The next time you choose free or EMS shipping method for delivery of products into India (from abroad) think again. Use free shipping or EMS only for products that are priced at under $30 this includes CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight.

There are many users who order products from international websites and get them delivered at their home or office in India. Almost all international sites offer free shipping on most items. Opt for free or EMS shipping only if the product value that includes (Cost, Insurance and Freight) is not more than $30 or ₹2000.

I guess many of you might have imported a smartphone via ordinary post / EMS that was definitely priced over $30, the idea was to avoid paying custom duty. Almost everyone you ask will tell you that they were doing it for two reasons, low cost / free shipping and to avoid paying custom duty. There are however honest people who use EMS / free shipping for saving on shipping but attach a proper genuine invoice.

What many don’t know and what custom officials will never tell you is that EMS / free shipping has value limit of ₹2000 or $30 and anything above that will attract custom duty, fine, penalty etc, etc.

The rule says Dutiable articles intended for personal use, imported by post or air are restricted to value limit of ₹2000 (CIF). If value is more the product are liable for confiscation or importer under section 111 (d) of the customs act 1962 will be liable to pay fine & penalty under section 112 (a) (i) & section 125 of the customs Act 1962 respectively.

India EMS custom duty letter

To better understand here are some Examples (I am sure many of you might have experienced this).

1) A person imports a $100 product and opts for EMS / free shipping with Invoice of $25 – now say the person gets lucky and gets the products delivered free of cost.

2) The same person imports a $100 product next time and opts for EMS / free shipping with Invoice of $25 – This time not so lucky, custom officials cross checks. They will send a letter stating that the product has been detained, The person will need to visit the custom office. A lot of his time will be wasted there. There they will come to a conclusion that the product price is $100. So the person ends up paying custom duty, fine, penalty, total value includes total cost with shipping + shipping again + other charges etc, in all it comes to $100 – the person ends up paying $100 as legal custom duty + fine + penalty etc. So in all for a $100 product the person ends up paying $200.

3) The same person imports a $100 product again and this time also opts for EMS / free shipping but with proper invoice value i.e. $100. Because he thinks that the last time he had to pay the fine was because of undervalued invoice, so this time he tries to be honest. Unfortunately even this time the person will end up paying $100 as legal custom duty + fine + penalty etc – so for $100 product the person end up paying $200.

Hence avoid using EMS for products that are priced over $30. The other option is to use DHL or Fedex for high value products – now these shipping options cost extra money, you will need to pay custom duty (handled by the DHL guys) and there are some extra charges too, still much cheaper than using EMS. You will need to pay the custom duty to the DHL / Fedex guy at the time of delivery.

Since these express services (DHL/Fedex) cost anywhere from $20 and over depending on the product weight, it makes sense to use it only for high value products.

Published by Gogi Rana

Founder and Chief Editor -

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  1. Hi i ordered a cosmetic product worth 4800 after discount 4300 via ems,weight probably arount 100 -200gm would i have to pay custom duty ?

  2. Hi Gigi,

    I purchased some plastic products from Netherlands invoice value cost 55k. Sent by FedEx. Custom charge 21k charging. Is it correct Value. It’s on IEC base. GST.

  3. Please do not use the tarriff insurance option. It is a scam. I had to pay duty on a tablet I purchased. Inspite of sending the proof by mail they refused saying it is invalid. and did not refund the money. The person in charge usislly gives only sutomated replies. I was lucky the smount was not significant. The proof was receipt issued by postal dept which is the case in most cities in India. Hence I advise you not to go for tarriff insurance.

  4. Want to buy amazfit verge smart watch englisg version and its not available in gearbest and now i found its available at geekbuying and there are showing option of shipping method are registered airmail and hk dhl express so which on1 should i select of not charged of custom duty

    1. Hello Jinesh

      As per your this product, please let us know, billing price / showing price on package.

      What happen with this package

  5. hello mr. gogi.
    i have recently bought earphones from gearbest cost is 1100/- total including their insurance + cost+ shipping. it is untrackable type shipping. charged 23 rupees. my 1st order.
    will i have to pay any customs duty.??

    1. which shipping method you used? if it is normal shipping, it will take time most likely no custom duty and if via priority line then 15 to 20 days.

  6. dear gogi
    I from india, i planing to buy xiaomi smart phone from banggood. but when i check out, there is only EMS option. there is no option for DHL or FEDEX. help me to solve this.

    1. If you buy any smartphone from International website there is very high chance of custom duty which can be up to 41%.

  7. I ordered from gearbest recently the Roborock robot vaccum. I paid almost Rs.33.5k with shipping.
    It was through expedited shipping DHL. They sent invoice of 100$. But Delhi customs opened the package and determined estimated cost to be 36000 and charged me 42.08% duty. So I had to pay 16.5k extra for this. So total value of the item became Rs.50k. 🙁 🙁 🙁

  8. Hello sir ,
    How to chang price tag when import some good s from international market. Like some ppl say 200$ product mentioned as 30$ on courier label …how is tht happen ?can u make video on that.

