Import Goods from China

Knowing how to import goods from China successfully will help you grow, and increase profits in your business.

This Ultimate Guide from Dongsourcing, discussed every step needed to manage your imports from China.

Let’s quickly take you through the processes you need to go about your imports from China.

Import from China

Table of Contents

How to Import from China?

How to Import from China

When you finally decide on importing from China, it is important to have a holistic view of the processes involved in the international trade.

This will help you especially as a first-timer to understand the China market, and gain the most profit with quality goods.

While the processes may seem quite complex for you at first, try to follow the steps here gradually to get it right.

This is because your subsequent imports from China lie pretty well on the success of your first importation.

On this note, this is how easy it can be to control imports from China.

1. Be Specific About the Product You Wish to Import

You will make things much easier for your business, when you already conclude on the particular product that you want.

Going into the China market to make your choice of product can suck your energy and money too.

There are many manufacturers with similar products you may have in mind. And, others try to convince you to change your mind entirely.

Well, no one needs to remind you of the troubles of getting the wrong products.

Therefore, take your time at this stage and describe your product before coming to China.

Decide if you want already made products, or you need custom products manufactured from scratch.

2. Get in Touch with Chinese Suppliers that You Can Trust

A good supplier is the one who understands your product description, and gives you exactly what you want.  

There are several ways that you can find a supplier for your products. These include searching on Google, visiting the China wholesale market, going to trading shows, etc.

When you find a supplier, make sure to book for your product manufacturing and delivery.

Just send in your orders, and pay the money involved to avoid delay. You can start expecting your goods in about 45 days.

The duration may depend on the quantity of your production, and your location.

Remember, a bad supplier will ruin your business, therefore choose with caution who to export for you.

Dongsourcing is an example of a trusted China sourcing agent that you can use when importing from China.

A sourcing agent will handle affairs such as finding the best supplier, costs negotiation, quality checks, amongst other benefits.

“You can read our Best 50 China Sourcing Agent Company to Help You Import from China

 to learn more.”

3. Ask for Product Sample

Product Sample

Do not overlook this stage by believing that your supplier can deliver.

It is very necessary to request for a product sample, and be certain rather than just assume.

Also, make sure you get the sample, and confirm quality before booking your bulk order from the supplier.

Do not just take images from product catalog as sample, you cannot ascertain quality from photos.

Therefore, request for a physical sample before proceeding. Pay money to cover the costs if necessary.

A sourcing agent will come quite handy at this stage, if you’re far away from the supplier. They will help you to confirm quality.

Moreover, a sourcing agent will be there, to make sure that your final production is of the same quality as your sample.

4. Discuss Means of Payment and Book Your Order

Once your supplier satisfies you, the next thing is to book your order, and agree on payment terms.

This is important to get all your goods as quickly as possible, so you can sell and make money.

Whether you are working directly with the supplier, or a sourcing agent, make sure to agree on production costs.

Book your order while stating your costs and payment terms clearly on the order book.

You can now be sure to start waiting for your goods to arrive, then sell for profit.

There is always room to negotiate prices, while importing goods with China manufacturers.

5. Get Ready for Your Goods Shipment

Goods Shipment

You have to be ready to receive your imports from China at the port of entry.

Note that if you choose a wrong courier agent, your shipment will experience delays, and increase cost.

Using sea cargo attracts cheaper costs, and saves you money than any other cargo method.

The only fear with sea courier is that it takes longer to get your goods imported from China.

Air cargo on its side can deliver imports quickly, but the cost is usually on the high side.

Remember that customs clearance is necessary when receiving your imported goods.

Therefore, you should be ready to pay your bond/duties, which serves as insurance when you’re not up-to-date on customs tariffs.

Also, you will need to provide other necessary documents such as payment invoices, bills, packaging lists, etc.

For successful international trade, always check requirements in your country, about the products you wish to buy and sell.

So, when importing from China, be sure your imports aren’t banned in your country of origin.

6. Receiving Your Shipped Imports from China

Receiving Shipped Goods

Once you have all entry documents ready, then you will experience hassle-free courier from China.

Note that even a single missing entry document, can lead to a chain of disruptions in the supply process.

Depending on the cargo method that you chose, you may experience some delays before getting your goods.

Always give yourself a few more days ahead of the expectation date. If you can get tracking benefits for your imports, that will be awesome.

If you ship your goods through sourcing agents such as Dongsourcing shipping, you’ll get the option to track your shipments.

In all, you’ll get notified when your products arrive at the port of entry. Thus you can go to receive them and kick off your business to make your money back.

How Can You Find Reliable China Suppliers of Your Products?

You can guess several ways to find China manufacturers, but the question is are they the best for your imports?

How do you know you can trust them? And, other important questions.

Importing from China can be very profitable to your business, especially Small and Medium Enterprises.

Doing it with the best wholesale supplier of your products is however much more profiting.

With the China market boasting of cheap labor, and availability of raw materials, you can import at the cheapest costs.

Even if you’re just running an online retail business, your small business will have the opportunity to grow.

