7 Steps to Importing from China Successfully

Importing from China: a step-by-step guide
Importing from China has proven to be a successful global sourcing tactic for many companies. Products made in China, such as shoes, clothing, electronics, furniture, home furnishings, and many more, are popular all over the world.

However, it is not an easy task, especially for newbies. The import process can be extremely complex, confusing, and expensive. Expected profits can often be wiped out by long transit times, rising or fluctuating delivery costs, regulatory fees, and unexpected delays.

Here is a Step By Step Guide from our point of view, a local purchasing agent serving exporters in China and importers around the world for years. Let’s see how to import from China and what you can do to make the process more seamless and efficient.

NOTE: The information provided below is for general information purposes only. The best practice is to always check with your local customs authority and buy from small orders.


1. Identify your import rights.
When you buy products from foreign sources, you become an importer. The courier such as DHL / UPS / FedEx will take care of everything and deliver it to your door if your package is small and used for personal use only or the value is not that great. If so, it will save you a lot of time and money. But before you buy commercial products in your country, as a company or as an individual, you will need to identify whether you have import rights.

Containers are seen at a port in Lianyungang in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on July 13, 2018. – China’s surplus with the United States hit a record last month, data showed on July 13, adding to brewing tensions between the economic superpowers as they stand on the brink of an all-out trade war that Beijing warned would have a “negative impact” globally. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)


Many import regulations only apply to goods imported for commercial, commercial, or resale purposes. And only the customs authority can make judgments about what it qualifies as personal use. Multiple suits that are identical or a number of very similar bags will have a difficult time passing the credibility test as personal use items.

2. Identify the goods you want to import from China.
The trading company makes money by selling products. Choosing the wrong products means you are wasting time and money. If you are going to be a successful importer, the first thing to do is choose the right product to import from China and resell it.

You’d better gather as much information as possible about the products you want to import. Obtain descriptive literature, information on product composition and, whenever possible, product samples.

This information will be crucial when it comes time to determine the tariff classification. The tariff classification number or tariff code (HS Code) will be used to determine the tariff rate that will be applied to your products.

We suggest:

Choose a product you like – you are passionate about your job
Go with a unique product – you can sell at a high price
Go with a product that you can ship in bulk – low cost per unit shipping

3. Make sure the products you want to import are allowed in your country.
Certain products cannot be imported. Different countries have different prohibited products. Make sure the goods you want to import are subject to any permission, restriction or regulation by your government.

It is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that the products comply with a variety of specific rules and regulations.

Importing products that are unsafe, do not meet health code requirements, or violate restrictions could end up costing you a bit of money in fines and penalties. At the very least, such assets would be detained and possibly destroyed.

Classify your goods and calculate the cost of landing.
Determine the 10-digit tariff classification number for each item you are importing. These numbers along with the Certificate of Origin are used to determine the duty rate you must pay when importing. Then do the calculation of the cost of the land.

Pay attention to the Incoterms and calculate the total import cost before placing your order.

For example, FOB means adding the next three points.

Get the price of the supplier’s product
Obtain the shipping costs from the freight forwarding company of

Get the charges for customs clearance, duties and taxes, ground transportation to your warehouse.

5. Find your supplier in China and place an order.
Place your order with the seller, sender or exporter and identify the shipping that will be used. Once you have selected your supplier, request a P / I (Proforma Invoice, Proforma Invoice or Quote Sheet) for your potential purchases that includes the tariff classification number, description and value per item. Your P / I should show the weight and dimensions of the package, as well as your purchase term.

What is a Proforma Invoice or Proforma Invoice? It is a non-binding document that helps you budget for your future purchases. It is not a purchase order nor does it create a legal obligation.


Make sure the supplier accepts the shipment on FOB terms from your nearest port or airport as this will greatly reduce your shipping costs and give you more control over the shipment. For example, if you were importing from China and the closest port to the supplier is Shanghai, you would request FOB Shanghai terms. If it is a sample for testing / testing or a small shipment, EXW will also be
Keep in mind that shipping by sea is quite slow, and this means that it certainly requires a lot more long-term planning compared to purchasing domestic products. Additionally, the time required to export goods, including documentation, inland travel, customs clearance, and port or terminal handling of a container of goods can take up to 7 days.
In general, we recommend placing an order at least 3 months before you need your products at your doorstep.

Common mistakes:

* Always look for the lowest price.
If you find a quote that is significantly cheaper than the others, raise a red flag. You should know that there is no lower price in China. The lowest price always accompanies a high risk, perhaps quality, quantity, or reputation.

Just find a reliable supplier and grow healthy with them when importing from China.

* Not clarifying the details of the product.
If your supplier is not very clear about the required specifications, there is a good chance that you will receive exactly what you do not want. If it is clear it means that the factory will make the decision for you based on cost savings.

Be sure to check the materials and manufacturing process for each quote so you can feel confident in the products you are purchasing.

Make sure your supplier has fully confirmed all the specifications of your target product, including the packaging. Sometimes it is necessary to send the sample for re-verification.

* Show distrust of your provider.
International trade is based on mutual trust. If you don’t trust your supplier, no one will take care of your factory production, and no one will sincerely help you when problems arise.

If you need an inspection service, Comprale a China offers a complete inspection service for the quality control of your products, adapting to the characteristics of your product and your organization. Our own team will help you with the inspection plan if you need it.

6. Organize your cargo transportation.
There are many costs associated with shipping products, including container fees, packaging, terminal handling, and broker fees. To get a complete picture of shipping costs, each of these factors must be taken into account.

Once you are satisfied with the shipping quote, you will need to make sure your shipping transportation is fast and safe.

Check the details:

– The 2 most important things to keep in mind when shipping from China
– Marine transport
– Air Transport
– Messenger Service

We suggest:

– Always consider that delays may occur during the process, such as goods not being produced on time, the vessel not sailing as scheduled, customs may hold the goods. Be prepared and plan accordingly.

Don’t expect your cargo to leave the port as soon as it is completed at the factory. Because it needs at least 1 ~ 2 days for your cargo transportation from the factory to the port. And the Customs Declaration process needs your cargo to stay in the port for at least 1 ~ 2 days.

Also, there is only one routing frequency each week in some cases. The day is missing this week, you will have to wait until next week.

* Choose a good freight forwarder.
Logistics is a highly valued aspect of modern business. Shipping costs include the direct and indirect costs of transporting products from their point of origin to their destination market. If they do well, and choose a good logistics provider; smooth operations, manageable costs and continuous cash flow are guaranteed.

If they are wrong, they could at least have mounting costs and waste. At worst, they could be facing a failed business model that ultimately has to be shut down. Companies will continue to lose money if their logistics are not well managed.

7. Track your cargo and prepare for its arrival.
Shipping products internationally takes time. For example, products shipped from China, on average, take around 14 days to reach the West Coast of the United States or 30 days to reach the East Coast.

During the time, check your commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, and other related cargo documents. If problems arise that you need to solve, you should know the steps your products go through when they are cleared by Customs in your country.

Follow these tips and do your research, and you can benefit from importing from China. I wish you great success in international trade!

If you want to know how to import from China successfully, you want to contact Chinese manufacturers, you want to know what a Chinese factory is like inside or maybe visit the Canton fairs or the Yiwu wholesale market, subscribe to our channel and contact us .

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information about our products or services.