Chinese containers

Importing/exporting to China: how to ship goods to and from China

Import and export regulations in China and the customs procedures required can cause problems for Italian companies that have decided to trade goods with the Chinese market. Let’s take a look at some useful information for shipping to and from China.

Exporting to China: Certifications and Customs Clearance

Exporting goods to China involves complex bureaucracy. First of all, before exporting to the Chinese territory, you must verify if the product in question belongs to either of the two categories that require specific certifications managed by the CNCA (Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China):

  • Voluntary certification, not compulsory for authorization to sell
  • Compulsory Certification (CCC – China Compulsory Certification), mandatory for products to be marketed in China

At the same time, for customs clearance paperwork, companies exporting to China must rely on a local partner in possession of Foreign Trade Rights, i.e. the Foreign Trade License issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade. These files are submitted to the General Administration of Customs (GAC) office, which classifies goods into categories:

  • Prohibited, goods whose import/export is prohibited
  • Restricted, goods subject to quotas or licenses
  • Fully traded, goods with no special restrictions.

All Documentation Required for Export to China

Goods being exported to China must have a customs declaration (SAD) and the following documentation must be submitted:

  • Commercial invoice, drawn up in English
  • Certificate of Origin, certifying the origin of the goods
  • Phytosanitary certificate, required for export of cultivated products
  • Certificate or declaration of free sale of cosmetics, to certify that the products comply with Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009

Moreover, the relevant transportation documents must be presented:

  • Air Waybill, which is the document for transporting goods by air
  • International waybill, which certifies that the shipment has been accepted for delivery
  • Packing list, with information on volumes and exact quantities of packages
  • Labels, the requirements of which vary depending on the goods, but must contain the product’s name and origin, and the contact details of the importer

Importing goods from China: formalities and documents

In order to import products and goods from China to EU member states, it is necessary to:

  • File a customs declaration in the country you are importing into
  • File a customs declaration to prove payment of duties and VAT.

Regarding documents, however, it is mandatory to be in possession of:

  • Commercial Invoice, which is essential for import transactions from China. It must contain details of the producer, the buyer, the products and the economic value of the goods
  • Packing List, containing all necessary cargo data
  • Bill of Lading, certifying the conclusion of the transportation contract and granting the right to obtain the goods
  • Certificate of Origin, which states the country of origin where the goods were manufactured or assembled.

Shipping to and from China: how much does it cost?

When importing or exporting goods to and from China, three taxes have to be considered:

  • Customs duties, calculated on the basis of rates that vary depending on the type of goods and the origin of the exported goods
  • VAT, whose rates are 9% or 13% depending on the category of the product. For imports into Italy, on the other hand, VAT is 22%
  • Consumption tax, which varies from 1% to 40% depending on the type of goods. This tax applies to health-damaging products, such as alcohol and tobacco, luxury goods, cosmetics and high-end products, such as cars and motorbikes.

Shipping costs must be added to these taxes, which naturally vary depending on the type and quantity of goods shipped and the means of transportation used.

C.T.I.: experts in extra-European shipments

Importing/exporting to and from China requires attention and in-depth bureaucratic knowledge, which is why we recommend relying on expert forwarders for a seamless and simplified experience. We have specialized in the transport of goods to non-European countries and China for years now at C.T.I. International Forwarders, using our passion, care, and above all, experience and professionalism to provide complete and secure services for shipping containers to China.