Learn How to Send Personal Effects Shipment to India and China

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Amongst the many commodities transported within the DHL Express network, "personal shipments" are one of the most regular occurrences - and for good reason. DHL Express allows for the fastest, all-in, door-to-door service internationally. 

More often than not, sending personal items, personal goods, or gifts can incur unnecessary duties, taxes, and even delays. While our certified international experts work round the clock to try and offer the smoothest international transit, you can also take a few pre-emptive steps to allow your shipment to be transported without worry.

Your first basic move should be to get a better understanding of the term ‘personal effects’. These are some of the most commonly shipped items and mainly things that are used for personal use, like clothes or books, etc. So, if you want to ensure all your personal belongings reach India and China in the safest and easiest way possible, it’s good to learn about their customs requirements as well.

What are Personal Effects?

Personal effects are typically items pertaining to personal property usually worn or carried by individuals, and other items that have an intimate relation to the individual. This could be personal documents, items of personal use in the office or at home, and so on.

Things to know about Personal Effects

  • Personal effects or personal items are shipments that typically contain used items, gifts, or shipments ready for re-location or moving to another country.
  • Sending personal effects in excessive quantities, or what is deemed as excessive by destination customs, is not allowed as these cannot be used for resale or business purposes. For example, sending a few cartons of local snacks is not recommended, as it may alert the customs officers unnecessarily.

    TIP: It is highly recommended to ship personal effects in reasonable quantities only.

  • Always make sure to clearly list out all the contents within the package on the Air Waybill as well as the shipping invoice, along with the value of each item. The term ‘gift’ or ‘personal effects’ can then be added in the description to allow DHL and customs authorities to clearly identify the intention and purpose of the shipment.
  • Providing a clear breakdown of the contents within the shipment will allow the Customs authorities to know whether any prohibited or restricted items are contained within the package or not. For example, if a customer is shipping a used or personal laptop to Malaysia, it will be classified as a personal effect shipment and will also be subject to 5% - 10% SST.

Now that you have a better understanding about personal effects, it is crucial that you know its shipping process from Singapore to India and China. The reason is to simply prevent your shipments from being unnecessarily delayed.

General information for shipping personal effects to India

  • As long as the shipment is a parcel, the consignee must provide a Know Your Customer (KYC) and Power of Attorney (POA) along with information that matches the details on the shipment’s AWB and invoice. The consignee can submit their documents at: www.dhlindia-kyc.com.
  • All shipments must be assumed as dutiable, which is subject to the Indian Custom’s discretion.
  • Used or refurbished goods are restricted.

The table below shows the guidelines for some of the common personal effects items shipped to India. Note that it is applicable for walk-in customers or personal shippers.

Commodity India Customs requirement
  • Maximum quantity of five pieces per shipment.
  • Should not contain incorrect political boundaries of India.
  • If labelled under “used and/or personal”, duties are exempted.
Drugs (Medicine)
  • Form 12B is required from the consignee.
  • May require additional licensing.
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) is required.
Clothes, shoes and cosmetics
  • If labelled as “used and/or personal”, the shipper’s and consignee’s name should be the same and must be present at the airport with a passport to facilitate clearance.
  • This might take an additional three working days.
  • Duties are exempted.
  • Expect additional delays of 2-6 days.
  • NOC from the consignee is required from the FSSAI (Food Department) and can only be processed at Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai gateways.
  • Foodstuffs might require testing and could take an additional 10-15 days.
  • If they’re not approved, shipment will not be cleared or returned to the shipper.
Mobile phones and electronics
  • The consignee must provide the necessary paperwork for duty exemption.
  • Refurbished mobile parts are not permitted for import into India.
  • Specify the brand name, model number, and IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity) on the shipping invoice for mobile phones, accessories, or components.
  • Failure to comply will result in the shipment being destroyed with no option for RTO.

For more information, please read our published guide on the complete shipping process from Singapore to India.  Plus, if you are interested to know how to ship oxygen cylinders to India, check out our article on shipping oxygen concentrators from Singapore to India.

General information for shipping personal effects to China

  • Invoices to China must be type-written or printed with no manual amendments; however, when it comes to sending personal effects, manual invoices are accepted.
  • The receiver is not required to produce a Customs Registration Number (CR) when importing personal effects.

The below table shows the guidelines for some of the common personal effects items shipped to China. Also, note that it is applicable for walk-in customers or personal shippers.

Commodity China Customs requirement
  • Registration with China Customs is not required for personal purposes when shipped in reasonable quantities.
Drugs (Medicine)
  • Import license is required from the State Food & Drug Administration.
  • Medical prescription from the consignee is needed for importing drugs for personal use.
  • Meat, seafood, liquid milk, and yolk products are not acceptable.
  • Powdered milk up to five cans, weighing approximately 5kgs is accepted for personal use only.
  • The receiver of personal effects must be an individual’s name instead of a company.
  • Gifts require a consignee's ID, a list of items in detail, and a performa invoice. The quantity should be sent in acceptable amounts apt for personal use and not for resale.
  • Animal-derived milk and dairy products, including raw milk, fresh milk, yogurt, animal-derived cream, butter, cheese, and other dairy products are prohibited to be sent to individuals in China (B2C or C2C).
  • The value threshold for personal effects is CNY 1,000 (USD 145) for shipments from the rest of the world.
Mobile phones
  • China’s Compulsory Certificate may be required, but it depends on detailed information of the commodity.
  • An import license from the Ministry of Commerce may also be required and thus, depends on detailed information of the commodity.
Electronics with lithium battery
  • Only Lithium Battery of Section II (except PI968) can be transported inbound to / outbound, based on the Global Capability List.
  • Identification and Classification Report / Certification for Air Transport of Goods is also required for exporting all kinds of Lithium Battery shipments, including which is not a required lithium battery mark.
  • For more specific requirements and information (including limitations at specific locations; PI965 section II; Button cells in equipment; Lithium Battery Section II PI967 / PI970 –no more than 4 cells or 2 batteries and no more than two packages per consignment; CN Contact list, etc.), do reach out to our customers service agents.

If you wish to know the complete shipping process from Singapore to China, then read our published guide for more details and tips.

At DHL Express, we care about customer satisfaction by delivering goods on time and in perfect condition. Besides, improper handling of shipments could pose a huge risk to our network services or worse, customers bearing additional duties or their shipments being confiscated or abandoned. So, no matter what, remember to zoom into the commodities and thoroughly check the customs requirement individually, instead of combining them generically.

To know more about our import and export services, feel free to reach out to us.