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How to Import From China in 6 Steps: 2023 Complete Guide

Update on: August 16, 2023

As the world's largest exporter of consumer goods, China plays a vital role in driving demand for goods and services and has significantly contributed to global economic growth.

China is often called the "world factory" due to its vast manufacturing infrastructure, skilled workers, and rich industry experience.


The latest data shows that China's export volume increased from $283.83 billion in May 2023 to $285.32 billion in June. In 2022, China exported goods worth approximately $3.59 trillion, an increase of roughly 7% in export value compared to 2021. The United States and Japan are among the main export destinations.


Imported products from China can obtain high-quality products at lower prices and bring generous profits to enterprises. After deducting factory/supplier costs and import tariffs, imported products from China can save 30% to 150% more than imported products from most other regions.111


China's strong product customization capabilities can also bring differentiation characteristics, improve profitability, and enhance competitiveness to enterprises. Therefore, if you want to expand your business and earn more profits, importing from China is an excellent opportunity for enterprises to enter the vast and constantly growing market.


Suppose you have yet to experience importing products from China. In that case, you may lose expected profits due to opaque purchasing prices, poor product quality, extended transportation time, inconsistent transportation costs, regulatory fees, and unexpected delays.


How to import from china


Therefore, this guide aims to help those who wish to import from China but need help knowing where or how to start gain experience in importing from China. We can assist you in identifying potential products, finding reliable suppliers, purchasing products, international logistics, and common issues when importing from China. After reading this guide, you will master the knowledge and strategies required to import from China successfully and have more understanding and confidence in importing from China. So let's get started!





Step 1: Choose products to import from China


Purchasing products from China can help you obtain a richer range of products at a lower cost. But it is crucial to understand what product you want to choose clearly. If you need help choosing, please read our guide to the best products imported from China.


When importing products from China, the first step is to identify potential products that meet the needs of your target market. Analyze the characteristics of your favorite product and ensure that it has a call. The most important thing is to find best-selling, high-quality, and competitively-priced products.


From a profit perspective, the product you choose to import should have the following:

  • Continuous and sufficient demand
  • A profit margin of at least 30% or more
  • Competitive prices
  • Low maintenance requirements during transportation, warehousing, or storage
  • Being able to sell them reasonably in your state or country/region


From the perspective of laws and regulations, you should avoid:

  • Meat, poultry, and animal by-products
  • seed
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cosmetics, medical products, and pharmaceuticals
  • Any flammable fabric
  • Tobacco products
  • explosive
  • noble metal
  • Any brand product, whether genuine or fake
  • Alcohol (without appropriate permission)
  • Any vessel or motor vehicle (without proper consent)


The quality of products produced in China varies significantly due to various factors such as the materials used, manufacturing processes, and quality control measures implemented by manufacturers. Therefore, ensuring product quality is crucial when importing products from China. A standard method is to request product samples before placing large orders. You can also hire a third-party quality inspection service agency to conduct quality control inspections and verify whether the product meets your standards. Finally, clear communication with suppliers is crucial. Ensure to convey your quality expectations and provide specific requirements and measures to avoid misunderstandings.


Identifying potential products imported from China is the first step in a successful import business. Before purchasing products, please conduct due diligence and investigate to determine products that can be legally imported and whether you have the legal right to import a specific product. Familiar with China's import and export laws, and your country can avoid any legal issues.



Product Restrictions

The laws and regulations implemented by the Immigration Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) prohibit or restrict specific product categories to ensure consumer health. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines, delays, confiscation of goods, and even legal penalties.

Before collaborating with suppliers, understanding whether these regulations apply to the goods you plan to import is essential.


Some examples of import regulations include:

  • Commercial equipment: Air conditioners, water heaters, stoves, and other products must have energy efficiency labels.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and nuts: Many varieties must meet the size, quantity, and maturity requirements. FDA must issue the inspection certificate.
  • Meat, poultry, and egg products: All varieties must be accompanied by an inspection certificate issued by the country of origin's government and re-inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture upon entry.
  • Seeds: Goods containing seeds will be detained, and samples will be taken and tested upon entry.
  • Wooden packaging materials: pallets, Flat noodles, boxes, and padding must be heat treated or fumigated and marked to prove the treatment.
  • Toys: Children's products must comply with the safety regulations of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and undergo inspections to determine dangerous sharp edges and tips.


