AliExpress Returns: Stress-Free Tips

Let’s face it; sometimes, even the best-laid shopping plans need a change. If you need to return an AliExpress item, knowing your rights and the steps to take can make the process much less stressful.

This guide will walk you through everything you need about AliExpress returns.


AliExpress, like most online marketplaces, has rules and procedures in place to protect buyers and sellers regarding returns.

Here’s what you need to know:

Basic Return Window:

You usually have 15 days from receiving your item to initiate a return request. It’s essential to act quickly if there’s a problem with your order. Here’s why:

  • Evidence: The sooner you file a return, the easier it is to prove an issue with the order (photos of damage, incorrect items, etc.).
  • Seller Responsiveness: Sellers tend to be more responsive when a return request is made within the initial window.
  • AliExpress Guarantee: In some cases, AliExpress’s Buyer Protection may be limited if you don’t act within the designated period.

Important Note: Some sellers may offer extended return windows. Always check the individual seller’s return policy displayed on the product page for variations.

Valid Return Reasons:

AliExpress allows returns for the following reasons:

  • Item not as described: The item you received differs significantly from the product description or images. This includes:
    • Significant differences in material, design, or functionality.
    • Incorrect specifications (like size, color, or quantity received).
    • Counterfeit items (if the listing advertised an authentic product).
  • Item damaged or defective: The item arrived broken or malfunctioned. This includes:
    • The physical damage was visible upon arrival.
    • Manufacturing defects that make the item unusable.
    • Issues arising shortly after use that suggest faulty artistry.
  • Wrong item, size, or color: You received something different from what you ordered. This could be:
    • A completely different product.
    • The right product but in the wrong size, color, or variation.
  • Item not received: Your order has yet to arrive. Keep in mind:
    • You must wait until the estimated delivery time has passed.
    • Tracking information can be essential for proving non-delivery.

Remember: Providing clear evidence (photos, videos, etc.) when you open your dispute will significantly increase your chances of a triumphant return.

“Free Returns” Advantage:

When shopping on AliExpress, look for the “Free Returns” label on the product page. This excellent service offers several benefits:

  • No-Cost Returns: If you’re unhappy with an item marked with “Free Returns,” you can return it within the 15-day window without paying for return shipping costs.
  • Flexibility: You can return the item for any reason, even if you change your mind. This takes some of the risks out of online shopping.
  • Simplified Process: AliExpress provides a free return label and clear instructions, making the process hassle-free.

How to find “Free Returns” items:

  • Search Filter: When searching for products on AliExpress, use the filters to narrow down results to only show items with “Free Returns.”
  • Product Page: Look for the “Free Returns” label prominently displayed on the product page, usually near the shipping information.

Important Notes:

  • Country Restrictions: The “Free Returns” service is available in select countries. Check AliExpress support for an up-to-date list.
  • Seller Participation: Not all sellers offer “Free Returns” on all their items.


Follow these steps to start the return process on AliExpress:

Step 1: Locate Your Order

  • Go to “My Orders” in your AliExpress account.
  • Find the specific order you want to return.

Step 2: Open a Dispute

  • Click the “Open Dispute” button next to the order. Note: This option usually becomes available a few days after the item is marked as “Delivered.”

Step 3: Choose Your Options

  • Select “Return Goods” as the dispute type.
  • Provide a detailed reason for the return (e.g., wrong item, damaged, not as described).
  • Upload Evidence: Include clear photos or videos to support your claim.

Step 4: Propose a Solution

  • You can request a “Full Refund” or a “Partial Refund” (if you wish to keep the item with a discount).
  • Indicate if you expect the seller to cover return shipping costs (non “Free Returns”).

Step 5: Negotiate with the Seller

  • The seller has a limited time to respond. They might:
    • Accept your proposal immediately.
    • Offer a counter-proposal (partial refund, exchange).
    • Request you to ship the item back at your own cost first.
  • Communicate clearly and be prepared to compromise if necessary.

Step 6: Shipping the Return (if agreed upon)

  • “Free Returns”: AliExpress will provide a return shipping label and instructions.
  • Negotiated Shipping:
    • Agree on the shipping method and cost with the seller.
    • Upload the tracking information to the dispute.

Step 7: Escalate if Necessary

  • If the seller is unresponsive or you cannot reach a fair agreement, escalate the dispute to AliExpress. AliExpress will review the case and make a decision.

Important Reminders

  • Start the return process before the 15-day return window expires.
  • Keep all communication and evidence within the AliExpress dispute system.
  • Be patient, as international returns and negotiations can take some time.


How you handle return shipping depends on whether or not the item has the “Free Return” label.

“Free Return” Shipping

  • Convenient Process: If you’re returning an item with “Free Return,” AliExpress will provide a return shipping label.
  • Simple Instructions: Follow the instructions provided by AliExpress when you open your dispute.
  • No Cost to You: You won’t need to pay for the return shipping.

Responsibility for Shipping Costs

  • No “Free Return”: If the item doesn’t qualify for “Free Return,” you’ll usually be responsible for the return shipping cost.
  • Seller’s Return Address: To reduce shipping costs, the seller should provide a return address, often within your country or region,
  • Negotiation Option: Sometimes, you can negotiate with the seller to see if they’ll cover the return shipping costs, especially if the item was significantly misrepresented or damaged.

