This is how buying on AliExpress with the new VAT rule has changed (and why can’t you now trust the price that appears on the web)

Buying in AliExpress, or in any other online store that operates outside the European Union, can henceforth be a little more expensive. As we explained yesterday, today the “VAT package” has come into force with which the Tax Agency records purchases made in these online establishments that until a few hours ago were exempt from both VAT and tariffs.

Until now, any purchase of less than 22 euros that we made in these stores did not require paying VAT. If the amount exceeded that amount, but was less than 150 euros, 21% VAT was applied. And purchases of 150 euros or more required applying both VAT and tariffs. In these circumstances, small purchases that were exempt from both VAT and tariffs allowed us get real bargains, but the party has just ended.

AliExpress has not homogenized the way it exposes VAT on the items it sells, so the price that appears next to the products does not always reflect the cost that we will end up paying.

On AliExpress, and also in other stores, we can continue to find interesting products at very good prices, but from today it competes with stores that operate within the European Union in equal conditions. At least if we stick to the taxes associated with your sales operations.

The problem is that this popular Chinese store still has not homogenized the way it exposes VAT in the items it sells (and we do not know if it will do so in the future), so the price that initially appears next to the products does not always reflect the cost that buyers will end up paying. In this article we explain what you should take into account so as not to get an unpleasant surprise at the end of the purchase process.


Outside of the ‘Plaza’ section, AliExpress adds VAT in the purchase summary

The catalog of this store is huge. Even huge. It is not feasible to carry out a sample that allows us to investigate in all the sections and in a really significant amount of products, but after doing a number of respectable purchase simulations of articles of various types, in several sections and selecting several shipping methods , we have identified how AliExpress is treating VAT at the moment.

How the Chinese store that sells dog glasses for 0.70 euros on Aliexpress makes money and sends them free to Spain

In those purchases that users carry out outside the ‘Plaza’ section, the price that initially appears next to the products VAT is not applied. It does not matter if the shipment is carried out from Spain, from a country of the European Union, or from China; VAT has not been added. But we will pay for it, of course. What happens is that AliExpress tells us how much we will pay for VAT in the purchase summary, right at the end of the process. And we are interested in taking it into account.

The headphones that you can see in the following screenshot illustrate very well what we are telling you, but any other product would help us to check how AliExpress manages VAT. They have a starting price of 10.15 euros if we select free shipping from China, and, as you can see, up to here there is no sign of VAT:

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If we add them to our shopping cart and enter our address, the payment method we want to use and process the order, AliExpress will show us the summary of the purchase. And in it we will verify that, as we could foresee, this store will charge us 2.13 additional euros linked to VAT.

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We suggest you do a slightly different test. Now we are going to simulate the purchase of those same headphones from outside the ‘Plaza’ section, but this time we will select shipping from Spain. The first thing we will check is that its price increases to 15.77 euros. In addition, AliExpress anticipates that we will have to pay 7.08 euros for shipping costs, but of VAT at the moment there is no trace.

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And once again, as we can expect, when processing the order and just before formalizing it and executing the payment, this store tells us in the summary of the purchase that in addition to the shipping costs that it notified us from the beginning we will have to pay 4.79 euros of VAT. The total amount of the headphones this time amounts to 27.65 euros.

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Within the ‘Plaza’ section the products already have VAT added from the beginning

We suggest you repeat our little experiment, but this time simulating the purchase of headphones similar to the ones we have chosen in the previous operation that are available in the ‘Plaza’ section. Its price, as you can see, is 12.90 euros, and AliExpress tells us from the beginning that we will have to pay 3.51 euros for shipping costs. For the moment of VAT there is no trace.

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If we process the order and look at the detail of the purchase summary, we will see that we will have to pay the 12.90 euros for the headphones and the 3.51 euros for the shipping. VAT still does not appear nowhere, but you have to be present to comply with the tax obligation contracted with the Tax Agency, so we can assume that AliExpress has added it to the initial price of the product.

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As we have just seen, there is no mystery. The purchase simulations that we have done reflect that AliExpress has integrated VAT into the initial price of the products that it has for sale in the ‘Plaza’ section (which are sent from Spain), but in those that do not belong to this section add VAT at the end, when we are about to finalize the order and we have the summary of the purchase in front of us.

In this last scenario, it does not matter from where the shipment is made. This is all. It is simple, but it is good for users to know the “double standards” that this popular Chinese store uses at the moment so as not to have doubts about the amount we are going to pay for the products we buy from it.

Cover Image | Markus Winkler

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