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EU VAT Registration for American and Asian Importers: A Complete Guide

Matthias Oldiges

Businesses in the US and Asia importing or selling products to the European Union must get their act together when it comes to Value Added Tax (VAT). Yet, understanding how to register and pay VAT, as a non-European company, is complicated.

As such, we decided to ask one of the Europes leading VAT experts, Dr. Matthias Oldiges – Managing Associate at KMLZ (Küffner, Maunz, Langer and Zugmaier) in Munich.

These topics are covered:

1. VAT when selling cross-border (B2C) to customers in the European Union as a non-EU company

2. VAT when importing into the European Union (i.e., Amazon FBA) as a non-EU company

3. VAT threshold in different EU states

4. How to get VAT registered as a non-EU company

5. How to pay VAT as a non-EU company

Matthias, how did you end up working for KMLZ?

You can know something about everything or know a lot about something. KMLZ decided on the latter and concentrated on VAT law, customs law and criminal law. I wrote my doctoral thesis on a VAT legal topic.

This ultimately led me to KMLZ, where I have now been working as a lawyer (Managing Associate) for almost six years. We advise our clients on VAT and customs law related matters within Europe, as well as worldwide.

Our strong network of experienced and leading VAT experts, in all Member States of the European Union and beyond, enables us to provide our clients with international advice at the highest levels. Continue Reading →

How to Find the Right Ecommerce Product: 5 Inspiring Concepts

Finding the right product


I’ve spent the last 8 years helping Entrepreneurs go from idea to finished product. While I’ve dealt with both good and (really) bad product concepts – I am a firm believer in a more creative product conceptualization approach.

The Entrepreneurs that succeed are not the ones who happen to find a ‘best seller product’, or by chance identify a one in a million market gap on

I’d even go as far as saying that I can’t see much of a correlation between how much money they put in, and their chance of success.

I know Entrepreneurs that made it big, investing less than US$10,000 on the whole product launch. I know others that spend ten times that amount, and didn’t even get a final prototype ready.

It’s all about coming up with something new and finding a unique niche in an increasingly crowded ecommerce space.

But, as I will explain in this article, that is a whole lot easier than you probably think.

1. Use public domain artwork and photographs

public domain artwork

Old paintings and photographs are generally open for anyone to use. This is also a huge resource that is very underutilized by Ecommerce companies.

There’s a wealth of beautiful European and Asian artwork, that can be applied to apparel, watches, accessories, phone cases and many other product categories.

Any textile, plastic or metal can be printed or engraved with classic artwork or photographs.

This is certainly where I would look for inspiration today, if I was about to launch a new product.


  • Waxed cotton watch straps
  • Classic artwork printed on textile wallets
  • Photography etchings on aluminum phone cases
  • Chinese art puzzles
  • Rembrandt card game collection

Continue Reading →

Top 10 Wholesale & Dropshipping Websites in China 2018

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Why bother with making custom designed or private label products when you can simply import off-shelf items from one of the many Chinese wholesale websites?

While importing wholesale products is not as straightforward and risk free as you might think, you should still be aware of the top China wholesale and dropshipping websites – and learn how they all differ.

Alibaba is known as the world’s largest B2B supplier directory. While a significant number of wholesalers and trading companies are listed on – it was not created as a wholesale website.

Since it was launched, and until today, is primarily a manufacturer directory.

That said, they have implemented some wholesale and payment functions.

In the future, it’s likely that will evolve into a platform that enables transactions for both off-shelf and ‘make to order’ products – directly on the website.

Notice that you don’t actually do business with They provide supplier listings only. Continue Reading →

Finding the Right eCommerce Sales Channels: By Manuel Becvar

manuel becvar

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Manuel Becvar, originally from Austria and now based in Hong Kong, is one of few experts that master both the domain of sourcing and production, and that of eCommerce and retail sales.

