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Topic: Question on import/export restrictions on certain products (Read 910 times) previous topic - next topic


I previously posted this on the Sensors forum since it concerned a sensor I'd purchased, but got no responses since it was a non-technical question, so I'm reposting it here. Apologies if either posts is inappropriate per site rules & conventions. Still fairly new here.

I was thinking of building some sort of toy for my nephews, a cube or ball that would change color and perhaps make sounds when turned or rolled, and could be programmed to have various modes. I figured that accelerometer or inclinometer devices would likely be too expensive or bulky, so I initially thought of designing my own crude mechanism using a metal tube and ball with sensors at either end.

But then I found out about the MPU-6050 Gyroscope+Accelerometer board, which is available on eBay from Asian vendors for under $1.50 and uses Arduino-compatible logic and power levels and I2C. So I decided to order one to play around with. But when I went to the order page, a warning popped up saying that this item was subject to a US export restriction.

I figured that since I live in the US and was trying to import the product to the US and not export it from here, I'd be ok, and sure enough it let me place an order for the board (which I verified went through since my credit card was charged).

But it's been several days and it still hasn't shipped, which in my experience never happens, as everything I've ever ordered on eBay from Asia ships either that day or the next. So I figure that this export restriction is the reason, and either there will be a delay but it'll end up getting shipped (and perhaps held at customs and perhaps never delivered to me), or the order will be cancelled because of this restriction, or it'll stay pending forever.

Does anyone know how this works? Do "export" restrictions to the US (or any other country) also tend to apply to when you're importing an item (perhaps because the figure that once you have it, you can then illegally import or smuggle it, especially given how small and innocuous-looking it is)?

It's also available from US-based vendors, but for a lot more, and budgetary constraints force me to go with eBay for most of my electronics these days.

Btw, could this also be a Trump thing, perhaps due to tighter controls on imports and exports since he took office, especially from China?

Are there FAQs or previous threads that deal with this topic, as I assume that it affects a whole range of devices and people?


I do not think it is anything like that. The seller would still ship it, but when it got to customs is where you'd have the problem. Aliexpress is made of individual sellers. Maybe you got a bad seller, or maybe he just didnt press the "shipped button"

This likely has nothing to with trade restrictions. Most sellers send small things like this as a "gift" anyway to avoid paying tariffs.


Shipping is still recovering from the Chinese New Year (Jan 28th to Feb 15th this year). Generally just try to avoid ordering any eBay / Aliexpress stuff around this time of year.


Both my DHL packages of printed circuit boards got inspected, which never happened in the past 7 years. Anecdotal evidence of tighter boarder.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


Thanks all. I got an email this morning saying that it shipped. It was probably the Chinese New Year. Glad I didn't order an electronic rooster as that might have taken even longer!

Although, per liudr, I wouldn't be surprised if it's delayed at customs, because it's on a list and, well, every new administration likes to prove how tough it is on, well, stuff.

Perhaps I need to start ordering things from Russia? ;-)

Btw, would this be the proper forum to post such questions (and political snark), as opposed to technical forums such as the sensor one I originally posted this on?


This is the Bar/sport section. Feel free to test the moderators' boundaries with "minimal" repercussion. As long as you don't launch personal attacks, you can say what you would like to say. My 2 cents.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


Perhaps I need to start ordering things from Russia? ;-)
Heh.  Before China got into the hobbyist PCB business in a big way, one of the big providers was Olimex, from Bulgaria (that's sort-of close to Russia, right?  The web says "Soviet dominated but not actually part of the USSR" (pre-breakup.))


Some devices are restricted because of their potential military use, For example I worked on microwave datalinks a while ago, and had to get clearance to import US power amplifiers in the 30GHz + region. Handy for phased array radar.

I don't think MPU-6050's are nearly accurate or stable enough to guide a missile...




Some devices are restricted because of their potential military use,
AFAIK, that's the reason for almost ALL of the restrictions...  That, or the 'technolgy' involved is of military use.

I don't think MPU-6050's are nearly accurate or stable enough to guide a missile...
In the interests of "simplifying" things, devices don't get restricted individually.  Whole classes of tech get restricted.  "Encryption" is the famous one.  "Any CPU capable at running over X MHz" was on the list at one time, I think.  I think "MEMS" (Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems) is on the current list, and that includes a lot of sensors.

(There's something deeply ironic about buying boards containing restricted technology from China Ebay sellers!)


FWIW still haven't gotten the 6050. I wonder if it's being held up at customs, and if I'll ever get it, and if I do, if the packaging will have been tampered with and if the unit will still work, perhaps having gotten zapped by static.


Customs take a long time to clear. Packages bound for some EU and North African countries take very long, weeks to month. I don't know why.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


China to uk tracked, i notice it only spends about 3 days in US customs.

For some reason though it comes to me via Colorado.


Customs delays could be due to a backlog, lack of personnel and resources, confusion over specific types of products, CYA, etc. I don't need this urgently, but am just curious as to why it's taking longer than a typical eBay electronics purchase from an Asian vendor. I think the likely reasons have been covered here.

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