Please refer to CBP's import guidelines for a complete list of product regulations and restrictions.



Permits and licenses

In most cases, individuals and businesses do not require import licenses.


Nevertheless, importing certain unique products still requires obtaining a special permit or license from the country of entry. These categories include:

  • Agricultural products, such as plants and plant products
  • weapons and ammunition 
  • Certain foods, such as cheese, milk, and dairy products
  • Livestock, animals, and insects
  • Tobacco and alcohol
  • Medical equipment and supplements



Why are Chinese products cheap?


Labor: China's labor costs are much cheaper than other countries'.

Rich supply chain: Manufacturers can quickly obtain affordable raw materials from local suppliers.

Technology and automation: Chinese factories can manufacture products with high efficiency and scalability.

Efficient logistics: China has built numerous ports, a world-leading road and railway network, significantly reducing transportation costs.

Government promotion: China promotes exports by establishing special economic zones, tax and fiscal incentives, tax refunds, export insurance, and exchange rate management.




Step 2: Find reliable Chinese wholesale suppliers


Once you know which products you want to purchase or understand the qualifications they need to meet, you need to find trading partners to supply them.

Importers usually cooperate with professional China sourcing agents, and you can also import products directly from Chinese factories.


But to understand which purchase method is most suitable for your business, you also need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method:


Sourcing agent company

Advantages Shortcoming
More stringent quality control Most products have higher prices.
Wider product selection Limited control over design, materials, and production
Low or even no minimum order quantity (MOQ)  
High-quality service and strong customer support  


  • Business model: Sourcing agency companies do not produce goods but purchase various products based on your needs (products come from one or more factories)
  • Best suited: Purchasing a wide range of products
  • Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ): Lower minimum order quantity requirements, many of which do not even have a minimum order quantity
  • Customer service and sales support: Good



Advantages Shortcoming
Due to being a self-produced product, the product cost is relatively low Few product types
More control over design, materials, and production Higher minimum order quantity (MOQ)
  Poor customer support


  • Business model: The factory mainly produces goods using raw materials
  • Best suited: Purchasing customized products
  • Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ): The minimum order quantity requirement is high, usually from 500 to 1000, depending on the product
  • Customer service and sales support: Average to Poor


A professional China sourcing company may be a better choice for beginners who have yet to deal with Chinese suppliers. They can help you avoid many unknown issues and provide access to suppliers you may need help finding yourself. But please remember you will pay a handling fee of 5% to 10% of the order price.


Regardless of its business model, importing products from Chinese suppliers is similar. Therefore, if the quotation is appropriate, do not be concerned about whether the supplier is a factory or a sourcing agent. What you should be more concerned about is that the entire purchasing process should not waste too much of your energy and workforce dealing with communication issues in the purchase. The best outcome is that you only need to focus on the business.



Where to Find Chinese Suppliers

The following is a list of valuable resources for finding wholesale suppliers in China.


Ⅰ. Supplier List and Wholesale Market

The supplier directory is a platform that hosts information about tens of thousands of factories, trading companies, and suppliers. You can filter trading partners by product, category, location, and price. Once you have selected potential partners, you can contact them through the supplier's contact information in the catalog.

On the other hand, the wholesale market is a B2B e-commerce website mainly engaged in import and export trade. You can contact suppliers and bulk purchase products from these B2B websites.

The following is a list of top suppliers and markets for imported products from China. (international version of Alibaba) is a well-known brand for global B2B e-commerce, with massive business information and a convenient and secure online trading market, providing users worldwide with many high-quality goods and merchants. 1688 has many popular new products, high-quality and affordable products, high-quality sources of goods, and merchants, providing buyers with various wholesale purchase options. 1688 users are primarily Chinese, and the price is more affordable than Alibaba and AliExpress.


• Alibaba and AliExpress

Alibaba and AliExpress are comprehensive e-commerce platforms with complete functions. In addition to online transactions, they also provide services such as customs, finance, logistics, and credit insurance, effectively providing convenience for sellers, just like Alibaba's goal of "making everything difficult."


Global Resources

Global Resources is a significant trading platform headquartered in Hong Kong. Global Resources is the preferred resource for electronic products and fashion clothing, but its minimum order quantity for sellers is usually higher than other platforms.


