Importing From China – What You Need To Know

China is the biggest exporter of goods in the whole world and it’s not hard to see why when you consider how they’re able to manufacture products like clothes, electrical goods, computers and toys quicker and cheaper than any other economy going.

This is excellent news for British businesses, since China is one of the largest import partners that the UK has and demand for goods from the country certainly won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

To import commercial goods from China into the UK, you – the receiver – will need to have an Economic Operator Registration Identification number, which is issued to you by HMRC and UK customs. This is intended to help you communicate with customs officials when importing and exporting goods. Furthermore, it’s an indication that you have a secure role in the international supply chain and that your controls and procedures are both compliant and efficient.

In order to import goods into the UK from anywhere outside the EU, you will need to find the right commodity code for your products, check if the goods are banned from being imported or if they need an import licence, declare what you’re importing using the CHIEF system and perhaps pay VAT and duty in some cases. You may also need to obtain a licence for some goods, such as firearms.

Before you start to import products from China, make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve. It may be that you want to bring in products that aren’t yet available here in the UK or you might want to find a cheaper supply source – either way, you need to find a reliable and professional supplier that is creditworthy and meets your quality standards.

What would also be advisable is doing as much research into the culture of the Chinese market as possible so you can build on your relationships with your suppliers. Perhaps learn a few key phrases in Mandarin (China’s official language) so you can communicate with increasing confidence moving forward.

You also need to work out your method of transportation for your goods. You could, for example, handle logistics yourself or use a freight forwarder like Unipac to outsource the work. Your main options when importing from China are air and sea. The latter may be more suitable if you don’t need quick deliveries. Bear in mind, however, that air imports tend to be quicker and more secure.

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