Home Knowledge Base Knowledge Base: How to import a drone from China

Knowledge Base: How to import a drone from China


If you’ve been following the drone market lately, you will have realized that most of the drone goodness in the world comes from China. Be it high-end DJI drones, mid-range drones such as the Cheerson CX-20, or even toy-grade quadcopters, almost all of it comes from China.That being the case, the thought of having to import a drone from China certainly will have crossed your mind. Even if you’ve never dealt with international import before, worry not, for it is a relatively straightforward process to import a quadcopter drone from China.

Check your country’s import regulations

Import drone from China RC Drone Arena  (2)

In many countries, governments aren’t very open to drone import and the likes, for obvious reasons

This is probably the biggest problem that you will have to encounter in the process of importing a drone from China. In many countries, governments aren’t very open to drone import and the likes, for obvious reasons. Therefore, the first step would be to make sure the shipment passes through hassle-free from the customs department. You don’t want your beloved first imported drone to be seized/destroyed at the point of entry, do you?

Pick a reliable seller

Tales of people being ripped off by Chinese con artists aren’t news anymore. However, the key to a successful and legit purchase is to be aware of what’s going on. There are two main types of resellers that you can import your drone from. The first being marketplaces such as AliExpress, DHGate, etc., and the other being standalone online stores, such as Banggood, GearBest, etc.

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Marketplace v/s standalone stores

To choose a reliable seller on a platform such as AliExpress/DHGate, you only have to go through the feedback records of the particular ‘shop’ you’re interested in. I’m not really a fan of DHGate, but have used AliExpress more than 50 times to import various products… without being ripped off. As a general rule, I make sure that the seller has at least 500 or 2000 rating points (for low value and high value stuff respectively), and also make it a point to chat with the seller before placing the order. You can also ask for a picture of the stock if you aren’t convinced.

Most online stores usually specialize in one kind of products, and are usually a bigger deal that you might think

On the other hand, you could also go with standalone online stores. Most online stores usually specialize in some kind of products, and are usually a bigger deal that you might think. These stores also often have direct relations with manufacturers, so chances of getting a lemon delivered in your mail are often lower than when you buy from a marketplace.

Some trusted online shops I’ve used in the past

A few trusted stores that I’ve dealt with in the past are:

  • Banggood (tonnes of products)
  • GearBest (great prices)
  • TinyDeal (reputed store that’s been around for a while)
  • Chinavasion (one of the oldest and trusted stores)
  • Geekbuying (you will find ‘cool’ stuff here)
  • EverBuying (GearBest sister store)
  • Tmart (another trusted online store, in the business since long)
  • …and a lot more

Select an appropriate shipping method

Depending on the value of the drone you’re importing, and the trust that you have on global post, you now need to make the tough choice between free shipping (global post) and expedited (courier [DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc] or EMS). In most countries, global post works just fine and you also save a lot of money. The two downsides to shipping via global post are: (i) long shipping duration and (ii) the parcels take a bit of a beating.

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Chinese stores do package their shipments well, so point #2 shouldn’t really be a problem in most cases. However, if you’re importing a high-end drone (as a rule of thumb, say anything above $250) then expedited (FedEx is my favourite, DHL, UPS, etc work too) shipment is probably a better idea.

Import drone from China RC Drone Arena  (1)

Patience is the key

I know how exciting importing a drone can be. However, you shouldn’t let the excitement turn into impatience — calling up the courier service every now and then might not be a great idea. You don’t want your parcel to fall in the scanners of the customs dept. It isn’t as if you’re doing something illegal, but its better to stay scot-free anyway.

This was how I think you could go about importing drones from China. Feel free to comment below the names of online stores you’ve dealt with, it’ll certainly help other users. Lets build a community of like minded drone-folk here!

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  • Warren Gonsalves

    What is the import duty and other taxes for importing drones to India ?

    • It can really vary. It seems like they’ve relaxed the rules a bit now, drones are coming in hassle free. Opt for expedited shipping if you’re looking to import a drone over 20-30$ into India.

      • Raisin

        Hi Yash. Can I order the DJI Phantom or will i have the same issues with customs like others did?

        • Would strongly suggest you hold off from importing. There’s a few ‘official’ resellers in India that offer genuine DJI, of course you pay the premium but you’re also sure you’ll get what you pay for.

  • m

    thanks for the article. Do you know if it’s free to import a few expensive drones into the US or not?

    • Of course not. Not sure what the limit is for duty-free import ($100?), but I’m sure by ‘expensive’ you mean drones that cost more than $100.

  • Plakhyaraj Kashyap

    how much customs gonna charge me for importing dji phantom 3 standard to india?

    • Drone import is currently banned in India.

      • Narasimha Swamy

        Is it still banned now I’m planning to get one from DHL.

        • Yes, it is.

          • Narasimha Swamy

            what will happen if I’m importing one from DHL?

          • Customs will seize the shipment, and you’ll get a letter from the WPC of India. That said, there might be good news in the coming 2-4 weeks or so, so hold off if you can. What are you trying to import, anyway?

          • Narasimha Swamy

            Hubsan X4 H502S 720P 5.8G FPV Drone

          • I’d recommend buying something domestically.

          • prano Youtuber

            hi…im also from india and planning to buy the same drone you wished..did you order and receive it?

  • vishal tomar

    Hello yash. I’m glad I found your article before ordering.
    I’m curious that even cheaper drones like syma x8g aren’t allowed as well? From aliexpress? Did you try buying any drone from them?? Please help.

