China to the UK

Importing from China to the UK: The Ultimate Guide


I know importing from China to the U.K. is a profitable business.

However, you can only achieve this by adopting cost-effective and reliable importation procedures.

And, in this guide, I am going to walk you through the tricks and tips to successfully get your products from China to the U.K.

You learn what U.K. imports from China, calculating importing cost, importation documents, compliance standards, shipping modes, customs clearance process, etc.

Let’s dive right in.

What is the Role of China to UK Freight Forwarder in Importing from China to the UK?

1. Provides advice
2. Preparation of import documents
3. Tracking the cargo

How to Find Goods to Import from China to UK?

· Searching online
· Referrals
· Online outlets

How to eveluate the cost of Importing Goods from China to UK?

1. Estimate cost of a shipping container from China to U.K
2. Evaluate Cost of Goods to Import from China to U.K.
3. Calculate importing from China to U.K. Duty & VAT Charges

What is the UK Import Documentations?

· Commercial invoice
· Packing list
· Certificate of origin
· Bill of lading
· Commodity code
· EORI Number
· CR Number
· UK import license

Chapter 1: What Does UK Import from China?

Well, what we must all agree on is that China for the longest time has been one of the leading producers of numerous products in the world.

Imports to UK

Imports to UK

Nevertheless, UK has also for a long time been one of the largest markets for Chinese products.

For your information, China is the second largest non-EU UK’s import partner.

Presently, Chinese imports to the UK accounts for close to 10%.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to have this kind of discussion right now in this guide.

It is imperative to know that the UK offers a significant market for Chinese commodities, but there are those which are majorly imported.

For that matter, let’s find out in much details regarding some of these major import commodities to UK from China.

Main Imports from China to U.K.

UK is also known for quite a number of manufacturing and processing industries.

It means that this country produces most of its commodities to use locally and also export.

However, they also import several products from China, which as stated earlier on, accounts for almost 10%.

Now, most of the main commodities that UK imports from China include the following;

· Office machines

Most of the equipment that different businesses and institutions in the UK use are mainly imported from China.

Office accessories

Office accessories

One is that a number of office machines from China that the UK import is somewhat of high quality and meet the necessary expectations.

So it has always been easy for UK to purchase such items from China given that the market is also responsive in a positive way.

Some of the office machines that UK import from China includes printers, photocopying machines, and other relevant equipment.

· Data Processing equipment

It also forms a more significant percentage of the goods that China export to the UK.

In most instances, you’ll find that equipment such as computers and other such machines in UK come from China.

Data processing system

Data processing equipment

In fact, we can sum it up that most of the technology-oriented equipment in the UK are majorly imported from China.

In most instances, such products are widely accepted in the UK hence making it easy to sell them once they arrive in the country.

Electrical machinery

These are the other types of commodities that UK imports largely from China.

You see most of the industrial, commercial as well as residential establishments use different types of electrical equipment.

And since they use them in large quantities, the only ideal way of making sure that they have enough is by importing from China.

Vacuum circuit breaker

Vacuum circuit breaker

Of course, the quality of such machinery that the UK imports from China have to meet the minimum necessary standards.

The bottom line nonetheless is that China exports a large percentage of electrical machinery to the UK.

Clothing and accessory

These commodities also form a large percentage of the total imports that UKobtains from China.

The Chinese clothing industry is magnificent, andUK offers a ready market for such and related items.

Wedding dress

Wedding dress

The UK apparently import different types of clothing and accessory including men’s, women’s as well as kids’ apparels.

Of course, some of the clothing and related accessories get to the UK as unfinished products.

Industrial machinery

You see, as much as the UK also manufacturers most of her products, it also requires the machines and components to do so.

And China is one of the leading manufacturers of such industrial machines.

So in most instances, you’ll find that UK imports most of these machines from China to go and use them in furthering manufacturing needs.

Power-generating equipment

These also form a better part of the types of items that UK imports from China.

In most industries, commercial and residential settings in the UK use different types of power generating equipment.

Power generator

Power generator

And China has always been at the forefront as the leading manufacturers of such equipment.

For that reason, UK always sees it reasonable to import such units from China for the betterment and efficiency of many processes.

Indeed, there are other types of equipment which the UK obviously import from China, albeit on a small scale.

But the ones described above form better percentage of the items that China export to the UK in most instances.

U.K. Prohibited Imports from China

Probably you didn’t know about this, but the truth is that UK is one of the countries with the highest levels of standards.

