Customs to Impose Tax on Personal Mail

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Jul. 6 – The General Administration of Customs announced that it will impose import tax on personal mail starting in September.

Customs [2010] No. 43, issued July 2 and coming into effect September 1, stipulates that an import tax will be levied on personally mailed items into or out of China.

The circular, which aims to further regulate the entry and exit of postal articles and to enhance supervision, also includes limits on the value of goods that can be sent without being processed by Customs. For individuals sending or receiving items from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, the value of goods is limited to RMB800; for other countries and regions, the limitation is RMB1,000. If personal mail is valued beyond the prescribed limit, it will need then to go through Custom clearance procedures. Packages with an import duty value of under RMB50 will be exempt from any import tariff.

If there is only one item within the packet being mailed and it cannot be divided up and it falls beyond the prescribed limits, and if when examined by Customs it is determined that the item is for personal use only, it can be claimed as personal items for Customs clearance purposes.

Commercial postal items will be handled in accordance with the provisions of goods for Customs clearance.

8 thoughts on “Customs to Impose Tax on Personal Mail

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    That includes most magazine sunscriptions (I take the New Yorker for example) as well as birthday gifts, vouchers, coupons etc. It also gives customs the excuse to open mail from bankers, trusts, fund houses, brokers etc. Better start looking at receieving subscription mails and financial statements via Hong Kong. The GPO in Central will provide a box number for HKD500 per annum. The implications are serious. – Chris

    hclayjones says:

    well so much for buying American … If I have to pay tax (import) on items I use such as leather jackets and motorcycle parts… it will make more economic sense to have ti shipped elsewhere and then transfer.. but the cost will go up perhaps to the extent that will prohibit the purchase of these USA made goods..

    J. Cipriani says:

    Those that say that customs can use this as an excuse to examine one’s confidential financial records obviously know nothing about how the customs clearance process operates. Customs has a special, separate entity called Postal Customs. If one’s confidential financial data is enclosed in a piece of mail that has a *declared value* equal to or above the given limit, it may be diverted to Postal Customs and the recipient will be sent a notice to claim the item. When you go to Postal Customs with this claim check, they may ask you to open the package in their presence so they may examine the articles of value. This process takes all of 2 or 3 minutes at most and for expats at least seldom is there any duty. That customs has the time during this extremely brief inspection — much less the desire — to examine personal financial statements is nothing but unfounded paranoia.

    Jay Casey says:


    That’s the purpose — yet another trade barrier.

    linda says:


    Customs [2010] No. 43, issued July 2 and coming into effect September 1, stipulates that an import tax will be levied on personally mailed items valued at over RMB50.

    Is RMB50 limit applies to the goods value or the tax value? According to my understanding, RMB50 limit applies to the tax amount, not the goods value.

    Editor says:

    It applies to the tax value, the article has been corrected to reflect this.


    Joseph S says:

    This is a desperate measure given the assured international and domestic repercussions. Chinese customs doesn’t need another excuse to open and/or steal mail–they’ve been doing it for years as ANYONE who lives there or who does business there knows. If customs and processing doesn’t get it, the local P.O. and carriers just might. No, they’re doing it for the money, and that must mean they are hurting more than they let on.

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