How to buy handsets and other electronic devices from Chinese online stores

There are many new handsets being launched in India, unfortunately there are better ones with latest hardware available on Chinese websites. You can buy the handsets from Chinese online stores, and here is what you should know.

Now before you plan to go ahead with the purchase do note that there is a minor risk, it is with reference to the device you order. For example you might face issues with the phone you bought or it does not start at all, in such a case sending the device back / after sales support will not be that easy. But in most cases you will get a perfectly working phone, but yes keep in mind there is this small risk. You should also check the terms and conditions from the site you are buying.

There are two ways to order you can either go for the express shipping or ordinary registered post. The express shipping is costlier but in the end the shipping cost + custom duty comes up to the same as normal shipping, though better to use express shipping as it delivers faster.

Now avoid using gift / lower invoice value especially for mobile phones. It is better to be honest and if possible ask the seller to attach a screen shot of the product with the actual price.

I have used both ordinary post and express shipping and here are my experiences.

Buy handsets and other electronic devices from Chinese online stores

Ordinary registered Post

This is cheaper takes a lot of time and the custom duty is always higher, better to avoid it for high cost products (over Rs. 7000).

Express shipping

This will cost you extra, its faster and the custom duty is comparatively lower.

In general the extra charges i.e. shipping + customs will come to near about the same for both express / ordinary post.

Some users / sellers suggest to ship the handset with lower price tag like $30 or under so as to avoid the custom duty for such devices. However it will all depend on your luck if you are lucky you will not have to pay any duty, but if you are not, you will end up paying the actual duty + in some cases extra fine that will be much, much higher will cost you 2x or more the amount you spend on your phone.

How much custom duty you need to pay?

Well you can check it on dutycalculator.com but do note that every time the duty will be different, depending on the custom official inspecting your device. Just to give you an idea. I have paid Rs. 4,000 for a Rs. 7,000 device (using ordinary post), at times Rs. 900 for a Rs. 8,000 device (using DHL). And recently Rs. 6,200 for 2 smartphones totaling to $320 from China using DHL post. Also better to attach screen shot for device + price from the seller website as proof. And guess what I got the OnePlus One from USA (a long time back) – $349, that time I paid Rs. 3,420 for custom + shipping, Customs Duty was Rs. 1,573.

It is safe to assume that for a 160$ handset from China you will end up paying anywhere from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 3000 total custom duty.

Where do you pay the custom duty?

If you have ordered it from normal post you will need to pay it to the postman. And if you have used express shipping you will have to pay to the courier guy at the time of delivery.

Popular Websites

Pandawill, aliexpress, gearbest, coolcool, banggood.com, dx etc.

Which Shipping service to use for shipping into India

For high value products say 50$ and over better use DHL or Fedex. I know these shipping services cost extra, but they are far cheaper than the EMS Speed Post services.

If you use EMS shipping in case of custom verification you will have to visit personally or via your agent/authorized person, you will not only be wasting your time but also end up paying much higher amount, it is cheaper to leave the package there. Just avoid EMS at all cost, pathetic services, go with DHL or Fedex they are 1000 times better, cheaper and honest (as long you are honest).

Also note for EMS dutiable articles, intended for personal use, imported by post or air are restricted to Rs. 2000, anything above that and you will have to pay duty + fine on full amount, they will also calculate shipping, so avoid EMS, period.

Check the image below – it is the reason why most people fall into the trap, they think importing goods from EMS/normal post is free and most free shipping use this option. Instead of putting a board outside the custom office saying “do not pay bribe/ report bribe” it would be better if they put up rules and regulations and educate people regarding the rules of EMS/ import.

Indian EMS rule

If you get called you will need to pay almost the same cost that you spend. Problem is most people don’t really know how EMS works and it is not a good option for importing goods over 30$ for personal use. It looks cheaper but it is not, and also the primary reason for corruption.