Buying on eBay from Mauritius

Update : Febuary 2015

Great! I just called the customs at the central parcels office. The polite officer informed me that any device (whether using wifi, bluetooth etc) imported in REASONABLE quantity for PERSONAL use DOES NOT REQUIRE any ICTA permits. Read Facebook post here.

Update: November 2012

Following the new measures announced in the budget 2013, limits for online purchases have been raised. For example, you don’t need a customs broker unless your item is valued over Rs30, 000. Also, new measures for calculation of VAT and Duty. Read more in this post here.

Update: 29th June 2011

I have an updated post about some measures being strictly taken into consideration at the Customs office. Please make sure that you also read the new article as well as this one.  Comments section on this article is closed. Please ask any questions on the new post.

You can read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-2/

Now, here goes the article :
I finally came up with this post since I have been asked practically the same questions for the last few days! Most of the people landed on my D5000 blog post in which I describe my first experience with eBay. So, this post will go mainly to Mauritians wishing to purchase something on ebay, some sort of eBay purchasing guide 😛

Secure Payment

That’s the main concern of most…

  • Be re-assured, payment on ebay is totally secure!
  • You need to have a paypal account, linked with your credit card *yeah, u need one*.
    When you create your paypal account, you need to “connect” your credit card to that paypal account. Once set up, paypal will carry out a tiny transaction to check if you are actually authorized to use that card. Once this transaction has been done, you need to check your credit card statement (either through an ATM or internet banking) and type the transaction code on paypal so as to get your credit card and paypal linked together.
  • Whenever you buy something on ebay using paypal, you will be required to enter your paypal login and confirm before the transaction is carried out. All of these go over a secure SSL line, no need to worry…

Note : Paypal accounts in Mauritius CANNOT receive money, not yet, neither from other persons nor through “donations” done on web sites.

What if my item never reaches me?

eBay even thought of this possibility… That’s why the site is one of the most reliable places to do your online shopping.

eBay Buyer Protection, everything is in the name…

In case you don’t receive the advertised item or the item does not reach you, the first thing you should to is : Contact the seller.
The item may have been delayed somewhere. Most sellers with whom I dealt were great, helping as much as possible. Some may even propose to send another item meanwhile or reimburse you. If ever the seller does not revert back to you, eBay advises you to open a case on the Resolution Center. This will enable you to recover your full purchase, including the shipping cost.

However, always be sure that the item provides eBay Buyer Protection, displayed on the item’s page. Also, it may be advisable to insure your costly item for a few dollars, usually offered by Seller during the purchase.

Finding the right item

eBay contains thousands of items on sale through bidding or “buy now”. So, it might be a bit difficult for you to browse the virtual stores without having the slightest idea about what you wanna buy. For your first purchase, let’s simplify things, we will be talking about “Buy now” items only, no bidding…

Do you really have a $2000 budget? So, as we say in creole : “Pas faire gros liziers!”

Set the minimum/maximum amount you are ready to spend!

IMHO, one of the best features of ebay remains the search engine driving the site. It is free, do try it out!

It is useless spending time browsing items which cannot be shipped to Mauritius. Make sure that the results listed are available to Mauritius by selecting “Mauritius” in the advanced search options.

Finding the right seller…

Sellers on ebay rely a lot on feedback, positive ones. No one wants to deal with a seller with loads of negative feedback. On the other hand, top rated sellers are the ones usually offering a better service, fast shipping etc… And everyone wants to deal with those “top rated” eBay sellers, marked as below :

If you wanna find out negative feedback from a particular seller, you can use third party web sites to check this out. Head over to http://toolhaus.org/ and type in the seller name :

This is one of the best tools to check out more info about a seller. As you can see, there was only 34 negative feedback and 5898 positive ones registered over the last month. Now up to you to read the negative ones to see if they are really bad or the buyers were simply ‘stupid’. btw, I highly recommend CameraAuctions for your purchases. My D5000 and SB 600 flash both come from that shop 🙂
Hi to the great people out there!

