How to import from China

The Newest Guide 2019

This is the newest guide to how to import goods from China in 2019.

In today’s guide you’ll learn:

  • Very detailed steps of importing process
  • Avoiding frequent traps
  • Chinese Business Culture
  • Basic Terms Used in importing

Without further ado, let’s get started.

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Chapter 1: Identify The Products You Want To Import

Canton fair Guide

Are you thinking of starting to import from China, but do not know which product to import? what are the best Chinese products to import from China? Which products I
should avoid importing? Do I need to choose hot products to import from China? Well, this is exactly what this chapter talks about:

Without a doubt, everybody wants to choose the best products to import from China and the most profitable products to import from China, but how?

Let’s have a look at the China export data, China’s top exports: transmission apparatus for radio, telephone, and TV, ICT, Computers, Parts, and accessories for office machines, telephones, toys, lamps...From these China major exports data, do you have any ideas about what to import from China?

China’s top exports

Here some tips for the best products to import from China:

Pick Products You Know

You need to know your product when importing from China, this will enable you to only import quality products. Ideally what you import is the one has high margins and good sales.
If you are a distributor, wholesaler, or even retailers, this will be easy.
Here the tips: please check the sales turnover of the recent 12 months, and find the top 10 sells and profits products, which made-in-China. With this list, you can choose and start importing directly from China and paying a cheap price.
For the new importers, your hobby or area of interest is a good starting point in identifying which product to import. In case you don’t have a suitable hobby, identify an area that you can learn about.

Choose Unique/Customized product, not common Items

For example products with designs, hot sale style in Mercadolibre/AliExpress, which you can sell at a high price. Pay attention that the hot-selling styles mentioned here are divided into two situations: On the one hand, the hot-selling style of your own country, if it is at the initial stage, then you can catch the opportunity to try it. Once already reached to the price war stage, you are not necessary to choose this item. On the other hand, the best-selling styles in other countries, then you should consider whether it is suitable for sale in your country.

Go with High-Value and Small Size Products

Small size products will reduce the shipping costs and improve your ROI, it is important to note that these products must have a high value.
Suggest with fashion accessories, consumer electronics, watches, etc.

Fashion Products

Bling sourcing is a professional China sourcing agent, which mainly focus on fashion products, we will help you sourcing for high-quality products at a reasonable price, and this service is for free.
Click here to contact us right now!

Make Your Own brand Products

You can import from China with your own brand. And this can be done in two ways: one way is just changing their logo to yours; the other way is changing not only the logo but also the packing and product design. Maybe the cost is a little more to import products with the way you want, I believe it deserves. Invest in your own brand; you will have a return in the future.

Products to Avoid

Do not start with famous brand products.

Famous brand products such as Apple, Samsung, Canon, among others. The problem with importing these famous brands is that they are usually expensive and therefore have a low-profit margin, even if the sale is good. It is necessary to import a large volume, and need huge capital, so I do not recommend it.

counterfeit products fake bags

Do not import counterfeit products.

Just one word: it is illegal.
For instance, without a license, there is a product with brand names such as LV, Gucci, Apple, etc. then you need to know that such a product is fake.

Check your goods if are prohibited and restricted goods to your country

Some goods are subject to import controls, so it’s important to check if any apply to the goods you need to ship.

Chapter 2: How To Find China Suppliers

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Finding a Chinese supplier for your products is quite easy, you can through the following three ways:

1, Chinese wholesale websites

An excellent source of Chinese wholesale suppliers’ websites such as Alibaba, made-in-China, Global source. The one I most recommend is Alibaba, almost all made in China products list here, which can buy in bulk from China.

alibaba wholesale website

These sites offer large quantity suppliers from different niches and you can get a different price list from different suppliers. By talking with different suppliers, it is also a good source for you to know more about the products which you want to import.

For knowing more details about how to find a supplier on Alibaba and get the price list, please visit my article: How To Find Reliable Suppliers In Alibaba?

2, China wholesale market

There are many different wholesale markets like Guangzhou wholesale market for shoes, clothes, jewelry, Shenzhen wholesale market for electronics, sunglass, Yiwu wholesale market for small commodities like Christmas gifts, socks…

3, Attend the Fair

The famous Fair in China: Canton Fair, if you want to attend this fair, please remember to read my article: Canton Fair Complex 2019: Definitive Guide

Meantime, you can check the import costs from China, like import duty from China and the shipping cost.

