One of the disadvantages of buying items on Amazon from Cameroon, is the high custom duties which are often levied on Amazon items (packages) shipped to Cameroon.
For those of you who don’t know, custom duty is a compulsory tax levied on all goods imported in to Cameroon.
Imported goods are often held by the custom officials at the point of entry and only released to the DHL officials for delivery to the final destination after the importer has paid the custom duty levied on the imported items.
So before buying any product from any international online shop like Amazon, Ebay, Fashionova etc…you must bear in mind that you will be expected to pay custom duty when the purchased items arrives Cameroon…before you can collect or pick up the items hence if you intend to import any item (buy from Amazon from Cameroon), first you need to calculate the cost of shipping and estimated custom duty for the item.
After summing up the delivery cost, estimated custom duty and price of the item, if the total amount doesn’t exceed your budget, then you can proceed to purchase the desired item on Amazon or any international online shop of your choice.
Its extremely important that you calculate the custom duty of the item you intend to buy on Amazon from Cameroon in advance, in order to get an estimated custom duty or else you may be shocked by the custom duty that would be levied on your package when it arrives Cameroon (and just like other Amazon shoppers in Cameroon you may end up abandoning the imported item simply because you can’t pay the custom duty levied on the imported item).
Sometimes the custom duty and other fees (taxes) you will be expected to pay before collecting your Amazon purchase from DHL Cameroon, will be more than half the amount of money you paid for the item on Amazon.
The cost of shipping an Amazon purchase from USA to Cameroon plus custom clearance fee combined with the cost (value) of the Amazon item itself, makes shopping on Amazon from Cameroon extremely expensive as compared to shopping on the Cameroon online shops or the local shops.
Apart from the credit card barrier, custom duty is another huge barrier of buying on Amazon from Cameroon and this explains why many Cameroonians don’t buy on Amazon from Cameroon even though items are extremely cheap on Amazon.
For example a brand new laptop cost less than 150,000 Frs on US Amazon… but if you add the cost of shipping from Amazon USA to Cameroon and Custom Clearance fee, your total expenditure might exceed 250,000frs.
Somebody may say, instead of spending 250,OOO frs CFA to buy a laptop on Amazon from Cameroon, it would be wise to get a brand new laptop for 180,OOOfrs from the tech shops in my city.
However the good news is, it’s possible to negotiate and pay very low custom duty for your package and greatly reduce the custom clearance time.
When it comes to custom duties, the custom officials (in charge of the assessment of imported items) have the yam and the knife i.e. they can make you pay very high custom duty and extremely low custom duty.
Negotiating with the custom officials to pay less custom duty is the best option for most importers or Cameroonians who regularly shop on Amazon from Cameroon especially people who intend to buy items on Amazon and sell in Cameroon.
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In this article, i’m going to tell you what you need to do in order to reduce your custom duties and taxes levied on your Amazon items shipped to Cameroon, so that you can shop on Amazon without breaking a bank.
How does Amazon delivery to Cameroon works and Why High Custom clearance fees are often charged on Amazon purchase.
Most Cameroonians who often buy on Amazon from Cameroon, often use the service of the US freight forwarders to get their Amazon purchase shipped to Cameroon from USA via DHL Express.
With DHL express, it takes just 4 business days for an Amazon item to arrive at the DHL warehouse in Douala, Cameroon.
DHL often provide tracking numbers which you can use to monitor your package till it arrives Cameroon.
After your Amazon item has been shipped to Cameroon by a US freight forwarder via DHL express, you will be expected to pay custom duties and taxes levied on the item before the custom authorities can release your package. This legal procedure is called custom clearance.
There are two options which you can use to get custom clearance for your Amazon purchase in Cameroon which includes;
*** Custom clearance via DHL Cameroon (the expensive option)
*** Custom clearance via any broker of your choice (Cheap option)
How Custom Clearance via DHL Cameroon works
Once an item has arrived Cameroon, DHL Cameroon will put together all the custom documents (paper works) which you need to sign and also pay the required custom duties and taxes levied on your items on your behalf… and you will be expected to reimburse the custom clearance fee paid by DHL plus a small administration fee (for your custom paper works), before your item can be shipped to the closest DHL Office in your town for pick up.
As soon as your item arrives at the DHL warehouse in Douala, DHL Cameroon will immediately send you an SMS to inform you that your package(s) has arrived at their warehouse and you will also be told that you need to come to the DHL warehouse in Douala to fulfil custom formalities before your package can be delivered to the closest DHL office in your town for pick up.
