Import from China: How to Do It Right the First Time

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China’s role as the top importer globally is a major player in driving demand for goods and services, resulting in a significant contribution to the growth of the global economy.  Importing products from China can give businesses an advantage by providing access to top-quality goods at lower prices, which can improve profit margins and help them stay competitive in their markets. So if you are looking to expand your business and make more profit, importing from  China is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses to tap into a massive and continuously expanding market.  

Our comprehensive guide is here to help to succeed in the importing process for those looking to import from China but doesn’t know where to start or how.  From identifying potential products to finding reliable suppliers, managing logistics, and some common mistakes made in importing from China,  we’ve got you covered. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and strategies you need to import successfully from China and unlock the full potential of this business opportunity. In this article, we’ll take you through the entire importing process. You’ll have the understanding and confidence to succeed in importing from China. So let’s get started!

Choosing the Best Products to Import from China

When starting a business, we all want to choose a product that is not only profitable but also the best fit for our goals and vision. In that way choosing the best  Chinese products for your business can be a good idea as it allows you to offer a wide variety of products at a lower cost.  However, it’s important to be cautious in selecting what products to sell. If you’re unsure about what to offer or are starting a new business, you might want to take a look at the following on how to choose the best products to import from China. 

Do the Product and Market Research for Importing from China

As China is known for producing a wide range of products, it’s important to research which products align with your business and its goals. When considering importing products from China, it’s noteworthy to start by identifying potential products that align with your business goals and the needs of your target market. Identifying potential products to import from China is just the first step toward a successful importing business.

One effective way to do this is by conducting market research to gain insights into current trends and demand. Begin by researching what products are popular in your local market and identifying any gaps or opportunities for new products. Additionally, consider what products are in high demand globally and whether there is potential for importing these products to your local market.

So, you’ve got a list of potential products to import from China, now what? Well, before jumping in, it’s important to do some research on the Chinese market. By analyzing sales data, market reports, and consumer trends, you can get a better understanding of which products are hot sellers and which ones have a lot of competition. Having a deep understanding of the Chinese market and consumer trends will enable you to make well-informed decisions when selecting products to import, ultimately leading to a higher likelihood of success and profitability for your business.

You can use various online resources such as Alibaba, Global Sources, and  to get information on product trends, supplier information, and market analysis. Later by analyzing this data, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Chinese market and decide on which products to import.

Ensure the Quality

The quality of products produced in China can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the materials used, the manufacturing processes employed, and the quality control measures implemented by the manufacturer.Therefore, ensuring product quality plays a crucial role when importing from China. One common way to do this is to request product samples before placing a large order. You can also hire a third-party inspection service to conduct quality control checks and verify that the products meet your standards. It’s also important to check for certifications from recognized organizations or regulatory bodies. Lastly, clear communication with the supplier is key. Make sure to communicate your quality expectations and provide specific requirements and standards to avoid any misunderstandings.

fIND OEM Suppliers in China

Finding Reliable Suppliers

Once you have decided on a product,  it is now time to make a list of Chinese suppliers who can get this product for you. Unfortunately, there are many scams and fraudulent suppliers in China. Due to the physical distance between you and your supplier,  it can be challenging to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent suppliers, especially if you’re not familiar with the market. When searching for a new supplier,  it might be helpful to keep an eye out for the following traits: ( Should I elaborate on them more?)

  • Verify the supplier’s legitimacy by checking the supplier’s business license, company registration documents, and tax registration certificates to ensure they are a legitimate business
  • Check certifications. Look for suppliers that have certifications such as ISO and QS. ISO and QS certificates are quality management certifications that indicate a supplier has met specific industry standards for implementing effective quality management systems.
  • Evaluate product information from potential Suppliers to make sure they have the right products for your business 
  • Look for references to contact. These references include reviews, comments, surveys, and feedback from former clients.
  • Maintain open and clear communication with the supplier to ensure they understand your requirements and expectations.

Navigating the Logistics

Shipping methods and costs are essential aspects of logistics when importing from China. It’s important to understand the various shipping options available and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

The most common shipping methods from China include air freight, ocean freight, and courier services like DHL and FedEx. All of these methods have some pros and cons as in below:

  • Air freight is the quickest but costliest option for small, time-sensitive shipments. 
  • Ocean freight is a more affordable alternative for larger shipments but has a longer transit time.
  •  Courier services are suitable for small and urgent shipments but come with a higher price tag than air or ocean freight.
Did you know that the most common shipping methods from China are ocean freight and air freight? According to the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, in 2020, China’s container shipping reached an impressive 261 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with a total volume of 4.72 billion tons. Additionally, air freight traffic in China reached 7.52 million tons in 2020, as reported by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. That’s a lot of goods being transported across the globe!

How to Manage Customs and Tariffs

When you import products from China, it’s important to follow customs and tariff rules. This means you need to comply with the regulations of both China and your destination country. If you don’t follow the rules, you might face delays or penalties. 

To manage customs and tariffs, you’ll need to prepare some documents for customs clearance, such as commercial invoices, bills of lading, and packing lists. You also need to classify your products using the Harmonized System (HS) code to determine the correct customs duty and tax rates. Let’s take a look at these documents one-by-one. 