Shipping and tracking

I have been using ebay for less than 1year, purchasing items starting as low as $1 up to the most expensive one at $700…. The items have been shipped from different countries, including US, UK, Hong Kong and China.

Most of the US sellers out there use USPS (United States Postal Service) to ship the items. The commonly shipping methods available are :

  • USPS Express Mail – See details in above screenshot
    ULTRA FAST and Costly but takes only 3-5 days to travel to Mauritius
  • USPS First Class Mail
  • USPS Priority Mail

You can get more info about the 2 last shipping here. The items usually take 2-3 weeks to reach the island.

USPS Tracking page : http://www.usps.com/shipping/trackandconfirm.htm

Hong Kong post.

While purchasing my Tamron 70-300mm, I paid nearly $50 dollars for shipping. pff. Nevertheless, the parcel took over 3 weeks to reach Mauritius. At that price, it was much worthy to purchase the item from the US and pay for an USPS Express Mail for the same price!

Hong Kong post tracking page : http://app3.hongkongpost.com/CGI/mt/enquiry.jsp

And China?

lol, I don’t even worry about items shipped from there… It usually takes 4-6 weeks, no need to hurry 😛

Free Shipping

It is sometimes tempting to look for items marked with “Free Shipping”… However, the item might take 3-5 weeks to reach you and no tracking is available for these “free shipping” items. So, be patient!

Collecting your parcel

Yay! You finally got a card from your postman, asking you to come over to the post office… Take your ID card and run to the nearest post office asap!

Depending on the type of item/price/size, it may be collected from the post office directly. In that case, just sign the necessary papers before going away with your parcel.

Now, if your parcel/item is quite bulky/expensive/important, the postmaster will handle you a card, which needs to be shown at the Parcel Office of Port Louis. All (if not most) personal purchases collected there will be charged a vat amount of 15%.

VAT Calculation :

Given that you have purchased the item for personal use and below Rs10,000 Rs 30, 000 (Read this updated post), you will be charged a vat amount of 15% on (The value of your purchase – Rs1000). Example : Your item costs Rs8000, you will be charged 15% vat on Rs7000 only.

Hence, do not forget to add the VAT amount in your estimations before buying an item.

Post office delivery charges

I do not know the exact amount, but you may be charged around Rs50-100. Unfortunately, I have no additional info on this part. I just paid it quietly 😛

Purchases over Rs30,000 – Critical!

All items valued above Rs10,000 Rs30, 000 (Read this updated post) cannot be cleared out of the customs without hiring the service of a “Customs Broker”, a.k.a “Courtier Maritime”. These persons will thus be representing you and carrying out the necessary paper works so that you can get your item out of the customs. They will need some of your personal details to register you at the Mauritius Revenue Authority as an “importer”. Their fees might vary. I paid Rs1, 400 to the one I hired for my camera.

So, before confirming your purchase of over Rs10000 Rs30,000 , make sure that you add the custom’s broker fee to the purchase’ total amount.

Duty on certain items

No duty is applicable to camera equipment. However, items such as Bags have a duty of 30%!

So, if you bag costs Rs3000 on ebay, duties would be calculated on (3000-1000) = Rs2000. Make sure you add (30% + 15%) = 45%, which roughly comes around Rs3900… A few weeks ago, the MRA officer advised me to check the MRA web site for further details about the duty on applicable items. Need to find that list!

Some last words…

We are no more living in a remote island and the advances in technology are bridging the little gap which still exists. Online payments are becoming part of our everyday life, unlike some years ago. The price difference is indeed huge, I had the opportunity to compare prices of DSLR cameras a few months ago.

Shopping online through eBay might be the only solution to Mauritians if they need to access items either not available to Mauritius yet or simply, items at a more reasonable price. From what I learnt, transactions on Amazon and Google Checkout are not possible for us yet, but I am confident that in a few years time, we won’t really feel that we are thousand of kms away from the biggest stores of the world…

I end this long post with these words and hope that the content here really helped you to understand some basic things about eBay, especially if you are looking forward to your first purchase from within the paradise island of Mark Twain…

And finally, don’t forget that there’s a newer article (November 2012) with update info about the limits, etc. Read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-3/ 

Feel free to share and like this article on Facebook!

