China Import Customs Clearance

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Comprehensive Guide to Import Customs Clearance When Exporting to China

This guide serves as an essential resource for understanding China import customs clearance, offering detailed steps from transporting goods to China, preparing for customs clearance, gathering necessary documents, understanding import tax rate, and paying import taxes and duties. It highlights the role of freight forwarders like Qianhai MCC, providing insights on navigating customs duties, value-added tax (VAT), and consumption tax. Lastly, it covers the benefits of trade agreements, the restrictions of China’s import, and answers to frequently asked questions about the customs clearance process..

Understanding China Import Customs Clearance and why do you need it ? 

When shipping goods to China from another country no matter by LCL consolidation or Full container load,  you’ll need to go through the process of China customs clearance. This process includes presenting necessary documents to the Chinese customs authorities, paying the required import duties and taxes, and having your goods inspected and released.

A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide to Navigating the Customs Clearance Process When Exporting to China

Guide clearance part 1 Guide clearance part 2

As an exporter, understanding the customs clearance process in China is crucial for the smooth transition of your goods. This guide will take you through each step of the process, providing you with a clear roadmap for successfully importing your goods into China..

Step 1: Transporting your goods from your country to China 

Transporting Your Goods from Your Country to China Selecting the right shipping method is critical. You can choose full container load (FCL) if you have enough cargo volume, and air freight if your shipment is time sensitive. If you frequently ship small quantities to China and are looking for ways to cut down on shipping costs, starting with Qianhai MCC’s direct consolidation service could be your first step towards a successful import process into China..

Pre-arrival preparations and necessary documentation

Step 2 : Preparing for Customs Clearance 

Once your shipment leaves your country and before it arrives in China, our team in China will send you an arrival notice. This is your cue to start preparing for the import customs clearance. Once you have settled the freight charges with us, we’ll provide the necessary documents for an import pickup document. 

Step 3 : Gathering Necessary Documents for Customs Clearance in China 

There are several documents that you must prepare for import customs clearance in China

  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Sales Contract for consignment 
  • Customs declaration (2 copies) 
  • Inspection commission letter If your goods are packed in wooden boxes, you should also provide a fumigation certificate and an IPPC stamp to show that the boxes have been disinfected. If you are importing goods from countries with preferential trade agreements with China, you may need to provide a certificate of origin.

Step 4: Verification of Commodity Code and Understanding Import Tax Rate 


Upon receiving all necessary documents from the customer, our team will first verify the commodity code (HS code) of the goods. This is a crucial step to understanding the import tax rate and any regulatory conditions required for the goods, as per the customs tariff rules. Should the customs inquire about the price of your goods, be prepared to provide documents such as a letter of credit, insurance policy, original factory invoice, or tender documents

Commodity Inspection Procedures for Importing Goods 

If your import goods require commodity inspection, certain procedures must be followed. Initially, complete an import commodity inspection application form (officially sealed) and prepare two customs declaration forms. These need to be registered before making the customs declaration, with the commodity inspection registration seal stamped on the customs declaration form.

Animal or Plant Inspection Procedures 

If your goods need animal or plant inspection, additional documents are required. These include a packing list, invoice, contract, and declaration form. Submit these to the inspection agency you’re applying for inspection with before making the customs declaration.

Step 5: Paying Import Taxes and duties 

Once the customs declaration and inspection are complete, you’ll be issued a tax bill. This bill will include any import duties and taxes due based on the type and value of the goods. These amounts should be paid within seven working days to avoid late fees.

Step 6: Releasing Goods 

After all duties and taxes have been paid, your goods will be released by customs. At this point, you can arrange to collect your goods and appoint us to transport them to their final destination in China. 

Important Note You should declare your goods to customs within 14 days of their arrival at the port. If you exceed this period, customs will charge a late declaration fee (0.05% of the value of the goods per day). If the goods are not declared within three months, customs will consider them ownerless and may confiscate cargo.

What documents are required for import Customs clearance in China ?

For China customs clearance, you’ll need several documents including a commercial invoice, a packing list, a bill of lading or air waybill, and a certificate of origin. The commercial invoice should provide details like the seller and buyer’s names and addresses, a detailed description of the goods, the value of the goods in Chinese currency, and the weight and dimensions of the shipment. The packing list should indicate the number of packages, the type of packaging, the gross weight, and the dimensions of the shipment.

For shipments through sea or air, a bill of lading or an air waybill is required. This should show the carrier’s name, the vessel or flight number, and the ports of loading and unloading. For some types of goods, a certificate of origin is needed, issued by the exporting country’s chamber of commerce.