The good thing is that you do not need to visit China in person, to find great manufacturers for your products.

Here are therefore ways to find the best Chinese manufacturers, for your international trade.

1. Making Use of Search Engines

Using Search Engines

You can simply search for China manufacturers for your products through search engines, such as Google.

This method is very simple, just enter the keywords required, and you will have a list of wholesale providers.

You’ll also get extra information about the manufacturers, and how to contact them.

Make sure to verify the authenticity of the wholesale supplier, you get from search engines.

This is because a lot of them may not be genuine. And, you don’t want to lose your money.

For online purchases, you can also use the following trading platforms to purchase your wholesale products.



This China online platform is popular for their eCommerce activities. You can easily find suppliers that sell the products you need at a cheap purchase price.

Small businesses use Alibaba as the quickest link to the Chinese market. You can place your order at the comfort of your home, and get it delivered.

Their website is the largest B2B site, for your imports from China.

Manufacturers in China open online stores on Alibaba.

These stores are where you buy from, thus you can buy from different manufacturers and costs at the same time.

Just have in mind that the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) at Alibaba is usually higher than other platforms.

The Alibaba headquarters in China is in Hangzhou.



AliExpress is also an online establishment of Alibaba, where you can buy products directly from China suppliers.

This platform is a B2B and B2C eCommerce marketplace servicing both businesses and consumers.

In everything that you do make sure to confirm the activities of the seller, before trading.

Some products that you may find in AliExpress are not owned by the website.

 DH Gate

DH Gate

DHgate is another B2B company, where small and medium businesses around the world can buy from China.

This site provides a variety of products, which you have to buy in bulk from the suppliers.

The good thing about DHgate is that they register their sellers themselves, to ensure security of buyers.

You can quickly find suppliers of your products here, and get your imports on the way.

Most manufacturers using DHgate usually include their online store pages.

This means that you can visit the pages, to learn more of their activities, or contact them for your international trade.


The platform is the home of vehicles, and mechanical equipment manufactured in China.

If you’re in search of suppliers under the mentioned category, then it is important to visit their website.

Note that most suppliers in made-in-china have their Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) of around $5,000.00.



Globalsources is another China online company, where you can find commercial Chinese suppliers. This platform is more in appearance as made-in-china.

Globalsources focuses more on imports of electronics, and electrical products.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a Chinese manufacturer under electronics category, you should visit Globalsources website.

 “If you are using search engines or online platforms to find Chinese suppliers, ensure they are real. Do not make any payments, until you feel satisfied with what they have to offer.

If you can get buyer protection from the platform you use, that will be great.”

  1. Employing Sourcing Agents in China

China Sourcing Agents

China sourcing agents are popular when importing from China, because they play a crucial role in the supply chain.

An experienced sourcing agent company knows how to manage your imports from China. This includes startups and fully established businesses.

There are so many sourcing companies in China that can help you import containers from China.

You need to also work with a sourcing agent company that can help you import effortlessly from China.

Here is a list of trusted sourcing agents for your imports.


Dongsourcing is among the best sourcing agents in China that can help you find trusted commercial Chinese suppliers. Their services cover all product types.

This sourcing agent will help you with other activities, such as purchase price negotiation, quality inspection, warehousing, cargo, etc.

You can visit their website to learn more about sourcing activities, such as product sourcing services.

Leeline Sourcing

Leeline Sourcing

This is another sourcing agent in China that can export your products from trusted suppliers.

They also offer other management duties in the supply chain which you can choose from.

Dragon Sourcing

Dragon Sourcing

Dragon sourcing has offices across Asia, America, and Europe. They can easily help you import products from the China market.

 You can also compare China Trading Company  and Sourcing agent company, to know which suits your importation better.”

3. Find Suppliers in the China Wholesale Markets

China Wholesale Markets

When you visit the China wholesale markets, you have a higher chance of importing goods successfully from China.

This is because of the numerous wholesale markets in China. In these markets, you can purchase your products at cheap costs.

Here, you get in touch directly with commercial suppliers, offering so many different kinds of products  for exports at an affordable price.

Some of the wholesale markets in China include:

Yiwu Wholesale Market

This is the largest, and most popular of all the wholesale markets in China.

Businesses around the world import their products from the Yiwu wholesale market.

You can find up to 50,000 different types of products, in over 75,000 booths present in the market.

The range of products found here include electronics, gift items, hardware, auto accessories, textiles, children toys, etc.

You do not need to spend much time in the Yiwu wholesale market, to find what you’re searching for.

Guangzhou Wholesale Market

Located in the trading hub of China is the Guangzhou wholesale market, where you can find a wide  product range.

Your day-to-day use products such as clothing materials, jewelries, home products, bags, supplies for restaurants and hotels, etc.

Guangzhou has several factories, and you can find manufacturers that sell your product type.

Shenzhen Wholesale Market

Shenzhen is popular for its electronic market, which is the largest worldwide.

If your product is electronic, then the Shenzhen wholesale market is your go to market.

This china market offers low costs for different electronic brands. You can easily find suppliers for your electronic products in this market.