In this article, he explains what every importer must know to remain competitive on in the future, what sales channels he is currently using (and avoiding) – and why the number of sellers is likely to be reduced.

Manual, what brought you to Hong Kong in the first place?

I used to work for an Austrian DIY retailer called bauMax in one of their stores where I did an apprenticeship. I worked there until I was called in, to work in their head office near Vienna.

I was offered a position in the import department of that company. 6 months later I was asked if I wanted to do an internship in bauMax’s buying office in Hong Kong and I immediately said yes. Continue Reading →

5 Methods to to Increase Revenue & Profit Margins in Your Import Business

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We all want to make more money. And how do we normally try to make that happen? By selling more products, through the acquisition of more customers.

That said, you might be overlooking hidden profit centers, in your existing businesses, that could potentially add on tens of thousands of dollars to your bottom line.

In this article, we share 5 tips for how you can increase your revenue, and profit margins, in your import business.

1. Find new sales channels

As a business is established, the Entrepreneur tends to have a specific sales channel in mind. When it comes to our customers, we see that it’s more common that people born in the 50s and 60s, tend to be more focused on traditional sales channels, such as retailers. Continue Reading →

Dropshipping from China: 4 Reasons Why It Doesn’t Work

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Dropshipping is a sales and delivery method that enables businesses to sell products, without actually keeping any in stock.

When a buyer place an order, the seller then forwards the buyer details to, and money, to the actual supplier – which is normally called the dropshipper.

Below follows an overview:

Step 1: The Buyer place order from Company A (Seller)

Step 2: Company A (Seller) request a product dispatch from Company B (Dropshipper), directly to the customer

Step 3: The product is shipped directly from the Dropshipper, without ever being handled or processed by the seller.

“How does dropshipping work?”

The seller charge a higher price than the dropshipper does, and keeps the difference when the payment between the two is settled.

The seller may pay the dropshipper on an order to order basis, or after a certain number of orders or time period.

From a seller perspective, this is ideal, as the seller can offer a whole range of products without investing in a large stock.

The Dropshipper benefits too, as they don’t need to invest in sales and marketing, as this taken care of by their sellers (which are sometimes called affiliates).

For the buyer, it shouldn’t make any real difference. Ideally, this should offer lower prices, as the risk is reduced for the wholesaler and seller.

However, when applied in the real world, dropshipping far from the shortcut to success many online sellers hope for. Especially when it comes to dropshipping operations involving buyers in the West, and dropshippers in Asia.

Keep reading, and learn why drop shipping is probably not a sound strategy for your eCommerce business. Continue Reading →

How to Find the Right Products to Sell Online: By Pilar Newman


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E-commerce is not only changing the way we buy products, but also how we sell them. Competition is fierce in the age of Amazon and Alibaba, and sellers must work even harder to make sure that their products don’t drown in the sea of identical private label and unbranded products.

In this interview, Pilar Newman – a leading Amazon and E-commerce expert based in Brooklyn, NYC – explains what you must do to ensure that your products stand out in a crowded marketplace.

She also explains why product selection is not only about data or statistics, and why the lowest price point is not always the key to success.

Before we get started, please introduce yourself to our readers

I’m an 8+ year veteran Amazon seller. I started off doing retail arbitrage as a means to supplement my income. Once I started to make a significant income on the site, I quit my job and took my business to full-time status.

That was 4 years ago. I pride myself on having learned how to sell on Amazon from the school of Trial and Error! This is also what gives me my unique perspective on finding profitable products to sell.

Now, I sell Private Label items across various niches on Amazon using the FBA program. The freedom that the FBA program has given me, allows me time to travel the world and work from my laptop.

Additionally, I’ve spent the last two years doing one-on-one coaching with Amazon Sellers of various levels. This experience led me to put together a comprehensive course for sellers looking to start and excel with selling on Amazon FBA. But before they can go through the course, I have them take my free Product Research Training Videos. Continue Reading →

Meet us at the ‘GS Summit for Amazon Sellers’ in Hong Kong

Fredrik Grönkvist

Want to learn more about manufacturing in Asia and sales on Then it’s about time to book a flight to Hong Kong!