When importing products from china, we cannot do without duties and taxes. Many countries have a different standard sales tax rate. The customs value varies by countries, the duty rate depends on the product classification.

  • Normally with the following two:
  • Import duty calculation: Most countries calculated ID based on the CIF value
    Sales Tax calculation (VAT, GST, etc.)

Chapter 3: About Samples and factory verification

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You need to get samples to verify the quality of the products (Many new importers neglect this step), trust me, the picture all looks good, and the sample you received can tell you the truth.

The sample cost

Keep in mind that when you ask for a sample you will always pay for freight fee (normally by international express like FedEx, DHL, UPS), if you are a serious businessman, for low-value products, most factory will not charge the sample fee. For some special custom-made sample, most factory will charge the sample fee, and this fee mostly can be returned after you make the purchase order. Ask related supplier when you are ordering the sample.

Tips: the international express fee will be cheaper by prepaid, you can arrange to pay for your China supplier to make this payment.

The utility of getting a sample

Once you have the sample in your hands, check that it works or that it fulfills what you have requested. Does it meet the quality requirements that you and your market need? If needed, you can also take the product sample to a lab in your country to audit its quality.

The final decision

You should ask samples from at least 2 suppliers (this is one of two important things which I mentioned in my article: How To Find Reliable Suppliers In Alibaba?), I believe you have 2 or more samples on hand, after comparing, you should be clear which China supplier to be your partner.

Still a little hesitant? Then I strongly suggest, before placing an order, let's move to the next step. If you have no doubt, congratulations! you can move to step 5 directly.

About factory verification:

There are companies called "service company" - the third party. You can find them and pay some money, then they can work for you, make factory audit, take video or pictures which you want, and send factory visit report to you, same as you visit this factory. I always trust “Seeing is believing”.

Here I would like to say: Bling sourcing is a professional China sourcing agent, we can provide factory audit service for you, what’s more, we can help you source the most suitable suppliers in China, which is for free.

About samples, if you want to make your own brand, we can support you with sample development; if you choose 2 or more supplier’s sample, we can help you check and combine all the samples and send together, which will help you save the shipping cost.

By visiting the factory, you will know the true situation of the factory, and help you make the decision which potential supplier you will cooperate with, show you are a serious businessman and build a good relationship with your China partner.

Chapter 4: How to make quality inspection

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This step is ignored by some buyers when they import from China. But this step is indispensable and very important. The production is not the same as the samples which you received, wrong raw materials or colors, poor-quality products, packing is not the same as your requirement, etc. these may happen

You are in another country which is far away from China; it becomes quite difficult or cost a lot for your come to China checking the quality. Same as verifying the factory, you have different options, which you can choose according to your business type:

1, You come to China inspect the goods

2, Hire one QC inspector (third party inspection services) which located in China, who will help you inspect the goods according to your requirement. Normally will charge about $350 per day, once have any problem in your production, you need book Re-inspect service.

3, Cooperated with one China sourcing agent- Bling sourcing: help you follow the whole process of import from China, from sourcing the high-quality products with reasonable price, make new development, collect and send your samples, order following up, quality control service and quality inspection, to goods shipping.
Unlike Inspection Company that can only send you an inspection report, we also help you negotiate with suppliers on your behalf, and fix the quality problem before products leaving China.

Chapter 5: Payment methods and points

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After you confirm all the following details with your China supplier
Order quantity
Unit price
Incoterms (normally work with FOB xx port)
Description of goods
Packing detail
Payment terms
Shipping way
Delivery time
Other requirements if needed (such as supplier need provide Certificates of Origin)
You place the PO, the supplier will send you PI for making the payment. Once the supplier has received the money, they will begin to manufacture your order.

You can pay the supplier through any of these methods, as negotiated with your supplier. (Tips: there are other payment ways, here just list some commonly used.):

telegraphic transfer

1. Telegraphic Transfer (Bank Transfer)
It is a fast way of transferring money overseas through banks. Recommended when you trust the supplier that you’re cooperated with. The payment is generally by T/T, 30% deposit in advance, and 70% balance will be paid when the goods are ready and before shipment.