No matter what you are looking for, if it is electronics, then Shenzhen is your bus stop.

  1. Find Suppliers by Attending the China Trade Fairs

China Trade Fairs

Attending Trade Fairs in China, is one of the surest ways to prepare your imports from China.

There are several exhibitions in China that you can attend, when you get the opportunity to visit China.

You’ll find great suppliers of your products in Fairs, communicate with them directly and get what you want.

The good thing about fairs is that you’ll find thousands of Chinese manufacturers, under the same category.

This means competitive price, and authenticity of suppliers, as there won’t be the need to second-guess.

When you go for fairs, you’ll easily know the production capacity of the suppliers that you choose.

You can also discuss with them at a spot everything that you need to know about your importation.

Since the products are usually on display, you can compare quality also at trading shows.

As you can see, there is no better way to find Chinese suppliers than exhibitions.

Note also that sourcing agents in China find most of their suppliers through fairs.

Thus, they can serve as representatives for you, if you can’t be physically present.

There are several Fairs going on in China every year. The most popular trade shows include:

Canton Fair China

Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is a very big exhibition event, hosted two times in a year in Guangzhou, China.

Around April – May, the first Canton show of the year usually occurs.

Then, around October – November, the second Canton show of the year happens.

Keep in mind these months, if you would love to attend a Canton Fair in China.

There are usually three different phases in the Canton Fair, organized by product type.

The phase you attend depends on the product type that you’re looking for.

There are so many products on display in Canton Fair, ranging from electronics, furniture, hardware, gifts, consumer goods, etc.

You can get more information about the Canton Fair on their website. Luckily, they have the English version of the website.

East China Fair

East China Fair

Shanghai hosts this extended Chinese Local Trade Fair for importers, the East China Fair (ECF).

This trade show comes up only once in a year.

If you track the information on their website, then you can know when it’s coming up, in case you wish to attend.

The East China Fair gets its name from the coalition of the provinces in East China, and their Cities, sponsoring the event.

During this trade fair, the sellers who are local Chinese manufacturers, display their products for importers from various locations worldwide.

The goods for export at the East China Fair include gift materials, fabrics, arts, textile, and much more.

This trade fair records the highest on-ground deals, compared to other China fairs.

So, attending an ECF will link you to major trading partners of your products and facilitates your imports from China.

Beijing International Auto Fair

Beijing International Auto Fair

This is the biggest automobile show in China, hosted in Beijing two times in a year. In this trade show, you will witness automobile exhibitions including auto accessories.

If your products are automobile-related, then attending this trade show would be very beneficial to you.

You’ll find various automobile brands, spare parts, and accessories to add functions.

Automobile manufacturers, and related top companies use the Beijing International Auto Fair, as a medium to display their products.

 “Finding Chinese suppliers is the most important step to importing products from China.

Once you are able to find a reliable supplier, he will guide you through other processes.”

What Should You Do to Get Your Right Product Description?

Finding a Chinese supplier for your product is a great step to importing your goods.

However, there are important things that you must consider, to make sure you get exactly what you ordered.

Here are China importation tips you should have at the back of your mind.

  1. Give Your Supplier a Detailed Description of What You Want

Detailed Product Description

Yes, the manufacturer you found, may be producing similar products to what you’re looking for. But, do not assume that he knows exactly what you want.

You should remind him always, of the important details you want in your products.

If you do not explain clearly what you want, the manufacturer will employ his own ideas.

Most times the ideas will differ from yours, raising issues.

If your product description has sketches attached, ensure that the manufacturer confirms the possibility of each specification.

In all, importers should try to be present through the production process, or at least have a representative.

  1. Be Cautious of Products with Cheapest Costs

Cheap Products

While certain products may tempt you due to their low costs, be sure you’re not sacrificing quality for cost.

The truth is that products with an overly cheap price are likely to be of inferior quality.

So, always stop, and ask questions before proceeding. Many cheap imports from China are not always what they seem to be.

This is not saying that costly products are the best quality products, but always look out for the obvious.

Feel free to get quotations from several suppliers, and compare costs. You’ll notice a range in the quotes you get.

If any is suspiciously low in price, then apply caution.

Mistakenly buying a poor-quality product, will cost you more than you expected in the long run, ending in regrets.

Keep this in mind always to get the quality that you deserve. Remember, quality should be your priority for business growth.

  1. If There is Something Fishy About the Supplier, STOP

No to Fishy Suppliers

Supplier trust is very essential when you want to import successfully from China. Therefore, there is the need to fully trust your supplier in this journey.

If there is anything that ever makes you doubt your supplier, then you need to stop and sort it out.

It is better if you don’t buy from any supplier that you don’t trust to take care of your export.

There is no need to feel sorry or pity, go for another supplier that you feel more comfortable dealing with.

Why Should You Import Products from China?

You can easily tell that the reason many importers worldwide import products from China is to make profit.

Of course, the China market offers a wide range of products, at very affordable costs without compromising quality.

So, it is very profitable importing your products from China, especially for small businesses that wish to grow.

