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The Ultimate Guide to Importing from China: Everything You Need to Know

Today, importing from China is a crucial element of many successful businesses. Unfortunately, many people think it is too complicated or risky to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity. But if you know how, this can be a powerful way to drive profit and expand your business.

We’ve put together this guide to help your company navigate the process, overcome common issues, and find the success you are looking for.

What Conditions Do You Need When Importing from China?

1. Starting Funds:

You need to be able to pay the following expenses, the value of imported goods, shipping costs, customs broker fees, customs clearance fees, and import tax, in addition to the provision of funds for cargo turnover, warehouse costs, etc.

2. Sales Channel:

You need to prepare your sales channel in advance, whether it is e-commerce pre-sale, retail, or wholesale, prepare the channel in advance, instead of waiting for the goods to arrive before expanding your sales channel, then your goods will have the risk of depreciation, and expiration as well as the opportunity cost of capital.

3. Import Authority:

The customs of each country have corresponding provisions for import authority, and general products will not have strict import requirements. Take importing to the US as an example, importers do not need to apply for an import license, but only need to own and provide a Business Tax Number to go through the import clearance formalities.

If you do not have business or US residence status, you can obtain the importer ID by submitting this form.

4. Email / WhatsApp / Wechat

You have to communicate with Chinese factories, freight forwarders, and other partners, Their sales staff will generally have email communication, but prefer timely communication tools, in China WeChat is the most popular way of work communication, but sales staff will have WhatsApp, you can use these two mainstream IM to communicate with them in time.

5. Enough Time

You need to take the time to study your target market, product supplier screening, forwarders, and customs clearance methods in your country.

But before that, let’s learn why businesses prefer to import products from China and the key benefits of doing so. So, without any further delay, let’s dive right in.

Why do Many Businessmen Import from China?

China is the world’s largest exporter because the goods are inexpensive, relatively high quality, and easy to source. And the export side of the economy gets a lot of support from the government, ensuring generally smooth sailing.

#1. Price:

The main reason people love these imports is that Chinese suppliers and manufacturers provide products at a lower price. Compared to Europe or the US, China can create goods at a much better value.

#2. Quality Control:

While there are other countries that are even cheaper than China, many of them do not have the quality that Chinese corporations do. When you import from China, you often have robust warranties and can expect an inspection process.

#3. Easy to Source:

Choosing the right Chinese supplier is easy because of how many credible online platforms there are. You can choose from sites like Alibaba (or its many alternatives) or connect with a sourcing agent or manufacturer.

#4. Government Support:

The Chinese economy relies on exports, and so the government makes it easy to purchase these goods. In some cases, they will offer discounts to offset any value added tax (VAT) that you might face.

9 Steps to Successful Import from China

If you are ready to begin acquiring China exports, this section gives you a step-by-step process. We cover everything from finding Chinese suppliers, grasping import laws, and calculating import costs.

Step 1: Select Products to Import

Deciding what products to import is an obvious first step, but it is an essential part to finding success. If you make the right choice here, the entire process will be easier and more profitable.

Some important considerations when selecting a Chinese product to import:

Factor of Selecting Products

Guidelines of Selecting

You know it will sell

  1. Export Trends
  2. Supply Base
  3. Production Capacity and Product Availability
  4. Product Adaptability
  5. Servicing Facilities
  6. Target Markets
  7. Demand Stability
  8. Trade Restrictions
  9. Profitability

You like it

  1. You really like this product.
  2. You confirm that there are a number of objective target customers in this market.
  3. You have a very strong determination about this product.

Step 2: Know the Relevant Import Laws and Regulations of Your Country

The regulations and laws surrounding imports from China will differ depending on your country and region. The code for the United States is different than for the European Union.

Whatever country you are importing into, knowing the relevant importing laws is key. Don’t make any agreement until you have a grasp of what your local regulations around import are.

It’s important to remember that these rules are all subject to change, so keeping up-to-date on changes is a good habit to get into. Of course there’s a simpler way to find your own import customs clearance company. They can guide you on the necessary documents or qualifications required for importing your products.

