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Is Aliexpress Safe for US and European Importers?

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Contrary to what many importers believe, fraud is not the big issue facing American and European businesses buying from Aliexpress.com. The biggest risk lies in the lack of products that are compliant with American and European product standards. In other words, if you don’t do your homework you might end up importing products that are illegal to sell in your country or market.

Based in the United States, European Union or Australia? Read this!

Most consumer products are regulated by one or more product standard, such as CE, RoHS and CPSIA. Certain substances, such as Phthalates, Formadelahyde, Lead and Cadmium, are also regulated. The importer is always responsible to ensure that the items are compliant with the applicable safety standards, and that they don’t contain certain substances. These regulations are in place in all Western countries, and enforcement is on the rise.

So, how is this related to Aliexpress.com? The issue is that the great majority of products on Aliexpress are not compliant with American, European, Canadian and Australian product safety standards. Below I list a few reasons that explain why:

  • Many Aliexpress suppliers are geared towards Russia, Latin America, Africa and Asia, rather than western countries. These suppliers have no incentive to ensure compliance with US and EU standards
  • Many Aliexpress traders sell products that where primarily manufactured for the domestic Chinese market. Such products are not compliant with foreign standards

There are many cases out there of unsafe electronics (e.g. exploding phone chargers) and cosmetics. Importing non-compliant items is illegal, and may result in a forced recall. Or worse, if anyone is injured, you may also be sued for millions in damages. First of all, you need to confirm which standard apply to your product, and then verify that your supplier is compliant.

How you can order safely from Aliexpress.com

Certification requirements are not simple guidelines, they are the law and breaking against them can result in having the products confiscated by the customs or even a lawsuit. Remember that you, the importer, is always held responsible.

Option 1: Source certified products

While few and far in between, certified products can be found on Aliexpress and it’s a rather simple and straightforward process:

      1. Type in the certificate and product name (i.e. “CE Wind Power Generator”).
      2. Select products and contact the suppliers.
      3. Request the supplier to send a digital copy of a product certificate or test report.
      4. Contact the testing company and ask them to verify the validity of the product certificate or test report.
      5. Check that the product name on the product certificate or test report is matching the product name (article ID / SKU) on the Aliexpress site.

Some suppliers simply label their products as certified even though they aren’t, others use fake certificates to attract new buyers. Thus it’s critical to not stop at step 2, in the above process, but also to verify that the certificate is authentic and valid for the specific product you wish to buy from Aliexpress. Follow this process If you are importing a product that may fall into any of the following categories:

  • CE: Electronics, Bikes, other
  • EN71: Toys
  • REACH: Plastics, Cosmetics, Chemicals
  • RoHS: Electronics, Watches, Metallic products, other

Option 2: Avoid regulated products

Far from all products are regulated and by importing products that are not, Aliexpress becomes a much safer option for product sourcing. Below I list a number of products that are not required to be certified according to any American and/or European standard:

  • Textiles
  • Accessories
  • Bags
  • Shoes
  • Jewellery
  • Watches (certain types are regulated)

How to avoid scammers on Aliexpress

Unfortunately there are bad suppliers on Aliexpress, just like anywhere else. The good news is that you can avoid them by following these steps:

  • Review the buyer feedback, including the negative feedback to get an idea of why certain buyers has been disappointed with a certain supplier
  • Avoid suppliers without any order history
  • Avoid suppliers with only a few products in their Aliexpress store
  • If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. You can expect to get what you pay for

How to avoid getting the wrong or damaged items

Even a good supplier makes mistakes, but either way you are left with useless items and are forced to take the loss. The most common issues when buying from Aliexpress are the following:

  • Receiving damaged cargo
  • Receiving incorrect items
  • Follow these steps if you want to avoid these issues
  • Be loyal to reliable suppliers and don’t switch suppliers on a frequent basis
  • Request your supplier to use high quality export packaging that can absorb vibrations and pressure during the transportation

Disclaimer

This article is provided only for informational purposes only and neither the author nor any companies and/or service providers mentioned in this text makes any representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. This article only represents the views of the author and is not endorsed by any company and/or service provider mentioned in this text.