There are some commodities do need health inspection certificate from origin country.

Understanding Customs Duties and Taxes When exporting into China 

Many businesses and individuals find the intricate structure of China’s import customs taxes and duties a bit daunting. In the following guide we will break down piece by piece that will help you understand the three main components: customs duties, value-added tax (VAT), and consumption tax. Remember, the rates can vary depending on the product’s value, its origin, and its intended use.

Explanation of customs duties, value-added tax (VAT), and consumption tax


1. Customs Duties

Customs duties apply to both imports and exports, with over 8,000 items falling under this taxation. The calculation of these duties is based on the item’s value or quantity, which means it’s either computed on an ad valorem basis or quantity basis.

2. Value-added Tax (VAT)

Almost all imports into China are subject to VAT. The VAT rate can range between 13 to 17%, depending on the type of goods. It’s therefore crucial to factor in VAT when calculating the cost of your imported goods.

3. Consumption Tax

The consumption tax applies to certain types of goods, especially luxury items and goods that are not environmentally friendly. The rate of consumption tax varies depending on the specific type of goods.

Navigating China’s 2023 Tariff Revisions: In 2023, China introduced changes to its tariff system. These revisions included exemptions for key medical goods and the implementation of standard tariff rates for certain goods from specific regions. Staying updated with these changes is crucial to smoothly navigate China’s import customs taxes and duties.


Navigating Import Customs Clearance with Freight Forwarders

Ocean shipping

The Role of Freight Forwarders in Import Customs Clearance

When you’re bringing goods into China, selecting the right freight forwarder is critical for smooth import customs clearance. Here’s why:

  • Volume Compatibility: Your forwarder should be able to handle your shipment volume efficiently.
  • Regional Expertise: Opt for a forwarder with specialized knowledge of the transport routes relevant to your business.
  • Transparent Pricing: Avoid the lure of the lowest bid; hidden costs can disrupt your budget. It’s worth paying for clear, reliable service.

While you could manage freight on your own, the complexities involved make it wise to entrust this to a seasoned forwarder. Companies like Qianhai MCC shine in this area with their expert customs broker teams.

Why is working with local customs brokers no good ? 

When you’re looking to import into China, working exclusively with local customs brokers might not be the best fit. Here’s why:


Local customs brokers are usually experts in the Chinese market, but they might not have enough experience in dealing with international business. This could mean they might not fully understand how to guide overseas exporters from start to finish.


Language can also be a hurdle. If they’re more comfortable speaking Chinese, they might find it hard to communicate effectively with exporters who don’t. Miscommunications can lead to delays, which nobody wants.


Finally, local customs brokers tend to concentrate on customs clearance within China. That means you’d still have to figure out how to get your goods from your country to China. And that’s an extra task on your plate..

The Difference Between Freight Forwarders, Shipping Companies, and Freight Consolidators

It’s easy to confuse their roles, but each plays a unique part in getting your goods from A to B:

  • Freight Forwarders are the orchestra conductors of transportation, arranging everything from pickup and export fees to customs and delivery.
  • Shipping Companies are the owners of the physical transport means – the ships and containers – and they sell this space to forwarders.
  • Freight Consolidators like Qianhai MCC blend these roles, offering cost-effective direct services and specialized customs support, making them a smart choice for businesses of all sizes.

The Benefits of Working with a Freight Forwarder

Why go with a freight forwarder? Here’s what they bring to the table:

  • Expertise: They know the ins and outs of customs regulations, ensuring your goods don’t face border hold-ups or rejections.
  • Coordination: They handle the complex logistics chain, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: With a consolidator like Qianhai MCC, you get streamlined services that cut out the middlemen, saving you money.

Understanding the associated tariffs and taxes is essential when entering new markets. With a seasoned forwarder or consolidator by your side, you’ll be better equipped to plan your budget and tackle the bureaucratic hurdles with confidence.

Introducing Qianhai MCC’s Unique Services

Qianhai MCC is a unique consolidation hub that provides comprehensive solutions for businesses looking to export to China. Our China-based team leverages their extensive experience in international trade to expertly navigate through the complexities of exporting to this market. By eliminating intermediaries, we provide direct access to free, round-the-clock consultation services on import customs and regulations. With our local presence in China, we can offer unique, direct export services at competitive prices. Our services are designed to provide certainty and transparency from the moment you place your booking, mitigating any potential risks associated with transshipment and unexpected costs.

