How to import to the US for international sellers – ship to Amazon directly

Two of the questions I receive the most is: “Can I sell on Amazon US as an international seller” and “Can I send my order directly from the factory directly to Amazon?

Yes you can!

This prompted me to do a write up on the topic and without further ado, here’s a quick guide for you that hopefully answers your questions:
You basically have four options:

  1. Using a customs broker acting as the ultimate consignee (No EIN needed)
  2. Using a courier service like DHL/UPS/FedEx etc. (Amazon’s EIN recommended)
  3. Using a prepping and forwarding company that acts as the ultimate consignee (NO EIN needed)
  4. Using a forwarding company/customs broker when delivery by regular Air or Sea shipment (not by courier) and acting as the Importer of record and ultimate consignee yourself (Amazon’s EIN needed)

In all cases I still recommend you to get your own US Tax Payer Number or also commonly referred as EIN.

Simply follow this link for information and call the number mentioned under “Apply by Telephone – International Applicants”. It’s a very simple and straightforward process that takes about 10-15 minutes.

Some important reminders:

1) Not all customs brokers can act as the ultimate consignee. The ones that do usually offer services on top to act as your ultimate consignee:

2) Very Important: Never put Amazon as Importer of Record on any document. In case you send goods directly to Amazon only use them as the ultimate consignee but never as the Importer of Record otherwise they will definitely reject your shipment.

3) One thing that is super important if you decide to send products from China to Amazon without any stop in between (Prepping, Labelling or Quality Control company in the US):

HAVE AN INSPECTION. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an inspection before sending anything to Amazon directly.

I know that many buyers have an inspection in the US. But what if the goods are defect to such an extent that you can’t rework them in the US? Are you going to send them back to China? Unlikely.

Save yourself this step and have the inspection in China with a reputable Inspection company like

If there’s anything wrong during the inspections you can still have them re-worked in the factory directly.
On top of that you protect your initial deposit to the factory by having an inspection.

4) Also make sure you comply with Amazon’s packaging and labeling requirements (weights, labeling & carton measurements). Amazon’s fulfillment centers prefer palletised shipments but you do have an option to send the shipment un-palletised. There will be an option in Seller Central when you create your shipment that allows you to choose the option of un-palletised shipments.


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5) Do as much labelling and prepping in the factory as possible!

Your factory can take care of all the labels and prepping needed for Amazon, you simply need to give them clear instructions when you place your order.


6) Think hard about “inventory placement” that lets you ship from China to one Amazon warehouse only.

This costs 0.3$ on top of the product cost but it might be worth it considering that you only have to invoice once. On top of that shipping companies charge extra for each set of documents on various levels and it is complicated to instruct your supplier to ship to 2-3 different warehouses. Think about all the labelling and coordination that has to be done with the supplier. However if you ship to multiple Amazon warehouses, have each order palletised for each warehouse while in China, so that you’re not using U.S. labor to de-consolidate a shipment and re-palletise goods.  You’ll also have to book the ground shipments after your ocean shipment has arrived, which adds complexity to the process

Lets look at each option in detail:

1) Using a customs broker acting as the ultimate consignee

There are several companies in the US that can act as your customs broker and ultimate consignee. If they offer to be a ultimate consignee they usually add a few services on top that they are looking to sell to you such as:

  • Clearing customs
  • Receiving cartons (LCL, LTL or UPS/DHL etc.)
  • Apply shipping labels
  • Ship to Amazon
  • etc.

This can add up in costs on top of your product but they’ll make sure that items are properly packed, labelled and cleared by customs as an ultimate consignee.

I’ve been contacted by a Third-Party Logistics (3PL)/Prepping/Customs Brokerage company based in the US and they had such a detailed process lay down in PDF that I decided to post them (with permission). Credit of the following content goes to Westernoverseas however please note the entire process is the same for other 3PL companies as well.

Why do I need a Customs Broker?

If your shipment is arriving by Regular Air Cargo (not by DHL, UPS, or FEDEX) or Ocean cargo, you will need a Customs Broker to clear the shipment on your behalf. All shipments must be cleared through Customs. Certain commodities are also subject to the regulations of other government agencies such as FDA, USDA, DOT and EPA. Please check with your Customs Broker for import requirements. Please do not ship without doing your research!

