How to do Dropshipping if You’re Under 18!

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No matter whether you’re 15, 16 or 17 years old, I’m going to guide you through starting your own Shopify dropshipping business if you’re under 18. This includes the best strategy to overcome each step as a minor including how to open a Shopify account, accepting payments, taxes, supplier contracts and more.

If you’re a complete beginner, I suggest you read my article on creating a dropshipping business from scratch, It’s a full step-by-step tutorial.


Disclaimer

Any advice I provide in this article is not professional legal advice and I recommend you seek the advice of a professional before pursuing any of the information in this article. I am giving my personal advice from my own experiences and research.


How Old Do You Have to Be to Dropship?

You can legally start a dropshipping business at any age, however, many countries require you to be 18 years or older to enter into binding business contracts. This means you cannot legally run a Shopify store, use payment processors, or run paid ads without the assistance of a legal-aged adult.

The biggest issue when it comes to dropshipping as a minor is contracts. When it comes to using e-commerce platforms, payment processors, or running ads, you are entering into a contract of some kind.

For the most part, minors can agree to contracts the same as anyone over 18 can agree to contracts. However, contracts signed by minors are often voidable as the law assumes anyone under 18 is not capable of fully understanding the implications of a contract.

This also includes many suppliers you plan on working with. You may be able to work with suppliers such as Salehoo or Spocket but most domestic suppliers will send you a contract to sign in order to be accepted as a reseller of their goods.

This makes it very difficult to use many of the services and platforms required for a dropshipping business without the assistance of a person over 18 years old.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Use Shopify?

According to Shopify’s terms of service, you must be 18 years or older to open a Shopify account. However, it’s not illegal to start a business if you are still a minor, so what does this mean?

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Shopify has to implement this policy as it’s the law. In most cases, a contract from a minor is not a legally binding contract and therefore opening and running a Shopify account if you’re under 18 is against their terms of service.

The easiest option is to have someone over 18 years old open a Shopify account on your behalf. They will have to use their identification, bank details, social security number (SSN), credit card details as well as any other information Shopify requires.

I have an article on whether you can start a dropshipping business without an SSN.

The one part that a minor can do is provide their bank details. The rest of the information Shopify requires will need to be provided by a person over 18.

Ideally, you want to ask someone who isn’t affected by taxes in their life so it won’t make a difference to them. Maybe a business partner, a retired grandparent or an older sibling who isn’t earning an income yet.

The next option is one I have had no experience with personally but I know of under 18’s doing this. You will still need someone over the age of 18 but the advantage of this method is it will not affect the person’s taxes.

You can create an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) with an adult and have them as the organizer to set up the LLC. With this, you get an EIN (Employee Identification Number) which can be used instead of a social security number to set up your Shopify account.

A SSN is used to identify you as an individual and an LLC is used to identify you as a corporation. With an LLC, if for whatever reason you get into serious financial trouble with your business, your personal assets are protected and it’s just your business assets that can be taken away from you.

An LLC will cost you a few hundred dollars but may be a better option if your business will affect the person’s taxes.

There is a small loophole that can still allow you to legally run a Shopify store. Although the account owner of the store must be 18 years or older, they can legally employ a staff member who can be under 18 to open a staff account and essentially manage the dropshipping business. For more information, check out Shopify’s managing staff guide.

Shopify account terms stating you must be 18 years or older to open a Shopify account

An alternative to this is to not use Shopify at all. WooCommerce which is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress can be used by people under 18 years old. According to WordPress, you cannot use their service if you’re under 13 years old or under 16 years old if you’re located in Europe.

Whilst you will still run into other issues I mention in this article, WooCommerce appears like an excellent alternative to Shopify if you’re a minor.

What Happens if You Lie about Your Age on Shopify?

When you sign up for a Shopify account, you’ll have to click through the Terms of Service contract to register for an account. Sure, you could just lie and click “Agree” even if you’re 16 or 17 years old, however, once you start making sales, Shopify will ask for you to verify who you are legally.

They will require a legally aged account owner (AO) to verify who they are in order to withdraw any money made in the store. This verification will involve identification, bank details attached to the Shopify account and a social security number (SSN) for tax purposes.

If you lied about your age when registering a Shopify account and you cannot find a legal aged adult to become an account owner on your behalf, you will be unable to withdraw any income earned on the store, cease running the store and the Shopify risk assessment team may close down the store.

However, the money that was made in the store will not be lost, it will stay in the store until an account owner has been verified by the Shopify team. Check out this article for changing the account owner of a Shopify account.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Accept Payments in Your Dropshipping Store?

You will require a payment processor of some kind if you want to accept payments in your store, there’s no way around this.

