An import and export guide to transporting cargo to or from China
There is not one particular framework for customs requirements in China. It is important to ascertain the precise protocols for the Chinese port where your products will be readied to be exported.
These are the documents you should have in place, for every Chinese port of origin:
- An export license. A document issued by the government authorizing the exporting of goods in specific quantities to a precise destination. This license is required for most exports to some countries. It may be required for all exports in unique circumstances.
- A customs declaration. A customs declaration is a document that lists and provides details of goods that are being imported or exported. Legally a customs declaration is the act of a person indicating the wish to place goods under a given customs procedure.
- A packing list. This list contains several details, including the seller, buyer, shipper, invoice number, transport mode, carrier, date of shipment, and it itemizes quantity, description, package type (such as a box, crate, drum, or carton). Also lists the quantity of packages, total net and gross weight (in kilograms). The packing list is not a substitute for a commercial invoice.
- A customs entry document. A customs entry is an official statement of specific information regarding imported merchandise. A customs broker as the importer typically fills out this form for the shipper. Aspects of the customs entry form include: country of origin, description of the goods, cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value or the goods, customs classification number, approximate amount of duties you expect to pay on the goods.
- A commercial invoice. A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the actual value of goods when assessing customs duties.
All importers and exporters are required to register with Customs authorities in China for a Customs Registration Code (CR Code), or engage with an agent who has the CR Code and is authorized by a Power of Attorney (POA) to act as the importer or exporter of record for their shipments.
Source: Documents List and Definitions
China Import Customs Requirements
Certain businesses can declare to the customs in advance and show documents after the imports are dispatched, before the goods’ arrival or in the three days after arrival of cargo in a customs surveillance zone. This will reduce customs clearance time.
For air freight, pre-declaration may be required with manifest or EDI transferred to customs before the arrival of goods, depends on the specific airport to which a shipment is moved.
Customs authorities may inspect the goods and release the property after their arrival. Chinese importers gather the forms necessary for importing goods and provide them to Chinese customs agents. These documents include:
- The customs declaration.
- The packing list.
- The bill of lading. A bill of lading is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier. For vessels, there are two types: a straight bill of lading, which is non-negotiable, and a negotiable or shipper’s order bill of lading. For air freight, an air waybill (AWB) serves a similar function to an ocean bill of lading, but is issued only in non-negotiable form.
- The invoice. A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the actual value of goods when assessing customs duties.
- The insurance policy. Shipping insurance is a service that protects shippers against lost, stolen, or damaged packages. If an insured package does not reach its destination, or if it sustains damages on delivery, then the shipper is reimbursed the declared value of the items in the package.
- The sale contract and the inspection certificate of the AQSIQ (General Administration of the PRC for Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine) or other licenses of safety.
Customs declarations can be done via the customs website. Importers must indicate the place of arrival of the goods and they must complete all customs data. Once the data is analyzed by customs, a release note will be sent, and the company can complete the cargo of the goods. Custom duties would then be paid by a transfer of funds.
For more information, please visit the website of Chinese Customs.
Specific import processes to be aware of include:
- Food processing products require an examination by the Department of health
- Certain items are prohibited from entering China:
- Counterfeit currencies
- Documents which are deemed to be detrimental to the political, economic, cultural and moral interests of China
- Lethal poisons, illegal drugs, used garments, local currency, disease-carrying animals and plants, foods, medicines, and other articles coming from disease-stricken areas, along with some assorted items
China Export Customs Requirements
The exporter must handle submission of customs entry and declaration documents. These documents include:
- The export license.
- The customs declaration
- The commercial invoice
These officials can help exporters by ensuring documents are completed correctly and by filing them according to applicable procedures. The consignee, or recipient of goods from China, does not need to take any direct responsibility until the shipment legally passes into their ownership. However, the consignee should make sure the Chinese supplier has all requirements covered in any case, to ensure cargo doesn’t get delayed or held indefinitely at a Chinese seaport or airport.
Top Cargo ports in China
China contains seven of the world’s top 10 ports. The nation is by far the largest exporter worldwide, leading the second-placed United States by nearly 50%. Shippers should be familiar with Chinese ports as much of the world’s commerce passes through them.
