Importing goods from China is a multi-step process that requires an importer’s remarkable thoroughness and responsibility. The lack of necessary knowledge can result in enormous financial losses. Thus, before you start importing, you must know all its steps to prepare for it correctly. What to pay particular attention to when importing goods from China?
Supplier searching and verification in China
When you have already decided on what to import, you need to find a suitable supplier. Among others, you can do it via online shopping platforms, such as Alibaba and Made-in-China. All you need to do is enter the product’s name in the search bar, and you will find various offers from Chinese manufacturers and trading companies. However, importing from China requires cautiousness, as some sellers can turn out to be non-reliable.
To ensure that the chosen supplier is a manufacturer, not an intermediary, it is always worth verifying the company and organizing a factory inspection. Such measures will let you check whether you encountered a potential scammer. When you buy goods from the Internet, you cannot always be sure of their excellent quality. Thus, we recommend carrying out quality control. In this way, you can verify each step of the manufacturing process and ensure that your goods will not turn out of bad or lousy quality.
Another way to secure your business transaction is to sign a commercial contract with your supplier. It is not an obligatory process but will allow you to determine the terms of sale and avoid any misunderstandings. We suggest signing an agreement, especially in the case of high-value orders, because they can save an importer from financial losses. A commercial contract is fundamental for the possible recovery of losses and the pursuit of their cases in the event of a dispute between the parties.
What to remember when importing goods from China?
Mandatory documents and markings
Imported goods must fulfill all obligations included in relevant directives, regulations, and norms. To verify the goods’ compliance with the legal requirements, carrying out specific tests on them will be needed. The compliance with the requirements of the European market, demonstrated in this process, allows for obtaining documents authorizing the obligatory marking of the products.
One must pay particular attention that various goods can require different markings, certificates, and documents. For example, products maintaining constant contact with food, such as food containers and kitchenware, will demand the cup and fork symbol. Electrical and electronic equipment, toys, and many other items must have a CE mark. Some products also require a correct label, tag, or preparing technical documentation.
You can find any information concerning markings, certificates, and documentation in directives, harmonized norms, and regulations. Properly marked goods will allow you to smoothly pass through customs clearance and their distribution in the European Union.
New Approach Directives and harmonized norms
A critical issue that every importer must take care of is the goods’ compliance with the European Union’s market requirements. Products that don’t fulfill the obligatory regulations will not pass customs clearance and will not be placed on the market. The basis of valuable knowledge for an importer in requirements is the New Approach Directives. It’s a compilation of norms and obligations concerning the consumers’ and the environment’s safety. The directives are related to groups of products or the risks arising from their use. Please note that one product can be subjected to a few directives.
Moreover, every directive has its list of harmonized standards. These norms also state requirements concerning a particular product. They contain the technical specification of the goods and indicate the methods and criteria for assessing their performance. The use of harmonized norms aims to simplify evaluating the product’s compliance with the relevant regulations and is voluntary. However, keep in mind that it becomes mandatory if a certain norm is referred to in the law or regulation.
To check if your goods comply with the requirements in the proper directives, regulations, or norms, you must conduct a conformity assessment. As a part of this procedure, an importer or a notified body carries out appropriate tests on the product, verifying its compliance with specific directives or regulations. Test results are then included in test reports.
CE is a common marking found on many products. Results from tests on products in test reports allow the assessment body to issue a CE certificate. Obtaining both these documents entitles a manufacturer or a representative to issue the Declaration of Conformity and permanently affix the CE mark on a product.
The CE mark also attests that the goods fulfill the requirements of the directives it’s subjected to. Remember that not all products require such a marking. Information on what product groups must have the CE mark can also be found in the New Approach Directives.
Transport of goods from China
When you find and verify your supplier and choose a product of interest, the next step is selecting the transportation method. If you import goods from China, you can choose from the following types of transit:
- sea – the cheapest but the slowest;
- rail – more expensive than sea freight but with a shorter transit time;
- road – more costly than rail and sea freight, but definitely lower than air freight; possible door-to-door delivery;
- air – the most pricey and the fastest.
If you’re choosing the way of transport, it’s worth considering using Incoterms 2020 regulations. They determine the conditions of trade and thus divide costs and responsibilities between both parties. Although their use is not obligatory, they make the transaction much easier for both the buyer and the seller. Knowing Incoterms 2020 will allow you to negotiate with a supplier and agree on the most convenient option for you.
The picture below presents how particular Incoterms rules divide costs, obligations, and risk and what transport method they refer to. You can also find detailed information on Incoterms 2020 in our free guide.
Importers should also gain knowledge concerning all formalities associated with customs clearance. It’s a necessary process when importing products not only from China but also from other countries outside of the European Union. In order to properly prepare for it, you should find out what documents are obligatory to carry it out.
To pass the customs clearance smoothly, you need:
- Bill of Lading (B/L; BOL) – for sea freight; Air Waybill (AWB) – for air freight; CIM or SMGS – for rail freight
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing List (specification).
The above-listed documents are required for all goods imported from outside the EU. However, one must keep in mind that you will also need different documents, certificates, or licenses for some products, e.g., a Declaration of Conformity or a Certificate of Origin.
When importing goods from China, you should remember about customs duties. Before you start importing, make sure to check the duty rates on the products you’re interested in. This will be allowed thanks to the free TARIC system, where you will find both the values of tariffs and VAT for any products. We will also check the HS codes of your goods.
Goods from China – Summary
Importers of goods from China must take many factors into account so that the process can run smoothly. First and foremost, they should verify the chosen supplier to confirm their reliability and carry out quality control. One of the most crucial steps is checking the goods’ conformity with the New Approach Directives, obtaining the required documentation, and affixing the required markings on the products.
It’s also worth getting acquainted with the Incoterms 2020 rules to negotiating the most beneficial method of transport with your supplier. When buying Chinese products, you must check their duty rates and HS codes in the TARIC system. Remember to have the complete set of necessary documents to ensure that your goods pass customs clearance.