Global Sources is hosting the ‘Smart Sourcing for Online and Amazon Sellers‘ summit between Oct 17 – Oct 19, 2016.

And, we will be there. This is why you should come:

1. You’ll get the chance to listen to our “Product Safety & Labelling Requirements” presentation, and ask questions.

2. Listen to leading Amazon sales experts from the United States and EU. Check the website for a full list of speakers

3. Meet thousands of suppliers under the same roof (the summit is part the Global Sources Trade Show).

Tickets starts from $699 (Price valid until Aug 20), and can be booked here:

But we’ve thrown in some bonuses for all Subscribers:

1. We include the Buyer’s Guide Package of your choice (See here)

2. US$50 Discount (Thus, you’ll only pay $649. Deduction in the checkout. Code: F2G50)


  1. Amazon sales strategies
  2. Product Safety, Testing and Labelling Requirements
  3. Sourcing, Quality Assurance and Shipping
  4. Case Studies

Questions and Answers

Do I need a visa to enter Hong Kong?

No, most nationalities don’t need a visa to enter Hong Kong. However, you do need a visa to enter Mainland China.

Can I book the ticket online?

Yes, follow the link and pay in the checkout

Buying in China and Selling on Amazon – Part 3: Product Guidelines

Amazon Product Guidelines

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In this third part of our series on Buying in China and Selling on Amazon, we guide you through Amazon’s Product Guidelines, which are part of Amazon’s Seller Policy.

In part, these terms refer to US product regulations and compliance, but also other, non-regulatory requirements sellers must meet in order to participate.

In this article we explain Amazon’s terms for CPSC product compliance, defective products and counterfeit items.

As always, we also explain how each term relates to the risks involved when importing from China, and other Asian countries.

If you’re interested in reading the first two parts of the series, you find them here:

CPSC Compliance Requirements

“Sellers are responsible for tracking and complying with any regulations issued by the CPSC.”

Compliance with applicable US product regulations is never optional, regardless of whether or not the items are sold on

However, Amazon’s Seller Policy is explicitly referring to these regulations, clarifying that compliance is the sole responsibility of the seller.

Ensuring product compliance when buying from China is, in my opinion, the biggest challenge faced by American importers. Below I explain the three main reasons: Continue Reading →

Fundraising on Kickstarter & Making in China: How to NOT Fail


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At a time when banks often refuse to support startups and small business, crowdfunding may become the only option.

Indeed, many Startups don’t even think about going to the bank, but see Kickstarter and Indiegogo as the only viable options to raise funds.

But it’s not only about the money. Crowdfunding sites enable business owners to get instant validation – and I think we all agree that the market itself is far more qualified, as compared to the average banker, to judge a product concept.

I think Crowdfunding is fantastic. It’s the future of business financing.

So, let’s assume that you get enough backers to pledge your project. What’s next?

Most likely, a year of frustration, delays and possibly even failure.

You’ve probably heard the stories of Kickstarter projects failing spectacularly, only within months of raising for beyond their pledging goal. According to a Kickstarter’s own assessment, that fail rate is 9%.

In this article, I will first explain why I think that is the case, and what you can do about.

What can go wrong after raising funds on Kickstarter?

Many of the products presented on Kickstarter are meant to be made in China. Getting products made in anywhere is not an easy task, and China is even harder.

There are two main scenarios:

a. Delays: The project takes much longer than expected, to the point where your backers even forget about you.

b. Costs running away: Without a properly cost calculation, you cannot estimate how much money you must raise to deliver on your promises.

Keep reading, and learn what you can do before, and after, raising money on Kickstarter, to offset the risk of delays and runaway costs.
Continue Reading →