The mere mention of the short word “China” can cause a variety of reactions among people. Most probably think of stereotypes – an overcrowded country with huge cities, rice, smog and kung fu. Others know that it is the source of most of the products they use every day.

From a cultural point of view, it is probably an enigma for most people. Mystical, incomprehensible and fabled. But for those from the world of e-commerce, China is incredibly exciting, relevant and has unlimited opportunities for the growth of your own business. As you already know, I also order all my goods in the Middle Kingdom. And since this is not always as simple and transparent as it should be, I try to shed some light in the dark …

In this article I refer to airfreight, as I hitherto exclusively use this route. Sea freight is only necessary in very large quantities and again a completely different story, which I will accept in due course also.

No matter whether as a total new-born or an advanced, who makes an order in China (or any other EU country), he is usually confronted with the issue of “import duty”. Where there are certain freedoms, these are quickly exceeded if you order more than just the one supposed designer jeans or the stylish laptop bag for private use. For online retailers who regularly order individual samples – or more to ensure quality, it is important to be familiar with the situation.

What charges would the Customs contract me? How much do I have to pay no customs duties or taxes?


When ordering from countries outside the EU, the import turnover tax AND any applicable customs fees must always be considered. If the value of your order is below € 26, neither customs duty nor import sales tax will be charged. In fact, the rule states that orders below the value of the goods are tax-exempt from only up to € 22, but since import duties of less than € 5 are not levied in Germany, you may notice an import turnover tax limit of € 26. Yay!

However, this value INCLUDES shipping charges. That should, no MUST you notice. But no reason for snapping. Most offers in this price class are already included in the price. On Chinese shopping websites such as Aliexpress you can also click ” Freeshipping ” as a filter. In the case of individual items, the Chinese, however, seldom write a value of more than $ 10 on the declaration of customs on the consignment, almost no matter what product it is. And usually it goes through without problems. But if not, the following regulations come to bear …

Starting from about 26.30 € (according to experience about 30 cent tolerance) then with almost all articles 19% import sales tax are calculated. If you do not make use of the small business rules, you can get them back in the sales tax registration form from the tax office.
For this reason, I recommend that anyone who wants to seriously interfere with the e-commerce environment should refrain from this regulation. Not only because 19% are not insignificant, but also because the annual 17.500 € turnover (not profit) limit in online trading is quickly exceeded, also as a beginner.

However, there are also articles that have a lower percentage of the import turnover tax. For example, books are taxed at only 7%, and there is even a cost of goods worth 71 €. But to the different percentages later more.

Of Newbies often held for one and the same, but the import turnover taxes are NOT the customs fees. Customs fees are charged – additionally – only from a goods value of 150 € (again INCLUDING shipping costs). The costs vary according to the type of purchased goods. Clothes and textiles, for example, account for 12% and CDs and DVDs at 3.5%. Digital photo cameras, USB sticks and books, on the other hand, are free of charge. Probably also try so insane a lot of people in the electronics field and can be on a relentless struggle. I’m not saying it for the first time, but fingers away from electronics! Of course you can also make good money there, but you always have the competition like the vulture vulture sitting on the bar, waiting for the right moment.

If, as is customary in China, is ordered and paid in US dollars, the official conversion rate of the German customs shall apply to the invoice amount including shipping charges. For the customs relevant is always the Euro value of the order. In order to meet the respective limits, you should therefore always have the current Euro-Dollar course in the back of the head. The values ​​with which the customs charge is always fixed for a period of one month and can be seen here .

The dollar has unfortunately recovered very well last year and is no longer in the euro much, which is for German traders, where you have before the dollar weakness greatly profit. Nevertheless, as a euro-citizen, fluctuations tend to be more than downward.

But let’s look at the different calculation models best at some practical calculation examples …

EXAMPLE 1: The Value Of The Goods Is Below € 22 And € 26.30, Respectively

Customs duties and taxes are only charged for an amount of 22 Euro (unofficially 26,30 Euro).
In commercial shipments (any purchases – whether commercial or private) from China up to a value of 22 euros, no import duties are incurred. This applies to both customs duties and import turnover tax. Alcohol, tobacco and perfumes are, however, excluded from duty free.

From 22 euros officially the import turnover tax, but this is not charged by the German customs because of the administrative expenses, if the amount of the import charges is below the threshold of 5 euros. Thus, on the basis of the current import sales tax of 19%, an indirect tax exemption of EUR 26.30 (which would have been exceeded in the example below) arises.

Item price:  21.90 € (or corresponding conversion from dollar to euro) 
Shipping costs:  5.00 €  (or corresponding conversion from dollar to euro) 
Total value:  26.90 € (for the tariff relevant value for the fee calculation)

Allowances are exempted from customs duty and import tax up to a value of 45 euros. The private nature of the consignment must, however, be proven as far as possible. According to German Customs,  according to the German customs law, ” is used to pay occasional shipments without any payment from a private individual in a non-EU country to a private individual in the customs territory of the Community “ . China dealers like to use this space in favor of their customers and usually send ordered goods without recognizable commercial sender and declare the content as a “gift”, as a gift.