China is the factory of the world; this means that you can find virtually anything you’re looking for here.

So, in general, it is a bonus for you to import made-in-China products, for your business.

What are the Risks of Importing from China?

Risks of Importing from China

You can encounter several risks during imports from China, and they include:

A supplier disappearing with your money: This is usually an encounter for new importers in the system.

However, the possibility of this happening nowadays is almost down to zero.

Receiving products of very low quality: It is possible to get substandard products delivered to importers.

But, depending on your agreement and contract terms with the supplier, you can send the imported goods back for refund or quality improvement.

Products can damage during transit or get lost: This can happen no matter what shipment method that you use.

Simply get insurance for your shipment to cover costs if anything happens.

Getting goods that you didn’t order for: This usually occurs as a result of mix up from the warehouse.

You should send back the imported goods and request for your order. The supplier will cater for this cargo, just make sure you state it in your terms of contract.

Making loss due to competitive market: Getting products cheap from China doesn’t really ensure profit, since many people might be in the same business.

So, you get to sell cheap to find buyers.

Risk of importing harmful/dangerous items: Your Chinese manufacturer may produce your items with raw materials that can cause health hazards.

It is advisable to have insurance, since you’ll be held responsible for any harm caused by your products.

How Can You Minimize the Risks of Importing from China?

Some of the things that you can do to reduce the risks of Chinese importation includes:

Making sure the terms of contract are clear before signing: This will cover most of the risks expected from importing from China.

State the means of payment and delivery terms clearly. Anyone who breaches the terms will pay for loss and damages.

Always requesting a sample first before ordering: With this, you can confirm quality to expect, before placing order, reducing the risk of substandard products.

Using the help of a reputable China sourcing agent: Employing a sourcing agent to help with your imports from China will cover a lot.

The sourcing agent will find a trusted supplier, perform a factory audit, check for quality, manage logistics and courier, customs duties etc.

Building a good relationship with your Chinese supplier: It might take time to acquaint yourself with the Chinese business culture.

However, establishing a good relationship, or Chinese value “guanxi” with your manufacturer, will definitely put you on a safe side.

Having a good understanding of your product market: When you take time to learn your product market, you can import with less risk.

You’re sure that you can handle pricing, and competition of imported goods to make profit.

What is the Meaning of Terms Used when Importing from China?

Terms of Shipping

Here are certain terms used during importation, and their meanings:

FOB (Free on Board): Used for sea cargo, this term suggests that until goods get on the ship, the supplier still has full control.

And, afterward the importer takes charge. The name of the shipment port will be attached to the term.

FCL (Full Container Load) and LCL (Less than Container Load): FCL is when a shipment fills up the entire space of a container, hence no goods from another shipper can fit.

LCL refers to a shipment occupying just a portion of a container, shipped with goods from other shippers.

CFR (Cost and Freight): CFR suggests that a supplier will take care of transport cost, to the point of delivery.

But, after that, the importer takes over other processes, such as loading from ship to truck, etc.

CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight): CIF is just adding the responsibility of purchasing insurance to CFR.

The insurance covers for damages and losses that may occur to your shipments.

EXW (Ex Works): The term EXW implies that the importer handles the shipment of his goods by himself.

As a result, the supplier will only get the shipments ready for pick-up, by the carrier of the importer.

AWB (Air Waybill): Used for Air cargo, meaning the flat bill to prove the contract of carriage.

POD (Point of Discharge) and POL (Point of Loading): POD is the port of unloading the shipment. While POL is the port of loading the shipment unto the ship.

Incoterms: This is the set of guidelines on how goods are transported worldwide.

In this guideline, the supplier and the importer share the responsibility of the transportation process.

How to Import from China to the U.S.?

Import from China to USA

The process of importing goods from China to the U.S. is quite a straightforward one.

However, you must know the Do’s and Don’ts in the supply chain, for a successful import.

That is why Dongsourcing created this detailed guide, to help you with U.S. imports from China.

You’ll learn important tips on how to quickly secure your shipments successfully to the U.S.

 Along the line, you’ll also get to find ways to go about your U.S. imports, to gain the most out of it.

What Can You Do to Prepare for Importation from China to the U.S.?

Your U.S. imports starts with enough preparations, to figure out if importing from China is the best for your business.

To best prepare your imports from China, here are answers to important questions that you may have.

Must You Obtain a License to Import from China Into the U.S.?

Import License

The fact is that it is a good practice to keep your import license ready, before importing from China. However, this practice isn’t a “must”, depending on the products you wish to import.

For example, the FDA, FTC, and certain other agencies in the U.S. will require you to own a license for your U.S. imports.

So, importing goods under the jurisdiction of such agencies won’t be as easy, without an import license or permit.

However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) won’t demand a license to let in your goods.

This means that you can actually import your goods from China to the U.S., without an import license.

This is possible, so long it doesn’t fall under the category of goods overseen by certain agencies requiring the license.

Some items you must own an import license to import into the U.S. These include food items and dairy products, medical products, products under trademarks and copyrights, etc.