Step 3: Know China’s Export Law and Calculate The Cost

The purpose of getting knowledge of China’s export policy is to know the relevant policies of the Chinese Customs on the imported goods you wanted, and whether there are any export restrictions, such as the regulation for export quotas, export taxes, certification, and restrictions imposed by the importing country, etc. you can judge the difficulty of importing such products.

Getting knowledege of these policies that you do not need to search for information on your own. The quickest and easiest way is through Chinese freight forwarders or customs brokers, who are more professional.

  • Familiar with China’s Export Policy

US companies import more from China than any other country, and that’s in large part because China makes it easy. That being said, there are still laws around export for Chinese companies.

The key costs you need to understand are your tariffs — the taxes you pay when importing goods. On the other hand, duties are taxes charged to the customer who buys an imported product.

In the US, you do not have to pay tariffs or duties on shipments valued below $800. For imports above that point, you’ll likely pay the standard 19.3% tax on imported goods.

There may be other taxes, so you’ll need to look up your industry on this helpful online tool to figure out what you’ll owe.

  • How to Calculate The Actual Cost of Goods and Control Your Budget

First of all, we should list all the costs we have learned and calculate the corresponding gross profit.

Cost Category Details
Purchase Cost Ex-factory price of your imported goods
Land Freight in China Cost of transporting your goods from the factory to the Chinese port or forwarder warehouse
Freight Cost Cost of shipping or air transportation of goods from China to your country
Customs Broker Fee Service fee of Chinese customs broker for your customs declaration at the China Customs.
Import Tax Import duty to be paid for your products according to domestic tariff regulations
Customs Clearance Fee If you have a third-party freight forwarder for customs clearance
Domestic Land Freight Shipping and unloading charges from the port of the country to your warehouse
Other Expenses Warehouse staff salary and warehouse rent

Secondly, calculate the purchase cost of your actual goods, and then see if your profit margin is sufficient according to the target position of the market and the price of your competitors. If it is not enough, then you should review which part of the cost is high, and ask several suppliers one by one for each field, such as product manufacturers, Chinese forwarders (licensed customs broker), and customs clearance forwarders, mainly the cost of these three pieces.

Calculation method of gross profit margin:

1. Total Purchase Price=Purchase cost + Land freight in China + Freight cost + Customs broker fee + Import Tax + Customs clearance fee + Domestic land freight + Other expenses 

2. Gross Profit Margin / pcs= (Retail price-Total purchase price) / Retail price

Step 4: Find Chinese Wholesale Suppliers

Sourcing is the step where you find the wholesalers that you can actually purchase a given product from.

There are three main options for finding Chinese suppliers:

Supplier Type Business Model Pros Cons More Info
Manufactures Primarily manufactures certain kinds of goods from raw materials
  • Lower price
  • More professional on products
  • Weak communication and service
  • Less variety of products
  • Higher MOQ
Introduction of Small Chinese Factories
Trade Company Does not primarily produce goods but rather sources a variety of products (from one or more factories) that they keep in stock
  • Higher prices
  • Less control
7 Types of Chinese Trading Companies
Sourcing Agents A sourcing agent is an individual or company that helps businesses source products in another country
  • Rich supply chain resources
  • Professional service and communication
  • Less control
1. Why Use A Sourcing Agent To Import From China?

2. How does China Sourcing  Agent Work? 

3.How To Find A Sourcing Agent You Can Trust?

4.How does China Sourcing Agent Charge?

5.Top 30 Best China Sourcing Agent 

Personal SOHO Personal freedom status, help businesses from sourcing, bargaining, quality control and shipping of all things, relatively high personal requirements
  • Lower price
  • Easier to communicate
  • High requirement for personal SOHO.
  • Certain trust risk.
Sole Trader Advantages and Disadvantages

According to your current stage, it is more appropriate to judge which type of supplier you choose. If you are a new entrepreneur and the product is relatively single, you can choose Trade company; If your product categories is rich, you can choose sourcing agents; If you are very professional and have a single demand for a certain product, you can choose to directly dock the factory.


Step 5: Find Right Supplier and Place an Order

1. Find Right Supplier

Now that you’ve done the homework, it’s time to choose your supplier. There are a few great places to start:

  • Supplier directories

These are searchable databases where you can find all kinds of factories and vendors.