The platform operates similarly to Alibaba but is aimed at more advanced buyers. It is a strictly B2B wholesale platform that adopts a more complex supplier review process.


Buyers can filter by business type, company certificate, product certificate, responsibility specification, minimum order quantity, subcategory, location, experience, etc.


Dunhuang website

DHgate is similar to AliExpress in that it is more like a wholesale market than a supplier list. It is product-centric, which is a good choice for beginners and temporary importers.


The platform is known for providing products with competitive prices, but buyers often report disappointing product quality. Generally speaking, the minimum order quantity for products on DHgate is relatively low.


Ⅱ. Trade Exhibition

The best way to establish connections with high-quality supply partners is to visit trade exhibitions. Most trade exhibitions in China are free and seasonal - usually in early May and November.

With the relaxation of epidemic restrictions, trade exhibitions in China are expected to attract significant interest from global buyers.


The following are the largest trade shows for purchasing Chinese products and connecting with suppliers:


Canton Fair

The China Import and Export Fair (The Canton Fair) was founded in 1957. It is currently China's longest and largest comprehensive international trade event, with the most diverse variety of products, the most significant number of visitors, the broadest distribution of countries and regions, the best transaction results, and the best reputation. It is widely regarded as the most important trade exhibition in the world. The holding of the previous Canton Fair has received widespread attention from the global business community and various sectors of society, with tens of thousands of reputable and foreign solid trade companies, production enterprises, and private enterprises participating.


Most suppliers participating in the Canton Fair have experience exporting to buyers in the United States and Europe.


Global Resource Trade Exhibition

The Global Resources Hong Kong Electronics Exhibition is held in two phases each year in April and October, attracting over 200000 buyers to purchase on-site and establishing business relations with suppliers. It is a grand event for global electronic product purchases.


The Global Resource Trade Exhibition is scheduled to be held annually before the Canton Fair so that attendees can easily visit both exhibitions during the same trip to China. It is much smaller in scale than the Canton Fair but has attracted more suppliers in specific categories, such as electronic products and clothing.


As of 2019, the total number of buyers who visited the Global Resources Exhibition exceeded 2 million.

During the event, Global Resources provides a series of services aimed at making the exhibition experience easy, comfortable, and convenient for exhibitors, as well as creating more face-to-face opportunities for exhibitors to interact with buyers and help them achieve maximum profits from their participation.


East China Import and Export Fair (ECF)

The East China Import and Export Fair (ECF) is China's largest import and export trade exhibition focusing on the textile, clothing, and light industries. It is held in Shanghai every March. ECF suppliers mainly focus on fashion accessories, consumer goods, art, decoration, and home furnishings, and the exhibition is divided into four categories of exhibition areas.


The 31st East China Import and Export Commodity Fair will be held from July 12 to July 15, 2023, at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.


This year's China International Trade Fair attracted buyers from 119 countries and regions, with over 35000 domestic and foreign merchants attending, with a transaction volume of 2.18 billion U.S. dollars.

For more information, please visit the East China Expo website.


Ⅲ. Yiwu Wholesale Market

Yiwu is famous for its largest wholesale market, also known as China Commodity City (CCC), and is the world's largest wholesale market for small commodities.


Yiwu China Small Commodity City is also known as the "paradise for shoppers," specializing in selling small and cheap products, accounting for nearly 60% of the global supply of cheap consumer goods.


As of 2022, the Yiwu small commodity market has ranked first in the national professional market for 31 consecutive years. The wholesale market in Yiwu is open every day throughout the year (excluding the Spring Festival period), with a market area of over 6.4 million square meters, 75000 stores, and over 1.8 million products sold to 210 surrounding countries and regions.


In addition to the main trade centers, multiple markets around Yiwu specialize in selling various commodities.

About 15000 overseas merchants from over 100 countries and regions have settled in Yiwu.


For more information and to view the various products sold in Yiwu, please visit the official website of Yiwu Market.



Suppliers that meet your requirements should at least meet the following conditions:

  • Having long-term export experience in this product or category
  • Having comprehensive and professional operations
  • A price that can provide you with a sufficient profit margin
  • Provide after-sales support
  • Possess all applicable certificates required for your country/region
  • We have already exported the product to your country and can provide a reference
  • Provide you with reasonable payment terms


Due to the physical distance between you and Chinese suppliers, it may be difficult to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent suppliers, especially if you are not familiar with the market.


