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!

231 thoughts on “Buying on eBay from Mauritius

  1. @Z.K – There are many good sites around that will give you good prices for cameras etc… Ebay is not necessarily the cheapest around. By the way, Express USPS to Mauritius takes around 14 business days to get delivered.

    @Pacif – A D90 should be around Rs30k but i would not personally go with a D90 as there are loads of issues about it.

    @Jeannot – Only credit cards will go through. MCB Debit cards will not work.

    Like

  2. Hey man… thanks a lot for the info provided.. its my 1st experience and its really helpful 😉 cheers.

    Like

  3. Hi all,

    Just to be sure of something, i ordered 2 items having total of $515. Do i have to pay tax on that? Should i bring my paypal receipt when going to the post?

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    1. @Kavi : Yes, it is advisable to bring your receipt, just in case the officers overestimate your item.
      Depending on your item category, you will need to pay 15% VAT. The vat is applicable on every item passing the customs, as far as I know.
      You said that the total cost for the 2 items is $515. To remind you, for all items whose value >Rs10,000, you MIGHT need a broker to clear them out of customs.

      Like

  4. i have a mcb mastercard.. ive registered through paypal.. how do i check on the mcb site to get my transaction code??

    Like

    1. @Tom : Normally, the test transaction done by Paypal should appear on your card statement once it has been processed by the MCB. You will see a transaction code alongside the transaction and that’s the number you should type into paypal.

      Have a look at the ATM’s statement, or on the Internet Banking (if you have one).

      Like

  5. You shared good info. I’m a regular customer on ebay and the price is too
    good compared to local listing.
    1. Why I cannot receive money through paypal yet? That very disgusting and I think the govt need to look into the matter of priority since there many online business that a mauritian can do via paypal but cannot receive money.

    Like

  6. Hi @Anonymous!
    Nice point you noticed! Yes, you are right, I should have said that the bag initially cost Rs3000, and then the vat would be calculated on Rs2000. But, one thing that I am not sure whether the 30% duty for the bag would be calculated from Rs3000 or Rs2000.
    Thanks a lot for this point, I will do that correction.

    However, I think that at the end of the day, most of us understood how VAT etc are calculated.

    Good day,
    Cheers
    YA

    Like

  7. HI !

    Nice info !

    Can you pls tell me what is the best shipping method for Mauritius ?

    It seem that product from US is taking more than 2 months ? How about that ?

    thanks

    Like

    1. Hello @Salim.

      The best, most secure and quickest shipping to Mauritius remains the USPS Express Mail International. Thougth it is expensive (but 2-3 times less than DHL and other services), the item can reach Mauritius as fast as 4-5 days.

      You failed to mention what product and which type of shipment you are talking about in your comment. More than 2 months, in that case, you should have already contacted your seller to start the procedures for a refund/resend. Keep us updated if you wish.

      Thanks and Good luck!

      Like

  8. Thanks , but USPS Express Mail International is not available to all seller ….

    DO you know what’s USPS expediated shipping means ?? any idea ?

    I am having lots of trouble with items coming from US ….they are taking too much time ….However those from HongKong is coming very fast …

    Thanks for your help !

    Salim ( Ex CSE IT Technician )

    Like

    1. @salim : Well, you should probably ask the seller to give more details about the carrier/service he will be using.
      Just to give you an idea (applicable for a large category of ‘medium sized’ items ):
      A priority mail international costs around $20 while the same item when sent by Express mail international will cost around $40.

      The fastest parcel from Hong Kong took me abt 2weeks and I paid $50! So, my experience with hong kong post has been bad so far.

      It’s a pleasure for me to help you!
      Take care!

      Like

  9. pls guys i cant shop on ebay without zip or postal codes what to do ???????? pls hlp me guys n gals…….:D

    Like

  10. n guys where do i need to go to get it at port louis or wil it be delivered at my house pls ban mauriciens svp reply pls…..:)yashvin pls toi kii an pro ebay buyer plssssssssssssssssssss………..:D

    Like

    1. @Kevin : Unfortunately, I do not have any experience in buying a car from Ebay. I think that it is better to leave this business to those who really know the procedures, legal aspects as well as duties on importing a car.

      To end, I would say that importing a car is not as simple as buying a $5 item.

      Like

  11. The prices of the car online is real low coz they don’t have the shipping cost and taxes we apply here…

    Unfortunately you might find yourself paying the same amount you bought the car at the custom services here…(la doune etc..)