  • Offline wholesale marketplaces

There is also a very direct way of sourcing products to quickly see many of the product categories you want, which is to visit some well-known wholesale markets, such as China Yiwu Trade Mall or Vietnam International Trade City (VITC). This product sourcing method is suitable for three types of purchasing managers.

1. Want to know the future features and appearance trends of a certain category of products

2. Worry about choosing suppliers online.

3. For a large number of product categories and small quantities

We have compiled a list of various categories in China’s well-known wholesale markets.

List of various categories in China’s well-known wholesale markets
Category Rating Wholesale Markets Location
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Baoding Baigou Bags & Cases Trading Market Baigou, Baoding City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Guihua Gang Leather Bags Market Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3. Yiwu International Trade City, District 2 Yiwu,China
⭐⭐⭐ 4. Nantai Suitcases & Bags Wholesale Market Haicheng City, Liaoning Province
Bridal Clothes ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Huqiu Bridal City Suzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Yiwu International Trade City Yiwu,China
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Wuai Small Commodity wholesale market Shenyang City
Ceramics ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Shiwan Shagang Ceramics Wholesale Market Foshan City
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Jingdezhen Ceramics Market Jingdezhen City
Clothes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Hangzhou evergreen clothing market Hangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Guangzhou Shahe Clothing Market Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐ 3. Hangpai Boutique Costume Market Wuhan City
⭐⭐⭐ 4. Xinhangpai Leisure Fushicheng Hangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5. Guangzhou Baima clothing market Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 6. Guangzhou Thirteen Hongs of Canton Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐ 7. Huangyuan Clothing Market Yiwu,China
⭐⭐⭐ 8. Baohua Baima Costume Wholesale City Shenzhen City
Electronic ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Huaqiang Bei Electronic World Shenzhen City
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Yiwu International Trade City, District 2 Yiwu,China
Furniture ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Yiwu Furniture Market Yiwu,China
Glasses ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. China Danyang Glasses City Danyang City,

Jiangsu Province

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Duqiao Zhejiang Glasses City Duqiao City,

Zhejiang Province

⭐⭐⭐ 3. Yiwu International Trade City, District 3 Yiwu,China
Hardware ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. China Technology Hardware City Yongkang City, Zhejiang Province
⭐⭐⭐ 2. Shanghai Hardware City Shanghai City
⭐⭐⭐ 3. Yiwu International Trade City, District 2 Yiwu,China
⭐⭐⭐ 4. Yiwu Material Market Yiwu,China
Jewelry ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Shuibei International Jewellery Exchange Center Shenzhen City
Leather ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Haining China Leather City Jiaxing City,

Zhejiang Province



⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Gaoyou Down Feather Economic Development Zone Gaoyou City,

Jiangsu Province

Machinery & Accessories ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Linyi Car & Motorcycle Fittings Town Linyi City,

Shandong Province

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Yiwu International Production Material Market Yiwu,China
Shoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Guangzhou Metropolis Shoes City Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐ 2. Yiwu International Trade City, District 4 Yiwu,China
Silk ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Hangzhou Chinese Silk City Hangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Eastern Silk Market China Suzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3. China Textile Town Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province
Socks ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Datang Stocking Industry Market Zhuji City,

Zhejiang Province

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Yiwu International Trade City, District 4 Yiwu,China
Stationery ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Guangzhou Chaoyang stationery market Guangzhou City
Toys ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. Wanling plaza Guangzhou City
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2. Shantou Chenghai Plastic City Shantou City, Guangdong Province
⭐⭐⭐ 3. Linyi Yongxing International Toy Profession Wholesale City Linyi City,

Shandong Province

⭐⭐⭐ 4. Jiuzhou Stationery Toy Wholesale Market Shenzhen City
Textile ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1. China Textile Town Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province
  • Online wholesale websites

This is much more convenient than the offline option. There are many options today, and this is particularly popular for those looking to import from China for dropshipping.

  • Trade shows

China’s top 5 trade shows are the Canton Fair, Yiwu Trade Fair, Beijing Auto Show, the Bauma Fair, and the Shanghai Import and Export Commodity Fair. They have great influence and are becoming increasingly important as China’s economy grows and Chinese technology improves. People from all over the world attend them.