234 thoughts on “Buying on eBay from Mauritius

  1. @ Yashvin: aaah great! thnks for the info. BTW buying on ebay IS ADDICTIVE! im a gadget/gizmo fan and ebay la kuma dir cavern ali baba!! and having the EBAY APP on iphone is great, u can search, review your watched items, check bidding and bid in real time, even make payments while on the go! mo conner to pa ene fan de iphone 😛 mais i advise everyone to get this free app!

    Like

  2. Hi..i want to buy a phone which is about $200 n $20 for shipping. How much will it cost me alltogether here in mauritius? (vat,boker..etc)

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    1. Hello Salman.
      I will do the estimates using the buying price at $200 and 1 $ = Rs32.

      $200 = Rs6400
      So, your VAT = 0.15 x (6400-1000) = Rs810
      You will also need to pay a small fee at the postal office, of about rs50-rs100.
      Be reassured, you wont need to hire a customs broker since your item is much less than the limit, Rs10,000.

      Like

  3. Hmmm after reading your blog, I finally gave ebay a try =)…though I bought a $5 screen protector only lol…its being shipped by USPS First Class Mail International…about how much time do you think it will take? =)

    Previously I’ve used B&H Photo Video to buy camera stuff online, they are super reliable 🙂

    Great blog overall, I’ll be having a look here one in a while 😉

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    1. Hello @Vipin.

      You were cautious for your first purchase lol, $5. My first one was about $700 haha.
      For first class mail international, it can take about 2 weeks, from my personal experience. Keep us updated when you get it 😉

      I never tried B&H. Should check it out.

      Good luck!
      Y.A

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  4. Woaw fast reply :)…yeah gonna post when it arrives…btw just noticed you made this blog post on the 28 of July, that’s my birthdate XD

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  5. Hi yashvin, i just got a card from the postman today asking me to go and collect my parcel from the Parcel Post Office at Port Louis.(yeah im super excited!) Can you please tell me where is it found? Is it the post office near victoria bus terminal? Thank you in advance!

    Freesoul.

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    1. Hello. No it is found near the old post office, the great stone building found near Port Louis waterfront. Once there, you will find a building besides the old office, just after the taxi stand. The Parcel office is found at the back. It’s easy, you might see lots of postmen going in and out or even Post office vans.

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  6. Hi man, I saw a product on eBay costing around ‘US $284.99’, the seller ships worldwide and ‘Shipping: $36.75 USPS Express Mail International’. Meaning it will cost $321.74 which is about Rs9973.94… Now as you said I have to pay a small fee at the postal office, so now it might be over Rs10000! So, does that mean I should have this customs broker thing? And will there be any additional costs? P.s It’s an mp3 player, is there any customs fees, duty import taxes or vat on it also? Help me!

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  7. @ ya: thanks for the info yashvin, i got at the parcel office today without any difficulty (despite the 32+ degrees temperature of portlouis and the occasional rain) to get my package. It was some stuffed hamtaro plush toys for my little cousin. Paid Rs56 for the tax.. The guys at the parcel office looked puzzled when i said i bought stuffed toys from Ebay, one guy even took at least a couple of minutes squeezing those poor toys looking if it was indeed toys or if i was bringing illicit products inside them! he even smelled it! (Do they have a drug detector nose training??) I could keep myself from smiling!! 😀

    BTW, when i received the card from the postman some days ago, there was an option where you could ask them to deliver the parcel at the nearest post office to your home. But they would have to open and inspect the package at the parcel office first. My question is; after you sign the card and agree with this option, what to you do with it? Do you leave it at the nearest post office?

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  8. @Freesoul: lol at the Nose smelling detector 😛

    I have never noticed the option you are talking about. Perhaps that I was always so excited to get my item asap, I never took the time to see the available options other than getting the parcel by myself from the Central Parcels Office.
    Need to gather more info on that.