2. Western Union
Same as T/T, you can use this payment way when you’re dealing with those suppliers that you know very well, normally for payment less than $5000.

3. Letter of Credit
This payment way is relatively safe for both buyer and seller. It takes some complex procedures and it’s recommended for large import order amount (such as $20,000 and above).

4. PayPal
Normally for small payment less than $1000, like for sample fee.
Easy to use with good buyer protection. But is less popular with suppliers due to the difficulties in withdrawing money, high tax rates, and potential chargebacks from dubious buyers.

5.Secure Payment: Only suitable for orders from Alibaba
With this service, the buyer’s money will be held by a 3rd party and will only be released when the buyer confirms that he or she has received their order. It protects both buyer and seller.
When you get here, do you feel that the import progress is almost finished? Just need to wait for goods ship at home? No... Things are far from simple.
You need to pay attention to your order status at all times, like when raw materials arrive at the factory, cut the material, on-line production, etc. According to each situation, you also need to arrange the inspection. Let’s have a look, how to make quality inspection?

Chapter 6: Shipping and Documents Prepare

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When your order is finished, the quality inspection is confirmed, and payment has been done according to you and your supplier negotiation, then goods will arrange to ship out, normally in three ways: by air, by sea: LCL or FCL, by international express.

Documents prepare

Nothing products can import from China to your country without documents: normally with Certificates of Origin, Packing List, Commercial Invoice, B/L (if goods ship out by sea) or AWB (goods ship out by air), and other necessary documents, these documents must be prepared in English.
For example, if the goods were packed in wooden boxes, then need to prepare a heat treatment certificate or fumigation certificate.
China supplier will send these documents to you by express like FedEx/DHL/UPS, the supplier must send you the tracking number, you can check the shipping status via express official websites.

Take products to your warehouse

Once the merchandise arrives at the destination port or airport, it is time to take it to your warehouse, of course.


If you imported products by sea
You need to hire a customs agent, provide related international shipping documents (CI PL, BL, and other required documents) at least 15 days before ETA. They will do all the corresponding paperwork and make customs clearance. Then, you need to hire a transportation company, to send the goods from the port to your warehouse.

If you imported products by air or international express
If the CIF or FOB value exceeds a certain amount of money, your merchandise will enter through an agent or customs broker. You need to contact an agent and provide related documents and AWB no.

If the CIF or FOB value is low: the courier will make the internment procedures and leave the merchandise at the indicated address one or two days after arrival. For this, the commercial invoice must with full information of the importer to make the process faster.

Chapter 7: About Chinese Business Culture

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Language: Mandarin
However, there’s nothing to worry about because most of China suppliers can speak English nowadays. Email/WhatsApp will most likely be your communication tool when importing from China. In case of any misunderstanding, like: if your native language is Spanish, then you can use like Google Translate to help you.
Tips: Keep your emails short, straight to the point and error-free so that the manufacturer can give you better replies.

chinese business culture

Save and give a face(面子):
Face is one of the key aspects of Chinese culture. A Chinese person always wants to save face, never lose it. To “give face”, pay attention to elders and rankings, especially when it comes to government officials.
It’s important to understand Chinese culture by using the concept of “face”. This implies a blend of understanding culture, public perception, social roles, and self-esteem. These can either destroy or build business relationships.

Relationship is very important in China, and when doing business in China, building relationships is one of the important steps. We call it guanxi (关系). This refers to having personal trust and a strong relationship with someone.

Nowadays, Chinese businessman (especially those in the younger generation) are understanding and respectful of cultural differences. They don’t expect foreigners to be fully accustomed to their traditions. One thing you need to know is that the Chinese are very pragmatic. If you are a serious businessman, they will be willing to do business with you. One factor that is important in running a successful import business from China is developing mutual trust. Furthermore, you need to treat whoever you are dealing with respectfully.

Chapter 8: Basic Terms Used when importing from China

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INCOTERMS (International Rules for the Interpretation of Trade Terms)? When you read this, maybe you already have a headache.

No.....No ......No ......

this is the words I want to say when I study Incoterms 2000 at University!

study incoterms

Don't worry, here, I will only talk about some easy-to-understand terms and mostly used terms according to my experience, not official explanations which can find everywhere on the internet.