Chinese trade fairs are becoming increasingly important as the size of the economy increases and the technology level improves. Hundreds of thousands of business people attend these five conferences from basically every country in the world hoping to buy or sell needed products and scout for business opportunities.

Here is my list of the top 5 exhibitions in China, including exhibition time, key products, location, price and visit suggestions.

Exhibitions Name Time Key Products Location 

The Canton Fair (China Import and Export Fair)

The Spring Session:

April 15–19 (Phase 1) April 23–27 (Phase 2) May 1–5 (Phase 3)

Almost everything China Import and Export Fair Complex, 380 Yuejiang Middle Road, Guangzhou

The Yiwu Commdities Fair

The 28th Yiwu Fair is October 21-25 All types of consumer goods Yiwu International Expo Center: No. 59 Zongze Road, Yiwu, Zhejiang

Beijing International Auto Show

Every two years. Component exhibition from April 21-23, 2022; Whole vehicle exhibition at April 21-30, 2022. Automobiles and Accessories 88 Yuxiang Road, Tianzhu Airport Industrial Road, Shunyi District, Beijing

Bauma China

Every two years. November 22-25, 2022 Construction machinery and equipment, building materials 2345 Long Yang Road, Pudong Area, Shanghai
East China Import and Export Commodity Fair (ECF) March 1-4 Clothes, textiles, consumer goods, gifts, art 2345 Long Yang Road, Pudong Area, Shanghai, 201204, China
  • Import Records

If there is a particular product you are impressed by, you can check public records to see where it came from. Sites like Port Examiner, ImportGenius, and Panjiva give you access to bills of lading for imported products. Those bills have the importer’s name, the supplier’s name, and shipment details.

  • Port Examiner is a free tool that allows you to search through archived import records instantly. It is functional on a small scale but lacks the features needed to aggregate raw data and export it as a CSV or Excel file.
  • ImportGenius is an international trade database that allows users to download aggregate import data in spreadsheet format. Its starter plan costs $149/month, but a one-month free trial is available to get started.
  • Panjiva is a much more robust tool that comes at a steep price. Its platform includes advanced search functions to find relevant import data by HS number, item category, location, and more. It also expands many import records into full company profiles and provides contact information. Membership costs aren’t disclosed, but a one-month trial is available for $400.

Once you have names of potential suppliers to pursue, search the internet for contact info and try getting in touch. We feature tips on initiating contact below.

  • Sourcing agents

We’ve covered these vital services in other posts, and we bring them up again here because they can eliminate the hassle and stress of this entire step. They can bring a few of the best options to you, using their expertise and access to the market.

2. Purchase Products

With the legwork of sourcing out of the way, you find the right products and suppliers, and proceed to establish key info, such as:

  • Product sample option
  • MOQ
  • Lead times
  • Payment terms
  • Packaging
  • Material specifications
  • Quality standards
  • Shipping Terms

To get a more accurate picture of the supplier’s regular output, try placing a trial order. Many suppliers allow new buyers to make one purchase under the normal MOQ. By ordering a small but sufficient trial order, you can test the true quality of the supplier’s product.

Once you’re satisfied with your new supplier, you can attempt to negotiate before making a full purchase. Of course, high-volume businesses have more bargaining power, but even small operations may be able to negotiate purchase price, freight terms, deposit terms, and packaging details.

When reaching cooperation with the supplier, it is necessary to do the following work:

  • Sign the contract (price/payment terms/product specigication/shipping terms/delivery time)
  • Confirm the sample (confirm that the samples, bulk goods and samples should be consistent.)
  • Packaging mode
  • Materials needed by customs broker (Packing list/ Commercial invoice/Certification/Bill of lading/airway bill)
  • Materials needed by customs clearance company (Packing list/ Commercial invoice/Certification/Bill of lading/airway bill/Certificate of origin)

Step 6: Placing Order and Signing Contracts

If you are not 100% confident in your China import source, place a trial order. This will minimize your exposure to risk and give you experience in getting these goods from a foreign manufacturer into your customer’s hands.

While most manufacturers have a MOQ, your first order can typically be below this.

You should also investigate sample options. These allow you to get hands-on examples before you make a large order.

Once you have chosen from the samples, it’s time to sign the contract. This step also includes getting documentation together for customs.