What type of Services does Western Overseas offer?

  • International Freight Forwarding (Shipping) – by Air and Sea
  • Customs Brokerage
  • Domestic Delivery from port to final US destination
  • Amazon FBA prepping
  • Warehousing

Should I use Ocean or Air Shipping?

Your decision should be based on how quickly you need your shipment and how much you’re willing to pay.

  • Ocean shipments are less expensive but take longer to arrive. The costs are generally 1/2 – 1/3 the costs to ship by air. You should figure approximately 3 – 4 weeks’ lead time.
  • Air shipments are more expensive but are faster to arrive. You should figure approximately 3 – 5 days’ lead time.

If I choose Western Overseas as a Customs Broker, how do I open an account? Is there a fee?

There are several forms that you must complete to set up an account. Please contact us at We do not charge a fee. However, we may charge for a consultation fee if extensive research on your product is necessary.

What is an EIN Number? Do I need one?

As a foreign importer, you do not need an EIN number for Customs Import purposes. You may need one as a seller on Amazon for State Tax purposes. Please check with Amazon and/or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will be assigned an Importer Number by customs which will be used in lieu of an EIN Number for the purpose of the Customs declaration. You can be an importer without an EIN#. Customs will assign to you an Importer Number.

But you still need a Customs Broker and an Ultimate Consignee with an EIN#. If you use our FBA Prep Services, we will act as your Ultimate Consignee.
If you are U.S. based and are intending to import under a Corporation, then your EIN number will serve as your Importer Number. If you are U.S. based and are intending to import as a Sole Proprietor (e.g. John Doe dba ABC Importers), then your Social Security Number will be your Importer Number. If you are U.S. based and are intending to import as an Individual (e.g. John Allen Doe), then your Social Security Number will be your Importer Number.

What is a Customs Bond and what is the cost?

Customs requires that a bond be posted with every ISF and Customs Entry to ensure that all duties, taxes and fees owed to the federal government will be paid. An Annual Continuous Bond can be purchased for $500 (through Western Overseas) and it will cover both your ISF filings and Customs Entries. Having a Continuous Bond also reduces our ISF filing fee by $25. If you choose not to purchase a Continuous Bond, you have the option of purchasing Single Entry Bonds for ISF filings and Customs entries. This can become quite costly especially if your shipment value is high or is subject to other government regulations such as FDA. Furthermore, the bonding companies only allow a maximum of “5” Single Entry Bonds for ISF before the importer is required to purchase a Continuous Bond. You would be saving money in the long run. However, if you are planning to import only once, then a Single Entry Bond might be for you. Single Entry Bonds are subject to a $25 Bond Processing Fee. Our Bond costs are below:

  • ISF Bond: $75
  • Customs Single Entry Bond: $6.50 per $1000 of the shipment’s declared value + duties/taxes (minimum charge of $65). For OGA (other government agency – i.e. FDA, USDA) regulated commodities, the rate is $6.50 per $3000 of the shipment’s declared value + duties/taxes.
  • Customs Annual Bond: $500

What happens after I place an order with my supplier?

The process will depend on the terms of sale between you and your supplier. But the following steps are what typically occur for Regular Air and Ocean shipments. The below excludes shipments sent by Air Express Courier.

  • Production begins (seller might send you a sample for approval)
  • Determine if you will be using the services of an inspection intermediary service such as FBA Inspection, Earth Class Mail or Western Overseas.
  • Seller arranges the International Freight Forwarding if his cost includes this (CIF terms); if his cost does not include this, then you are responsible for arranging and paying for the freight.
  • Your supplier may have a couple of shipping companies to refer you to or you can obtain a quote from Western Overseas. If the latter, seller will provide you with the cargo details which you will pass onto the forwarder giving you the quote. You will also want to include the U.S. destination address – whether it’s Amazon FBA or the Intermediary Inspection service of your choice.
  • Hire a Customs Broker if separate from the Freight Forwarder.
  • Get ISF details to Customs Broker (ocean shipments only)
  • Shipment departs
  • Send copies of all shipping documents to Customs Broker
  • Shipment arrives
  • Customs clears
  • Our invoice is paid
  • Shipment is delivered or dispatched

It is your responsibility as an Amazon Seller and Importer to know Amazon’s FBA requirements.