When looking for new suppliers, it may be helpful to pay attention to the following characteristics:

  • Verify the legitimacy of suppliers by checking their business licenses, company registration documents, tax registration certificates, etc.
  • We are looking for suppliers with ISO and Q.S. certifications. ISO and Q.S. certificates are quality management certifications that indicate that suppliers have met specific industry standards for implementing effective quality management systems.
  • Market research: Analyze comments and feedback from suppliers and customers online.



How to start collaborating with new Chinese suppliers


Initiate contact


After determining the list of potential suppliers, you can contact many potential suppliers to introduce your basic situation and needs.

Products usually have a minimum order quantity limit, and there are significant differences between different suppliers, so you must focus on understanding this factor when contacting suppliers.


If you receive a response from a supplier that meets your requirements, please maintain in-depth communication with the supplier and continue to obtain critical information, such as:

  • Product samples
  • Delivery time
  • Payment terms
  • packing
  • Material specifications
  • quality standard
  • Transportation terms


Request samples or place testing orders


If the supplier's prices and terms meet your requirements, you can "inspect" their goods by requesting samples. It is a method of evaluating product quality, but the examples you receive may be carefully selected and may not necessarily represent the overall performance of the supplier's products.

To test the actual quality of supplier products more accurately, please try the next testing order.


Negotiate pricing and terms


Once satisfied with the new supplier, you can negotiate before making a formal purchase. You have more bargaining power when purchasing large quantities, but you can negotiate prices, shipping terms, deposit terms, and packaging details even for small purchases.




Step 3: Purchase Products


When placing your first order with a new supplier, start with the minimum order quantity before understanding the quality of the product.

Including product specifications, unit quantity, pricing, packaging, transportation, and payment terms in the purchase order is best.


Payment terms and methods

To ensure the common interests of both parties, Chinese suppliers usually require a deposit of 30% -50% before the production of goods. The remaining payment is collected after the goods arrive at the port of entry (after you pay the balance, your agent/supplier will send you a bill of lading, and you will use the bill of lading to pick up the goods).

You don't need to worry about currency exchange issues, as the U.S. dollar (USD) is the leading global currency, and most Chinese suppliers use USD for payment.


You can make payment through the following methods:


Wire transfer (T.T.)

Wire transfer (T.T.) payment is a standard electronic fund transfer between banks, which incurs lower fees than other methods and is accepted by all Chinese suppliers. T.T. payment lacks anti-theft protection, but it is still the most recommended method for import professionals, who say that security can be better ensured by doing well in homework and personally reviewing new suppliers.


Letter of Credit (L.C. or LOC)

A letter of credit (L.C. or LOC) is a fund transfer that includes a certain level of insurance. You pay the bank, and the bank provides a guarantee to the supplier. Once your bank confirms that all items in the order have arrived at the correct destination, the supplier will receive payment.


The security of L.C. is beneficial, but due to the high transaction fees, it may not be worth it. Reviewed suppliers are likely to take your money and stay put. The more significant risks buyers face are product quality issues and transportation delays. A letter of credit cannot provide any protection against these two possibilities, so it is usually only used for huge transactions.


Alibaba Trade Guarantee

Alibaba provides payment processing options, which work similarly to obtaining a letter of credit from a bank. After confirming the shipment, you will submit the payment to the designated Alibaba account and send it to the supplier.

Unlike L.C. payment, if the shipment is delayed beyond the specified date or the quality of the goods does not meet the agreed product specifications, Alibaba Trade Guarantee will refund you.


This method requires both parties to use Alibaba accounts for free. The only expense incurred is processing your payment to your Alibaba account.



This option is safe and straightforward, but importers do not commonly use it. PayPal charges very high transaction fees, and many suppliers do not have PayPal accounts to accept payments.

PayPal is usually only used for small, introductory purchases, such as sample and trial orders.


Please remember that price is not the only factor that needs to be negotiated. Establishing good supplier relationships can improve transportation costs, minimum order quantity, sample size, packaging, payment terms, etc.


Restocking may take several months when your supplier is located on the other end of the world. Therefore, it is crucial to accurately predict demand, calculate inventory, and consider delivery time when selling goods imported from China.


