Resources - Documents for import from China

Documents for import from China

(Before we have a chance to gain some profits from buying Chinese products, some Import documents are required for trade with China)

import from china

Before we have a chance to gain some profits from buying Chinese products, some formalities are required. Every importer should prepare and gather necessary documents and present them to the custom officers or other authorities. Although, depending on the place, the list of required documents may be different, but the following are the most basic and common documents, used in the foreign trade.

DocumentDefinitionAdditional Information
1. Commercial invoice Commercial invoice is a formal note for payment. It is used as a customs declaration, meaning that the product is exported across international borders. Commercial invoice is prepared by the exporter. There are some risks related with the commercial invoice, including undervalued commercial invoice. Some sellers are willing to pay less taxes or avoid some formalities. As the commercial invoice is checked carefully by the customs, your goods may be withheld and you may suffer losses.
2. Bill of Lading (B/L, BOL) Bill of Lading is a document detailing a shipment of merchandise, giving title to the goods, and requiring the carrier to release the shipment in the specified port. Bill of Lading is issued by the shipping company. It can be used as the proof of shipment for customs and insurance companies. It can be delivered to the bank as a proof, so that the seller can execute the letter of credit. It may also be sent to the buyer, so that he can pay off the contract.
3. Air Waybill (AWB) Air Waybill is a receipt issued by an airline to prove that the goods were transported. It is a non-negotiable, valid contract enforceable by law. Air Waybill is prepared by the airline or by its authorized agent. Air Waybills have serial numbers, which can be used to check the status of the shipment. International air waybills that contain consolidated cargo are called master air waybills (MAWB). Air Waybills may be prepared electronically.
4. Packing List (Waybill, Shipping List) Packing list is a list of all goods shipped, it contain packing information as well. It serves to inform all involved parties about the content of the baggage. Packing List is prepared by the shipping company.
5. Pro forma invoice Pro forma invoice provides all the necessary information regarding the shipment (how many products are shipped, what are their features and dimensions). Importantly, it contains the final pricing, which helps the importer to make the final purchasing decision. It is not the true invoice, but is considered as legally binding agreement. Pro forma invoice is prepared by the exporter. In some countries customs offices may accept it (and demand commercial invoice to be delivered later). U.S. Customs may use pro forma invoice to assess duty. Banks and other financial institutions usually accept pro forma invoices in order to establish a Letter of Credit on behalf of the importer.
6. Certificate of Origin It is a document, which proves that the goods in a particular export shipment have been wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country. Certificate of Origin is provided by the exporter. Generally, there are two types of Certificate of Origin. The first one, Non-preferential Certificate of Origin, specifies the place of production, but the goods do not qualify for any exceptional treatment. Preferential Certificate of Origin means that the goods were manufactured in the country which has some trade agreement with our country (it refers, for example, to trade within the Commonwealth of Nations).
7. CITES Permit CITES Permit means that the import of goods is compliant with international wildlife protection regulations. CITES Permit is issued by the national CITES Management Authorities. If you import goods listed on CITES list, you shall need CITES permit, otherwise the goods may be confiscated and you may face persecution.
8. Import/Export Declaration Import/Export Declaration is a document, required sometimes by the customs office. It is a list of the imported/exported goods. Import/Export Declaration is prepared by the importer/exporter. The form of the Import/Export Declaration varies, dependent on the requirements of the particular customs office. Usually, the samples can be found online.
9. CE Certificate CE Certificate proves that the product is complaint with EU laws and directives (usually concerning health and safety). CE Certificate is obtained by notified bodies, list of which is accessible online. There are several institutions that have the right to conduct CE assessments. Not in every case this document is needed and sometimes the producer can self-certify his products, but in certain cases independent quality checking procedure is required.
10. Single Administrative Document (SAD) The SAD is the documentary basis for customs declarations in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The SAD is prepared by the importer. The form is available online. SAD should be used in trade with third countries and for the movement of non-EU goods within the EU. Several member states may require some additional information in the SAD.
11. Fumigation Certificate (SAD) It certifies that the exported cereals, oilseeds, pulses, hides and other goods, as well as the wood packaging and vegetable stuffing have been fumigated. Fumigation Certificate is issued by the country’s sanitary authorities/custom authorities. In China, it is the Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine of the PRC.Fumigation is the process of disinfection, usually conducted with methyl bromide or by heat treatment. Fumigation is necessary to protect the local flora and prevent the pests from moving from one country to another.

This list is not perfect and complete, but it should be the good starting point for individual research. As far as we know, it is very important to provide all of the required import documents on time, but the exact requirements may vary depending on the cathegory of products or other factors.