Buying Chinese Pens from source

Hello, I am new to WES and new to the Discussion Forum, so my apologies if this has been discussed before!

Having read Ian Williamson's excellent article in the December Journal "Low Cost Fountain Pens", I would like to order one of those mentioned.

I have two concerns when considering placing an order direct with a Chinese Supplier. When looking on eBay I note that: One, the lead time between order and delivery seems quite long. Two, in the "small print" it says that extra tariffs may be levied!

In the experience of WES members, who have ordered inexpensive pens direct from China, is the delivery time reasonable and do you get the pen for the price you pay initially on eBay or does what appears to be a cheap pen end up substantially more expensive?

I appreciate that it is possible to source some Chinese pens from within the UK, but many you appear to need to order from source.

Many Thanks,



  • Hi Jerry,

    I've just spotted your post and noticed no one has replied yet. I've not bought pens direct from China but I have bought other small manufactured items such as cheap tools and never had any problems. The link gives a very clear explanation of what tax and duty you have to pay. For this type of product you don't pay any VAT if the value of the import (including postage) is not more than £15. Also you don't need to pay Customs Duty if the value is under £135.

    If you go over these limits you’ll be contacted by Royal Mail, Parcelforce or the courier company explaining how to pay any VAT, duty and fees for dealing with customs. Beware, collection fees can be a lot more expensive than the VAT. They’ll normally hold your parcel for about 3 weeks. If you haven’t paid the fee by then, it’ll be sent back.

    Hope this helps you to decide if it's worth buying direct. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else has experience of importing from China or, perhaps, the USA?

  • Hi, Jerry,

    I have several inexpensive pens that I bought from China and, in every case, they arrived swiftly (i.e. less than 3 weeks) and with no surcharge/tax/import duty. Furthermore, they are every bit as beautiful when they arrive as they look in the advertisements.

    Somebody may have blocked the Suez Canal which may slow down the arrival of your pen(s) but they may manage to clear it sometime soon and get back to business as usual.

    I have bought non-pen stuff from China and have been very disappointed by delays (over 3 months delivery time) and the absolute impossibility of getting a refund if either the item does not arrive or if it does and it proves to be the wrong size/colour/shape or whatever, so I cannot give 100% assurance.

    Good luck,


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