    @Keshav_B: Sorry for late reply. Always difficult to give a reply immediately and I end up forgetting that people are waiting for an answer 😦

    Don’t worry, you won’t need to get any customs broker because your item’s original price is much less than the limit. As I previously said, they may count only 20% of the shipping cost while calculating charges. As for items going beyond the limit, the MRA officers do make exceptions. It all depends by how much the limit has been crossed.

    You only need to settle the VAT and the postage fee, no other duty for electronic stuff.

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  9. @Kavi: i cant get it to work! i have already set my country as Mauritius but when i click search, it gives me the listing but the shipping option is set to either USA or AUS.. i need to click everytime on the shipping details and set it to mauritius only the see that most of the items are not shipped to Mauritius.. Anyone having this issue?

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  10. Nice article! Can you please send me the contact details of the Customs Broker? I got a parcel in the parcel office right now… Thanks!

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  11. Greeting to all,firstly i’d like to thank the author Yashvin for such an informative & helpful article!!And yes im about to buy a perfume online ‘a chanel platinum-egoist’ but will a get slap by tax?The perfume is under Rs2000 on Ebay! Cheerz buddy:)

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  12. Thanks, for the article and for replying to the many, many questions. Just bought a piece of equipment (a usb midi musical instrument) for my pc. It’s being shipped by USPS international express, so I guess it’ll take a few days.
    Somebody in the list of comments asked whether stuff can be bought at amazon’s. Yes, I have been buying books from Mauritius for more than 12 years, but they do not sell other stuff -electronics etc, that’s why ebay is such an interesting alternative.
    Right now the dollar is quite low (28.something) so it is worth taking advantage of it to buy stuff.

    Like

  13. Hey your article’s very informative. However I’m still kind of confused about the shipping. Say my item’s like $9 and shipping costs me $9.56. When I go pick up my item at the post office, how much I’ll have to pay ?

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  14. Hello @Lux.

    I don’t think that you will need to pay for anything. Most of the time, inexpensive items like this gets delivered to your door or you will need to pick it up at the local postal office.

    Do keep us informed 😉

    Like

  15. Wow nice post. Maybe I will try to buy something on ebay, do they accept payment via creditcard instead of paypal.
    Shopped twice online in Japan and had not problem receiving my parcels.
    1st one send by Airmail($30fee…)5 days WOW.
    2nd one send by economic mail….more than one month.
    Just received a telegram from the parcel post office?
    Do I have to go to port louis, why? It cost less than rs1000.
    Will they open it?(oops)
    It everything from japan be controlled when shipped?
    If anybody knows something please reply to me. Thanks.

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  16. I buy often on ebay like bought 15-20 items in the last 2 years ranging from Rs.1000 to Rs.25,000.

    All items I bought are mostly electronics (music gear, computer parts) mainly.

    For all items, I have been exempted tax on the first Rs.1,000 and I have paid 15% VAT Flat on item cost only. No additional tax on shipping.

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  17. Oops. Looks like I haven’t responded to questions since some time. Anyways, @Kenyue: eBay accepts only Paypal, which is linked to your credit card, freely. Items less than Rs1000 are exempted from any tax.

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  18. Some buyers are kind enough to mark your parcel as gift if you ask them to…then you are exempted from tax 🙂

    Like

  19. HI !

    Nice to see you again !

    I need to know someting about Watches , may ne you can tell me !

    I want to know how much VAT is there in women watches ….is it 15 % or more ??

    thanks in advanced

    Like

  20. Hey @Salim, ki dir?

    Normalement, comme @Muzzammil ine dir, to pu bisin paye 15% vat mo pense bien. Aster si to montre enbas Rs1000, or approx sa valeur la, to pu exempted.