What is Importer Security Filing (ISF)?

There are 10 key elements about a shipment that must be transmitted to Customs at least 24 hours prior to the vessel’s departure from origin through Importer Security Filing (ISF). This filing provides information to Customs regarding the impending import shipment. Your Customs Broker is the most ideal party to handle this transaction. If the filing is late, misfiled or not filed at all, then the importer will be penalized a minimum of $5,000 (max $10,000). Customs requires that all ocean import shipments have an ISF filing whether or not it is late. Otherwise, your shipment will not clear Customs. A late filing or non-filing of ISF also guarantees that Customs will examine your shipment.

What is a Harmonized Tariff Code (HTS)?

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is the mechanism by which international tariffs are standardized. If you ship items overseas, you are required to classify them according to the harmonized system. Each country has its own Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).

The description and coding system of global tariffs is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying products. The first 6 digits of any HTS Code is (in theory) the same for any country. Beyond the six-digit level, individual countries sometimes have different rules for classification. Importers and Exporters the world over must classify all goods moved across international borders using the Harmonized System of the country of import. Every item you sell must be assigned an HTS Code according to the Customs tariff schedule of the country from which you are selling. Each HTS Code has an applicable duty rate. HTS Codes are sometimes referred to as HS Codes and Tariff Codes.

What is the time length for my shipment to be cleared by Customs?

We must allow Customs at least 48-72 hours to clear a shipment, although it could be less.

Why did Customs put a hold on my shipment? I have never had a problem with my DHL/UPS/FEDEX shipment before.

Please bear in mind that Air Express Shipments are treated differently by Customs. They simply move too many parcels on a daily basis for Customs to be able to monitor each one. And because Customs allows Air Express Couriers to clear an entire manifest under their own name and bond, it’s possible that your previous shipment may have just flown under the radar.

With regular Air and Ocean cargo, there is always the possibility of a Customs Exam which may cause a 3- 5 days delay in release. Any exam related charges will be the responsibility of the Importer of Record. Customs exams are generally random unless they have had a recurring problem with the manufacturer, the importer, and/or the commodity. That said, please ensure your product and its labeling comply with Customs laws prior to shipping.
What information do I need to provide Western Overseas to obtain a quote?

For a Customs Brokerage Quote:

  • A full description of the item(s) you are intending to import – i.e. General Description/Name of Product, Function, Material/Composition, Declared Value, Unit Value, & Country of Origin.

For a Freight/Shipping Quote:

  • Terms of Sale (i.e. FOB or Ex-Works)
  • Address of your Supplier
  • Port of Loading
  • Number of cartons
  • Dimensions of each carton
  • Weight of each carton
  • First U.S. Delivery address

For Amazon FBA Prepping Services Quote:

  • Total Number of Cartons and Units
  • A detailed scope of the services you require – i.e. Check for product and package damage, Apply FNSKU labels, Bundle, Insert Cards, etc.

What other fees should I expect?

If you using the International Freight Forwarding Services of another company, then you can expect charges due to their U.S. agent. Your shipment will not be released from custody until those charges are paid. Western Overseas can pay those charges on your behalf for a fee of 1.5% and include them on our final invoice. Other fees may include Customs Exam and related costs and Storage/Demurrage Fees.

Who should be listed as the Notify Party, Consignee, Ship To?
If we (Westernoverseas) are hired as your Customs Broker, we should always be listed as the Notify Party.

Western Overseas Corporation
510 Myrtle Ave. Ste 208
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Tel: (650) 952 – 2955

If you are a U.S. based importer, the Consignee’s name and address will be your information. The Ship-to party will depend on who will be receiving your shipment immediately upon release from Customs.
If you are a foreign importer, the Consignee and Ship-to parties will depend on who will be receiving your shipment immediately upon release from Customs.

My supplier is asking for Shipping Marks. What are Shipping Marks?