However, the indication “gift” on the customs declaration of Chinese shipments often seems unbelievable. Honestly, how many of us actually have relatives in China? So in the case of doubt, these packages will remain with the Customs Office and have to be collected by you with the postal form, customs ID and the PayPal invoice sent by mail and the possibly incurring fees paid. Of course, there are no penalties or the like, as it is not your fault if the consignor declares a package as a gift. You do not have any influence on where any Chinese puts the check mark on the explanation. Either way – apart from the pick up – there is no disadvantage for you.

The story with the “Gift” -declaration is nothing to complain about and even comes up to you, but for your big orders I strongly recommend it because: Your goods are only insured for the value stated. If something breaks on the way, you get only then a compensation to the value indicated on the consignment accordingly. So quickly go to 3-4 digit amounts of flutes. Here too, “honestly is the longest”.

Tip: If the package has a value of less than 26 €, you can save yourself the journey to the customs office. Simply scan your Perso and e-mail it with the invoice (probably the PayPal invoice) and the form that the customs office has sent you to the Customs Office and they will send you the package by regular mail, without extra costs.

If, however, import turnover tax is charged on your parcel, but you do not have time to go to the customs office, there is the possibility to be represented by Deutsche Post. Simply send the notification letter, the missing documents (invoice / proof of payment) and a copy of the person to the customs office and then pass the customs clearance to the Deutsche Post.

Since this course can be delayed by a little bit, storage costs (daily 0,50 €, but only from 10 days / 5 € to be paid) can arise at the customs office. Both the warehouse fees and the import and customs fees are then accepted personally by the deliverer (DHL delivery).

EXAMPLE 2: Value Of Goods 22 € To 150 €

For a value between € 22 and € 150, the consignments are free of customs duties but are not exempt from VAT. The import turnover tax is currently 19% and always corresponds to the current VAT level. For a value of 26.90 Euros, the final cost of your China order is as follows:

Value of goods: 26,90 € + import sales tax: 19% = 5,11 € = final amount: 32,01 €

EXAMPLE 3: The Value Over 150 €

For those of you who want to sell merchandise online or do it soon, it will be interesting now. Because the larger order has a value of less than 150 €, then is rather rare. The calculation of the complete costs for an order of higher value requires some research, since the customs rates can differ significantly depending on the type of goods. This extends from the complete tariff exemption as in the case of tablets and smartphones to a maximum tariff rate of 17% for certain shoes with a different upper material than leather. I would like to list the most important customs rates for products from China …

The customs duties mentioned are expressly only a rough guide, since the customs are quite free to classify your goods in a different category, depending on the condition. Customs rates may vary in rare cases. If you want to be sure of your cause, you should always ask the Customs for a specific item. If you do not mind, you can simply assume that the duty rate applied does not exceed the flat rate of 17.5 percent.

If you want to know more, you can also use the Duty Calculator , the tool of my choice. Here you can choose the customs tariff classes of all countries.

As already mentioned, the import turnover tax is levied on the goods plus the customs duties determined. And from these individual ingredients, the finished customs liquor is produced. Here is the recipe:

Order of leather goods from China for 169 € plus 15 € shipping Total value: 169 € + 15 € = 184 € plus duty for leather clothing: 184 € + 4% = 191,36 € plus import sales tax: 191,36 € + 19% = 227.72 €

Order of a tablet from China for 199 € incl. Shipping
Total value: 199 € 
plus tariff for Tablet PCs: 199 € + 0% = 199 € plus import sales tax: 199 € + 19% = 236,81 €

As you can easily see from the above example, certain goods are much more attractive than others in terms of customs duties. While you do not have to pay an import tariff as a technology slider for a high-quality tablet in general, you can avoid the high customs costs in fashion, for example, by ordering large orders with numerous items and posting smaller quantities in time. For a tariff such as the one for clothes, this may be worthwhile with a certain quantity depending on the purchase price.


It can not be done without it. The EORI number is the successor of the customs number at European level. It is used to identify economic operators and to facilitate automated customs clearance. Everything that goes beyond the private purpose, you get only with EORI number. You can  apply for it here simply and free of charge . It takes about 2 weeks until you have it. FedEx wants it already abroad in the franking of the goods, DHL and UPS contact a usually telephone to ask them, as soon as the goods arrives here. Therefore, you should always specify your telephone number at the recipient’s address.

It is absolutely recommendable anyway to create with the major well-known mail service providers business accounts. This is also free and simplifies the import process. So you can deposit the EORI number, tax and telephone number, as well as your bank account there, so that the incurring charges simply can easily be debited to your bank account. Because only if your goods are already cleared, this can be forwarded eg directly to an Amazon Logistikcenter.


When choosing the shipping service provider, you pay attention to the price. This is also quite legitimate, but I would advise against the company EMS . These are often offered and used by Chinese people. The guys from EMS work with the GdSk(Society of Fast Cures). Unfortunately they do justice to the name NULL, because the processing can not go slower. The GdSk takes for you – like the other shipping companies such as DHL, FedEx etc. – the customs handling for you. Only they charge you about 35 € fees, which do not charge DHL and consortia. The invoice is sent by post. Then you can only pay by transfer. And then it takes a few more days for you to see the payment receipt and finally your goods are cleared and released. Brainpain high 10. Sure, your stuff comes with EMS, but why always wait 35 € extra lats and unnecessarily longer?

Well, that’s it. If you have any special questions, feel free to write me.

Posted on: August 20, 2017, by : techtouch

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