Suppose you already make one purchase order with one China supplier, and use the following shipping terms:

1. EXW - Ex Works " factory, named place "
China supplier delivers the goods to you at his factory or another designated place (such as a workshop or warehouse), the delivery is completed, the supplier will not make customs clearance of goods, and not load the goods on any means of transportation.

When you use this term, you should know China local costs involved.

2. FOB - Free on Board
It is one of the most commonly used trade terms in international trade.
You are responsible for dispatching the ship to pick up the goods. The Chinese supplier will responsible for customs clearance of goods, load the goods on your designated ship within the specified port of shipment and time, and notify you in time.
When the goods are loaded onto the designated ship at the port of shipment, the risk is transferred from China supplier to you.

3. C&F - Cost and Freight (FOB cost + Freight fee)
Here notice that you need to buy marine insurance. If there are any damages to the goods while shipping, China supplier is not responsible.

4. CIF - Cost, Insurance, and Freight (FOB cost + Freight fee + Insurance fee)
Tips: Many Latin American countries use the CIF value for calculating the duty.

When getting the price list from China suppliers, this is the basic words you will see:

5. MOQ- Minimum Order Quantities
The minimum order required by suppliers which will also depend on the type of product you are importing. However, the smaller the quantity of the product, the higher of the unit price. This is why it is often worth buying in bulk. Thus your profit increases.

Once the order is confirmed, your China supplier will send PI to you,

6. PI- Proforma Invoice
Which means a sales contract or an estimated invoice.
It contains goods detail, quantity, value, incoterms, delivery date, payment terms and other important information which you need. They are often used as preliminary invoices with a quotation or for customs purposes while importing goods.

The basic documents used in international trade, including importing from China, also named custom clearance documents:

7, CI- Commercial Invoice
The commercial invoice for export must contain the following information
 The complete name and address of the exporter
 The complete name and address of the importer
 Invoice number
 Place and Date of Dispatch
 Specification of goods
 Quantity
 Unit price: Every individual item in U.S.Dollars
 Total price
 Country of origin
 Freight and other costs related to the goods specified in the invoice
 Conditions and currency of the payment
 Terms of trade (INCOTERM)

8, PL- Packing List
A packing list for export is a document used for customs declaration that identifies the quantity, weight, dimensions, and carton count of the shipped products.
The information listed on the Commercial Invoice must match the corresponding fields on the Packing List (e.g., the number of units for each product should be the same on both the Commercial Invoice and the Packing List).

9. B/L- Bill of Landing
When the goods ship out by sea, then we must have this document.
It is issued by a carrier (shipping forwarder or their agent) to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment.
It refers to a contract of carriage between the China supplier and the carrier, and you need to present this document when taking the merchandise at the destination port.
A bill of lading contains many components, these include:
 Consignor, also known as the seller, exporter, shipper
 Consignee, also known as the buyer, importer
 Notify party (most time is same as consignee)
 Vessel name
 Ports of Loading/Discharge
 Place of Receipt and Delivery
 Description of goods, Marks and Numbers, Container/seal No.
 Packaging details
 Weight, volume
 Cost of freight, date of issue

10. AWB- Airway bill
It is a type of bill of landing, and applicable to the goods which ship out by air.
Once the airplane departs, the cargo rights will be changed from the China supplier to you.
Unlike a bill of lading, an AWB is a non-negotiable instrument, does not specify on which flight the shipment will be sent, or when it will reach its destination.

the following terms are related to shipping:

11. ETA and ETD
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival,
ETD: Estimated time of departure
Depending on China supplier’s production time, the shipping service used and when the supplier receives the cleared payment.

12. FCL and LCL
FCL (Full Container Load): refers to one full container load (20GP, 40GP, or 40HQ) that contains cargo for the same importer. It is the cheapest means of transportation when importing products from China.
LCL (Less Container Load): When your goods are less than one full container, then this will be a good choice. The forwarder will arrange different importers with the same destination and grouped in the same container.

13. POL and POD
POL (Port of Loading): the nearest port of China manufacturer, the place where the cargo is loaded by the carrier onto the ocean vessel.
POD (Port of Destination): final port of arrival of a shipment,

After knowing the above the basic information, now we are going to the most important part of this article:

Now It's your turn

I hope you enjoyed my guide on how to import from China.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Are you going to import from China? Do you still have other question in importing from China?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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