How to clear customs ordering from Amazon.com in China

As mentioned back in November, Amazon.com is now offering expanded speedy shipping from select international Amazon locations to China — including the US. One area that can prove to be a bit complicated is assuring the package clears customs. What follows is a detailed guide to walk you through the process.

Photo by Mike Seyfang, modifications by Lost Laowai

Ok let’s begin

Step 1

You should have received an email immediately after confirming your Amazon order from a company called ECMS Global — the company that handles the middle part (including customs clearing) of your package’s shipping. It should look a lot like this, and it will ask you to follow a link to upload your information for customs clearance purposes.

amazon-ship-china-02

If you haven’t received this email, check your Junk mail folder. Once you mark it as safe, it will be easy to see next time you need to use the system.

Why is this information needed? Good question.

Basically ECMS Global does a ‘pre-customs send off for information’ before it leaves the US, that way if there is something wrong with the things you’ve ordered it doesn’t get held up in customs, and can be sent back to the supplier with you getting a full refund, and (again theoretically*) not wasting any time.

[* Theoretically because if you don’t upload the info required the whole process stops, if you don’t know that you’re supposed to upload the info, then you never get your package.]

A few of you may be asking, “But I’ve ordered from amazon.com before and they didn’t need any of this crap, why now?” Well, because ECMS seems to use the ‘Individual’ customs declaration as it cuts down on costs, and theoretically cuts down on time, Chinese customs requires you to provide this information. After that they simply transfer it electronically to Chinese customs.

If you do not provide your information as required by customs, it simply cannot be cleared and you will not receive your package.

Before this stage your tracking details will probably look a little like this:

amazon-ship-china-03

Step 2

If you cannot find the email visit: https://www.ecmsglobal.com/oms/order_consignee. You will be taken to a page that looks like this:

amazon-ship-china-04

Once you enter this basic information, you will be taken to a page that looks like this:

amazon-ship-china-05

Step 3

Click on the flag to change the language to English. This will allow you to upload your passport number as well, instead of the Chinese ID card.

You are now taken to this page:

amazon-ship-china-06 amazon-ship-china-07

Enter your passport #, needed for customs. Note: You do not need to upload a copy of your passport, only the number. So for those of you worried about identity theft or security, you needed be concerned.

Step 4

For the state and city, it seems ECMS uses a fairly standard Chinese location selection widget:

amazon-ship-china-08

Unfortunately it is all in Chinese, so on this one you might just have to ask the help of a Chinese friend to choose the right one.

Alternatively if you know your province, city, and suburb in Romanized Chinese (pinyin) you could type this into baidu.com and wait for the suggestions to pop up, and then choose this from the menu. For example:

amazon-ship-china-09

In failing all that, you could contact ECMS directly and I’m sure someone there could input the information for you. However try it for yourself, as it’s not hard and as other Chinese websites run similar information input systems in the end it will be good practice for future.

Step 5

Once you click “I accept the terms & conditions…” the following page will come up:

amazon-ship-china-10

You should then receive an update to your tracking:

amazon-ship-china-11 amazon-ship-china-12
Remember, if you do not provide your information as required by customs, it cannot be cleared and you will not receive your package.

Step 6

After you have submitted your information, according to a contact at ECMS, the general process for your package is as follows:

“Basically from now until it actually arrives at your door it takes between 5-10 business days. 4-5 days transit from America, 1-2 day for customs, and then the final delivery carrier (Amazon China) has to deliver it to your door.”

You can track your package at http://ecmsglobal.com/en/index.html# and entering your Tracking ID.

If you receive this message (also see image below) from your tracking information — ‘易客满天津库 / TSN Tendered to local postal carrier for final delivery’ — but it has still not arrived; you need to call this number 400-910-5668 (Amazon China) for information on the final delivery.

amazon-ship-china-13

Note: ECMS is only responsible for the middle part of the transport. Their American warehouse (Los Angeles or Chicago) transport to China and then they hand off the package to the final destination carrier which is Amazon (China). Thus, if you immediately upload your information into their system, you will receive a tracking image that looks like this:

amazon-ship-china-14

You may not receive an update for 1-3 days, as your package is in the hands of Amazon (US) and is still on its way to one of ECMS’ warehouses. During this time it seems they do not have the ability to track it. Although, you can contact Amazon if you want to cancel or return the package at this point.

Also once it has been handed across to Amazon (China) after it has cleared customs and left one of ECMS’ China warehouses, they also do not have the ability to track it. Therefore you will have to call Amazon China — 400-910-5668 — if you are concerned about your package. Of course the entire process can be tracked via your Amazon.com account.

