Importing Into China - Things That Must Be Noted


You want to importing into China, but don't know what regulations to follow? That's why JIKEship created this article. In fact, you will find reliable information about China customs clearance, import licenses, new customs regulations and import restrictions. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask our questions and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Customs clearance considerations for importing into China

Customs clearance in China must be on the agenda when importing into China - this area often creates problems. As experts in China trade freight, supporting shippers and consignees is part of our daily business. One of the questions we often encounter is which importing into China must go through customs clearance. There is no general answer to this, because the Chinese customs system is really complex. The actual inspection and clearance process depends on the nature of the goods, the type of goods and the chosen customs procedure.In addition to the diversity of the system, there is some information that may be of interest to cargo owners. The following is an overview.

Customs clearance in China involves two official bodies - one of them is commonly referred to as "China Customs".China Customs checks for example

  • whether the importer has a license to import the goods in question
  • whether tariffs are correct

The shipper needs to know: In order to check the customs duties, the commercial invoice and packing list must be examined for completeness and consistency. The commercial invoice needs to indicate the HS code (Harmonized System), the unit price of the goods and a detailed description of each item.

For the packing list, ensure that the net weight, gross weight and type of packaging of each item are listed. Both documents need to be provided in English at a minimum - Chinese is preferable. Since the data in both documents needs to be consistent, we recommend that you pay special attention to the spelling in both documents.

In addition to the above documents, China Customs requires the corresponding export declaration and transport documents (bill of lading or air waybill, respectively). These documents are used by China Customs to review the basis for deciding whether the goods require further inspection or whether duties can be determined.

Import license required for importing into China

Import permits are required to importing into China. There are two types of import permits: automatic permits and non-automatic permits. The first type relates to goods that are permitted and the second type relates to goods that are restricted and prohibited.

Automatic Permits

Most products are permitted goods and only require an automatic import license. In this case, the permit is automatically issued to all applicants and is only used to track imports more accurately. Once you have managed to obtain an automatic import permit, there is no limit as far as the number of import permits you can obtain, and you only need to apply once each time you want to import another type of item.Each automatic import permit is valid for 6 months, usually for one import batch.

Non-Automatic Permits

Non-automatic import permits are used to control the import of restricted and prohibited goods and also to enforce tariff quotas. In fact, because government-imposed quotas restrict goods subject to import regulations, a non-automatic permit is required before importation can be attempted.

What information is required to apply for an import license?

In addition, the following information is typically required for an application:

  • Company name and company number of the importer
  • Chinese consignee
  • Automatic import license number and expiration date
  • Trade conditions and foreign exchange
  • Place of customs clearance
  • Exporting country/region and place of origin
  • Commodity use
  • Commodity description and commodity code
  • Specifications, units, quantities, unit prices
  • Additional details
  • Seal of the issuing authority

New Customs Regulations

The regulations controlling the importation of goods and their subsequent sale in the Chinese domestic market are complex and continue to evolve. In fact, over the past few years, the Chinese General Administration of Customs has implemented a series of new regulations that directly impact companies importing dutiable goods into China.

The latest revisions, which took effect on June 1, 2018, affect China import and export manifest rules. The adjusted rules include:

  • Manifests must be submitted 24 hours prior to loading. This includes all vessels entering or leaving mainland China ports.
  • Cargo descriptions must be complete and accurate.
  • Full contact information for the shipper and consignee as well as the company code are required fields.

JIKEship Warning: Beware! China has established a number of labeling and packaging requirements that are particularly important for consumer goods. If a shipment does not meet these requirements, it will be refused entry into China.

Restrictions on importing into China

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce classifies goods into three categories: permitted goods, restricted goods and prohibited goods. Certain goods are prohibited from being imported, while restricted products require quotas or licenses.

The latest revisions, effective June 1, 2018, affect China import and export manifest rules. The adjusted rules include:

  • Manifests must be submitted 24 hours prior to loading. This includes all vessels entering or leaving mainland China ports.
  • Cargo descriptions must be complete and accurate.
  • Full contact information for the shipper and consignee as well as the company code are required fields.

Permissible Items

This category is automatically licensed and you will need a permit to import into China, but the latter will be issued automatically at the time of application. The automatic permit is valid for six months and you can have up to six shipments.

Restricted Goods & Prohibited Goods

Restricted goods can be exported, but they can be controlled and regulated by either a license approval or an annual quota. Such goods can be exported, but the approval must be issued for each shipment and is valid for one year. Exports of prohibited products are absolutely prohibited on their own terms. Several departments, including the Department of Commerce, have defined lists of prohibited items. Please find the list of prohibited and restricted items below.

1.Weapons, simulated weapons, ammunition and explosives

2.Counterfeit currency or securities

3.Prints, films, photographs, movies, audio tapes, video tapes, CDs, DVDs, computer storage devices, and other items that may pose a political, economic, cultural, or moral hazard to China

4.Poisons and addictive drugs

5.Food, drugs or other items that are dangerous to humans and animals, infectious or from infected areas

6.Animals and animal products.

  • All living animals (excluding dogs and cats) and their sperm, fertilized eggs, embryos and other genetic material
  • Raw or cooked meat (including offal); marine animal products
  • Animal milk and its products, silkworm pupae, silkworm eggs, animal blood and its products, aquatic animal products
  • Eggs and their products without heat treatment
  • Fur, bristles, bones, horns, grease, meat and its products
  • Edible bird's nest (except canned bird's nest)
  • Genetically modified biological materials

7.Plants and plant products.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Tobacco leaves (excluding tobacco)
  • Seeds, sprouts, seedlings and other fertilizable plants
  • Organic culture media
  • Soil

8.Other isolation types.

  • Animal carcasses, samples or specimens, and animal viscera
  • Genetically modified biological material
  • Animal and plant pathogens, pests and organisms
  • Human blood and corresponding products


In short, you must define the nature of the goods you want to import and their categories (allowed, restricted or prohibited). You must then determine the type of tax it proposes and the type of import license you must apply for. If you have any questions, please contact our customs clearance specialists.

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