If you are importing from China, pls keep in mind some important aspects and good knowledge. In this article, we have listed some valuable tips we learn from our experience.

1) Investigate the specific rules and regulations

When you import a particular product, you’ll need to research the regulations with which you’ll have to comply. The number of rules will depend on the type of product you’re importing. This is always a requisite for any import, but in the case of China, you’ll need to be especially clear on the matter. That’s due to a large number of Chinese suppliers not manufacturing products that comply with such regulations. In some industries, only about five percent of Chinese export suppliers meet the usual standards and regulations of the European Union.

Among those products that are especially sensitive and subject to greater regulation here – and that are also among the principal imports from Asia – are: toys and other products for children; food and food containers; vehicles, motors, and their components; electrical and electronic products and components; lighting; textiles and footwear; furniture; chemicals; cosmetic and hygiene products; construction materials; and all types of packaging in general.

2) Choose reputable Chinese suppliers

This point is crucial for various reasons. First, you must know that the importer is entirely and solely responsible for the products that he imports. Any compliance irregularities with regulations and certifications can lead to serious legal problems for the importer if it results in him being sued because the product causes injury to a consumer.

Second, if your supplier issues a false certification, your products may be held up at customs. Do note that this actually happens often in China. It will, at the very least, bring you logistical headaches and extra costs (in terms of storage and delays), and port authorities could end up keeping the goods and absolutely prohibiting their entry into the country.

In this sense, it’s important not to trust just any supplier who tells you that they comply with regulations; it’s advisable to go and get to know the factory and the products in person. It also helps to be accompanied by a specialist who understands the technical problems that can arise in relation to the product and which specifications apply in order to comply with regulations.

3) Sign a firm sales contract 

Once you’ve thoroughly researched all the certifications that your products need and you’ve found a trustworthy supplier who complies with them, it’s equally important to draw up a sales agreement in which everything is absolutely spelled out. That’s especially so for the specifications of the product and the conditions of return and compensation if the received product doesn’t comply with the agreement. This will save you many problems in the long run and is the point on which most importers fall short: when importing from China, you cannot pay enough attention to details.  

In terms of the specification of the product, you must draw up a document that details every feature. You must do this in a way that leaves no room for subjective interpretation and that can be accepted internationally and in different cultural contexts. So, if you’re talking about colors, specify the Pantone number; if you’re talking about materials, specify the density, hardness, composition, and texture and surface finish.

4) Choose right Incoterms 

Incoterms are international commercial terms that govern responsibilities related to international transport established between purchaser and supplier. There are numerous Incoterms and purchasing under one or another can change the total amount of the purchase substantially. Because of this, it’s highly recommended that you resolve this before you place your final signature on the sales contract. If you’re unsure of which Incoterm to choose, do read our post on how to choose a competitive and safe Incoterm.

When importing from China, suppliers want to carry out shipments under Incoterm EXW (Ex Works), because it is the most advantageous for them. It places the maximum obligation on the buyer, and the minimum on the seller, who is responsible for nothing more than having the goods ready. 

For buyers, it is highly recommended to choose Incoterm FOB (Free On Board), as this is the best way to control the freight handling and shipping cost.

5) Keep buffer time in mind

When you’re importing from China, time is a decisive factor to keep in mind for a successful campaign. I usually recommend that you plan a transport from China a minimum of two months in advance.

The approximate transit time from China to Europe or America via sea is between 25 and 35 days. This can vary according to the port of origin and the connection to the goods’ collection point. But you also have to keep in mind there could be unexpected delays, so it is better to leave two weeks buffer time.


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