These products are under the regulation of certain bodies or agencies, to ensure safety and protection.

Do You Need to Buy a Customs Bond to Import from China to the United States?

A Customs bond is presented to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to prove that you’ll abide by their obligations.

It serves as a form of assurance, that you are under the import duties and penalties that follows for defaulters.

You’ll need a Customs bond to import from China to the U.S., when your goods are under FDA regulations.

Registering as an importer with the FDA is equally important. You can do so through their website.

If you are clearing your goods by yourself at the port of entry, you will require a Customs bond. Always make sure to purchase your bond from a verified surety agency.

However, if you have your goods cleared by a licensed Customs broker, you won’t be needing to buy a Customs bond.

The licensed Customs broker would have to use his bond, and you pay for his assistance. This is among the benefits of customs brokers.

How Do You Go About Your Import Number?

Import Number

During the entry of your importation while filling the entry form, you’ll have a space to fill your import number.

There are several ways to go about this number, depending on the nature of your import from China to the U.S.

First, your IRS business registration number should serve as your import number. This is applicable only for registered businesses.

However, if your business isn’t registered with the IRS, then your Social Security Number (SSN) becomes your import number.

Even if you don’t have a business and still wish to import, your SSN still serves as your import number.

Another simple way to go about the import number is by requesting for the CBP allotted number.

To do this, fill in the form 5106 from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Afterward, submit the form to the CBP port of entry branch nearest to you. Then, you can request for the CBP Allotted Number.

This can be quite tasking, therefore, feel free to use the help of a licensed Customs broker here.

What Products Should You Consider Importing from China to the U.S.?

Products You can Import from China_pixaby

Deciding to import products from China into the United States can help your business grow immensely.

However, you may experience quite a hassle importing certain products from China, hence the need to be careful with them.

Here are tips from Dongsourcing to keep you on a safe side. Especially for startups, and growing businesses that just want to sell and make profit.

  1. You should import products that are lightweight and not too large. Products of this nature will save you so much money on transit, compared to heavy products with high duties.

Risks of importation are quite low with small and lightweight products.

  1. Go for products with an easy manufacturing process and less likely to show errors. Of course, as a startup, you don’t want to start with errors in your business.

Easy to produce goods does not attract many mistakes. And, for products with high error margins, you’re still safe with some kinds of errors.

  1. Start with products of low-price tag, say below $200 benchmark. High cost products are expected to be high-end.

And, for new importers, it’s easy to make mistakes. More so, the courier of low-cost products is hassle-free.

  1. Import products that you can easily deal with. For example, look for products that you’re sure to find the buyers, and won’t put you into severe competition.

Products like this are the surest way to grow. You can start competing when you’re now a big fish in the business.

  1. Choose products that are always in demand. Certainly, you need to be consistent to be able to follow up and grow.

Seasonal products will only keep you out of business once the season is out.

What Products Should You NOT Import from China to the U.S.?

Products You Shouldn’t Import

  1. Do not import products with high tariff rates. Truly, some products may appear to be quite cheap in the market, but the tariffs will tell on your pocket.

So, always check for the import tariffs attached to the products you wish to import.

Bear in mind that electronic products, and vehicles usually attract about 25% extra tariff costs.

Hence, make sure you’re comfortable with the tariffs before importing.

  1. Branded Goods are not best imported from China. You should know that importing company branded goods from China will cost almost the same as sourcing them locally.

If this is so, the main goal of importing cheap goods from China has already been defeated. Therefore, you can find them around you avoiding the tariffs.

  1. Importing Food materials and Supplements will not benefit you. As it is in the United States, you’ll benefit more from purchasing food items or related commodities locally.

The process of importing food items from China to the U.S. is very rigorous with high duties, and you won’t like it.

Since food items are under the regulation of the FDA, you’ll also need an import license. All these stresses won’t favor your small or medium U.S imports business.

  1. Be cautious of high-demand products with little profit. Some products are part of people’s day-to-day work activities, but they have very little market value.

In this case importing such products as office pins, papers, clips, and so on would only yield little profit.

Then consider the stress of importing from China. It is only advisable to diversify your import, and add products with high value as the market presents.

What Products are Legal in the U.S.?

Legal Products

You just can’t import any product you wish into the United States. Contraband goods will land you into serious trouble.

Therefore, always crosscheck your U.S imports list against disallowed products.

Once you’re certain that the products you wish to import are legal, and you’re free to import, then you can make payment.

This will make your import from China smooth and keep you out of trouble. U.S. customs brokers can help you organize your list.

 “Once you’re done with the necessary preparations and product selection, you’ll have to find a reliable supplier. You can do this following the steps above. The next will be to place your order and prepare for your shipments.”

Ordering Your Products

U.S. imports from a trusted supplier, should go with a Pro Forma or Invoice.

This is necessary when importing from China to the United States.

Also, ask for the packaging list of the imported goods. This would usually contain the description of the product, packaging info, duties and cost.

Do not forget to ask for a product sample first before placing your full order. This will keep your doubts away.

 How Can You Ship Your Goods from China to the U.S.?

