TAS 032 How To Avoid My $1,080 Shipping Mistake (Customs Fees)

In this episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast you'll hear how to avoid my BIG shipping mistake that cost $1,080 in customs fees.  I'm not really sure that you can avoid these totally, but you should at least know about them, so you can figure them into your cost.

Here's the 6 points I wanted to cover in this show:

1. Ask The Code They Use For Your Product
2. Call DHL Ask Customs Department – %
3. Over $2,500 Held The Order – 4% to 10%
4. Make Sure Supplier Doesn't Include Your Shipping Cost
5. Break Up Orders So Smaller – Under $2,500

Keep in mind that I have everything shipped by DHL Express mail and they handle all of my customs fees and paperwork.

But, like I said…you just need to understand how it works so you can plan. It's part of the cost and isn't really a big deal. The $1,080 was for 2,000 units that I ordered and it's only an extra .50 cents per unit.

Enjoy The Show!


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Join the discussion

  • Thank you SO much Scott. I’m launching in two market places in about a week. I just caught this podcast and you saved me A LOT of money.

    Quick question:
    Doesn’t splitting the order to multiple smaller orders increase cost of shipping? If it is, do we just compare the amount of shipment vs. import fees? Or is it just a simple split in the invoices?

    Do you recommend breaking the units even if we’re doing shipment by sea?

  • Hi Scott,
    Thanks for a the TAS podcast! I’ve been listening for a while but am just now taking action. I’m starting with a simple, low cost item that will probably not result in much of a profit, but will allow me to go through the entire process affordably before taking more risk.

    My question is: after listening to this episode, I fear I’ve already made a mistake with the shipping. I’ve paid a 50% deposit which included 50% of the total item cost and 50% of the total shipping cost. What I think I hear you saying on the podcast is that I should have paid for the shipping separately, rather than together with the item? Is it appropriate for me to ask the manufacturer to re-do the invoice for the sake of customs? The shipping cost appeared as a separate line item in the invoice not as part of the unit cost of the item. I’m shipping 10,000 units in groups of 100. My total cost including shipping is less than $1500 and shipping is about 1/3 of my total cost. Would this cost even be a customs concern?

    I’m late to the game listening to this podcast and I know you are very busy, but would SO appreciate any insight if you had the time.


    • Hey Emily, I generally like to have it on a separate invoice to avoid any complications. Your supplier may be able to seperate the items at this point for you and that way when they actually ship your invoice will correctly only reflect the product.

  • hey Scott thanks alot. so i am doing amazon fba for sure(i want to become a digital nomad and travel!) anyways what is frustrating me and worrying me is that i have bought on alibaba before using the default DHL or fedex with free or low shipping rates that the supplier had when i checked out, the items came straight to my home no problem/paperwork/custom fees/etc, will i be able to do the same with amazon fba. im american but i will be in asia traveling for a few years and will have my stuff ship to my moms US address, then she will check everything then ship to amazon warehouse. is this ok and the best way to do it. If i buy like $5000 can i ask the supplier to invoice for $2400? so i dont have to pay for the extra fees but of course the shipping part. what did you do and recommend. thank you! i really dont want to pay do much for shipping, otherwise my profit margin my bomb!!

    • Hey Tyler, if your shipment is worth 5k, you need an accurate invoice representing that, I would NEVER suggest that you ask them for an invoice showing a lower value than the actual value of the goods. If you’re concerned about the value of the shipment, you could always split it into multiple shipments!

  • Doesn’t splitting the order to multiple smaller orders increase cost of shipping?

    I also heard from anthony monfet that sending your products directly to amazon is a big no no as this allows the manufacturer knowledge of you selling on amazon. Allowing them the opportunity to release and sell the same product themselves and compete with yours. Any knowledge or experience with this?

    • Hey Mario, if your manufacturer simply LOOKS at Amazon they would know you’re selling on there, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s not exactly a “secret” that you would need to protect. Most manufacturers are not in the business of selling retail, not to mention they wouldn’t be selling on your listing so it isn’t all that big of a deal if they are.

  • Hi Scott!
    You’re doing really amazing work! Thx for that a lot!
    But I have a question as well.
    PLs, correct me if I ‘m wrong.
    I’m in process with getting goods form China. I suppose my order will be ready in 3 weeks. So we have a bit of time to understand te situation.
    The full “price” for our order (including shipping cost from China to US) is about $ 1.900. I don’t know exactly what is the merchadise sum and what is the shipping cost, but I’ve already sent a request to my supplier about it and about HS code for our product.
    All delivery process is managed by supplier, I just pay “all inclusive” price 🙂
    Now I want to clarify one point:
    should I ask my supplier about delivery company contatcts and ask them about customs clearance process. Or should I just keep waiting for a call from delivery company agent (or maybe from customs authorities) about what I need to pay ( I mean some customs fees and so on).
    Actually I prefer to know in advance and don’t want any surprises.
    I’m a bit newbie in all this stuff . So any help is welcomed.
    Thx a lot,

    • Hey Olga, if you’re following my process, your manufacturer and shipper(dhl or fedex) should be handling the clearance process for you. If you’re unsure what your duties will be, just call DHL and let them know what you’re planning to import and they should be able to get you a pretty good estimate of what the fees would be!

      • Thank you, Scott! My supplier has just confirmed they are handling all the processes including customs stuff.
        Thx a lot and good luck!!

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