China has become an economic powerhouse over the course of the last few decades. Few businesses around the world that rely on manufactured goods, components, and assemblies cannot do without trading with Chinese suppliers to a certain extent. Of course, many British firms already have very well-established trading partnerships with Chinese manufacturers. However, numerous UK-based businesses don’t. If you would like to emulate the success of others in your sector who have suppliers in China, then you will need to learn how to import from the People’s Republic. The good news is that most SMEs – and even sole traders – can import from China without needing to invest huge sums in what is, at heart, an administrative process.
Here’s what you need to do if you want to import from China but have never done so before…
1. Find a Reliable Chinese Supplier
There are plenty of Chinese firms that trade with English-speaking companies in the UK, Canada, the US, and Australia. As such, the language barrier shouldn’t be a problem. Seek out an established firm with a good reputation even if it will act as an intermediary supplier between you and the factory where the goods are produced. This way, you will be less likely to face errors with consignments and being ripped off by scammers.
2. Arrange Your Own Shipments from a Suitable Chinese Port
According to Barrington Freight, an established freight forwarding firm that handles numerous Chinese imports every week, asking your supplier to arrange the deliveries of your orders is somewhat inefficient. They’ll often just outsource this work to a logistical firm and charge a considerable markup. Instead, use a UK-based firm with the necessary licensing for international logistics. Ideally, your goods will be placed into UK-bound containers at a port specializing in manufactured goods, such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou or Shenzhen.
3. Avoid Air Freight and Consider Groupage Shipments
You might be tempted to use air freight services out of China, especially if the goods you have ordered are light. However, air freighting products isn’t always that much faster than shipping goods by sea due to the extra paperwork involved. If you want to keep costs down and can afford to wait a couple of weeks more for your order to arrive, then seek out groupage shipping rates, the most cost-effective way to import from China to the UK.
4. Register With HMRC as an Importation Firm
Under UK law, you cannot import goods from China – or anywhere else for that matter – without an EORI number. You’ll need to register for this status before your order arrives in the UK if your consignment contains commercial goods.
5. Declare Your Imports Online to Avoid Delays
Finally, customs officers will want to have paperwork accompanying your order that matches the required online declaration that all UK importers need to make when shipping goods from China. If there are any discrepancies between the two, then it can mean your order will be impounded indefinitely. Appoint a customs clearance agent if you have no prior experience in this area.