When you go to the DHL Cameroon warehouse in Douala, you will be given a custom paper works already prepared by DHL and asked to reimburse the custom duties and taxes which DHL Cameroon paid to the custom authorities (on your behalf) as the custom clearance fee for your item. You will also be expected to pay a small Administration fee for the custom documentation put together by DHL.
The custom clearance reimbursement fee plus the administration fee charged by DHL for your Amazon purchase is often high and non negotiable. Due to the high custom clearance fee, many Cameroonians are forced to abandon their items at the DHL warehouse, which will end up getting auctioned.
Let’s take for example that you bought a laptop on Amazon from Cameroon for 150,000 and paid 25000 frs for shipping.
After the item arrives at the DHL warehouse in Douala, you are told that to collect the item from DHL Cameroon, you need to pay the sum of 80,000 frs as custom clearance fee. What will you do in this situation??? Abandon the item right???
This brings us to the cheap custom clearance options for Amazon purchase.
Custom Clearance via a Designated Custom broker in Cameroon
The cheapest means to get custom clearance for your Amazon purchase in Cameroon is by using a customs broker.
A customs broker is a person or firm whose job is to assist businesses/individuals in clearing imported or exported goods through customs.
A customs broker also known as the clearing agent, is responsible for fulfilling import obligations on your behalf.
At your request, DHL Cameroon can release a package to a designated customs broker of choice for clearance.
Most Cameroonians who often shop on Amazon from Cameroon, use a customs broker to fulfill customs clearance formalities.
If you opt for this option, DHL Cameroon will transfer the clearance responsibility for a shipment and related customs documentation to your nominated broker for clearance and last mile delivery.
Most custom officials in Cameroon also serve as customs broker for shipments.
Since the custom officials determine the amount of custom duty and taxes you need to pay for an item, you can easily negotiate the cost of custom duty and taxes with them. Unlike the DHL clearance option which is non negotiable.
For example a customs broker (who doubles as a custom official) may tell you that you need to pay the sum of 50,000 frs as clearance fee for your Amazon purchase. If you think that amount is too high, you can beg the customs broker to reduce the amount. He may accept and reduce the amount since they are the ones who do the assessment of imported items or set the custom duties and taxes OR are responsible for holding and releasing packages.
If you are in need of a customs broker to take care of the clearance of your imported item, contact me via WhatsApp and i will connect you to a custom official who will clear your package for a very little fee.
Bear in mind that, if you don’t fulfil customs formalities 3 days after your package has arrived at the DHL warehouse in Douala, you will start paying storage charges for your package; which cost 100frs per day.
As of 1 January 2018, interest for late payment at the rate of 1.5% per month (capped at 50%) has been instituted for persons who have failed to pay taxes and customs duties 30 days after the computation of the detailed declaration.
It is also note worthy that, if you don’t collect your package after a certain period of time, it will be auctioned by the custom authorities.
So make hay while the sun shines.
How custom duty for Amazon package are calculated by the Cameroon custom officials
Custom duties are usually calculated as a percentage of the declared value of an Amazon purchase.
Customs duties which range from 5% to 50% are often levied, depending on the nature of the goods imported.
For example if the customs tariff levied on electronic products is 5%. Then the custom clearance fee which you will be expected to pay for an imported laptop which cost 100000 frs will be 5000frs.
If the custom tariff is 50%, you will be expected to pay 50,000frs as custom clearance fee.
All goods imported in to Cameroon have been classified and an HTS (HS) codes assigned to each imported product.
To know the amount you will be expected to pay as clearance fee when your item arrives Cameroon, you just need to check the customs tariff of the item you wish to import.
You can easily find the customs tariff of an item by using the HTS (HS) code which has been assigned to it. Simply Google the TS (HS) code and you will know the customs tariff. You can then use it to calculate your custom clearance fee in advance to ensure that you don’t import an item which you won’t be able to pay its custom clearance fee or to avoid being cheated by a customs broker.
Frequently asked questions about Custom duty in Cameroon
What is custom duty???
Custom Duty and import VAT are taxes levied on goods imported from another country in to Cameroon. When imported items arrives Cameroon, they are often held by custom authorities and only released after the importer has paid the custom duty and other taxes levied on the imported item.
How does this work???
When the DHL cargo planes arrives Cameroon, the vessel is offloaded and the shipments are taken to the Custom officials for assessment and custom duty is subsequently levied on the shipments based on their HS codes tariff and value.
When the importers pays the custom duties levied on their packages, their shipments are then released to the DHL officials who will then proceed to ship the packages to their final destination.
Ok we have come to the end of this article, if there’s anything you haven’t understood, please feel free to ask question using the comment box below or contact me via WhatsApp for a one on one discussion.