Qianhaiwan Free Trade Port is not just a storage area with a bonded function.  Cargo in Free Trade Port is treated as staying in non-China territory thus no import tax involved.  VAT Tax refund could be valid upon cargo getting into Free Trade Port.  Business transactions of cargo inside Free Trade Port could be practiced in different kinds of international currency aside from China Yuan.  This is also an ideal location to practice third countries import, export and re-exporter business.

An Overview of Qianhai MCC’s Unique Direct Consolidation Service into China

Our direct consolidation service is a standout feature of Qianhai MCC. We provide a unique hub that includes both facilities and Less than Container Load (LCL) services that go directly into China. This eliminates the need for transit through other locations, saving you time and reducing the risk of complications. We provide direct LCL services from Singapore, Vietnam, and the US to Qianhai, China. This means your shipments will be delivered directly into China, negating the need for transit through third-party locations outside China.

How Qianhai MCC Offers a One-Stop Solution for Shipping and Customs Clearance in China

At Qianhai MCC, we understand that shipping and customs clearance can be complex. That’s why we’ve designed our services to be a one-stop solution for these needs. Our services include International Consolidation, International Transhipment (Transfer), and act as a Global Distribution Center. This means we handle every aspect of your shipping and customs needs, from consolidation to distribution, all under one roof. With our extensive coverage of the Pearl River Delta region, we can ensure prompt delivery of goods, simplifying logistics for your business.

Why Choose Qianhai MCC for Your Import Customs Clearance Needs

Choosing Qianhai MCC for your import customs clearance needs comes with several advantages. We offer significant tax exemptions, including import console boxes not requiring port declaration, and ASEAN origin LCL shipments qualifying for ASEAN Tax Free benefits. These provisions can lead to substantial savings on import costs. Additionally, our strategic location within mainland China allows goods transshipped through Qianhai MCC to have direct access to the vast Chinese market as soon as they exit the bonded area. This can significantly shorten transit times and reduce the complexity of customs procedures.

The Advantages of Working with Qianhai MCC, Including Cost-Saving and Time-Saving Benefits

Working with Qianhai MCC provides a range of advantages, including cost-saving and time-saving benefits. Our direct consolidation and transshipment services streamline the logistics process, reducing costs associated with additional handling and transportation. Furthermore, our services are designed to shorten transit times, ensuring faster delivery of your goods. Our one-stop solution for shipping and customs clearance also saves you the time and hassle of dealing with multiple service providers.

How Trade agreements save import tariff and Tax in China ? 


The RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) reduces import tax in China by implementing tax concessions on trade in goods. With the RCEP agreement, more than 90 percent of trade in goods covered will achieve zero tariffs. In the first year after the RCEP agreement takes effect, China’s average import tariff rate of 9.8 percent will be reduced to 3.2 percent for ASEAN countries, 6.2 percent for South Korea, 7.2 percent for Japan, 3.3 percent for Australia, and 3.3 percent for New Zealand. Particularly, China and Japan have reached a bilateral tariff concession arrangement for the first time, where China will exempt approximately 86 percent of Japanese industrial manufactured products from import tariffs in phases.

Country/Region Before RCEP (%) After RCEP (%) Remarks
ASEAN countries 9.8 3.2
South Korea 9.8 6.2
Japan 9.8 7.2 First-time bilateral tariff concession; 86% of industrial products exempted in phases.
Australia 9.8 3.3
New Zealand 9.8 3.3

China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

In layman’s terms, the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and related agreements can significantly cut down the import tax. Simply put, the FTA wipes out import-export tariffs and other roadblocks on nearly 90% of all goods that China trades with the ASEAN member countries.


Frequently asked questions :

How Long Does a Package Take to Clear Chinese Customs?

The duration for a package to clear Chinese customs can vary depending on the type of goods and the completeness of your documentation. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

What Does It Mean When Customs Clearance Is Done?

Once customs clearance is completed, it signifies that your goods have been approved by the Chinese customs authorities, all required import duties and taxes have been paid, and your goods are ready for collection.

What Do You Have to Declare at China Customs?

When exporting to China, you need to declare all goods entering the country. It's crucial to provide accurate and detailed information to avoid delays or potential penalties.

Does China Customs Check Every Package?

While not every package is physically inspected, all packages undergo a review process where the provided documentation is checked for accuracy and compliance with Chinese import regulations.

What Are the Import Restrictions for China?

China has specific import restrictions that vary depending on the type of goods. It's essential to check these restrictions before exporting to avoid any potential issues at customs.