iHerb urged to pick licensed agents to expedite import clearances

Taiwan's Customs Administration has suggested that U.S.-based e-commerce platform iHerb change how it handles imported shipments after the online retailer suspended service in Taiwan because of what it called stringent customs procedures.

The agency said its customs enforcement system has remained unchanged and that iHerb should work with licensed customs brokers and courier services to have its goods cleared through customs more smoothly.

iHerb, which offers more than 30,000 health and natural products, announced without warning last week that it was suspending service in Taiwan.

It complained that Taiwan's new customs clearance process, customs checking flows, and rigorous customs inspections have had a major adverse effect on its time-sensitive shipments to Taiwan.

iHerb said it is working hard to find solutions to the customs issues and will only resume its service in Taiwan once the issues are resolved.

But the Customs Administration argued that iHerb's complaints did not identify the main issue.

The problem occurred, it said, when iHerb improperly used a simplified customs declaration procedure to clear six batches of more than 10,000 iHerb products in October and the goods were intercepted.

According to Taiwan's regulations, imports of health foods and medicines must be cleared using regular customs procedures, rather than the simplified process used by some courier services, and have all related documents attached, the agency said.

The regulations have not been changed, and iHerb's shipments were not intercepted because of the new customs enforcement measures, it said.

The Customs Administration said it had asked express couriers to convey the message to iHerb that Taiwan has not changed its customs regulations and that if it used licensed customs brokers that file import declarations in accordance with relevant regulations, its shipments will be cleared smoothly.

But if the company insists on improperly declaring the goods being imported, the problem will likely happen again, it said.

Meanwhile, the customs authority said people who buy health food or health supplements in the form of capsules and tablets from overseas for personal use are not required to apply for an import permit from the Food and Drug Administration and the customs department.

The quantity of what can be imported for personal use, however, is capped at 12 bottles (boxes, cans, bags) per item and the total number of products in a single shipment is capped at 36 bottles (boxes, cans, bags), according to the regulations.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel