For the UK, the desire to import goods from China is vast. China was the UK’s largest import country, with Germany accounting for 12% of all UK imports.
Find a supplier in China
If you’re just starting out with a small order and don’t want to travel all the way to China to attend a trade show, you can find suppliers online first. Three well known are: Aliexpress, Ali Baba, and Banggood.
This retail portal, which is owned by Alibaba, is suitable for dropshippers who want to start buying from China. Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group owns the website. It was started as a B2C website, but most of its customers buy bundles between 10 and 50 pieces.
The largest online e-commerce company in China and the world’s largest supplier of B2B website listings in China.
Banggood offers over 20 Chinese product categories with 200,000 products listed and offers free shipping on select orders with warehouses in UK, France, US and Australia. It accepts all major payments including Paypal.
However, if you have experience importing goods from China to UK and want to take your business to the next level with a certain product category, it is advisable to go to China and visit a full scale exhibition or wholesale market to find a cooperative supplier.
> See also: How to import from the EU
Ship products from China to UK
China is located about 6,756 miles from the UK, but feels more remote due to the vast distances of water involved. When it comes to shipping products from China to UK, you can choose between Air, Sea or Rail freight depending on your needs.
Whether air or ocean freight is your best bet depends a lot on what you are shipping and when you need it.
Typically, for high volume cargo such as clothing or consumer goods, sea freight is a much cheaper option, but this mode of transport takes time.
Air freight is much faster, but the relative costs are high – it is a better choice for small loads (less than 100 kg or so), high value items or things that are urgently needed.
How to import from China to UK
There are a few basic steps you will need to take to ensure that your goods arrive in the UK smoothly. In many cases, importers choose to have a freight forwarder or customs broker assist in these processes. While there may be a charge for this service, it can provide peace of mind and help you avoid any delays or unpleasant surprises.
If you are planning to import from China to the UK, you will need to prepare in advance, including:
- Find the correct commodity code for your goods. Goods codes are used by customs authorities to identify the goods you bring into the country, to ensure that the correct taxes and duties are paid, and that all legal and safety regulations are followed.
- Get an EORI number – this is required for any person or business that imports to UK. You can get your EORI number within days by registering online with the UK tax authorities.
- Check if you need a Import license for your goods. There are many types of goods that require an import license. You will definitely need it if you are importing anything that is dangerous or could be used for military purposes, and generally if your shipment includes live animals or plants.
- Customs declaration – if you use a customs broker or freight forwarder, you may find that they perform some or all of the customs processes on your behalf. You will use a form called C88 or SAD – the single administrative document
- Pay duties and VAT clear your goods through customs
Find the right commodity code
You need to find the relevant UK commodity codes for your items. Goods codes are essential to your shipment because if your products are mislabelled UK Customs could delay or stop your goods.
To find the correct commodity code for the products you need imported from China, go to UK Government Commercial Tariff. Here you can search for commodity codes as well as VAT and customs duty rates. Commodity codes are essential for classifying your imported goods so that you can:
- Check if there are duty exemptions
- Complete declarations and other documents
- Find out if you need to pay VAT or customs fees
Find out your EORI number
In addition to your commodity code, you will need to obtain an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number.
UK Customs uses an EORI number as a means of record keeping for imported and exported goods. When importing commercial goods from China, all UK companies are required to have an EORI. This is necessary for a commercial invoice if you are using the CHIEF system (see below) and need to submit an electronic export declaration.
An EORI number is also required if you are using a freight or courier forwarder. Applying for an EORI number is simple, you can request it online here and it will take you about three days to receive it.
Check if you need a license
Before trying to import your goods from China, be sure to obtain a license, especially if it falls under the surveillance control category. If you want to know if you need a license and how to get one, visit the Department of International Trade here.
►Are your Chinese products banned from importing into the UK?
Some goods are also subject to import controls. Therefore, it is essential to check if any of the import controls apply to the goods you need to ship. Currently, these are the three types of controls:
- Monitoring – ensures the import is monitored using licenses
- Prohibitions – no imports allowed
- Quotas – restriction of the volume of goods
Chinese import duties
When importing from China to the UK you will need to pay duty and VAT on your goods. What exactly you need will depend on the type of product you are importing. Because it is a relatively complex system, many importers prefer to have a freight forwarder or customs broker to help them calculate import costs.
The duties payable vary depending on the goods you are importing into the UK. To find out which duty rate is applied, you must obtain the commodity code for your goods. You can find them on the UK government website, which has a search tool to help you select the right code.
When you declare your goods to UK Customs, you will be asked to confirm the commodity code, which will be used to calculate the duty payable. The amounts vary quite significantly. If you import women’s cotton shirts from the United States, for example, the duty is set at 12%, some types of new cars are subject to a 10% duty, while some electrical appliances may be subject to a rate. of null right.
Your goods will be held at UK Customs pending payment of duty and VAT. Once this has been paid – either by yourself or by a freight forwarder or customs broker on your behalf – they will be released.
Pay VAT on goods from China
In addition to customs duties, you will need to pay VAT on items imported into the UK. It is important to remember that VAT is calculated on the cost of the goods + the cost of transport + the duty paid. It is charged at the prevailing UK rate which is currently 20 per cent.
Examples of import taxes between China and UK
To calculate the amount of duties and taxes payable, you must first convert the price paid into GBP, using the UK customs exchange rate, which is changed from time to time and can be viewed online.
Pay your VAT fees
If you are importing from China to UK you have to pay VAT plus the full sum of import duties and customs value. In this case, the customs value is equal to the total cost of the imported goods, including import duty charges, supplier cost and shipping charges from China to UK.
Make sure you pay any pending VAT charges that are due. Remember that you have to pay VAT if you are registered for VAT. However, you can recover it through your standard VAT return.
Include all details on invoices and labels
Make sure all labels and invoices for your item include full and correct details of:
- Sender and recipient
- Quantity of your goods
- Value of your goods
- Detailed description of your items
- Commodity codes
Customs registration number (CR) and power of attorney (POA)
When importing from China to the UK, you must have a Chinese CR number as well as a POA for undocumented goods regardless of their value except personal effects. Exporters and importers in China are required to register with customs authorities. This is in order to obtain an exporter or importer CR number, which must be detailed on the commercial invoice for customs clearance.
How much does it cost to import from China to the UK?
Import duties as well as import taxes from China to UK affect the cost of imports. All importers are required to pay UK duty + VAT, unless the goods qualify for duty free. For example, if you pay your supplier £ 4000 for your goods, £ 600 for the shipping quote, and the UK duty rate is 3.5%, the customs charge will be 3.5% of 4 000, or £ 140.
VAT will be 20 percent of UK Customs Charges (£ 140) + Shipping Charges (£ 600) + Cost of Goods (£ 4000)
This equates to 20% of £ 4,740 = £ 948
The total cost of shipping from China to UK will be Total Cost (£ 4000) + UK Duty (£ 140) + VAT (£ 948) = £ 5,088.
Do Chinese products have to carry a UKCA mark?
Yes, products or their packaging in the categories below must bear the UKCA mark after January 1, 2021.
The product areas listed below are covered by the UKCA mark:
- Toy safety
- Pleasure craft and personal watercraft
- Simple pressure vessels
- Electromagnetic compatibility
- Non-automatic weighing instruments
- Measuring instruments
- Radio equipment
- Pressure equipment
- Individual protection equipment
- Gas appliances
- Equipment for outdoor use
- Eco conception
- Low voltage electrical equipment
- Restriction of hazardous substances
However, keep in mind that your supplier in China may not always be aware of the specific labeling requirements applicable to the imported product. It is therefore essential that you provide your supplier with the affixing position, dimensions and graphic sheets for each product.
Import guide: three essential tips and everything you need to know