Shipping Marks are printed on the outside of each Master Carton of your shipment. They should contain the information that will identify your cartons from cargo belonging to others. The suggested marks would be:

  • Your Company Name
  • Carton Count – e.g. Carton 1 of 10, Carton 2 of 10, etc.
  • General Description of item
  • Country of Origin
  • Any special handling instructions – e.g. This side up, Handle with Care, Fragile, etc.

What shipping documents do I need to provide to Western Overseas (or other 3PL)?

  • ISF Details (for Ocean shipments only; we must receive this at least 72 hours prior to the vessel’s departure from origin)
  • Ocean Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • The above documents are obtained from your supplier. If you use our Int’l Freight Forwarding services, then our overseas agent will supply us with the ISF details and the Ocean Bill of Lading.

When do I pay Western Overseas ((or other 3PL) and what type of payment is accepted?

Payment for an Annual Customs Bond will be due upon receipt. Payment for Customs Brokerage services including duties/taxes, delivery, freight, etc. will not be due until your shipment has cleared from Customs and is ready to be delivered or dispatched.

We accept the following payments:

  • Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)*
  • Wire Transfer**
  • PayPal*

*subject to a processing fee

**full invoice amount is due without any deduction of your bank’s wiring fee
June 2015

—End of content from Westernoverseas—



If you are interested in their fees and other services here’s the contact information:

Susan Park
Business Development Specialist
Western Overseas Corporation
11605 Pike St.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Tel: (562) 985-0616 x5069
Direct: (714) 243-5069
Fax: (562) 364-7798

2) Using a courier service like DHL, UPS, FedEx etc. (EIN recommended)


Air Express Courier shipments sent via DHL, FEDEX, or UPS are different. Customs has special regulations for them where they are allowed to clear entire mass quantities of shipments under their own name and Customs bond. They simply move too many parcels for Customs to be able to clear every single one. Therefore, they are authorized to clear shipments that are on one cargo manifest of low-risk up to values of their own discretion. They also won’t ask you to apply for a customs bond or filling an ISF. They provide a one-stop solution and are therefore more expensive than forwarding or logistics companies/customs brokers.

You simply be the Importer of Record with your foreign address or you can subscribe to services like to get an US address (not obligatory) and apply for an EIN here (obligatory if you want to be the ultimate consignee):


3) Using a prepping and forwarding company that acts as the ultimate consignee (NO EIN needed)


There are several services around that receive your goods (where you act as the Importer of Record) after cleared by customs. For example if you send in your order by courier (DHL etc.) and then want them prepped, labeled etc. you can use prepping companies that can also act as your ultimate consignee. These guys are similar like the first example but usually don’t clear customs for you. You can act as the Importer of Record with a foreign address and will be assigned an Importer Number by customs. Once the prepping, labeling etc. is done these service provides will send in the order for you to Amazon.

4) Using a forwarding company/customs broker and acting as the Importer of Record yourself (Amazon’s EIN needed)


If you send items by Air or Sea the regular way (meaning no courier like DHL, UPS etc.) you will need a forwarding or also referred to as Third party logistics company (3PL) that can act as both the forwarder as well as the customs broker HOWEVER not as the ultimate consignee.

In this case you will be the Importer of Record and Amazon will be the Ultimate consignee. You don’t need an address or bank account in the US but you will need an EIN number of the ultimate consignee or Importer of Record. You can contact Amazon for this information but your Customs Broker should be able to obtain this information for you.

I also heard that sometimes Amazon refuses your goods if you don’t provide your own EIN but I haven’t found anything to the contrary.

You simply be the Importer of Record with your foreign address or you can subscribe to services like to get an US address (not obligatory) and apply for an EIN here (obligatory if you want to be the ultimate consignee):



There’s one more option. If you know someone in the US who is willing to receive your order as the Importer of Record providing his EIN number you can go that way too. But I recommend you pay all fees upfront so your friend/acquaintance doesn’t have to bear them.


I do recommend you to apply for an EIN for general tax reasons and to comply with IRS regulations. Amazon can track your sales tax back with you and your country of origin.