In addition, when predicting upcoming orders, please consider the duration of the Chinese holidays. Legal holidays affect delivery times, especially during the Chinese Lunar New Year when most business stops.




Step 4: Arrange cargo transportation


The transportation and export customs clearance of goods is usually the responsibility of the supplier. It takes one or two days to transport the goods from the factory to the port, and in addition, it takes several days to complete regular customs procedures.


You can also hire a professional freight forwarder to handle these tasks. Freight forwarders focus on cargo transportation, such as promoting scheduling, tracking, insurance, etc. They can save you money by merging LCL goods with other transportation methods. They can also obtain discounts through cooperative transportation companies to provide highly competitive logistics prices.


At present, there are three standard modes of cross-border cargo logistics transportation, namely international express delivery, sea freight, and air freight, with different characteristics and application scenarios:


International express delivery

International express delivery is a logistics transportation method with fast delivery speed and vital timeliness. It usually refers to the rate of transporting goods being relatively short, and the transportation time is generally between 1-7 days. Global renowned international express delivery companies include DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT, etc.




• Fastness

A significant characteristic of international express delivery is its speed. It is thanks to the efficient logistics network and advanced information technology that global express delivery companies possess. International express delivery companies can directly transport goods from the shipping location to the destination through their network without any transshipment process, thereby shortening transportation time.



The timeliness of international express delivery is very high, usually delivering goods to the destination within 1-7 days, and it also has a certain degree of accuracy. Express delivery companies typically provide customers with logistics information inquiry services, and customers can keep track of the logistics status of goods at any time through the inquiry system.



International express delivery companies usually provide packaging and insurance services during logistics transportation to ensure the safety of goods. In addition, international express delivery companies will also take some security measures, such as actual name delivery, scanning, and monitoring, to reduce the risk of goods being lost or stolen.


Applicable scenario:


International express delivery is suitable for situations where the quality of goods is small, the weight is light, and the timeliness requirements are high. Generally speaking, interests suitable for international express transportation include documents, samples, small gifts, etc., but the price is higher than air and sea freight.


International sea freight

Sea transportation refers to transporting goods to their destination, which requires using sea transportation tools, mainly container ships, bulk carriers, etc., with a wide range of applicability. Maritime transportation is divided into full ship charter and bulk cargo transportation. Whole ship leasing refers to the customer renting an entire ship to transport goods suitable for large quantities and a single type of goods. Bulk cargo transportation refers to customers leasing only a particular portion of the goods they need on a vessel for transport, which is suitable for situations with various interests and varying quantities.





Due to the large quantity of goods transported by sea, the unit transportation cost is lower. Especially for large and bulky goods, using sea freight can significantly reduce logistics costs.


Wide applicability

Maritime transportation has a wide range of applicability and is not limited by the types of goods, with a wide variety of goods that can be transported. In addition, sea transportation can simultaneously transport many goods, meeting customers' needs such as large quantities and long cycles.


High reliability

Although sea transportation is slower, transportation safety is relatively high. Shipping companies usually take measures such as packaging, securing, and scheduling to protect the goods and avoid losses during transportation.


Applicable scenario:


Sea freight is suitable when goods are large in volume, heavy, low in value, and insensitive to transportation time. Generally speaking, sea transportation takes a long time, and interests suitable for sea transportation include steel, electronic products, furniture, local specialties, etc.


International Air Transport

Air freight refers to transporting goods through an air freight company or airline. Air freight is one of the shortest and fastest modes of transportation, especially suitable for high-value and urgently needed items such as electronic products, jewelry, samples, pharmaceuticals, etc. The characteristic of air transportation is its fast speed but relatively high cost.




  • Fast speed: Air freight is the shortest and quickest mode of transportation, suitable for transporting urgently needed goods.
  • High cargo safety: Air freight companies provide safe and reliable air transportation services to ensure the safe transportation of goods.
  • Good transportation conditions: Environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity can be guaranteed during air transportation, making it suitable for customers with high-quality requirements for goods.




  • High cost: Air freight costs are high, suitable for urgently needed or high-value goods, But for some ordinary goods, the price is a bit high.
  • Small volume: Air freight has limitations on the weight and volume of goods, making it suitable for small batches and weights but not for transporting bulk goods.


Regarding transportation rates, sea freight is quoted based on volume, while air freight is calculated based on weight.