  9. Hello there, i have ordered around 25 music cd’s from Korea, my total is $446.83 and i chose ems for shipping, Could you please let me know how much i should have been chargedon the total as customs and how much is the custom tax on import of cd’s?

  10. Hello Mr. Gogi, i want to book a chuwi tablet pc worth 160 usd, using dhl expedited shipping charging around 2000 inr from It would be very helpful if you can suggest me how much customs i might have to pay extra. for the product which is priced 11700 inr approx.

  11. I have ordered the new zhiyun smooth 4 from AliExpress for $125 and asked them to mention price as $20 on it and while going through customs it was detained and i was charged Rs. 5880 and they mentioned the value of gimbal as Rs. 13890 so the total cost me for Rs 14380 for a Rs 8550 gimbal. Now how to deal with the issue as the custom officer has charged me more than what has to be charged. Now is there any way to get the amount back which was charged more by custom officials.

  12. Dear Gogi Sir,

    My name is LIju and I am coming from Overseas to India carrying 4 Dahua CCTV cameras (woth $500 approx.) and iits NVR.Will customs impose duty on the same?

    How much worth electronic goods can we carry while traveling to India?

    Please reply.

  13. Hi , i ordered few knives in ali express.
    I got showcause notice from customs of forign postoffice mumbai, i replied by saying its for short film entertainment purpose. They sent speed post saying that i need to visit there , i ignored it now they sent another speed post by imposing penalty of 5000rs.
    Actually after getting show cause notice i raised a dispute in aliexpress and got full refund.
    No do i need to pay the penality imposed by customs or i can ignore it?


  14. Hi Gogi,
    I had earlier asked you almost similar question, about a gift I won on Gearbest and what Shipping Method I should choose, you asked me to choose India Post Shipping Method, and I got that 6k worth of Phone for Rs.1900.
    1900 as Custom duty… And it’s working fine…

    Now I won another phone on Easter Egg Game on Gearbest… ?
    Know what? it’s a Rs.35,000 worth phone, it’s Elephone U Pro. The Specs of that phone are too good to ignore. This time again, which Shipping Method should I choose? DHL Courier costs Rs.2500… India Post just 18 rupees….

    How much custom duty will I be paying? Has the recent budget increased the custom duty?

    Thanks in advance…

  15. hi i want to order a remote control monster truck toy that is priced as 3496 rs plz tell me which option should i use to order this monster truck first is AIR PARCEL REGISTER that is free second is EMS that is 27rs and the last one is INDIA DIRECT MAIL that is 725 rs plz plz plz tell me which option should i use to order this monster truck in india

  16. I had a friend send me a tag heuer watch first make from Russia ..
    Stuck at customs in Mumbai
    They have valued it at 1.5 lakhs with 60k customs duty
    Actual value i have no idea. No invoice no payment proof
    Tried going through an agent , he tried retrieving but says the supriendent of customs has reviewed and sent a letter out to me which I haven’t received
    Now they want payment proof
    I had sent a declaration stating it’s a gift and the approx value is 6500 Russian rubles
    I definitely want pay 60k duty ..Just not worth it
    What happens next ? Item gets Confescicated and I forget abt it?
    Can I send it back to where it came from ?
    Or just take the loss.. would be wiser ?
    Anybody can suggest a way out ?

  17. Hi I imported a cosmetic product, just one piece the price of which was 10.58 GB, which is way below the 2000 limit for EMS. Still I had to pay whooping 42% duty on it. Any idea why? And how can I protest that?

    1. Did you get that via normal shipping, well in that case the product weight will be more hence the custom got suspicious and you got 42% duty that is custom duty + fine. Make sure the product you order via free shipping is light weight and smaller in size (example earphone, phone case).

  18. Hello, I want to buy a drone that is 300$ from to India through and through fedex or dh or ups do I need to pay the customs and if yes how much do I need to pay the amount in India??

  19. hey i wanted to ask you that , i want to buy chuwi hi 10 pro from gearbest and i have option to choose from some post and warehouses . the options for warehouses are china, hong kong, europe etc . and for shipping option i have unregistered , registered with 3 options as sweden, netherlands and belgium post. and for expedited shipping i have also three options dhl(eu), dhl and dhl with some battery options. now what should i do .

  20. please tell me i have purchased a drone from aliexpress and post by aliexpress standart shipping (singapore post) and my order value is $47.91 with shipping $52.21
    so Can Pay i CUSTOM DUTY ?

  21. Hello gogi sir…
    I want to buy an action camera from GEAR BEST..and i have 4 options to buy it
    1. Expedited
    3. Registered (Charging some money)
    4. Unregistered(Charging some money)
    Total amount i have to pay without air mail charges is under Rs. 1800…
    Please tell me which air mail should i select and about custom charges…will there be any custom issue regarding this because it consists of a battery.. please tell me fast… waiting for ur valuable reply ☺️

    1. I will be coming up with a action camera review soon this week watch that will mention the shipping method there.

  22. Hi Guys,
    I am planning to buy a Microsoft Surface 2 from Amazon US which would cost me around 2200 USD with surface pen. If I assume the customs to be 15%, it would be around 22,000 INR approx which is huge. Any help on how I can get a low value declared ? How to ask the forwarders on this ?