These are the Top 10 ports in China:
- Port of Shanghai (40 million TEUs in 2017)
- Port of Shenzhen (23.98 million TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan (21.56 TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Hong Kong (20 million TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Guangzhou (17.59 million TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Qingdao (17.44 million TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Tianjin (14.49 million TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Dalian (9.61 TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Xiamen (9.61 TEUs in 2016)
- Port of Yingkou (5.92 million TEUs in 2016)
Top Cargo airports in China
China is a major player in global air freight. Shanghai Pudong is among the top 10 of airports worldwide, while Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou are also in the Top 50 overall.
|Airport code||Full name||Cargo (in Metric Tons)|
|PVG/ZSPD||Shanghai Pudong International Airport||3.634|
|PEK/ZBAA||Beijing Capital International Airport||1.955|
|CAN/ZGGG||Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport||1.919|
|SZX/ZGSZ||Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport||1.283|
|HGH/ZSHC||Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport||.690|
|CTU/ZUUU||Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport||.671|
|CGO/ZHCC||Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport||.522|
|SHA/ZSSS||Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport||.423|
|KMG/ZPPP||Kunming Changshui International Airport||.415|
|CKG/ZUCK||Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport||.410|
Case Study: Regional distribution center solves shipping challenges in China
One of the world’s leading manufacturers of sealing solutions for cables and pipes used in industries from telecom to shipbuilding turned to Agility to solve its shipping challenges in China.
US – China Trade Dispute
The United States and China have been engaged in a trade dispute since 2017. This ongoing friction has led to punitive tariffs and restrictions, and the situation has been subject to volatility.
One of the reasons for this dispute has been tension over the initiation by the United States of Section 301 tariff investigation, which resulted in the implementation of tariffs on Chinese goods. For shippers, understanding how to navigate this complex and contentious issue is essential. Learn more here (MarketMuse brief).
Top Commodities Exported from China (2018)
Broadcasting Equipment 8.64%
Office Machine Parts 3.87%
Integrated Circuits 3.51%
Source: OEC China Profile
Top Commodities Imported from China (2018)
Crude Petroleum 12.9%
Integrated Circuits 8.25%
Iron Ore 3.67%
Petroleum Gas 2.74%
Refined Petroleum 1.69%
Source: OEC China Profile
Top Tradelanes from China (China is the origin point)
United States 19.3%
Hong Kong 10.9%
South Korea 4.14%
Source: OEC China Profile
Top Tradelanes to China (China is the destination point)
South Korea 9.93%
Source: OEC China Profile
Ecommerce logistics China
China’s ecommerce industry is booming and this is having a profound impact on logistics networks and warehousing, with key operators spending millions of dollars for prime warehouse locations to fulfill orders and to reduce delivery lead time.
Warehousing space is now at a premium, one of the few aspects of logistics not handled internally by the ecommerce companies due to the high capital costs of owning property. China is projected to have 52m square meters of high-quality warehousing space by the end of this year, according to JLL. Implementing logistics networks around warehousing hubs were crucial to processing the 40 billion items the state postal service said were delivered in China in 2017.
Investment in warehouses in China has slowed, however, as the nation’s biggest cities have begun limiting the amount of land allotted for industrial use to control urban sprawl. This investment peaked in 2015 with a jump of 28 per cent from one year before, while slowing to five percent in 2016 and just four percent in 2017.
In recent years, the logistics warehouse sector has attracted private equity and sovereign wealth funds seeking stable returns. In 2017 GLP was taken private for $11.6bn by a consortium that included Hopu and Hillhouse Capital, and set up a Rmb10bn warehouse fund with China Life.
To learn more: https://shipa.com/logistics-for-business/shipa-ecommerce/
Manufacturing Map of China
In China, the largest logistics clusters in the country are based in three core regions: the Pearl River Delta in the south, the Yangtze River Delta in the east and the Beijing Tianjin area in the northeast.
Logistics To Connect Your World
Agility offers the supply chain smarts, technology and personal service that connect your business to global markets, so you can grow.
Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index – China
China is #1 among 50 emerging markets in the 2020 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index, which ranks countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers and distributors.
After China, others at the top of the 11th annual Index are India, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.
China, India and Indonesia rank highest for domestic logistics; China, India and Mexico are top for international logistics; and UAE, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have the best business fundamentals. China ranks 8th in business fundamentals, down one spot from 2019.
Agility also surveyed 780 global supply chain professionals. They are signaling unease about slowing economic growth in China and U.S.-China trade tensions: India was their top selection for near-term logistics potential; China was their second choice.
Seventy-percent of professionals doing business in China say they are not shrinking or moving their operations because of the U.S.-China trade war. Among those who say they will move, 25% indicate Vietnam is their preferred country to shift operations to, while 23% choose India.
Forty-two percent of those surveyed say a prolonged trade standoff between the U.S. and China could benefit Southeast Asian countries, which offer manufacturing and sourcing alternatives to China. This is less, however, than 56% who said last year that Southeast Asia would benefit.