Step 7

If you are purchasing the item yourself, but it is being immediately delivered to someone else (e.g. buying on behalf of someone, or as a gift), adjust the supplied information as follows:

  • I.D. Information = Buyer (email corresponding to Amazon account)
  • Address & Phone number = Receiver of package. (This information is passed on to Amazon China for final delivery)

Hopefully this guide is helpful. If you have any other tips or experiences about ordering from Amazon.com (or elsewhere), we look forward to hearing them in the comments.

Discussion

18
    • Profile photo of Ryan McLaughlin

      I’ve ordered from Amazon.com (US) in the past and not had problems. But I have had problems ordering from BetterWorldBooks, so I suspect it previously was hit and miss. Now that Amazon.com (and a couple other intl locations) are pushing shipping to China, I think this method is more to streamline things and help assure delivery (as opposed to the crap shoot it previously was). All a guess though, maybe the folks at ECMS can chime in if they see this.

  1. Why not just order from Amazon.cn? I find it to be easier and cheaper. I get items delivered overnight. Of course it’s all in Mandarin, but nothing a little Google translate can’t help you with. You also need to learn the symbol for your city so you can be sure it delivers to where you live.

    • Profile photo of Ryan McLaughlin

      Actually, unless its changed recently, Amazon.cn has an “English” link that changes much of the interface into English, so even easier to order from there. However, I don’t think all Amazon.com products are listed on Amazon.cn, and I also suspect you’d need to be able to setup a Chinese bank account or Chinese credit card to order from there. Some things are definitely much cheaper on the CN site, but some are several times more expensive as well. So, not at all meant to replace the CN site, just to supplement.

      • I use my Bank of America CC on Amazon.cn It does charge to the card in RMB, so I do pay a small foreign transaction fee, but it was really simple to set up payment on Amazon.cn I agree not everything on Amazon.com is available at Amazon.cn, but I have two kids, so I am basically ordering milk, snacks, and apple juice. It’s so nice to have these heavy items delivered to the house instead of lugging them through town. I have had great success with Amazon.cn

  2. So, does this mean I don’t need to provide a Chinese ID Number when adding my Chinese Address in my Amazon address book? This sounds like I leave that field blank and use the process mentioned above to enter my passport number.

    As an expat, I was always stumped as to what to put in the Chinese ID field.

  3. I just had a link for a usa purchase and a recent thing they have added is a passport check box. you are supposed to put the 10th digit of your passport number. Guess what USA passports don’t have 10 numbers. i tried a few things and finally just put a 1 there and it accepted it (i don’t have a 1 in my passport number either) other numbers failed as i tried a few and tried adding 0 to my passport number. so that is a trick to make it work.

    Also why you would use it is that even though we have lived here for 17 years there are a few things you can’t get on taobao, amazon.cn, or other sites. And sometimes amazon usa will ship them here for really cheap. that is why we use it. Try and find a Roku remote after your kid has lost it for the second time and you just order it from amazon usa.

  4. I cannot for the life of me get that page to work. It looks exactly the same in both Chinese and English, both times asking for a Chinese ID number. I tried just putting my passport number, but it pops up and says “Please input correct Chinese ID!” Help!

    • the chinese gov, made it so that only chinese can use the e-commerce channel (the one that most amazon packages go through) so, i would advise you ask to put it thorugh a chinese colleagues’ one , or friend.

  5. I am on the page shown on step 2, but the English page has a spot for ID Type. It only gives the option to put a Chinese ID, but I’m an American Expat! How can I get around the Chinese ID requirement? If I click the Chinese or the English flag, this requirement is still there.

  6. Question, the English version of the site still doesn’t let me put in a foreign passport number. Any suggestions as to how to fix this?

  7. I had a similar issue (no passport option available) and this was the helpful response I have received so far:

    “Dear customer,
    Thank you for contacting ECMS.
    China customs only accepts the People’s Republic of China resident ID.
    So please upload a Chinese resident ID.
    It is unaccepted to use your passport or other documents to clear your item.
    Sorry for the inconvenience may cause you and thank you for your patience.”

    Will follow up if any positive progress, but so far I am not overly optimistic.

    • Any company that officially deals with customs and the chinese company is not legally allowed to give informaiton that would be considered illegal….or at least not proper.

      However what you SHOULD actually do is use a chinese friend’s ID, or a colleagues. Thats what is expected to do in this situation

  8. Please update: It is now no longer possible to do this with a U.S. passport. ECMS Global Shipping now requires upload of Chinese I.D.’s only

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