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I am planning to go on a trip to China.
I am also planning to buy 4-5 smartphones in China, but I do not know whether the China airport customs will allow for me to bring that many phones out of China back to USA.
Those cellphones will be new and packaged.
If I am allowed to bring that many phones out of China, what else do I need to do (i.e. like do I need to pay a certain tax or something)?

If I am not allowed to bring that many phones, how many phones can I bring?

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There is no custom-imposed limit of how many phones you can take out of China. Generally customs don't care about how much merchandize you export out of country, considering it is not otherwise export-restricted (antiques, endangered species etc); consumer phones are not.

Import, however, is a different story:

  • The US customs might care about how many phones you can import into the US. Depending on phone prices you may exceed your duty free exemption, in which case you'd have to pay duty (bring all your receipts).

  • If a phone is a counterfeit product, you are generally limited in importing only one model of each counterfeit phone; there are some other restrictions as well (note that this is still legal);

  • If a phone is not FCC certified, it might not be imported into the US.

None of those things concern China customs, so it may be possible to export something you later cannot import.

  • Thanks for your answer, but I still have a few more questions. Does this only apply for one person or a group of people? What is the limit to the phone prices when importing to the U.S.? – Irene Z. Sep 22 '16 at 5:23
  • Please see help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/454/~/… - generally $800 for US residents, and this applies to each person (i.e. 1600 for two). This assumes the goods are not for resale; in which case the rules are much more complex and I don't know them. There are no limits to imported amounts - you would just have to pay duty on the amounts over free exemption. – George Y. Sep 22 '16 at 5:31
  • Note that duty on electronics is generally very low, either 0% or 5% depending on the exact category. – JonathanReez Sep 22 '16 at 9:09
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    (+1) Not that importing identical packaged goods might be interpreted as a sign that they are in fact intended for resale and/or not for personal use (happened to someone I know in Switzerland, for goods whose value was well under the exemption threshold). – Relaxed Sep 22 '16 at 9:56

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