What I mean here is that the civilization level in this country is among the leading all over the world.

And for that reason, you can be pretty sure that you can never import particular items to this country, regardless!

Well, of course, several reasons contribute to the fact that the authorities in this country prohibit the importation of particular products.

In most instances, the prohibition of such imports always arises as a result of strategic economic concerns.

However, other reasons could be due to health measures, environmental conservation and general wellbeing of the residents among others.

Prohibited imports

Prohibited imports

Therefore, as an importer, you ideally need to understand all the reasons for importing prohibited commodities as well as the restricted goods too.

You see, there are always severe repercussions for failure to adhere to such set rules.

And I bet you never want to get into such inconveniences.

So let’s first look into some of the prohibited goods to import to UK from China.

a) Illegal drugs

You can never import banned drugs substances to the UK not only from China but from any destination in the world.

The UK has put stringent measures at the customs to ensure analysis of every consignment that gets into the entry points.

And trust me should your consignment contain illegal drugs, then it shall be seized and further actions were taken against you.

In other words, what I’m saying here is that the UK authorities do not accept the importation of any form of illegal drugs from any country.

b) Obscene materials

This is also another category of imports that is prohibited in the UK.

Ordinarily, the UK government ensures that all the materials that get into the country match the moral standards and civilization.

So anything that contravenes such standards are never accepted to get into the country.

And believe me, even if you try to import such materials, the authorities will seize them accordingly.

c) Meat and dairy products

What often happens with the UK is that you can never import personal dairy and meat products if not from specific non-EU nations.

And China is apparently one of the non-EU nations that UK cannot import such products from.

In simple words, meat and dairy products from China are prohibited for importation in the UK>

The essence here is that the cultural differences matter significantly hence the prohibition of such imports.

Also, the need to promote local and regional agricultural products also contributes to a prohibition of importing such products from China.

d) Rough diamonds

UK bans the importation of rough diamonds not only from China but from all countries.

It is a commodity which the authorities do not deem ideal for importing, and they attribute several reasons for that directive.

e) Counterfeit Goods

These refer to the types of goods which are either imitation, forged or fake.

Like I did mention earlier on, UK has strict standard measures which help in making sure that only quality products get into the country.

Of course, the key reason is for prohibiting such goods in this country is because they limit the economic growth of respective industries.

Furthermore, importation of counterfeit products also limits the growth of the local industries which subsequently derail revenue collection.

Also, the counterfeit products lower the quality standards of commodities which are superlatively is the most significant concern in the UK.

f) Hazardous waste

You see, hazardous wastes are often associated with high health risks as well as environmental degradation.

They also cause adverse effects to the plants and animals in the country.

And so it is quite apparent why the UK authorities prohibit the importation of such products, be it from China or anywhere else.

Definitely, there are quite a number of other prohibited import goods to UK from China.

And that’s why it would be ideal to ensure that you carefully check all of them before finally deciding to make a move.

Also, and I don’t want this to sound like a threat.

But the truth is that the UK customs authorities are stringent.

Therefore, you should never have anything in mind that you can perhaps sneak in a restricted or prohibited import.

Incidentally, it is next to impossible because of the well-established structures, facilities, and technology.

Nonetheless, you should also be aware of the fact that the penalties for importing prohibited consignments to UK vary.

The bottom line, however, is that some penalties may never be favorable to you and perhaps the inconveniences may be extreme.

So to be on a safe side as a UK importer, you must make sure that you read all the regulations surrounding importation of prohibited goods.

Nevertheless, let’s move on to the next section and find out more ways of determining the goods to import to UK from China.

How to Find Goods to Import from China to U.K.

Now, as you already know China is arguably one of the leading industrialized countries in the world.

Suzhou industrial park

Suzhou industrial park

This is to mean that you can virtually find any type of commodity that you’re looking for if at all you need to import to UK.

However, given that this nation is somewhat vast, geographically, it poses a significant challenge to find the specific commodity anywhere.

What I mean here is that as much as China produces various commodities, there is a manner manufacturing is regionalized.

That is to say, that specific cities or towns are known for production or manufacturing of particular types of products.

So you need to be diligent when seeking goods to import from China to UK because the search alone can be tedious more than the importation process.

That notwithstanding, I’m here to give you a few ideas of how to find some of the goods in China which you’d want to import to UK.

First of all, you need to determine the kind of products you’re looking for.