If you want to learn more about the process and import from China professionally please check out our ImportDojo Masterclass here:

I will be adding over 20 hours of new material to the class in February 2016 increasing the price in the process, so act soon.

Hope this helps and if you found this article helpful please share below trough social media :)
All the best and happy sourcing,

49 replies
  1. Denis
    Denis says:

    Wow, this is some very valuable stuff here. Manuel, you simply amaze me on your knowledge of all this foreign stuff. I am in the process right now of looking for a Customs/Freight Forwarder for my first sea shipment. There is so much to know, so having this knowledge is invaluable. I will check out your recommendations above and see what they offer and for how much.

    Thank you so much for all your help.

  2. Denis
    Denis says:

    This article could not have come at a better time. This information is priceless. I was in the process (in the last 2 weeks) in considering shipping via sea. Man, what an ordeal this seems like…well, not now. I am going to contact the company Manuel has recommended above and see what needs to be done.

    Thanks so much Manuel for this very indepth article.

  3. Jon Hodge
    Jon Hodge says:

    Great article Manuel. Nicely laid out and detailed. Haveing just gone through the import process (with your help and advice) i can vouch for the accuracy of this content. Well done!

  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    Hey Manuel,

    I often see a figure of $2500 thrown around as a threshold limit which if reached means a Custom Bond is required and more involved screening takes place possibly leading to additional customs fees.

    Are you able to advise of the mechanics of what’s going on here and/or whether it is something that is just applicable to express air carriers or is applicable to air freight forwarders as well?

    Thanks for this very informative breakdown.

    This can be a very confusing topic!

  5. Norbert
    Norbert says:

    Hello Manuel,

    I have a sea shipment ready to depart from China to US. We are a UK limited company and I have just got the EIN. However I registered the EIN with our UK address. Will that be a problem?

  6. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    Hi Manual,

    Came across your site after hours of searching and phone calls. I hope you can help.

    I’m from the UK and ship from China to US Amazon. I mainly ship Fedex/UPS and my brother who is a US resident is the importer of record. I now have my own UK limited company and want to move away from using my brother and do everything under the company. Are you saying that I can tell my Supplier to put my Company Name and UK address on the forms as Importer of Record, and that’s it? I do not need to apply for anything? Will UPS know to contact Amazon for an EIN? And how will custom duties payments be relayed to me if I am not a US resident? (invoices usually go to my brothers residence).

    Appreciate your help greatly.


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Yes, its that simple. You can be the IOR with your UK company name and UK address. UPS will contact Amazon for their EIN.
      Custom will call or email you the invoice to be settled by wire transfer if there is any duty to be paid.

      Hope this helps :)

      • Andrew
        Andrew says:

        Hi Manuel,

        Sorry to post again. Found another site that states that a foreign importer needs a continuous customs bond and an Importer of record number in order for customs to clear any shipments. What’s your view here? I don’t want to ship only to find I need all this and don’t have time to acquire it and hence have my shipment refused. Not I ship a lot more in value than $2500

        • Manuel
          Manuel says:

          No problem Andrew. That is not correct. US customs can issue you a temporary importer number (please see in above post) and your forwarder is the one providing you the customs bond if you don’t have one. You can buy single or continuous bonds (if going by SEA) and your forwarder will ask you if you have one. If not he can provide his for you (and will charge). Don’t worry, your goods won’t be refused if you follow this guideline.

  7. Hasan
    Hasan says:

    Hi Manuel,

    I am from your Udemy course and just wanted to say that this is great information. Thanks again!

    Also, quick question:

    Do 3PL companies usually take care of shipping from Chinese port to US (by sea)? Or do they only take care of logistics AFTER the goods arrive at the US port?

    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hey Hasan,

      Sorry for the late reply, just back from the CNY holidays :)
      It really depends what you want them to do. You can ask them to take care of everything and prepay delivery and duty (DDP) or ask them just to deliver CIF (Cost Insurance Freight). But most 3PLs can do DDP, you just need to tell them what you want :)
      Hope this helps!

