Member Discussion

Importing Cameras From China To The US - What Fees / Tariffs?

Don't you have to deal with U.S. Customs when purchasing equipment direct from China? How does that work?

The reason I ask is that we are interested in obtaining Evetar lenses (Xiamen Leading Optics Co.) but they apparently don't sell in the U.S., despite having an office in Claremont, CA. Yes, I know both Axis and Arecont sell Evetar lenses but for the one we are particularly interested in (M125VM3312IRR7, which equals Arecont's MPL33-12A) we would pay around $120 each versus Evetar's quoted price of $34.80 each FOB Xiamen, China. We're just not set up to import.

Can anyone walk me through the intricacies of buying products from a company in mainland China? Customs, freight methods/charges? Etc.

NOTICE: This comment was moved from an existing discussion: Buying Hikvision Chinese Versions Vs USA Ones

When we've bought equipment from China recently, costs have varied. I can only give you these two anecdotal examples.

For the HDCVI gear, shipping was $270 (DHL). On top of that, there was an additional fee, paid to DHL, for duties, which was about $20 if I remember correctly.

On the flip side, we just bought three cameras (about $50 each) from Alibaba and shipping was about $40 with an additional $20 for customs clearance. I expect you'd see something similar to that for lenses.

Thanks, Ethan. How does one pay the company and U.S. Customs?

In our case, DHL paid customs and billed us afterwards for two of the shipments we got (one was from China, the other the Netherlands). I haven't seen a bill for any other charges from them for other shipments, but the ones I did receive took a few weeks.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons I like dealing with DHL for overseas shipments. At least in my case, it's seemed much easier.

I don't know the general answer, but a few years ago we bought 6 lenses directly from Evetar in China. Maybe that was ok because it was a limited volume but there was no problem.

Did Evetar China say they won't sell to you directly or?


I'm not sure. I talked to them at ISC West and asked the question specifically there but although the girl said she would get back to me, she never did. Then I filled out a contact form asking the same question on their English website and eventually received the response I paraphrased above. When I replied asking if there was any way to purchase them from Evetar U.S., they never responded.

I'll privately forward you contact information to a specific Evetar employee. She seems to be pretty aggressive.

This guide 'Internet Purchases' from the US Customs & Border Patrol is helpful.

The process varies based on whether the purchase is for 'personal' or 'commercial' use, how you chose to have the product delivered, and the total value of the purchase.

Damned complicated. Probably not worth the effort just to save a few bucks...

Then there's always this: "Note: U.S. Customs and Border Protection is authorized to make judgment calls about what qualifies as personal use."

How much you pay, or how long it may take to get to you, can depend on how someone else deems it.

How much you pay, or how long it may take to get to you...

Damned complicated. Probably not worth the effort just to save a few bucks...

True, to the, ahem, end-user/importer it might seem daunting. That why anyone who needs to do it regularly, needs to hire a wheel-greaser, customs broker/expeditor...

I ran the numbers on, which had an entry for CCTV cameras.

It's claiming the duty for CCTV cameras from China to the US is 2.1%

Certainly, many IPVM members have direct extensive experience with this. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Yeah, around 2% in my case.

I imported IP cameras from Shenzhen, China quite few times. Always use the same shipping forward agent who can get stuff to my door in less than a week. It's a hit or miss in terms of getting the custom bills from DHL or others. But the last shipment I got worths around $1600 goods and was acompanied by a $28 custom bill.

If you want to regularily import product from overseas, you would be best to get a customs broker and let them help you and train you to make the process less painless. Just an aside - I have a good friend who is also our customs broker and the stories he tells me would surprise you. From their perspective they sit on information of knowing how much markup is going into a lot of the imported products sold in your market place. People don't realize just how much data is mined by US Customs in determining and assessing who is fraudulently making claims.