International express delivery is usually a door-to-door service, meaning your goods will be delivered directly to the final destination. DHL, FedEx, and UPS are commonly used air express services. There will usually be an additional surcharge if your goods are worth $800 or more. The carrier will provide customs clearance services to ensure smooth customs clearance of your goods.

Air and sea freight is from the port of origin to your nearby airport or seaport. After entering the country, your Chinese carrier will arrange the transportation of the goods to the final destination (if you have yet to agree with the Chinese page in advance, you will contact the freight forwarder to complete it).


In summary, international express delivery, sea freight, and air freight have advantages and disadvantages. The choice of transportation method depends on various factors such as the type of goods, quantity, time requirements, and cost.

When choosing a transportation method, one should consider various factors comprehensively based on their situation to achieve the best transportation of goods: 

  • For urgently needed, small batch or high-value goods, it is recommended to choose international express delivery or air freight;
  • For bulk and bulk goods, it is more appropriate to choose sea freight.



Do you know that the most common modes of transportation from China are sea freight and air freight? According to data from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, in 2022, China's container transportation volume reached 296 million TEUs. In addition, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the international cargo volume of Air China reached 2.64 million tons in 2020.




Step 5: Customs clearance of goods


Customs clearance is an essential step in importing from China. Provide the correct documents and follow the proper procedures to avoid the risk of goods being inspected and detained, which can lead to delays and additional costs. In the worst-case scenario, your product will be seized, destroyed, or auctioned off.


Customs clearance process

• Preparation of documents

International trade requires the preparation of necessary documents in advance, such as invoices, contracts, packing lists, certificates of origin, etc.

Customs declaration

The customs requires a cargo declaration form, on which information such as the owner's name, address, contact phone number, product name, quantity, weight, shipping cost, importer, and exporter should be filled in.

Review and payment of taxes

The customs reviews the list of goods and businesses declaration forms, checks whether they involve commercially prohibited goods, and then calculate the relevant taxes and fees.


Customs personnel conduct spot checks on the goods to check whether they meet quality standards and relevant regulations.


After review, tax payment, and inspection, the customs will issue a release order for the goods to be released from customs.


To obtain permission for the port of entry, you need to prepare some customs clearance documents, such as commercial invoices, bills of lading, and packing lists. You must also use the Harmonized System (H.S.) code to classify products to determine the correct tariffs and tax rates. The customs process, costs, and requirements vary depending on the value of your goods, as shown in the tariff description below.


The following is a detailed analysis of each factor:


Tariff (import tax)

The importer pays duties (also known as Tariffs) at the time of importation. The customs duties will be delivered to the entry customs before your goods are released. The import tariff depends on your product bill of lading, packing list, and Commercial Invoice.


The specific tariffs may vary depending on the type of imported product and the importing country/region. To calculate your import tax rate, please determine your product's Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) classification.


Coordination System (HTS/HS)

The Harmonized System is a multi-purpose international product classification system developed by the World Customs Organization, which can describe all products that may be involved in international trade. Goods in international business must declare the correct H.S. code (or HTS code). This code determines the tax rate for customs duties and other taxes payable on the product.


Entry requirements and documents

Entry registration is required when your goods arrive at the destination port/airport.


If you use air or sea freight to transport the goods, you will receive notification within a few days of the expected arrival of the goods.

If you ship by air courier (such as DHL), the carrier usually handles customs clearance and charges you service fees and other fees incurred.

Once notified, you must submit an entry application to the port supervisor at the port of entry (or hire an agent to apply for you).


You need to prepare the following documents:

  • Customs declaration form: The customs broker needs to submit a customs declaration form, which includes detailed information about the goods to be imported, such as the name, quantity, and other quality information of the goods.
  • Commercial Invoice: Commercial Invoice is significant for customs, and value-added tax and taxes depend on the commercial Invoice. A commercial Invoice is a list of shipping prices issued by the exporter to the importer, which serves as the basis for accounting between the buyer and the seller. It is also a general explanation for import and export customs declaration and tax payment. A commercial Invoice is a comprehensive reflection of a business, which includes the name, specifications, price, quantity, amount, packaging, etc., of the goods. It is also an indispensable document for importers to handle import customs declarations. Therefore, commercial Invoice is the core of a complete set of export documents.This document is essential because customs officials use it to determine how much tax is charged when an item enters another country. It is an important document when importing an item to another country/region.
  • Packing list: A packing list is a document in international trade that contains information about the shipping content. This document lists crucial detailed information, such as each package's quantity, weight, size, and identification number. Usually prepared by the exporter, it can help the importer verify whether the received goods match the detailed information on the commercial Invoice and bill of lading. By confirming the accurate description of the goods, the packing list helps to prevent errors during the logistics process and ensure the correct shipment and delivery of the goods.
  • Certificate of Origin: Applicable to some unique products such as food, cosmetics, etc.
  • Other unique information: The ingredient list and hygiene certificate of cosmetics.


