Cellphones and tablets from China – European duty rates

We often receive inquiries from EU entrepreneurs regarding sourcing cellphones and tablets from China. The most asked question is how much duty they will pay on importing cellphones and tablets from China to the EU. Read further to get the answer.

Cellphones and tablets from China – European duty rates

First of all, some basic facts: European Union countries have one customs policy, which means that the duty rate is the same in every member state and is regulated by the EU law, not by the particular countries’ legislation. Sometimes, the EU raises duty rates in order to protect the internal market and local producers. The recent conflict over solar panels with China is an example of this policy.

Where to check the EU duty rates?

In order to verify duty-related information, you can use the TARIC database, which provides information for EU countries. The products are categorized, and every product has its code. If you search for products using the code, you may determine the duty rate and find its legal basis.

Cell phone customs code and duty rate

The customs code for cell phones is 8517120000. The EU duty rate on phones is 0%. The VAT rates vary between countries, and this should be checked in the particular country’s customs office.

Tablet phone customs code and duty rate

At first, it was not easy to assign code to tablets since it was a new product that was a hybrid. Since 2010, when the first iPad hit the market, the definition of “tablet” is more or less a one-piece mobile computer that typically has a touchscreen, a Bluetooth keyboard, or other accessories that may also be connected.

Among the TARIC goods nomenclature categories, we find the products called Portable automatic data-processing machines, weighing not more than 10 kg, consisting of at least a central processing unit, a keyboard and a display (code 8471300000). It can be laptops, but a typical tablet doesn’t (usually) have a keyboard. Practice shows that customs officers often treat tablets just the same as laptops, so 0% of duty is applied. As with the cellphones, the VAT rate differs from country to country.

Importing electronic equipment from China

We need to mention another important aspect of importing electronic equipment from China. Among the thousands of products, which every year enter the enormous Chinese market, there are many fake replicas of the real product of world-renowned companies, such as Samsung or Apple. Because of the rather liberal approach towards copyright in China, they are being sold there without major obstacles, but during the EU customs clearance, the product will most likely be confiscated.

The duty is an important factor that should be calculated carefully before sourcing from China. The duty rate may determine whether the whole undertaking will bring us profits or not. Therefore, we need to check what is the duty rate in the case of our products of interest – otherwise, we may suffer losses. Make sure to source products from a reliable Chinese supplier than can provide the necessary documents.