Trackable Shipping

  • Always Use Tracking: Choose a shipping method that provides tracking information.
  • Proof of Return: This tracking number is proof that you returned the item to the seller.
  • Protection: In the event of a dispute, having proof of return strengthens your case.


Even with the best intentions, sometimes you’ll need help with the AliExpress return process. Here’s how to tackle some frequent issues:

  • Item Not Received:
    • Within the Buyer Protection Period: Open a dispute immediately requesting a “Full Refund.” Only confirm the order receipt once you have the item.
  • Delayed or Missing Refunds:
    • Check Processing Timeframe: Allow up to 20 business days for the refund to reach your original payment method.
    • Need for ARN: Contact your bank and provide the order details. They may need the transaction’s ARN (Acquirer Reference Number) to locate the refund.
    • contact AliExpress Support: If the refund remains delayed beyond processing, contact AliExpress support directly.
  • Seller Rejecting a Valid Dispute:
    • Gather Evidence: Provide clear photos or videos to support your return claim.
    • Explain Clearly: Communicate your reasons for the return concisely and detailedly.
    • Escalate: If the seller remains uncooperative, escalate the dispute to AliExpress for a fair decision.
  • Return Shipping Costs Disputes:
    • Free Returns: The process should be transparent with a provided return label.
    • Negotiated Returns:
      • Document your agreement with the seller clearly (screenshots of chats).
      • Get quotes from several carriers to compare return shipping costs before agreeing.
      • If the seller backs out after you ship, escalate the dispute to AliExpress.

Additional Tips

  • Contact Customer Support: AliExpress has a live chat function or a dedicated help center for further assistance.
  • Check Reviews: Before buying, read product and seller reviews for clues about how smooth their return processes tend to be.

Important Note: Always address issues within the AliExpress platform itself. Avoid communicating through external channels to ensure your conversations are documented.


Once your AliExpress return is approved, it takes time for the refund to reach your account. Here’s the general timeline and factors to consider:

Standard Processing Timeframe

  • AliExpress typically processes refunds within 3-20 business days after the return is approved. This timeframe starts when:
    • The seller agrees to your refund request.
    • The item arrives at the seller’s warehouse (if you need to ship it back).
    • AliExpress decides in your favor if you escalate a dispute.

Factors Affecting Refund Time

  • Payment Method: The type of payment method you used plays a role:
    • Credit Cards: Refunds may take 7-15 business days to reflect in your credit card statement.
    • Debit Cards: These canIt can be faster than credit cards.
    • Online Payment Services (PayPal, AliPay, etc.): Refunds may be reflected within a few business days.
  • Your Bank’s Processing: Your bank may need additional time to process the refund on their end after AliExpress releases it.
  • Holidays and Weekends: Expect delays if the refund is processed during a holiday or over the weekend.

How to Track Your Refund

  • Check Order Details: View the order details on AliExpress to see the refund status (e.g., “Refund successfully”).
  • Transaction History: Review your payment method’s transaction history for the refund entry.
  • Contact Your Bank: If you have not received a refund after 20 business days, contact your bank (provide the ARN if available).

Important Note: If your refund is significantly delayed, contact AliExpress customer support for assistance. Always be patient, as international refunds can take longer than domestic ones.

Before You Go:

While AliExpress returns are generally straightforward, a little extra effort upfront can go a long way in minimizing their need.

Read descriptions carefully, check reviews, and choose sellers wisely – ultimately leading to a more positive shopping experience on AliExpress.


How long does it take to get a refund?

Refund processing times can vary. Once the seller receives your return and approves the refund, it usually takes 3-20 business days for the funds to appear in your account. The timeframe depends on your original payment method.

Can I get a partial refund?

Yes, in some cases. If you want to keep an item despite a minor flaw or if only part of your order is incorrect, you can negotiate a partial refund with the seller.

What if the seller doesn’t respond to my dispute?

Your dispute will automatically escalate if the seller is unresponsive for a set period. AliExpress will step in to review the case and issue a decision.

What if I want to return an item after the 15-day window?

Some sellers may offer extended return windows. Even if not, it’s always worth contacting the seller directly to see if they can accommodate a late return.

How can I avoid needing to return items?

  • Read product descriptions and reviews carefully: Pay attention to details, measurements, and customer feedback.
  • Message the seller with questions: Clarify anything you need clarification on before ordering.
  • Check the seller’s ratings: Choose sellers with high ratings and positive reviews.

Can I cancel an order instead of returning it?

Yes, if the order has yet, you can usually cancel it to ship. Look for a “Cancel Order” button in your “My Orders” section. It’s best to do this as soon as possible.

What happens if the seller sends me the wrong item back after a return?

If this occurs, you should immediately open a new dispute and provide evidence (photos, etc.) of the incorrect item.

Do I need to return items in their original packaging?

Try to return items in the original packaging if possible. This helps protect the item during transit and may be required by some sellers.

What if the return shipping cost is more than the item is worth?

In this case, contact the seller directly. You can negotiate a solution where they refund you without needing a return or offer to compensate your shipping costs partially.

Can I open a dispute if my item is still in transit but taking too long?

It’s best to wait until the estimated delivery time has passed. However, the item seems stuck, or the tracking information isn’t updating. You can contact the seller to inquire about the delay in that case.


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