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Apple's latest iPhones, the 6 and 6 Plus have yet to get released in China. That said, many Chinese already have purchased the phones from foreign markets—purchases where China makes no money off the sales tax. Now, Chinese customs is looking to crack down and cash in.

Chinese mobile games website 97973.com, an offshoot of games news site 17173.com, reports that the China's General Administration of Custom has started to focus on incoming residents carrying new iPhones.


The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus won't be officially available in China until Friday but Chinese buyers who want one already have one. They either purchased it via the expansive technology gray market or purchased one while abroad. With the new focus on levying taxes, Chinese citizens who return from abroad with a new iPhone may be fined up to 20% the value of their new phone.

In China, foreign made goods such as the iPhone tend to have a high value added tax put on it. In China this VAT is 17%.

Since the iPhones launched, Chinese customs have seized over 1000 imported iPhones.


Now, some people have pointed out that this kind of focus is generally focused on gray market importers and resellers. Load of Chinese folk have been spotted abroad purchasing iPhones in bulk to send back to China for profit. When the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus first launched, they fetched a gray market price of upwards of $1600. That's nearly double the price of the average iPhone.

This time around, the Shanghai Customs administration is also looking people bringing back iPhones for personal use. 97973 points out that people normally purchase items abroad and that it's difficult for the authorities to determine what is personal use and what is for resale. In response, the an officer with the customs authority in Shanghai Pudong Airport related that its done on a case by case basis and that passengers coming into China should declare all goods.


The officer mentions that passengers coming into China are allowed to bring in undeclared goods with a combined worth of about $816, that includes products for personal use and gifts. According to the officer, Chinese customs officer will be going with Chinese iPhone prices.

Depending on the customs officer, passengers bringing in iPhones and not declaring them can be fined around 20 percent of the product's total cost. If they do declare the product and are found to break the allotted amount, they would have to pay taxes from anywhere from $65-100.


Effectively China's trying to cash in on and collect taxes on the iPhones, products made in China and being brought abroad by Chinese people.

Needless to say, online reactions in China have not been good. On the Sina repost of the article, commenters were less than happy with the news.


*expletive deleted, personal used phones need to be taxed??? Foreign purchased iPhone 6 Plus doesn't even cost 5000 yuan, how can you tax that???? which *expletive deleted decided this?


Definitely have to pay taxes, how else will they beat the Apple company?

It's not clear how strict this will all be enforced and how this will work out after Friday, when the the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are released in China. Hey, there's always the iPhone 7!


境外自用iPhone6也要缴税 最低400元 [97973 via Sina.com]

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


Eric is a Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @FatAsianTechie@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie

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