Step 7: Quality Control and Inspection in China

Quality control (QC) is a process where an institution (typically third party from the manufacturer) takes a look at the production of your purchase. This makes sure that your end customer is satisfied.

The most obvious benefit to QC is that your product will have fewer defects. That also leads to fewer costs due to bad products, and it eliminates any lengthy back-and-forth with a factory to secure your warranty.

Many countries will even require inspection certificates on imports. So if you already have those in place, you won’t face unexpected delays.

Step 8: Arrange Cargo Transport

Once you have placed your purchase order, it will be time to start arranging cargo transport. You will have to facilitate inland transport depending on the shipping terms of your order. This should include your export customs clearance and loading. Mostly these arrangements are made by the supplier if it is the new one.

The KPI of the high quality freight forwarder company is that there can be no shipping delays and no loss of goods.

You will have various options for cargo transport, including air couriers, air freight, and sea freight. Make sure to weigh all your options before making any particular arrangement for your cargo transport or shipping purpose.

Sea freight is quoted by volume, while air freight is quoted by weight. Air couriers are the most expensive method of transportation. Air freight costs half of it and sea freight is the cheapest way to import from China, costing only 10% of its cost.

Take imports from China to the United States as an example,Learn about the current freight rates for shipping and air transportation from China to the US (Quotation for Feb, 2023).


Once your goods have been cleared through customs and all parties have been paid, the cargo needs to either be retrieved or transported to its final destination.

If you shipped LCL (Less than Container Load), your goods would arrive in a container with a variety of other shipments. Typically, after customs clearance, this container will be transported to a separate location for destuffing. In these cases, you (or your freight forwarder) will be provided with a secondary location near the original port.

If you shipped FCL (Full Container Load), the port of entry would be the location to use. You’ll also be provided with a Cargo Control Number that serves as a unique identifier for your shipment. These details can then be used to pick up or ship the imported goods.

Step 9: Clear Your Shipment through Customs

It’s important to have the essential documents for China imports ready so that you can easily clear customs. If you mishandle customs procedures, your hard work will be for nothing, as these are very tightly controlled in just about any country.

Once you have the product in hand, you will need to transport it to storage. In some cases, businesses will be able to manage this themselves, but small operations or companies that don’t want to deal with a fleet of vehicles will need to pay someone else to do this.

Final Thoughts

There are so many benefits to this process, even if there are points where things can get a little complicated. If you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that most suppliers are happy to help you through many of these steps. They deal with these issues all the time, and they want you to import their products.

If you want to make sure everything is done right at a fair price, you can always use a sourcing agent. Ruizhi Sourcing is your number one option. Reach out today to learn more about our hassle-free process. Experience all the benefits of importing from China with none of the stress!

FAQ about Importing from China

Q: What Risks May You Meet When Importing Products from China?

The main risks come down to potential delays in shipment, violation of agreements, legal problems (including intellectual property concerns), and financial issues.

None of these should prevent you from taking advantage of the amazing opportunities in Chinese imports. But they do mean you should be careful about who you do business with and how.

Q: Do I Need A License to Import From China?

You do not need a permit or license to import from China into the US. However, some special products might require a license from a related agency.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Import From China?

Merchandise processing fees (MPF) will be charged when Chinese products are imported into the US by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

1. For goods valued at $2,500 or less
  • $2.22 for automated imports that the CBP doesn’t process
  • $6.66 for manual imports that the CBP doesn’t process
  • $9.99 for any imports CBP has to process
2. Goods valued at more than $2,500
  • 0.3464% of the value of the goods charged to CBP
  • This fee can not be below $27.75 or above $538.40

These charges are on top of the 19.3% tax on shipments valued above $800.

Q: What Documents Do I Need to Import Goods from China?

When import goods from China, you will need to provide the importer with various documents. These documents include the following:

· Commercial invoice

· Packing list

· Bill of lading/airway bill

· Certificate of origin

· Customs clearance documents

· Packing details account (if any)

· Statement of insurance premiums (if any)

· Other necessary documents

Joey Gan
Article by:
Joey Gan
The Co-founder of Ruizhi Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 1k+ clients import from China and customize new products.. Contact with me at Linkedin
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