Shipping from China to the USA

Several shipping methods are available to move your products from China to the U.S.

The different shipping methods for your U.S. imports prove to be more effective for certain product types and weight.

Knowing the best shipping method for your U.S. imports can save you a lot of time, and money.

Here are some efficient methods for your shipments, and things you should know about them:

  1. Shipping by Freight from China to the USA

Freight shipping from China to the United States is very popular. Your shipments can be by air or sea.

Sometimes, your China product supplier will handle your U.S. imports shipping process.

However, you’ll have to decide if he should or you wish to employ a local freight agent company that is based in the U.S.

With a freight agent, you don’t need to stress again about the shipping process of your U.S. imports. This is because your forwarder will do it for you.

Remember to ask your local freight forwarder for the Free on Board (FOB) cost.

If your Chinese supplier is handling your shipping process on the other hand, inquire about the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) rates. This usually includes the insurance and freight cost, and other necessary fees.

For Customs clearance of your goods at the U.S. port of entry, you’ll likely need to hire a licensed Customs Broker. A licensed customs broker will make the entry of your products easy, by helping you obtain important documents.

 ▪ Air Freight: Shipping through air freight is very fast if you find the cost affordable.

You can benefit from air freight better when your goods weigh 2,000lb or more.

Your Chinese supplier will be able to let you in on the actual rates, so feel free to ask him.

Sea Freight: When your goods exceed 2 in volume, then it is advisable to choose sea freight. The rate of using sea freight is quite low compared to air freight.

You should however be aware that your goods may take quite some time to arrive at the U.S. port.

Depending on the conditions, your U.S. imports can reach 45days before arrival.

2. Shipping by Courier from China to the USA

Courier Shipping

Courier is quite fast and takes mostly just a week for your goods to arrive your port of entry.

You’ll benefit mostly from Courier shipping, if your goods weigh within the range of 0.5kg and 500kgs.

Courier services are provided by International Express companies.

Here are things that you should know about shipping from China to the U.S. using Courier:

Courier Shipping is Beneficial in Many Fronts

With Courier shipping, you won’t need to bother about Customs brokers for your U.S. imports.

This is because the courier company usually have their licensed customs broker, they will help you do the clearance.

Also, courier shipping assures you of fast delivery of your goods, except in rare cases where they encounter difficulties.

The courier company that you choose, will most likely offer you the opportunity to track your goods while on transit.

It is possible that your courier company would offer you a payment discount for your shipments, making it more profitable.

There are Top Courier Companies that You Can Easily Trust

When shipping from China to the U.S. using courier, it’s important to look out for top International Express Companies.

Of course, you have no limit for express shipping companies, however you need the ones you can trust quickly.

Top companies shipping goods from China to the United States include DHL, FedEx, and UPS.

These companies will deliver your goods in time to the U.S. You can check their various websites for customer ratings and comments.

Their shipping fees and delivery timeline are also available for you to compare, and choose the best.

 ▪ Things to Keep in Mind Working with Courier Companies

Working with international express companies requires you to take certain steps to ensure successful U.S. imports.

The best way to go about international express companies especially for start-ups is by first deciding the company to use.

Then, you should let your Chinese product supplier know about your choice. He will be in the best position to handle the process.

You can easily pay the cost of shipping to your supplier or representative in China.

Your supplier will arrange your shipments, and make sure that your goods get to you.

All you need to do is sign on the package upon arrival of your goods at the port of entry.

  1. Shipping by International Postal Service (IPS) from China to the U.S.

IPS Shipping

The International Postal Service is a very affordable means, by which you can go about your imports from China to the U.S.

The problem with this shipping method is that there are a lot of uncertainties with the process.

You would not get a tracking number for your goods, nor will you get insurance. To include these services, you’ll pay extra cost for them.

The goods you’re shipping through the International Postal Service, must not be heavy products.

Note that goods exceeding payment of $2,500 cannot go through mail. This is because you need to make a formal entry for such goods.

Some goods are also not eligible for mailing through the U.S. Postal Service.

To avoid penalties, you have to check these things out before proceeding with IPS for your U.S. imports.

Is It Best to Handle Your Shipping from China by Yourself? Is a Licensed Customs Broker Necessary?

It all depends on your level when importing from China to the United States. And, also what you want out of your shipment.

Certainly, a customs broker will cost you extra money for the services. But, for a newbie in the import business, customs brokers are a great option.

If you also need to save yourself time for other errands, it is best you get an agent for your shipping.

Here are however tips to best manage your shipping to save you both time and cost:

▪ Choose to Work with a Local Freight Forwarder

This means choosing a trusted freight forwarder in the United States for your U.S. imports.

It is obvious that a local freight aid will know better about the U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements and fees.

Working with them puts you on the right track, to getting your goods successfully delivered to you.

It is better if you find local freight forwarders that also have offices in China.

This will save from paying extra fees, for hiring a Chinese agent to help with the shipping process.

▪ Be Fully Available and Take Charge

To gain the most out of your shipping from China to the USA, you should take full responsibility of the process.

