported from a particular country and collect the taxes they owe. For example, if you are a resident of the European Union, customs is paid when you make purchases outside the European Union. In other words, if you make a purchase from a United States or China site such as Aliexpress, you will pay customs.
Usually Aliexpress shipments from China take between 15 and 60 days so you don't have to worry if you ordered less than a month ago. If the package has had the misfortune of being stopped at customs, the order will take longer to get to your home. There are two things that can happen here, one is for customs to give you the pass without any surcharge, or two, customs will make you pay the VAT and import taxes that apply (Normally they will make you pay when your package arrives).
When does a package go through customs?
All orders go through double customs: one in the country of origin and one in the country of destination. Although it is not common, it is possible that customs of origin stop your package and return it to the seller. It happens very rarely, but if it does, both the seller and AliExpress would agree and give you your money back. Remember that in order to get your money back you must open a dispute, but the best thing to do is to talk to the seller beforehand so that he is happy and knows why you are going to open a dispute.
If the package is stopped in our country, like we have already mentioned it can either be stopped or pass by and arrive at your home: all packages go through customs and appearing in the state does not mean that it has been stopped. In the event that customs holds the package, you will be sent a notification with the steps to follow to get the package out of customs.
I got a customs notification, what do I do?
If your package has been stopped, you will be asked to check the payment of the product in order to calculate the customs costs according to the cost of the product. Even if the seller has put a lower amount, we recommend you do not gamble and say the actual price of the product, otherwise customs could make a valuation which is probably above what you paid, raising the cost.
Can I decline the package?
Many of you have asked us about the possibility of not responding to the customs letter so that the product is returned to the seller. But in all online sales pages the buyer is responsible for possible customs charges, in addition customs could retain and remove the product so not responding to customs would mean losing the money of the order. If the product isn't too expensive, it might pay off.
National Postal System vs. Private Couriers, Which shipping method is the best one to avoid customs?
Not all shipping methods are the same, as explained in our definitive guide to AliExpress shipping methods. Most free shipments arrive via your country's postal system (the same system that letters and invoices usually arrive with). This system has the disadvantage of being somewhat slower, but the great advantage is that customs is more easily avoided because of the large volume of packages received each day.
After many years buying from AliExpress, we know private couriers often have customs costs, unless the seller states in his ad that he will take care of them. In this case we will not receive a letter but the courier company will charge us when the package is delivered.
Trick for customs with AliExpress products:
But thousands of people buy from AliExpress without customs problems so, what’s the catch? We have been told by several blog readers (and regular AliExpress shoppers) that what works very well is to tell the seller to mark the package as a gift. Many sellers offer this option. Although we haven't tested it, it works wonders to get through customs with even fewer problems.
What we can confirm is that in most countries, it works to make small, low volume, low cost orders. So an option may be to order in several packages.
From AlixBlog we recommend that if more than a month has passed and your package has not arrived contact your country’s Aliexpress page to ask how the order proceeds. This way you can be sure if the delay is due to an Aliexpress or a customs problem. Even so, try to keep calm, as these shipments take time and the package will arrive one way or another.