Import from China: Required Documents For Customs Clearance

import china customs

Table of Contents

The customs clearance process is an essential part of importing goods. This article is a guide to customs clearance in China.

So, what materials are needed in the process of customs clearance when importing from China? In general, it depends on where you are going to import the products to.

To European Union Countries

Required Materials

1. Common Customs Declaration (C88 form in the UK)

custom file

An initial bill issued by the overseas customs for how much tax should be paid for the goods. It cannot represent the release of the goods, nor can it be used to offset the tax. However, C88 has the details of the tax that the goods need to pay.

2. Invoice


Supplier’s invoice is also known as customs clearance invoice which includes the commercial invoice and proforma invoice. It is used to clear customs for customers.

3. Contract


The contract refers to the foreign trade contract, namely the purchase and sale contract signed between the buyer and the seller.

4. Bill of Lading

bill of landing

Bill of lading is a document of title. The lawful holder of a bill of lading may take delivery of the goods from the shipping company at the port of destination. It is a receipt for goods, certifies not only the name, type, quantity, mark, apparent condition of the goods received but also the date of receipt. Since it is customary in international trade to ship goods to symbolize the seller delivering the goods to the buyer, the time of issue of the onboard bill of lading means the seller’s delivery time.

5. Waybill


It means this is an international express. When international express enters the country, it needs a customs declaration.

6. Shipping List

shipping list

It is a document that the custom undertakes superintending to export goods as well as a packing list.

7. Insurance Certificate


When insurable goods suffer loss, it is the main basis that the insured claims for compensation.

8. Bill of Exchange


International trade settlement is based on the bill of exchange. The bill is signed by a drawer, entrusting the payer to unconditionally pay a fixed amount to the payee or bearer at sight or on a specified date.

9. Weight Certificate


It is a document indicating the weight of a commodity being traded.It must be consistent with commercial invoices, shipping documents, and other documents.

10. Certificate of Origin


It is a document issued by a specific institution of the exporting country certifying that the goods exported are of origin in that country (or region).

11 .Commodity Inspection Certificate


Commodity inspection certificate plays the role of fair certification, which is the main basis for buyers and sellers to hand over goods, settle payment for goods and deal with claims and claims. It is also the effective evidence for customs clearance, tax payment and freight settlement.

12. Quarantine Certificates


quarantine 2

quarantine 3

Quarantine certificates include sanitary certificates, animal health certificates, and phytosanitary certificates. These are all used to prove that these exports are safe and can prevent toxic biological invasion.

13. Provisional Import Certificate


It is a certificate permitting the declaration of goods for import or export, otherwise, the customs shall not release them.

14. Certificate of Compliance


To The United States

It’s important to note that in the U.S., the U.S. consignee’s Tax ID (also known as IRS No.) must be used for customs clearance. IRS No.The Internal Revenue Service a tax identification number registered with The Internal Revenue Service for The United States consignee. Just like the following picture shows:


Required Materials

1. Bill of Lading (mentioned above)

2. Invoice ( mentioned above)

3. Packing List


The packing list is a supplementary document to the invoice, which sets out the details of packing agreed upon between the buyer and the seller in the letter of credit (or contract) so that the foreign buyer can inspect and check the goods at their arrival.

4. Arrival Notice


The arrival notice is used to apply to the customs for clearance. For sea freight, the customs usually give notice of clearance within 48 hours, and within 24 hours for air freight.

5. Fumigation Certificate


A fumigation certificate is required for wooden packaging. Wood packaging fumigation is a compulsory measure to prevent harmful pests from harming the forest resources of importing countries.

6. Non-Wood Packing Statement


Certifying that the packing material of the goods is free of wood.

Tip: The name of the consignee on the bill of lading should be the same as that shown in the following three documents ( invoice, packing list, and arrival notice ). If not, the consignee must write a Letter of Transfer from the consignee on the bill of lading before the third party can clear the customs.

To South Africa

Required Materials

1. Invoice (mentioned above)

2. Bill of Lading (mentioned above)

3. Insurance Certificate (mentioned above)

4. Packing List (mentioned above)


1. For customs clearance in South Africa, it should be noted that at least 32 copies of the official commercial invoice should be sent to the consignee before the goods arrive at the port.

2. A certificate of origin ( mentioned above) is also required for the export of certain goods marked as likely to be subject to anti-dumping duties including stainless steel tableware, kitchenware or other household articles and water cups not exceeding 70 mm in diameter, unglazed iron or steel (except stainless steel), automobile air filters, motorcycle oil filters, and automobile filter fittings, radiotelephone receivers, and radio broadcasting equipment.

In all, the customs clearance documents depend on where you are importing your goods to. Knowing in advance can make your customs clearance more smooth.

You should also note that government policies may change from time to time, so you should check what documents are needed every time you import products.

Do not leave all the work of customs clearance to your Chinese supplier. We have seen clients scammed by their Chinese suppliers at this stage. Scammers may ask you for extra fees because your products require extra documents in order to be released by Chinese customs. Do not fall into this kind of trap.

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