This would require you to be present at all stages of the import process and take control. Yes, it will take up your time and demand your effort, but it’ll pay off.

You will need to book a shipping space, with the freight agency that best suits your U.S. imports.

You’ll also take control of the customs declaration, both in China and the USA. A very efficient U.S. imports strategy, however not ideal for starters.

Most large establishments use this strategy, as it favors their businesses more. 

▪ Choose to Work with a Chinese Freight Forwarder

This importation strategy is most common among small business owners in the United States importing from China.

Freight forwarders in China will work together with your supplier, and give you feedback on the status of goods shipped.

They also tend to have a good knowledge of the U.S. CBP requirements for imported goods.

With a good freight forwarder in China, you will save cost on importation, and have issues easily resolved. Of course, in case any arise.

▪ Choose to Work with Freight Forwarders in Both China and the USA

The first thing that comes to mind in this strategy is COST.

Certainly, freight forwarders on both ends of your importation journey, will give you the much needed control over your goods shipped.

This is pretty effective, as experts will take care of the complexities, arising from both sides of your supply chain.

If you can handle the cost, then consider this option when you plan to import from China to the USA.

What are the United States Product Compliance Requirements?

Product Compliance Requirements

Product compliance requirements point out that every importer must abide by the safety standards of his product type.

This means that for any Chinese made products that you import from China to the USA, you must ensure safety.

Importing hazardous goods, without following the necessary safety rules and standards, will land you in trouble. This is in addition to your loss in the business.

If your products require certifications and customs clearance, your customs broker or freight forwarder will likely inform you.

However, always remember to ask for clarification purposes.

Selling on Amazon does not only require you to be in line with national standards.

You’ll also need to be sure that they do not require Pre-approval from Amazon.

Some products requiring approval before sales on Amazon include laser pointers, hoverboards, listed software, etc.

Selling on Amazon

Checking on the Amazon website will give you more knowledge on the product restrictions, including FBA products.

Goods imported from China to the United States will have the made-in-China label.

Nevertheless, these imported goods do not require the same certifications.

Here is a comprehensive list of popular product categories, and their certification requirements: 

Product Category and Regulatory Body/Certifications

Product Category

Regulatory Body/Certifications

Food and Drug products, Skin care, tobacco, etc.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Compliant

Medical related products

FDA premarket approval

Toys and products for Children

Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) ASTM F963

Electrical and electronics products

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Compliant

Kitchen products, Dining products

California Proposition 65

FDA CFR 21 (Food Contact Materials Testing)

Automobile products

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliant

The FDA regulates several other products making sure that only safe products enter the US market.

You can check “How Do I Know If My Product is Regulated By FDA”, to see the full list of products under the FDA regulations.

Electrical and Electronics Compliance Requirements in the USA

If you wish to import electrical and electronics products from China to the USA, check the compliance requirements also.

Here is a list of Agencies, and the scope they take care of in the U.S. imports electrical compliance field:


Scope of Concentration

Federal Communication Commission (FCC)

Digital Devices, Radio Frequency

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Toxicity of Substances, Energy Star

Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)

Safety of Consumer Products, hazardous products labeling, Children’s Products

Department of Energy (DOE)

Energy Efficiency of Products

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Confirming the Origin Country of Products

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Testing Program Recognized in the US, Occupational Safety

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Product Labeling, Environmental Claims, EnergyGuide Standards

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Food Contact Products, Medical Devices

You can check the Full List of Electrical Compliance Requirements, to be sure which agency that regulates your products.

Importing electronics from China to sell in the U.S., will require approval from the agency in charge.

So, always check for regulations compliance before venturing into the importation of electrical products.

Apparel and Textile Products Compliance Requirements in the USA

Apparel and Textile Products

Importing apparel and textile products to sell in the U.S. is under federal regulations and requires approval.

The approval that you get depends on the category of textile products you’re importing, as shown in the table below.


Scope of Concentration

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Toxicity of Substances, Pesticides

Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)

Safety of Consumer Products, hazardous products labeling, Children’s Products

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Confirming the Origin Country of Products

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Product Labeling for Care, Environmental Impact, Fiber Content, Origin Country, Advertisement

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Organic Contents

Check for more information on Apparel and Textile Products Compliance Requirements, to be on a safe side.

 What are the Processes of Customs Clearance In the U.S.?

Processes of Customs Clearance 2

When your goods finally get to the United States, you’ll get notification from the U.S. Port informing you. The notification will likely include your next line of action.

In general, the U.S CBP will require you to submit all the necessary documents, for your clearance.

The documents vary according to the goods you just imported. And, you should have them already even before the arrival of your goods.

If you do not come for your customs clearance, the ports management will send your imported goods to a warehouse.

It will only take 15 days from the date of arrival at the port to happen.

The same thing happens, if you couldn’t successfully clear your goods with the CBP, within the time limit.

After 6 months of arrival of your goods, you must lay claim on them or get ready to lose ownership.

Remember, if your goods get to the warehouse, you’ll have to pay extra fees for storage to get them out.

