Top 10 Things to Know when Importing from China to the UK
China is one of the UK’s main import partners. In cash terms, UK imports from China have increased from £5.2 billion in 2000 to £48.8 billion in 2017.
However, importing from abroad can be a complex process and there are many steps to consider. This can range from choosing shipping methods to organising documentation and everything in between.
Whether you’re an SME or a large corporation, here’s our top tips to consider when importing from China to the UK.
1. Evaluate all shipping methods. When organising how you intend to import, you will need to decide whether you intend on sorting the logistics yourself or if you would prefer to outsource to a freight forwarder.
When importing from China, you will need to choose between sea or air freight. If you are transporting bulk quantities and are flexible with delivery time, then sea freight would be the best option. However, for smaller items or for quick shipment, you may wish to choose transport by air.
2. Sea Freight is typically the cheapest shipping method from China. If you are transporting large cargo, sea freight will usually be the cheaper option. We recommend sea shipment if your cargo is a minimum of 100kg in weight. But if your shipment is urgent or on a tight schedule, you may wish to seek an alternative.
3. Sea Freight is best for bulky items. Sea transport has higher weight limits and larger cargo holds to transport goods, usually meaning the cost is much lower than air and road options. A freight forwarder can organise or advise you on the best option for your import.
4. Know the full expected costs. Before purchasing your goods, it’s important to take into account the full costs of transportation. The size, volume and weight of the goods can affect the cost of transport, along with the shipping terms, insurance, collection location and delivery address.
5. Declare your imports to HMRC. Any imports from outside the EU into the UK must be declared to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This is usually done using a C88 form, also known as Single Administrative Document (SAD).
6. Familiarise yourself with UK Duty and VAT. As a trader you will need to check whether you must pay import VAT and Duty on your shipment in order for it to be cleared for entry in to the UK. Where import VAT usually stands at the current rate, UK Duty is determined by a percentage given to the type of goods you are importing.
7. Get on board with shipping terms. To avoid misunderstandings, it is a good idea to understand the common shipping terms when transporting goods internationally. These terms outline the responsibilities of the suppliers and buyers and include FOB, EXW and CIF/CFR.
- FOB (Free on Board)—The supplier pays all the charges in the country of origin, so it is essentially “free” for the buyer to have the goods transported on to the ship.
- EXW (Ex-Works)—This term means the buyer is responsible for all the costs and risks along the supply chain, i.e. from door to door.
- CIF (Cost, Insurance & Freight)— On these terms the supplier will pay for all the cost to get the goods to the UK, then once in the destination port it becomes the buyer’s responsibility.
8. Understand and find your commodity code. When trading with China, the customs paperwork requires the correct commodity code for your goods. This is a ten-digit code associated with imports from outside the EU.
9. Check if you need an import licence. There are certain import controls on certain goods including food, firearms and textiles. Selected goods are banned from being imported, while certain products in the restricted category will require appropriate documentation.
10. Consider a freight forwarding company. Importing goods from China can be a particularly complex process. A freight forwarding company will not only cover the logistics ensuring you get the best deal, but will also organise the documentation and take you through every step.
A freight forwarder will be able to advise you on all the above information. At KG Logistics our committed and dedicated freight forwarding team take great care to ensure your cargo reaches its destination as smoothly and quickly as possible by helping you to prepare all documents as required. We have many years experience and can successfully handle important shipments to destinations worldwide.
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