    My dad had a friend who bought himself a BM from another country and the car stayed almost 3-6 months at the customs coz he had to pay almost same purchase amount to detax the car..pfff…

    This is why cars cost the apple of our eyes here…tax is real high 😦

    Like

  12. do you have to send money from your credit card to your paypal account as once ive linked my credit card to my paypal account and got the transaction code i see my paypal balance is 0.00$?? i dont really know how it works so can someone help??

    Like

  13. From what i know, you cannot import a car older than 4 years. Also the excise duty on car is 75% and above, it depends on ur engine capacity. the duty is usually calculated from the estimate of cost of vehicle by custom.
    you can avoid the duty if you are a returning resident with 10years abroad and you’ve had the car registered to you for at least one year.

    these are an approximation, am not a expert.

    Like

  14. do you have to send money to your paypal account?? because i have successfully linked my credit card to paypal.. got the transaction code etc… confirmed my email address but i see my paypal balance is 0.00$ usd… ?? can someone help pls..??

    Like

    1. @Kris : No, you don’t need to send money to your paypal. Your balance on your paypal will always be $0.00.
      Once your credit card is linked to your paypal account, any payment amounts done with paypal will be automatically deducted from your credit card.

      Like

  15. i just bought an item on ebay and i paid 40$ for express mail international so when should i expect receiving the item.. ?? how fast has your item reached our island when you bought via express mail international??

    Like

    1. @kris : As I said above, Express mail international can take a few days only. Usually 1 week.

      @Christina : I am unsure which is faster but I can tell that Priority mail international takes about 2 weeks.

      Like

  16. which is faster usps priority mail international or usps first class mail?? personal experience would help..

    Like

  17. once your item is shipped do you always get a message form paypal tellig you tjhat the seller shipped the item..?? because i got one saying so…so im confident the item will be arriving sooner or later..

    Like

    1. Hello @kris.
      Always? Yes if the seller marks your item as shipped on ebay. However, the seller might mark it much later after he/she ships it.

      Good luck!

      Like

  18. just tracked mypurchased product throught usps and saw that my product arrived today …. by when will i get a letter from the post office..?? do ypu have to bring identity card etc to the post office..??

    Like

    1. Hello again @kris.
      Yes you need to bring your ID card and also, keep a copy of the paypal receipt with you.
      Since it arrived today, you might receive your letter tomorrow. You will then need to go to the parcels office to clear it out of customs.

      Keep us informed!

      Like

  19. hi,
    Great article! Very helpful.. i have one question; for the VAT calculation do u include the shipping price + price of product or it’s only on the product’s price?

    and are there duties on mobile phones?

    Like

  20. hi very nice info about shopping from ebay.i have only one question?
    what is the shipping cost from united states?

    Like

  21. of course all these parameters come into play when calculating the shipping cost but perhaps you could indicate all potential buyers about the average price for the shipment from the us.

    Like

  22. @Bob, the best way to get the prices is from the item’s page on ebay itself. As you mentioned “Potential buyers”, the latter already know what they are looking for, hence, they are clearly aware of the item’s weight etc.

    You are asking me for an average price of what exactly? I can’t guess the weight as your item may be an SD card or even a car. Thanks for your visit, hope that you get your answer soon.

    Like

  23. @Yashvin,

    Can you please tell me the average price of a vegetable? Independent of what it is and how much it weighs?

    Like

  24. Hi All,

    I hope this might help you guys to calculate shipping from the US to Mauritius… Here’s the link to International Postage Calculator for USPS: http://ircalc.usps.gov/

    Do bear in mind that packaging depends on the seller, some might repack a product to be safer during transit. If the shipping weight and box size is not mentioned on the listing, then contact the seller 🙂

    I personally don’t think anyone here will be able to tell you guys the shipping costs from X countries to Mauritius, just the seller can…

    Cheers
    Kamal

    Like

  25. @Kamal: thx.

    for the part
    “Purchases over Rs10,000” .. do you include shipping cost with it? e.g. if i buy a product at Rs. 10,000 and the shipping cost is Rs. 1,500; does it count as being a purchase of over Rs. 10,000?

    Like

    1. @yeahman45 : I asked this question to the Customs office 3 weeks ago. He told me that they can include up to 20% of the shipping costs when calculating vat. In this case, the total might be over Rs10,000 but it all depends on the customs officers since they do allow a few purchases over Rs10k to clear customs without a broker.

      Like

  26. i finally recieved my shoes yesterday… i went to the post office at port louis and payed 56rs for handling and 150rs for tax.. in all i paid 206rs… really satisfied with the product and i didnt have to bring the receipt only my ID card.. thnx yashvin for your help and happy new year..