How to calculate VAT and TAX?


Assuming you have imported a product worth $30000 (FOB value) and paid a shipping fee of $3000.

Currently, VAT and TAX are 10%, and the tariff is 5%. Now let's take a look at the calculation below: 


Value of goods = $30000 (FOB value)

Freight Value = $3000

The total value of shipment = $30000+$3000 = $33000

Duty Paid Price (CIF) = $33000 X 5% = $1650

Value added tax and tax value (CIFD) = (total value of goods+CIF) X 10% = ($33000+$1650) X 10% = $4650

The total landed cost of goods = FOB value+freight+customs duties+value-added tax = $33000+$1650+$4650 = $39300.


To accelerate the customs process and ensure smooth progress, please include and follow the following prompts in the submitted documents:

  • Ensure that all information on the provided Invoice is clear and well translated
  • The currency used in commercial invoices must be consistent with the trade terms
  • The waybill should include detailed information such as origin and destination, name and quantity of goods, and shipping date.
  • The packing list records the product specifications, packaging, weight, quantity, etc., and should be marked on each packaging.
  • The government of the exporting country or an accredited institution shall issue the certificate of origin of the goods. If the certificate does not exist or is not comprehensive, it may pose significant obstacles to the export or import of the goods;
  • Ensure compliance with government regulations in your country/region before exporting.


Customs deposit

The customs deposit is a legal contract between you (the principal), the guarantee company, and the customs of the country of entry. Its purpose is to ensure that importers comply with customs regulations and pay applicable import tariffs, taxes, fines, and penalties to customs.


There are two types of customs deposit, single entry deposit and continuous deposition: 


Single entry deposit

The single-entry customs deposit is more complex than the continuous deposit. The minimum amount of the single entry security deposit you purchase must equal the value of the goods, plus any taxes, duties, and fees you owe.


Continuous margin

It is a deposit that covers all imported goods imported within 12 months.


If you plan to import only a few times a year, purchase a single customs deposit. But a continuous warranty would be better if you plan to import a constant stream of goods.


Customs will collect payment from the bond-issuing guarantee company if the principal is not paid in full. From there, the guarantee company can use legal means to collect arrears. When a deposit is required, customs will release the goods once the deposit is submitted and meets regulatory requirements.

Importers who want a customs deposit can obtain it from a guarantor licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department. It usually takes 2-5 days to get the promise, and licensed customs brokers can help you obtain the customs deposit.


Customs broker

The law does not require the use of customs brokers during import transportation. However, upon formal entry, CBP and industry professionals strongly recommend doing so.


The customs broker mainly assists importers in meeting federal entry requirements. CBP licenses these customs brokers, but they are not government employees. They typically work for freight forwarders, independent enterprises, shipping companies, or specialized customs brokerage companies.

The customs broker is the liaison between you and relevant agencies, preparing and submitting necessary documents, correctly classifying goods, and providing personalized services.

Overall, customs brokers understand import and export laws and are actively regulated by government agencies they cooperate with.


The customs clearance fee varies depending on the agent and the goods, but the estimated service fee is approximately $100 to $200.

Use CBP's free tools to find customs brokers near your local port of entry.



To improve the security of the supply chain, CBP may sometimes choose to inspect certain goods during customs. They will lead to delays and impose inspection fees on the responsible party.

If your goods are marked as potentially risky, they may be selected for customs inspection.


Although it is impossible to know the specific factors of CBP evaluation, the following factors may significantly increase your chances of being selected for examination:

  • Defective packaging or labeling
  • Lack of historical shipping records
  • Delivery frequency is not high
  • There are issues with the chain of custody
  • High-risk products or materials
  • High-risk country of origin
  • Incomplete paperwork
  • Merge with other goods with high-risk attributes


Ultimately, even if your goods are completely harmless and you take preventive measures, there is still a 1% -3% chance that your interests will be randomly selected for inspection.