Hiring the services of a freight forwarder, or licensed customs broker will make the entire process seamless for you.

They will take care of the submission of the required documents, and get your goods cleared from the CBP.

What is HS Coding and Declared Value?

HS Coding – Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

This is a generally accepted system for describing the type of commodity, formed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

For every commodity that crosses an international border, the HS Code becomes the point of customs declaration.

The extended HS Code system recognizes about 5,000 groups of commodities, with a 6-digit code representing each group.

This system also provides a basis for the determination of the customs tariffs. Over 200 countries of the world use it.

On the other hand, a Declared Value is the shipper’s stated shipment value.

This value is a point of reference for calculating the total freight fees.

It also helps in the cost reduction of the carrier’s delay liability, accumulated loss, or any other form of inconvenience.

The Declared Value also represents the cost price of the shipment.

How to Determine the U.S. Import Tariff Rate?

US Import Tariff Rates

To determine the import tariff rate of your products when importing from China, simply check the U.S. Import Tariff website.

At the website, search for your product by entering the first 4 digits of the HS Code (sometimes first 6 digits).

You can also simply enter the name of the product as the case may be.

Tariffs for products imported from China will usually appear in Tariff 1, under the column “General”.

Note that tariff rates vary with product categories. For instance, textile products, mainly cotton, have a tariff rate of 16%.

Furniture products can go as low as 1% tariff, while solar products come with anti-dumping tariffs.

What are the Customs Requirements for Importing Products from China to the USA?

The U.S. CBP will require you to follow certain procedures while importing goods into the country.

Some of these important procedures include:

▪ Making sure that your products have a “MADE IN CHINA” label on them. In case you don’t have one already, you’ll have to buy for your products.

▪ Packaging heavy products with wood, which you’ll also require a certificate of fumigation to clear.

If your products do not have any wooden packaging, then you must indicate it clearly in every document.

Note that a container should only weigh 38,000lbs, in total weight capacity recommended.

If in any case a container weighs over 43,000lbs, there should be an indication using a special triangle.

Sometimes four-corner car frames serve the same purpose.

▪ Giving access to the FDA to check food and supplements, and give their approval.

This would attract FDA service fees that the customs agency usually adds.

What Documents Does the U.S. CBP require for Customs Clearance?


You should prepare the following documents for the U.S. CBP to clear your goods, when they arrive.

Bill of Lading (B/L): The carrier of the goods provides this bill, to acknowledge that they received the cargo for shipment.

A bill of lading document serves as a confirmation that while the exporter will receive payment for the goods, the importer will get the goods ordered.

Packing List: The U.S. CBP uses this document to verify shipments.

There is a lot of information about the packing of the goods, the customs will need them to clear.

Commercial Invoice: This is the invoice that contains the declared value of the goods.

The CBP uses the declared value to work out the customs duty.

You’ll also find other information such as product description, value of goods (in both Chinese Yuan and U.S. Dollars), quantity, fees, etc.

Arrival Notice: Your goods carrier will send this notice to you, once your goods shipped from China enters the United States.

This will tell you where your imports are waiting for claiming, and also how to identify them. The CBP will use this information to find your goods imported from China.

How to Calculate the Customs Duty for Your Import?

The formula for calculating customs duty is:

Customs Duty = Customs Value x Duty Rate

You’ll find the customs value in the commercial invoice, while the HS Code, and country of origin provides the duty rate.

Note that this calculation will apply to products costing from $800 to $2,500. There is no customs fees on products below $800.

And, for products above $2,500 you’ll need to file for a customs bond to complete your customs clearance.

The method of shipping that you choose can affect the customs fees that you’ll pay.

How Does Your Shipping Method Affect Customs Duty?

Let’s see how the different shipping methods affect how you pay your customs fees.

  1. Shipping Through Freight: With this method of shipping, you’ll either be paying your customs duty yourself, or hiring a customs broker.

To pay by yourself, you need to report directly to the port, and pay the duties to the CBP. If you hire a broker, you’ll have to pay his fees.

  1. Shipping Through Courier: An international express company will pay for the duties and charge you afterward. They can also collect it on delivery of your goods.
  2. Shipping Through IPS: For goods imported using the International Postal Service, you can pay your duties through the carrier.

You can also make the required payment at a post office close by. Remember, if your order is small, you won’t be paying a customs duty.

What Other Important Information Should You Know When Importing from China to the USA?

Keep in mind that the process of importing goods from China is not magic. So, you cannot just start today and get your goods tomorrow.

Shipping from China to the U.S. West Coast may take up to 14 days to arrive. For the U.S. East Coast, it can take up to 30 days to arrive.

Getting all the required documents for customs clearance ready before the arrival of your goods will save you a good time.

You can get help at any point of your importation journey using sourcing agents, freight agents, brokers, forwarders etc.

It might take you some time to get acquainted with the technicalities of importing containers from China. Just keep this guide handy, it’ll help you a lot.

“The process of importing from China to the USA, discussed in detail, can apply to most countries. Just check in with the agencies in your country of origin for specific details.”

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