    Like

  27. So hello again,

    I commented on this article when i first started to buy online. since then i bought a lot. i dont have paypal. but i bought from merchants that are paid members usually. like 3 weeks ago, i was charged for something i purchased for. the seller never sent me the shipping number which i asked for more than once later. the seller never reply to any of my emails and i havent received anything. Was i cheated?

    Thanks

    Like

    1. Hello @K.
      That sounds pretty serious. First of all, I hope that it was not a big purchase and the seller is well-rated.
      As you can guess, you won’t be able to file a dispute since the transaction was not carried out through ebay/paypal. That’s why it is always advisable to use the proper channels when shopping on ebay, just to avoid cases like this one.

      Cheated? Only the seller can confirm this but in my opinion, your parcel might have been delayed because of xmas and end of year festivities. I also purchased a few things which did not turned up yet, more than 1 month but the sellers politely asked me to remain patient because of the delivery delays.

      I will advise you to remind the seller again (and continuously), since that’s the ONLY thing you can actually do.

      Like

  28. It wasn’t ebay. it was a yahoo merchant. it’s not a big purchase ($100), but i hate the feeling of being cheated. i email the seller like 6 times asking for the shipping number which she never replied.

    Like

  29. Hello Friend, Stop worrying abt Tax, Duty and Free Delivery on Ebay or any other online shopping. i Heard of an Offcial Online Shopping Now in mauritius . its more than Ebay, I think we need to help this company to send them their opinion etc.. it sell all wot u think..

    as services,
    – Price you see is what u pay !
    – No Additional Cost !
    – No Vat!
    – No Duty
    – Home Delivery in less than 24hours !
    – More you buy get get point for every Rs1 u spent and the point convert into CASH where you can use it on your next purchase.

    – 24/7 Customer Care services for any Kinf of Support on your purchase on phone by a FREE TOLL NUMBER 800 18 18 or by Monitoring Live chat from the website.it give also free IT Support online for all customer and non-customer.

    – there is NO HIDDEN COST when you will receiver your product .

    FIRST IN MAURITIUS.

    TCL ONLINE SHOPPING.

    http://WWW.TCLOnlineStore.COM Have a look ..

    Like

  30. hello, for the ebay shopping, can i edit the receipt in microsoft word n reduce the price
    !!!! waT U SAY?!!!ILL PAY LESSER VAT AT Z POST

    Like

  31. hi yashvin,
    have u used package forwarding services such as viaddress
    for mauritius.
    well if…. they offer to forward packages from ebay which
    can only be shipped to us to mauritius by offering a ‘virtual’
    u.s address. they also forward ur package using ups fedex or dhl.

    is it well worth trying?

    thanks btw ur article is awesome…

    Like

  32. Hello @reza. Did you assess the risks with this practice?
    1. Your seller might already have included the original receipt in the parcel
    2. Your seller might have not included a receipt but for insurance purposes, he/she might have declared the parcel as the true value.

    So, you are at the parcels office, the MRA officers ask you for the cost and the receipt, you handle your $100 receipt to them.
    However, unlike the MRA officers, you have not yet seen what’s written on the parcel. And the box has not been opened yet.

    The MRA officer then informs you that the parcel is valued at $500, declared on the parcel’s itself and when opening the parcel, the original receipt of $500 is found.

    From that moment, you got the right to do only one phone call, probably to your lawyet. Good luck!

    @Davy007: No, I have never tried nor heard anyone making use of this shipping. Anyone willing to give it a try?

    Like

  33. @ yashvin , no, i didnt do it..i was thinking about it.. glad u told me about it!!
    NB: to everyone: Please dont do this..dont get involve in police matters

    Like

  34. @Freesoul: Normally, that’s the name and address on your Paypal account. During the checkout, you have the option to add new addresses. Or you can do so from your paypal acc directly.

    I once paid an item on ebay with my paypal account, but added a different shipping address, to someone else. The latter received it without any problems.

    Like

  35. man, can i buy on ebay with my mr best card via papal or other similars?
    i dont have a credit card(ihv heard that i need to be earning an income to apply 4 a credit card,pfff….).can i shop online wiz my debit card?

    Like

    1. Hello @ronnie.

      Unfortunately no. You can’t purchase on ebay with a debit card. You absolutely need to get hold of a credit card.
      Try to see with ur parents 😛

      Cheers,
      YA

      Like

  36. @ 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

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