The most popular online payment processor is PayPal which will require you to be 18 years or older to open an account. PayPal is strict with its policies so don’t even bother trying to fake it or your account will be frozen and you will be unable to access any funds.

PayPal’s terms of service apply worldwide, below are the terms for the US and Australia.

Age requirements to use PayPal in the USA
Age requirement to use PayPal in Australia

You can open an account with Stripe from the age of 13, however, they will require someone over 18 to sign off on the account if you plan on transferring funds.

It will require their;

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number (US Citizens)
  • Address
  • A statement saying they consent to your agreement
Age requirement to create a Stripe payment processor account

Shopify Payments which uses the Stripe platform, is one of the most popular payment processors for dropshipping which again can only be used if a legally aged adult opens the Shopify account.

The bad news is that you cannot open a payment processor and start making sales and accepting payments as a minor. You will need the assistance of a legally aged adult.

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on a Dropshipping Store if You’re Under 18?

You have to pay taxes on a dropshipping business no matter your age. The amount of taxes you pay does not change whether you are over or under 18. It will change depending on your location and the amount of profit you made will determine the income threshold you fall into.

You will have several options when it comes to the type of business structure you choose;

  • Sole Proprietor
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The majority of dropshipping businesses will opt for a Sole Proprietor or an LLC. This will vary depending on your personal situation and the amount of risk you want to take on for your business.

For teenagers under 18 who are planning to dropship, you will require an adult to provide their information. Let’s assume your parent is happy to provide their bank details and Social Security Number for your dropshipping business, will it impact the amount of taxes they already pay?

Any income you earn with your dropshipping business will affect the amount of tax they pay. It will be added onto whatever income they already earn and will put them into a higher income bracket and therefore pay a higher percentage of tax.

This will have to be factored into your overall business plan. You may have to pay your parent to make up for the additional taxes they pay. Your profit margins will have to be adequate enough to make this viable for your business.

As a beginner, you don’t want to invest too much money in a dropshipping business. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest you read my article on how to start a dropshipping business for under $100.

Can you Dropship from AliExpress as a Minor?

The most popular platform for dropshipping is AliExpress. According to the AliExpress terms of service, you must be over 18 years old to use their service.

The good news is that they do not require any proof of age when signing up and I highly doubt they will over ask or take any legal action if they found out you are a minor.

Aliexpress terms of service for people under 18

There are however a lot of products on AliExpress that are not intended for people under 18. It’s more important to use an age verification app in your store to legally protect you from selling specific goods to people under 18.

For more information, I suggest you read my article Is Aliexpress Dropshipping Worth it?

Dropshipping Age Requirements Summary

Dropshipping RequirementHow old do you have to be
SHopifyYou have to be 18 years old to open a Shopify account. Without a legal aged adult to open an account, you will need an alternative such as WooCommerce
Advertising Platforms
(Meta, TikTok, Google)
These platforms require you to be 18 years or older to run paid advertising campaigns. Without someone over 18 signing up on your behalf, you will have to focus on driving traffic using organic sources.
Payment Processors
(Paypal, Stripe)
Whilst some payment processors allow minors to create accounts, you will need to be 18 to transfer funds. A legally aged adult will have to create the account with a payment processor.
TaxesYou have to pay the same taxes on your dropshipping business no matter your age. Any income earned will affect whoever creates the Shopify account.
AliExpressYou are meant to be over 18 to dropship from AliExpress but it is not enforced the same as other platforms.
High-Ticket DropshippingDropshipping high-ticket items from domestic suppliers will require you to sign a contract which means you will have to be 18 years or older.
Age requirements for dropshipping

FAQ’s

How old do you have to be to dropship on Amazon?

Amazon does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to dropship or sell goods on their platform. Minors will require a legally aged adult to sign up on their behalf.

How old do you have to be to dropship on Shopify?

You have to be 18 years or older to open an account on Shopify. If you’re under 18, a legally aged adult can open an account for you but it will affect their taxes and they’ll be liable for your business.

Can you dropship at 16 or 17 years old?

You can legally dropship at any age, however, you must be over 18 to use e-commerce platforms and payment processors so you will require an adult to open these accounts on your behalf.

Does Shopify check your age?

Once you reach a certain amount of sales, Shopify will request identification to verify your age. If you’re under 18, Shopify will block your account.

Can I use my bank account to accept payouts on Shopify if I’m under 18?

You can use your own bank account to accept payouts with Shopify but the credit card details used for billing would need to be of a legal-aged adult.

Do you need permission to dropship?

Whilst you don’t need permission, you should let the supplier know you’re dropshipping. This way your supplier will remove any return addresses or marketing materials that can identify you’re dropshipping to your customer.

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