    Bolfam pu content la kouma dir 😉

    Like

  21. what’s that paypal about?
    i’m sorry but am just 18, so i sooooooo want to buy on E-bay!!!
    if i could have a detailed explanation of what i should do from the beginning till the end, i’ll be grateful to you 🙂
    thanks on advance 🙂
    p.s: am from mru only 😉

    Like

  22. Hello, your article is so cool! i have recently bought airplane models on eBay (yes! they are on their way!) and i got a kind of discount on shipping from the seller since i bought 2 models from him/her and i got the refund on my paypal account.I’ve checked it’s there, how do i get it then? you think my bank will give it to me when i ask them?

    Like

    1. Hello. As far as I know, you can’t retrieve the money from Paypal (For
      Mauritians). May be things are different for refunds, I never got any
      problems on ebay to confirm that (fortunately).
      But I guess that the amount will be stored on your paypal account until your
      next purchase.
      Can you try to buy a small thing just to confirm that? Thanks for informing
      us 🙂

      Like

      1. Hello..I’ve checked my online bank statement. It’s there! I got the the money which the seller sent back to my paypal account!! It came in my bank account!! YAAAAAY!

        Like

  23. Hello again! This blog is too cool, God bless. I just want to share a piece of “useful” info with those who really really to do online shopping (like me) but are not yet working [or don’t want to have parents to take the credit card-anyway they’ll have the bank statement and you are going to die] and can’t possibly have credit cards from MCB or SBM (which most of us have here). With a debit card from Bramer Banking Corporation you are able to link it with your PayPal account,and…tadaaa! buy online!! That’s what i do 😉

    Like

  24. Hi Yashvin,i would like to know if i buy a refurbished Branded cellphone,do i need to have any permit to clear from customs?

    Like

    1. Hello. It does not make any difference whether the item is new or
      refurbishes.
      You will still need to pay the usual charges as mentioned in the article and
      hire a customs broker in case your item is above rs10,000.

      Like

      1. Thanks for ur reply Yashvin,No am ok to pay the charges..item costs $92 and is a Nokia N76,my prob is that it is branded,i want to make sure that items will be cleared as normal ones without any issues,coz i dnt know how they handle Brand item,this item when was out costs at least Rs21K ,as today itself,i went there,my friend just ordered an Iphone from USA.problem is that it is used one,and now they asking us to have an special permit from ITCA to clear the item..Dats why i wanted to know if i should get a permit to clear my Refurbished Nokia,Clarify me please,so its means only used items u should have a special permit to clear item,it doesnt apply for NEW and Refurbished one right ?

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      2. I never heard of the ICTA thing but one thing for sure, I did purchased a
        refurbished camera equipment and nothing special was required to clear the
        item out of the customs.
        Do keep us informed if you have any additional information, this might
        perhaps help others. Thanks

        Like

      3. Ok now i understand refurbished items there’s nothing to worry,what about if you buy brand name Cellphone?is there anything to worryabout ?Well for “USED items such as cellphone its for sure u have to get a permit from ICTA..

        Like

  25. Dear Friends,

    Pou zot linformation ena bcp changement dans regulations at parcel office,limit pou al rode courtier maritim pou al tire lartik aster ine pass a Rs 5000 non pas Rs10,000,si depasser kan p ht aster bizin al rode courtier pou dedoune..En ce qui concern cellphone 2nd hand bizin al rode import permit kot ICTA avant reuisi gagne lartik,aster si zot conne kit douanier its better au lieu al perdi le temps al rode permit tousa..Hope this may Help cheers…

    Like

    1. @Safe : I can’t confirm both of the above news. I have just called the
      customs and the person who took the phone confirmed for the permit for
      mobile phones only. As for the custom clearance for personal usage, he told
      me that it is still at Rs10k.

      Like

  26. UPDATE : 29th June 2011I have an updated post about some measures being strictly taken into consideration at the Customs office. Please make sure that you also read the new article as well as this one.  Comments section on this article is closed. Please ask any questions on the new post.You can read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-2/

    Like

  27. UPDATE : 29th June 2011

    I have an updated post about some measures being strictly taken into consideration at the Customs office. Please make sure that you also read the new article as well as this one. Comments section on this article is now closed.
    Please ask any questions on the new post.

    You can read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-2/

    Like

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