Commercial Invoices

A commercial invoice is a paper that has information about things you are sending to another country. It says how many items there are, what they are, how much they cost, and the total value of all the items. It also has the names of the people who are buying and selling the items. This paper is important because customs officials use it to decide how much tax and fees to charge when the items enter the other country. It’s a crucial document that you need to have when you import things into another country.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a critical document in international trade that acts as a legally binding agreement between the shipper and carrier. It includes essential details about the goods being shipped and serves as a receipt of shipment. Additionally, it can also serve as a title of ownership for the goods, which is crucial in situations where the buyer and seller are in different countries

Packing List

A packing list is a  document in international trade that contains information about the contents of a shipment. This document lists important details such as the number of items, weight, dimensions, and identification numbers of each package. The exporter usually prepares it, and it helps the importer to verify that the received goods match the commercial invoice and bill of lading’s details. By confirming that the shipment is accurately described, the packing list helps to prevent mistakes during the logistics process and guarantees that the goods are shipped and delivered correctly.

The Harmonized System (HS)

The Harmonized System (HS) is a standardized system of numerical codes used to classify traded products in international commerce.

Finding the correct Harmonized System (HS) code for your product is crucial to ensure smooth exports. Here are some steps to follow:
Visit the DGFT website.Look for the list provided by the Ministry of Commerce.Open the latest list and search for the relevant chapter related to your product.Check the correct heading, subheading, and tariff item to find the right code for your product.

As for the Tariffs,  these can vary depending on the type of product being imported and the country of import. It’s important to check with the customs authorities in your country to determine the specific tariffs and duties that apply to your products. Additionally, tariffs can change due to trade negotiations and political factors, so it’s essential to stay up to date on any changes that may impact your business.

China shipping customs import from China

Common mistakes are made when importing from China

We all make mistakes, and it’s no different when it comes to importing from China. However, it’s important to be mindful of these mistakes since they can cause significant financial losses and damage to your business reputation. Let’s find out about these common mistakes and how to avoid them together.

Inadequate knowledge of the regulations

Having a thorough understanding of trade regulations for the specific product being imported is a critical aspect of the import process. It’s important to note that different countries have unique product standards, and sometimes Chinese products can’t meet the international standards of the target markets. 

To prevent this, it’s important to conduct research not only on the import regulations of the country you’re importing to but also on the specific product regulations in your target markets beforehand. You can also ask your supplier to provide you with the required certificates mentioned above and ensure these are valid and authentic.

Looking for only the Cheapest Product

Many importers usually choose the low prices products and overlook the quality of the products. Therefore, they might get poor-quality products. Although purchasing from China can offer lower prices, it’s important to be careful and check the quality of the products you’re getting. You can check above on how to ensure the quality of the product before importing from China above.

Not having a clear contract

Just like in other businesses, importing from China can also have some risk of disputes.   To prevent these and guarantee that you receive the expected products, it is crucial to establish a clear contract with your supplier. This contract should include various critical details such as payment terms, delivery dates, quality standards, warranties, and guarantees.

Not Knowing Chinese New Year

Many buyers never heard of the Chinese New Year holidays. It might seem unimportant, but it is really crucial if you are planning to do business in China. The Chinese New Year usually takes place in the 3rd – 4th week of January or the 1st week of February. So, why is this so significant?  Because the Chinese New Year celebration lasts around two weeks, many companies and factories close. As a result, it is critical to plan ahead and make the appropriate arrangements to guarantee that your orders are processed and delivered before or after the holiday season. 

Key Takeaways

When it comes to importing products from China, it’s important to take the time to do your research and find the right products for your business. Keep in mind your goals and target market, and analyze trends and demand to make an informed decision. Don’t forget to request product samples to ensure quality, and consider hiring a third-party inspection service to double-check. To find reliable suppliers, look for references and reviews from former clients, and don’t forget to verify their legitimacy through proper documentation.

When managing logistics, take into account various shipping options and compliance with customs and tariff rules to avoid any unnecessary fees or delays. By following these tips and maintaining open communication with your suppliers, you can build a long-term partnership and take advantage of the many benefits that importing from China has to offer. 

How FDI China can help you import from China?

At FDI, we’re here to make sure your importing journey from China goes smoothly! We’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest regulations and guidelines, and you can also check out our articles for helpful tips and updates. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re always happy to offer our professional advice! 


Q: What are the benefits of importing from China?

Importing from China can offer access to top-quality goods at lower prices, improving profit margins and helping businesses stay competitive in their markets. It can also provide a broader range of product offerings, allowing businesses to diversify their offerings and tap into a massive and continuously expanding market.

Q: What products are popular and profitable to import from China?

In 2022, China’s top import product groups by value were electrical machinery and equipment, mineral fuels including oil, and ores, slag, and ash. Electrical machinery and equipment had the highest value at $644.7 billion, representing 23.7% of total imports into China. Mineral fuels including oil were the second highest at $535.3 billion (19.7%), followed by ores, slag, and ash at $224.7 billion (8.3%). Other significant imports included machinery including computers, gems and precious metals, optical and medical apparatus, vehicles, plastics and plastic articles, copper, and oil seeds.

Q: How to find companies that import from China?

To find companies importing from China, search online directories like Alibaba, Made-in-China, and Global Sources. Attend industry trade shows and events to connect with potential importers. Network with industry professionals and join relevant business associations. You can also use online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to identify Chinese product sellers. Hiring a sourcing agent or company that specializes in connecting buyers with Chinese suppliers is another option.

Q:  What are the most popular payment methods used for importing products from China?

When importing goods from China, there are several payment methods to choose from, including bank wire transfer, PayPal, letter of credit, Western Union, and escrow service.

Q: What are the important holidays and festivals to be aware of when doing business with China?

When conducting business with China, it’s essential to be aware of important holidays and festivals, such as Chinese New Year, National Day, Mid-Autumn Festival, Labor Day, and Qingming Festival. These holidays can cause delays and disruptions, so it’s essential to check the current year’s calendar and confirm with specific suppliers to ensure the timely delivery of goods.