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Customs Procedures

Import Procedures
The Chinese importer (agent, distributor, joint-venture partner, or FIE) gathers the documents necessary for importing goods and provide them to Chinese Customs agents. These documents include: the bill of lading, the invoice, the packing list, the customs declaration, the insurance policy, 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 and quality. To reduce customs clearance time, certain companies can- in cases where description, specifications and quantity of import of goods are determined- declare to the customs in advance and present the documents after the imports are dispatched, before the arrival or in the three days which follow the arrival of the goods in a customs surveillance zone. The Customs authorities will examine the goods directly and will release the goods after their arrival.

Customs declarations can be done via the customs site. Exporters must indicate the place of arrival of the goods and they must complete all customs data. Once the data is analysed by the customs, a receipt will be sent, so that the company can complete the cargo of the goods. Custom duties can then be paid by bank transfer.

For more information, please refer to the Chinese Customs Authority.
Specific Import Procedures
The import of food and beverage in China is supervised by multiple government agencies and departments, mainly the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), the National Health Commission of China (NHCC), and the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC). Exporters and Importers of foreign food and beverage must be recorded through the “Registration Systems of Imported Food and Cosmetic Importers and Exporters” or the “Internet + customs platform” of the GACC. Furthermore, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) requires registrations for the import of cereals and oilseeds and live seafood.  Similarly, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has issued registration requirements for infant formulae, health food, food for special medical purposes and new requirements for online food trade.

Certain items are prohibited from entering China: arms, counterfeit currencies, documents which are deemed to be detrimental to the political, economic, cultural and moral interests of China, lethal poisons, illicit drugs, disease-carrying animals and plants, foods, medicines, and other articles coming from disease-stricken areas, used garments, local currency, etc.
Importing Samples
From 9 January 2019, the ATA (Temporary Admission) carnet can be used for the import, export and re-export of trade samples. It must be written on the product that it is a free sample and cannot be sold. China now accepts ATA Carnets for Commercial Samples (CS) and Professional Equipment (PE). Previously China only accepted ATA Carnets for Exhibitions and Fairs (EF) which is limited to 6 months or less from the date of entry. Both CS and PE are accepted to stay up to the full validity period of the carnet (up to 12 months).

For more information contact the Customs General Administration of the People's Republic of China.

To go further, check out our service Import Controls and Export Controls.


Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs threshold (from which tariffs are required)
RMB 50
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
7.6% (a relatively low rate). For more information, click here.
Products Having a Higher Customs Tariff
Duties vary from 3% to 30% depending upon whether imports are encouraged or not (import of automobiles is for example discouraged) by the authorities.
Preferential Rates
Granted to imports coming from countries with which China has signed trade agreements (e.g. Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement; ASEAN–China Free Trade Area; Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement). China may apply preferential tariff rates in the case of goods that the Government has identified as necessary to the development of a key industry.
Customs Classification
China applies the Customs Harmonised system (on the basis of the international six figure key). 
Method of Calculation of Duties
Customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. The amount of customs duties depends on the price or value of the imported goods. It is calculated on the price of the goods subject to the transaction. Besides the basic value of the goods, this amount also includes transport costs and insurance premiums paid to protect the goods before their arrival in China. The value does not include value added taxes or consumption taxes. To assess a value, all Customs officers have access to a valuation database that lists appropriate valuations for various imports, based on international market prices, foreign market prices and domestic prices. Customs officers check the price reported by the importer against this database. Normally, Customs officers will  accept the importer's price, unless the reported value is too far out of line with the database. For agricultural products, China Customs information frequently does not reflect seasonal changes in pricing or the effects of quality/grade on pricing. As a general rule, China Customs will charge based on the highest price reflected in their database.
Method of Payment of Customs Duties

There are two ways to pay import taxes:

  • Pay directly to the customs agency
  • Pay through your shipping company, which will pay in advance and require payment before the final delivery of the products.
Import Taxes (Excluding Consumer Taxes)

The following three types of taxes are applicable to companies importing products from or exporting products to China: customs duties, value-added tax and consumption tax. Value-added tax is a form of a consumption tax that is imposed on a product when the value is added at each stage of the supply chain, beginning with production to the end sale. In China, the consumption tax is applied to the following five categories of products:

  • Products that are harmful to health, social order and the environment, including tobacco, alcohol, and fireworks
  • Luxury goods such as precious jewelry and cosmetics
  • High-energy consumption and high-end products like motorcycles and passenger vehicles
  • Non-renewable and non-replaceable petroleum products like diesel oil and gasoline
  • Financially significant products like tires for motor vehicles

List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties and Local Taxes.

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Latest Update: April 2024