  8. Ken
    Ken says:

    Hello Manuel,

    Thank you for this very informative posting.
    I have a quick question regarding Chinese sellers who would like to ship to Amazon FBA in the U.S.
    Would you happen to know if individual sellers (who retain title and risk of loss) are allowed to be listed on
    individual bill of ladings as the consignee rather than Amazon (and be accepted as such by CBP for manifest
    clearance purposes)?
    In your posting, it sounds like if the seller registers for EIN, then they can become the ultimate consignee and
    can just specify Amazon FBA address as delivery address.

    If you could clarify this information, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Ken,

      You can only be the ultimate consignee with a permanent address and residency in the US. Other than that Chinese sellers can only be Importers of Record.
      Hope this clarifies,
      All the best

      • Ken
        Ken says:

        Hello Manuel,

        Thank you for your reply.

        Since they do not have permanent address in the U.S., how can we use Chinese seller as IOR?

        Is it simple as you say and register for EIN and that would be it?

        Thank you!


        • Manuel
          Manuel says:

          Hey Ken,

          Yes, thats it. You actually do not need the EIN, you can be the IOR but you need to use a customs broker who is the Ultimate Consignee with a permanent address in the US.
          Hope this helps,

          • Ed Warnock
            Ed Warnock says:

            Hey Manuel,

            Thanks for all the value you’re adding through the blog and masterclass. This is definitely a one-stop shop for all things FBA.

            Question on the IOR: If I have a virtual address through USAMail1 does this count as a permanent address and make me eligible as Importer of Record or because I am not physically based in the US do I have to use the freight forwarder? I am in the UK but have got an international EIN.

            When you say in point 5 above: Do as much labelling and prepping in the factory as possible!

            Other than the shipment labels provided in Seller Central what needs to go on the boxes/cartons? Do I need things like Made in China, Quantity, Company Importer Name etc?

            Thanks so much.


          • Manuel
            Manuel says:

            Hey Ed,

            Actually I can’t confirm that. I am not using a virtual address right now only trough my HK company. I always use a freight forwarder who takes care of the entire process.
            Yes, you need a “shipping mark” (provided in the course) that says “Made in China” as well as the quantity and pieces per carton. Other than that just the FNSKU/UPC and shipping label provided trough Seller Central.
            Hope this helps :)

          • edwarnock
            edwarnock says:

            Hi Manuel,

            What I really meant to ask was can I be the Ultimate Consignee if I have a USAMail1 address?

            What is more advantageous – customs broker as Ultimate Consignee or me? Are there savings to be made?

            Thank you.


  9. Marcel
    Marcel says:

    Very complete and informative article, the best I’ve read on the subject !

    Could you please tell me what implies having an EIN. I mean, I’m in France and want to sell on, so I am going to ask for an EIN, and I was wondering if US gov is going to send me taxes to pay because of this EIN?? I already pay taxes for my business in France (and I will continue to do it on my revenues) but if I’m also taxed bu US govnt it’s a bit tough…

    So getting an EIN is easy, I know, but what are the consequences as soon as you get one concerning taxes?

    Thanks a lot for your help

  10. Boris
    Boris says:

    Hi Manuel,

    Only last option mentions acting as importer of record but you actually act as importer of record for every import you make. It’s rare that someone else would take responsibility to act as importer of record for you due to liability and potential risks.

    Western Overseas mention getting EIN with US address to act as ultimate consignee but would it be correct to be importer of record with non-US address and at the same time ultimate consignee with your EIN and US mailing address?

    I noticed that prep and ship services are reluctant to provide their own EIN for some reason. Any idea why? It’s not that they act as importer of record so maybe it’s a privacy thing?

    Would you recommend bundling products with manufacturer or with prep and ship service in US when there’s packaging component that is available at manufacturer’s factory? For example shrink nylon packing equipment that is not available in every prep and ship service.


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Boris,

      Sorry for the late reply. Its exhibition season :)
      Yes, you are right, I always act as the IOR. Also correct that you can act as the IOR and ultimate consignee with your US EIN & mailing address.
      Not sure on the prepping and ship services why they don’t provide that. I never use them because I always prep and ship from China…

      I would always try to bundle in China. Try to get all items from one supplier and let him bundle even if its a few cents more. The labor costs will be much lower in China than overseas :)

      Hope this helps!