There are multiple types of inspections. The least invasive is an X-ray examination, which takes two to three days and costs approximately $300. Another possibility is the Tail Gate Exam, 'which will open containers or sealed packaging to inspect their items visually; This takes five to six days and typically costs $350.

The strictest inspection requirements are transporting your goods to a customs checkpoint, where they are thoroughly inspected and sometimes subjected to laboratory testing. This process takes one week to 30 days or more and incurs thousands of dollars in fees (including short-haul fees).


The best way to avoid being detained and inspected by customs is to ensure that your paperwork is complete, provide accurate cargo valuations, and collaborate with suppliers who have undergone rigorous scrutiny.




Step 6: Retrieve your imported goods


Once your goods pass customs clearance and all payments are settled, you must retrieve or transport them to the final destination with the bill of lading.


The bill of lading is an essential document in international trade and a legally binding agreement between the shipper and the carrier. It contains basic, detailed information about the goods being transported and serves as a shipping receipt. In addition, it can also serve as ownership of the goods, which is crucial when the buyer and seller are located in different countries.


If you use LCL (Less than Container Load) for transportation, your goods will arrive in one container along with various other goods. Usually, after customs clearance, the container will be transported to a separate location for unloading. In these cases, you (or your freight forwarder) will obtain a second location near the original port.

If you transport FCL (Full Container Load), use the port of entry.

You will also receive a cargo control number as a unique identifier for your cargo. This detailed information can be used for picking up or transporting imported goods.


Hiring a freight forwarder is a standard method of handling transportation to the final warehouse/location. Depending on the distance, this may require transportation by train, air, truck, or other means.


You can drive the vehicle to the port or warehouse if you pick up the goods in person instead of delivering them. Please be sure to bring a small amount of cash to pay for potential parking, loading, or dock fees.


If your goods are not picked up within 15 days after arrival, they will be sent to the regular order warehouse and incur daily storage fees. These fees must be paid to retrieve your goods from the G.O. warehouse. After six months of storage, unrecycled goods may be discarded or auctioned off.




Frequently Asked Questions about Importing from China (FAQ)


Can we still import goods from China?

Yes. Since early December 2022, China has relaxed its restrictions on COVID-19 and has had a positive impact on supply chain logistics. In fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, despite increasing political tensions, U.S. imports from China increased by 6.3% from 2021 to 2022.


Do I need a license to import from China?

It depends on the imported product. Some unique products may require permits, licenses, or certifications.


How much does it cost to import from China?

The cost varies depending on the type and quantity of imported products. Every step of importing from China involves costs. You must pay import taxes, other customs duties (such as Section 301 tariffs, anti-dumping duties, and countervailing duties), and product processing and port maintenance fees.


What is the cheapest transportation method for importing from China?

The transportation costs vary, and the cheapest way to transport products imported from China is by sea.


What essential holidays do you need to consider when doing business with China?

When doing business with China, you must understand important holidays and festivals, such as the Lunar New Year, National Day, Mid-Autumn Festival, Labor Day, and Tomb Sweeping Day. These holidays may cause delays and interruptions, so it is necessary to check the calendar for the current year and confirm with specific suppliers to ensure timely delivery of goods.




Mistakes often made when importing from China


I am only looking for the cheapest products.

Many importers usually choose low-priced products while paying attention to the quality of the products. Therefore, they may receive products of poor quality. Although purchasing products from China can offer lower prices, it is essential to be careful and check the quality of your products.


No clear contract.

Importing from China may also pose some controversial risks. Establishing a clear contract with the supplier is crucial to prevent these situations and ensure you receive the expected products. The contract should include key details, such as payment terms, delivery dates, quality standards, warranties, and guarantees.


I have yet to learn about China's New Year holiday.

Many buyers have never heard of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. It may not seem important, but it is indeed crucial if you plan to conduct business in China. The Chinese Lunar New Year usually falls on the third to fourth week of January or the first week of February. Due to the Lunar New Year celebration lasting for about two weeks, many companies and factories have closed. Therefore, planning and making appropriate arrangements to ensure that your orders are processed and delivered before and after the holiday is crucial.




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