Customs at Shein: when to pay, how to pay… and how to avoid them

Lately, many countries are updating their customs policies. This can make shopping abroad on sites like Shein more expensive, but if you want to know how to avoid problems with customs, read on.

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Is my Shein order being held at customs?

All packages go through customs twice: when they leave the country of origin (to check for illegal or dangerous materials) and when they arrive in the destination country.

We can see when it goes through customs through the tracking number, which you can check directly through Shein's website or with external applications (Aftership, Postal Ninja, Parcels…).

If the tracking shows a message indicating that the package is in customs, there is no need to worry as this is standard procedure. There is only cause for concern if the package does not comply with customs regulations, especially in large and bulky packages.

We will know that our order is in customs when the tracking shows “held in customs”, “pending documentation” or some similar message indicating that customs is handling the order.

Normally, customs will contact us for more information, via e-mail, SMS… However, it depends on your country, so keep reading for more information, depending on the country you're located in.

United States

In the States, you will have to pay a Sales & Use tax to avoid getting your package held up at customs.

According to Shein's US website, Sales & Use Tax (“Sales Tax”) will be charged by applicable states of the US to customers who purchase from them, as they are required by law to collect Sales Tax in those states. You will see the Sales Tax applied to your order once you confirm your shipping details and proceed to checkout.

Sales Tax is calculated on the total merchandise value net of any discount. Total taxes may also include taxes charged on the delivery and shipping fees (if taxable in your state). Sales Tax charged on your order will be displayed at the checkout stage.

In case of returns and/or refunds, the appropriate Sales Tax will also be refunded to your wallet of Shein account or to the original method of payment.

United Kingdom

Shein has international warehouses based in Asia, America, Europe, and the Middle East. Their team ensures your order is being processed as quickly as possible, thus dispatching your order from the nearest warehouse possible, although the majority of stock is located in China, so you may receive different packages for the same order.

Customers will receive orders via their UK courier partners and don't need to deal with any custom affairs. However, for orders with multiple items, the warehouse processing cost has been increased,  Shein will add a package handling fee accordingly for them. The specific amount of the processing fee will be shown on the checkout page.


Canada's system is similar to the United States shipping system, so note that if you purchase multiple categories of goods with the express delivery, you might be charged the multiline entry fee by customs.

Make sure to pay this tax if you don't want your package to be held up.

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European Union (Ireland, Germany, Holland…)

In the European Union, things are a bit tricky when it comes to customs because the destiny of your package will depend on how much it's worth. With that being said, besides the price, it could also happen that your package gets stuck in Holland, as Shein has been sending orders through this country up to their final European destination. Keep reading to find out what to do in either case.

Orders under €150

Currently, the European customs regulations state that in purchases under €150 we will have to pay the corresponding VAT of the country (it'll be a different percentage depending on your country). In addition, to facilitate the payment of customs, when we make purchases of less than €150 we can manage customs through the store itself through the IOSS system: we pay the VAT to the seller and the seller pays it to the Treasury to avoid paperwork.

To match other sites, Shein includes VAT on orders under €150, so in these cases, we won't have to pay anything else. However, the package may be held until you can prove with documentation that the package is worth less than €150.

Orders over €150

From €150 the regulations indicate that in addition to VAT you will also have to pay duties and other taxes. In addition, you will have to manage it personally with customs when it arrives to your country. Although it is just another procedure, you will have to present the different documentation such as invoices, proof of payment…

That is why it is always advisable to place orders of less than €150 in Shein. You can divide your order into several purchases to avoid problems.

Anyway, Shein also usually divides orders of more than €150 in several packages to avoid paying customs. In any case, remember that Shein's customer service can help you to solve problems with customs. So if in doubt, contact them to check what to do.

Shein order held up in Holland

In the last few months, we have also seen how many packages have started to pass through customs in the Netherlands until they finally arrive in your country. Don't worry, your package is on its way.

Shein uses as a base for its shipments in Europe its center in Holland, that is, it sends all packages to its own warehouse in Europe, and then they send it to you at home.

When they arrive in Holland, the packages go through customs and take a few days to leave because all documentation must be checked. From there, they are sent to the European country you are in, and they will not have to go through customs again since you are in a country that is part of the “Schengen area” and therefore there is a free trade agreement.

South Africa

In the case of South Africa, depending on the shipping method you choose, Shein will deduct a percentage of duties you have to pay if you want your package to arrive in this area. According to some sites, you have to pay extra attention when purchasing something from the site and shipping it to this region, as it could be held up at the warehouse with no notice.

How to pay customs

Depending on your country, there's a particular agency that's usually in charge of customs clearance if your package is stopped. We recommend you to check which one would it be depending on your country of residence, but usually, they will ask you for this information:

  • ID card or national identity document.
  • Screenshot of the order on Shein's platform.
  • Proof of payment.

Once we send all this documentation, the order will be released without charges. In the event that we have to pay, the company itself will inform us of the detailed cost of customs and ways to cope with the payment.

But keep in mind these two points before paying anything:

Before paying, contact Shein

The platform promises to help you deal with customs costs. But in case you have to pay, we recommend you to contact Shein (you can do it by clicking on this link) to inform them of the situation and see what solution they propose.

Usually, they will reimburse you for the cost of customs clearance. Make the payment and get a receipt.

After you have paid: how to claim a refund

Main article: Refunds at Shein

Once you have paid customs, and you have your package, request a refund through the customer service center as instructed by the agent. The money will arrive via credit card, PayPal or to your wallet, depending on how you request it from Shein customer service.

Bottom line: should I worry about customs?

With the change in customs regulations, many of us thought that online sales platforms would lose sales. However, large platforms such as Shein or AliExpress have taken action when it comes to managing them to prevent their customers from being affected.

So if you're thinking of buying from Shein, customs shouldn't be a problem: the platform has looked for alternative methods to avoid you paying them, such as shipping from a local warehouse to reimbursing customs costs in case there's a problem.

For all these reasons, we encourage you to shop at Shein calmly. Shein's customer service is excellent and usually provides an efficient response to customs issues.

And if you want extra protection for your order, remember that the platform accepts payments with PayPal, the secure payment method par excellence.

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