      • Boris
        Boris says:

        The reason I see people suggest bundling is like with labeling, things can get overlooked. When labeling several items I heard stories where supplier confused one barcode with another and buyer later had to recall from Amazon to settle it. With bundles, workers can miss to place some of items which you wil know through customer complaints.

        I have got my EIN but now the problem is paying customs taxes and duties bills. Usually they mail physical bill and you have to find someone to pay on your behalf. The other option shippers have is “3rd Party Billing” option when they create shipment. You still get to use their rates and only pay customs taxes and duties which they forward to your account with same carrier. The problem with this is foreign individuals cannot have US accounts with carriers as they import to US so that still means they have to either find someone who can pay on their behalf with their account or pay their mailed bill.

  11. Eric
    Eric says:


    Importing is a new but fascinating concept for me, and I started having my own private label product developed (modified) a couple of weeks ago.

    I contacted Western Overseas today and asked them if I could have my product sent from the port in China directly to an Amazon fulfillment center (FC), instead of to me or another intermediary first. They told me I COULD do that but it’s very tricky.

    For example, Western Overseas informed me the FC near me is FULL, so it might be a while before my goods get unloaded because there might be many customers “in line” before me. In the meantime, I would start racking up fees: container rental fees ($85/day?) and hourly trucking company fees are two that I recall. On top of that, if the FC doesn’t get my goods unloaded within an hour, I could be charged some other fee (I don’t remember the specific fee type). As a result, Western Overseas recommended shipping my goods to their warehouse as an intermediary step instead of directly to one of Amazon’s FCs.

    I didn’t know enough to ask about the ultimate consignee concept. I’m not sure if that would change things. Nor did I ask if the long wait times (many days worth) to have my goods unloaded is because it’s now the busy 4th quarter buying season.

    If you ship directly to an Amazon FC, maybe there’s something I missed. Can you address this, please?

    Great stuff, thanks!


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the question. Who said you need to deliver to the warehouse near you? When you do FBA you can’t choose the warehouse anyway. So who says others are full….
      You need to create a shipment plan, get your FC address and give that to your forwarder. They (like western overseas) should know about appointment booking with Amazon and will then tell you exactly how much it will cost incl storage fees…
      All the best,

      • Eric
        Eric says:


        Thanks for the response.

        It was actually Western Overseas who told me many of the fulfillment centers (FCs) are full, especially the ones close to me. Maybe the representative I spoke to didn’t have first hand knowledge, but he recommended having my shipment sent to the Western Overseas’ warehouse instead of sending my goods directly to one of the FCs.

        I’ll have to contact them again and ask about appointment booking.


  12. Gerhard
    Gerhard says:

    Hi Manuel,

    I live in Australia, and have just started on the FBA(Amazon) track. I am stuck with a first shipment of goods from China at UPS, who need to clear it with Customs. My first shipment is small, with a value of roughly $1000.
    The shipment of colored pencils attract anti-dumping duties of 115%.
    UPS will not be the Importer of Records(IOR).
    For me to become the IOR (with continuous bond) will cost and extra $525.
    It sounds as though a Customs Broker could be the solution. Is this correct? Would they be willing to do so for less than $200?
    If a customs broker could be the in-between, I will appreciate your help in finding one, or a webpage with broker contact details.


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Gerhard,

      Yes colored pencils have anti-dumping rates :(
      You can either buy a single bond (~150$ up) or you can ask a customs broker to use their bond (you’ll have to pay their fee).
      Afraid I can’t help with customs broker as I don’t know other circumstances of your case.

  13. Sabreena
    Sabreena says:

    Hi Manuel,

    Great article! I also purchased your course on udemy and it’s been very, very helpful in my interaction with suppliers on Ali Baba. I can’t say enough great things about it.

    I had a few questions about “express” shipping and customs, given that I’m just a recent graduate, I don’t have a lot of capital to import items into the US, and some of your articles seem to be geared towards people with a high capital to spare for their first orders.

    1) Is there a certain threshold below which you pay no import duties for importing items into the US?

