How to shop on iHerb from China

iHerb is a great website for ordering products from the USA with free or cheap shipping to China. Here are some tips for shopping on iHerb as a foreigner living in China.

Make sure you are on the China site

If you go to iHerb website, you will be directed to the sub-site of the country you are connecting from. If you are using a VPN in China then you might get directed to the another country sub-site of iHerb. You can change the country by clicking beside the globe on the top right hand side of the home page.

Country and language settings on iHerb home page.

Then, set the country, language, and currency. Make sure to set the country to the same country as your shipping address, not your billing address.

For this guide I will assume you are in China and want to ship your items to China. For the currency you can choose USD if you are paying with an international credit card, or CNY if you want to pay by Union Pay or Wechat/Alipay.

Choose country, language, and currency on iHerb website.

Make sure to save your shipping destination before you add items to your cart, because your cart will be emptied when changing to a different country sub-site.

How order on iHerb in China as a foreigner without a Chinese ID card

This is the question I get asked most often. If you want to use your passport number for customs clearance instead of a Chinese ID card, then you must select SF Express PCR as the shipping method. This is the only option that will work for you if you do not have a Chinese ID card.

iHerb shipping options - SF Express CERI, ECMS x JD CERI, and SF Express PCR

If you want to use one of the other shipping methods then you will need to use the name and ID card number of a Chinese friend for customs clearance.

Choose SF Express PCR and ignore the link to upload your ID copy on the right. Instead, can enter your passport information on the iHerb checkout page directly.

iherb China shipping details enter passport info.

How to pay with Union Pay, WeChat, or Alipay

Unfortunately, you cannot pay by WeChat or Alipay to overseas merchants unless you have a valid Chinese ID card. So you will need a Chinese friend to pay for you if you want to use Alipay or WeChat to pay for your iHerb order.

However, you can use Union Pay freely as a foreigner if you have a Chinese bank card. Just make sure that you select SF Express PCR as the shipping method, otherwise Union Pay is not available.

You can also use an international credit card when shipping to China. But you still need to choose SF Express PCR as the shipping method in order to clear customs with your passport information.

How to save money on iHerb

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When you enter ITU171 on the checkout page, you will save money on your order and help support Tips for China!

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Reader Comments (24)

  1. I ordered iherb china site and they requested customer clearance and I give passport upload and including china entry permit including. But I check china shipping clearance status, clearance is “absent” what should can I do??

  2. Hello Guys,
    Does anyone have some tips on how to order from iherd in 2020, I guess they changed all the methods that were working before I tried all of them and still can’t checkout…

    Any recommendations for ppl ordering with Unionpay carts?

    • @wilker

      You must choose the “SF Express PCR” shipping method then you can pay by Union Pay and use a passport number for customs clearance.

  3. Hello! Can you please advise me how to order if I don’t have Chinese ID and my name can’t be translated in Chinese. However, iherb requests name in chinese. Thanks!

    • There is no need to enter a Chinese name, you only need to enter your shipping address in Chinese. You can write your name in English. Your name should match exactly how it’s written in your passport.

  4. I tried to order from iherb a couple times and both times failed because of the passport thing. I sent a picture of my passport both times and never got a good response back. So forget it.

    • You need to send your passport copy to SF Express AFTER you have already completed and paid for your order. Don’t send it to iHerb.

      When you checkout, choose the first shipping method “SF Express CERI – Shipping + Duties & Taxes” and make your payment with PayPal or a credit card (WeChat and Alipay don’t work for foreigners when paying merchants outside of China).

      Hope that info helps you. I know it’s possible, I just made an order a few days ago.

  5. I have no clue how to make my shipping 0. I have made my order over $40 and it still doesn’t work. Any suggestions?

    • If you are shipping to China, make sure that you are using the China version of the website. You can set the country in the top-left corner next to the iHerb logo.

      When you check out, just choose the first option – “SF Express PCR – Shipping + Duties & Taxes”.

  6. I couldn’t pay with any of the options even though I have all of them. Credit card, PayPal, we pay, Alipay. Every one just comes back with an error. What are u using to pay with?

    • I use a USD credit card.

      It’s not possible for foreigners to make overseas purchases using Alipay or Wechat Pay, as I found out when I made this YouTube video.

      Paypal should work if your Paypal account has a USD balance but not if you are trying to fund the purchase from a Chinese bank account.

      If your credit card is not working, try changing the currency to USD instead of CNY. If still not working, delete your cache and cookies and try again.

      I just made an order last week so it should definitely work with a credit card.

  7. Hi,
    I bought in november from iherbs without any trouble, but now, any payment methods does not work for non-chinese. I tried all of them: Credit card, wechat, paypal etc… How do you buy from the website?

    • The last time I bought from iHerb was May 18, 2017 and I paid with my Visa card in USD. I will try to make a new order soon and let you know the result.

  8. Hi, thanks for the info. I just tried making a purchase on iherb using both wechat and alipay. Both would not go through because I don’t have a Chinese id card linked to my accounts. What method do you use for payments if you don’t have Chinese id?

    • For my first order, I was able to pay using Alipay and then I sent my passport copy by email to and they entered it into their system manually. After the first time, then you don’t need to do it anymore. Just ignore the message about uploading your ID and make the payment. Then, send an email to with your passport copy and order number. Also, you need to choose SF Express for the shipping method. If you choose UCS, you cannot use your passport.

  9. Hello! Thanks a lot for the useful information! Could you, please, explain again about tax system? I made an order about 850 yuan, chose SF Express and it showed me tax – 250 yuan! If I press EMS China, they don’t even mention anything about tax. What does it mean? Does it mean that I have to pay tax later? Is there any way to avoid such high tax?

    • The tax system is a little complicated, this is how it works. Most items have a tax of 10% but some items such as cosmetics or health and beauty products have a tax of 50%. If the total tax of your order is less than 50 yuan then there is no tax if you choose SF Express (SF is still using the old method of no tax if the tax is under 50 yuan). SF will charge you the tax in advance when you place the order. EMS will charge you the tax when the goods arrive in China (you will get an email in Chinese asking you to pay the tax to the China Customs AliPay account). You can avoid the tax by splitting your order into smaller orders and using SF Express. All of the example shopping carts I have put on this website are tax-free using SF.

  10. Thanks for the advice! I’m living in China now and just tried placing an order on When I select SF Express for shipping, it says that I need to upload my Chinese id info and there doesn’t seem to be an option for passport. I asked iherb live chat about it and they told me to ask a Chinese friend…. Were you able to ship with SF Express without uploading Passport info for customs clearance?

    • I just got back to China after a vacation in Canada and I made another order on iHerb just now. I noticed the note about needing to upload the ID card when choosing SF. I just ignored it and placed my order anyway. If there is any problem I should be able to send an email to with my order number and passport copy. I have done
      this when ordering from other websites recently that would only accept a Chinese ID card. Anyway, I just placed my order now, I will let you know what happens.

  11. Hi, great information on purchasing from iherb from China. Can you tell
    me how long delivery takes? I would be living in Chongli, about 3 hours
    from Beijing. Thanks.

    • Delivery by SF Express is very fast, I usually receive my order within 1 week.