    • @disqus_FP8ZmwkfDq:disqus, glad you find the info helpful. About importing drones, I suggest you hold off from doing so at the moment, since drone import in India is currently banned. You may want to look at eBay etc. for some RTF drones. There are a lot of hobby shops as well, such as RC Mumbai, Robu.in which may stock RTF quadcopters.

  • Sulay Lavsi

    Hi Yash, I currently have 2 drones which got stuck in customs for the obvious reasons. However, would you suggest importing drones via 3rd party couriers like FedEx/DHL etc ?

    • I’m assuming you’re based out of India. In that case, even FedEx/DHL/UPS/etc are of no use unfortunately. Were these drones of yours imported via registered post/EMS?

      • Sulay Lavsi

        I am actually based in India. And 2 drones which came via registered post have been detained ? However, now I’m planning to import one via DHL. Would that work ?

        • It’s a hit or miss, Sulay. I’ve had stuff like a CX-10 held up while bigger drones such as the JJRC H25 or even the CX-20 made it to me without problems.

          I wouldn’t recommend attempting to import drones in India at this moment.

          • Sulay Lavsi

            The ones that came through, did they come via registered mail or a DHL/FedEx alike ?

          • Both. I’d say I had slightly better luck with DHL/FedEx than EMS/registered, but you can never say.

  • Robert Lane

    Banggood – Walkera 250 RTF Drone shipping to the United States. I ordered this online back in April. Around May 4th I recived notice that the drone, battery and GPS had each shipped seperately. The battery and GPS arrived about 2 weeks after ordered. The drone shipping status has not changed when I look up the USPS tracking number since May 7th. When I track back I find notes frfom within China’s postal system indicating the package has been tagged with an ALERT. The definition of ALERT is anything from lost, damaged or returned to shipper – none of which sound good. My previous email to Banggood got a simple reply that it had shipped and gave me the tracking number I already had. Very concerning for my first purchase from Banggood. Does anyone have expereience with this problem – I would appreciate your advise.

  • Asia Quality Control

    Hello and thank you for your article!

    Our company, Asia Quality Control, is specialized in the quality control and inspection services in Asia.
    After reading your article, I would like to add our own article about the quality control of drones to avoid consumers to face problems:

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  • Hari

    Is it safe to import drone from China now?

    • Depends really on which country you are based out of.

  • Sameer Gahane

    hello yash ..thank you for the article but i already ordered a phantom dji 3 standard from geek buying before that i ordered a low price range drone i.e.husban x4 107 c and it is delivered very successfully..i dont know about the other drone i.e.phantom because before a day it is reached mumbai EMS..

    and message popping up as ……..

    ” MUMBAI EMS, Transfer from office of exchange (Inb), Air, CUSTOM EXAM MUMBAI..”

    i hope it is reaching soon or otherwise i have to pay the custom charges ..that is 1/3 of the price and it is not going to work..i can return the parcel…it is risk but i do not know what next will happen…
    thanks for the article..though…

    • Sameer, I’m afraid the drone is most likely going to be seized at customs. Indian customs isn’t allowing import of drones at the moment citing various reasons (you will most likely be asked for WPC Type approval or DGCA NOC, neither of which are possible to obtain at the moment).

      Anyway, keep posted here about the updates so the community can learn about the current situation.

    • SKumar

      Hi I have ordered a Syma X8G drone online from rcmoment as the price is low and features are good. I don’t know that there’s an issue involved in importing drones untill i searchd for it after i made online payment. Please suggest if I need to cancel the order or should i wait for it. 🙁

      • Recommend you to cancel the order.

      • Gairik Biswas

        Try rcduniya.com for your quadcopter requirements. My favorite is robu.in and quadkopters.com
        You can also buy from ebay.in, yes they charge a bit more but you will surely receive your item.

  • Paul

    hello sameer G…how much time H-X4 it took to deliver into india…any other charges you need to pay…thanks…

  • Ronald Timmers

    Really nice article about what to expect and where to buy. If you want to compare prices? Take a look at https://www.compareimports.com They compare many Chinese shops and products.

  • Dike

    im a drone exporter from China, we can provide you stable and nice price items. my phone number is +8618682097818 (whatsapp also)

  • Jenny Song

    FPV RC drone and accessories. Hope you can find something you like. Thanks!

  • Jérôme Gaudin

    Attention if you order your drone XIAOMI mi drone in China at Gearbest. Past one month ago, but never received and no information about it !

  • Sandhikshan Das

    Hello! Anyone Please clear my doubt…so i have shopped many times from china based stores like aliexpress & gearbest . But when the topic comes to importing drones to India then i have heard that it is totally illegal and custom scans every parcel individually. So inspite of being Patience is the only key, in reality will it work to avoid seize or destroy of the beloved drone at custom? and if they catch it then what will happen?

    • Yes, at the moment you cannot be importing drones into India. If you still want to fuel your passion, you can: (i) purchase from sellers like rcmumbai, ebay, etc. (ii) purchase from official DJI resellers or (iii) import parts from China and build your own drone here.

  • BsaChinaSourcing

    BSA China Sourcing help you importing from China for FREE,https://www.bsasourcing.com/

  • hithes hithu

    I ordered a 2.4k drone from banggood and it said it will delivered in 16-25 days. So I waited patiently but after waiting for 20 days the banggood sends me a email saying that no shipping facility is available and they will have the money refunded within a given time. Pls hepl