    2) When a seller says that they’ll make a shipment through their express account, does that mean that they will be paying all “freight forwarding costs” (which I assume means the cost of picking the items up from the factory and mailing them to my door)? I’m imagining a DHL-like arrangement where they handle the shipping and the only paperwork you do is the one DHL asks you to do..

    3) I live in the US and I’m looking into importing goods and re-selling small-time. I’m starting with a cellphone accessory, and my first shipment will be very small (30 pieces). Shipping cost “by Express” is $9.7/piece. Is this typical of express shipments in your experience?

    4) Since my order is so small, I’m wondering if there’s a point to engaging a freight forwarder, customs broker, etc. At what shipment size do you think it’s necessary to engage such third parties, and at which size do you think it’s just advisable?

    Thank you so much for sharing your valuable lessons with us. I hope to hear back from you soon.



  14. al
    al says:

    Hi Manuel,

    I’ve often experience delay with Air Express custom clearance in the US and I incur DHL storage fee.
    As a foreign seller I use my supplier’s courier account like DHL and UPS, do I still need to provide them my EIN and my foreign address in Australia as Importer of Record? And what other important points do you have to ensure smooth clearance.


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hey Al,

      Yes, its quite common that you get storage fees, especially over the holidays as the warehouses are full and couriers like DHL also cant get immediate appointments for delivery. No, you don’t need your EIN but your Australian address/company as IOR. Other than that nothing else to do, a bit of a waiting game once in a while :(

  15. Biba
    Biba says:

    Hi Manuel, I read somewhere that the cost of the inspection of the shipment done by the customs employees are paid by the importer, can you conform is this is true and what are the cost of that inspection?


    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Biba,
      This is paid by the importer yes and your forwarder will advise you if there are any inspections and costs. But they vary greatly, can’t really tell you what these costs are. Sometimes 50$ sometimes 5000$, depends on your product and situation…

  16. Joe
    Joe says:

    Hello Manuel,
    Awesome post and great stuff here. It has been really useful.
    I hope you can help me in my situation because I couldn’t find an explicit answer for this anywhere yet.
    I live in Europe and I am just about to place my first order from China to Amazon US to be delivered by courier (DHL, TNT etc.) but the Incoterms are driving me nuts!! Amazon FBA states that they only accept DDP for incoming shipments, but there no supplier I contacted so far who wants to work with DDP. They only do CIF (which based on my knowledge only works with ocean freight) or duties not paid (supplier calls it door-to-door service). The supplier could not give a proper answer about how duties and taxes are managed for their shipments. I contacted DHL and TNT about it but they also could not provide a clear explanation. My main concern is that if the supplier does not use DDP, the duties will be charged to Amazon upon receiving the shipment. And of course Amazon would reject this shipment. Do you have any knowledge or experience how this works? I would really appreciate your support.
    Kind Regards,

    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Joe,
      What you need is a freight forwarder who will offer you DDP.
      If your supplier cant do that you need to work with a freight forwarder (FF) separately (which I recommend anyway).
      Just reach out to a FF give them the details of your product, pick up, delivery address, volume, weight and they should be able to help.
      All the best,

  17. Milan
    Milan says:

    Hi Manuel, thanks a lot for writing such a detailed text about everything you helped me a lot. I have one question that is kinda repeating, but still different than all others.
    I’m a foreign seller and my first shipment should arrive in FBA next week and I just find out about EIN (employer identification number). Should I try to get it before my shipment arrives, what have some of you done about it?
    Have in mind that value of the shipment is under 900$, the cargo is extremely simple (plastic, no moving parts etc…) and it’s shipped by FedEx express. Also, I am using prep center located in USA.
    Also, should I be importer of records or that is prep center or Chinese supplier?
    Thank you for your answer in advance.

    • Manuel
      Manuel says:

      Hi Milan,

      If you sent by FedEx and at such a low amount you don’t need an EIN, the courier will stand in with his EIN for you.
      However either you or the Prep Center needs to be the IOR NOT Amazon.
      ALl the best,

      • Milan
        Milan says:

        Thanks a lot for this reply, you saved my day.
        One more question would be, do we need to have a consignee?
        We are using prep center, but they dont want to be our consignee.
        Thanks for your answer in advance.


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