You see, there’s no way you can just come to China and you start looking for goods randomly.

One of the most critical elements is making sure that you identify what you need.

Once you identify this aspect, then you can go ahead and start looking for how you can find it.

Some of the ways of finding the best goods to import from China to UK include the following;

· Searching online

Well, in this day and age, one thing that you can never run away from is the internet.

This platform provides an opportunity for anyone to search for anything regardless of where they are.

Online search

Online search

Ideally, before you even think of what to import from China and how to import it, you need to peruse the internet exhaustively.

This platform has rich information, resources and materials like this particular guide to help you in determining the different commodities.

So doing random searches online will undoubtedly enable you to come across some if not all of the best products you need to import.

It is also ideal since it provides you with as many options as possible.

Therefore, making an informed choice becomes easy depending on your preference and other surrounding factors.

The other good thing with online search is that you tend to get more information than you ever had before.

· Referrals

This is unquestionably one of the best techniques which you can use to find any type of item in China to Import to UK.

What you need to know is that several people have been in this kind of business before.

So they understand all the aspects surrounding finding and importing goods from China to UK.

YiWu China

YiWu China

These types of people are the ones you can get in touch with to assist you in getting the particular items you’re searching for in China.

Referrals work excellently given that the individual you deal with has the knowledge, experience, and networks.

Listen, referrals in this case simply mean that you get in contact with an individual who has previously imported goods from China.

In this case, they direct you to specific places where you get such commodities, buy and the ship them to the UK.

The good thing with referrals is that chances of getting precisely what you need are always high.

And for that reason, it makes it possible for you to obtain them as well as making your general work relatively easy.

· Online outlets

Nowadays, several online sites that offer a wide range of goods have come up and are available on the internet.

So you don’t necessarily need to scratch your head too much about it.

In most cases, such as online vendors like Alibaba and AliExpress have a comprehensive database of Chinese manufacturers.



And so it becomes easy for you because you’ll find a list of several suppliers that supply various types of product categories.

Therefore, the most important thing that you ought to do in this case is making sure that you countercheck their credentials keenly.

This is necessary since it will enable you to prevent incidences of purchasing poor quality products. Better still, it also enables you to prevent issues todo with fraud.

The bottom line nonetheless is that you ought to search on such sites to get a general idea of how to find the particular products.

Chapter 2: Calculate the Cost of Importing Goods from China to UK

The number of importers ferrying products from China to UK is increasing day by day.

And this is a clear indication that trade relations between these two countries are also expanding.

Maersk Line

Maersk Line

Of course with this influx, there have to be control measures in place to ensure that the entire process moves smoothly.

As an importer, however, one of the core elements which you must always have in mind is understanding all the cost involved in shipping goods.

There is no way you can merely wait for everything to take place and just decide to make your payments.

It doesn’t matter whether you use an agent, which incidentally is preferable.

You need at all times to ensure that you understand all the processes and the costs involved.

So in this chapter, I want to shed some light in regards to the understanding of the shipping cost when bringing in goods to UK from China.

As you’ll find out in this guide, the costs tend to vary depending on a wide range of elements revolving around the entire process.

But before we discuss that, let’s first learn about the common incoterms when shipping products from China to UK.

Understand Shipping Incoterms

Like I did mention earlier on, you ought to know that there are specific international policies which guide every aspect of shipping consignments.

What this means is that you have to meet all the stipulated rules, terms and conditions that guide shipping goods to UK.

Indeed importing goods from China to UK is an international affair.

Therefore, it is a clear indication that it derives its policies from the International Chamber of Commerce.

At the moment though, let’s first explain some of these common incoterms in brief;

First of all, incoterms refer to a set of rules and regulations which outline the responsibilities of businesspeople for goods delivery.

In most instances, they vary from a number of commercial transaction, contracts, and means of shipping.

Comprehending the shipping incoterms gives you the foundation for international shipping.

Some of the shipping Incoterms when importing items from China to UK include the following;

· EXW Shipping to UK from China

It is one of the key incoterms you’ll always encounter when shipping consignments from China to UK.

Essentially, it refers to factory price for items which do not include shipping.

In other words, EXW shipping, therefore, means that you have to arrange for your transportation as the importer.

Also, remember that this transportation has to be all the way from the factory floor or supplier’s warehouse to your location in the UK.

It is imperative to understand this incoterm because it enables you to make rather quick decisions, especially when transporting the containers.

Furthermore, you also need to know that this particular incoterm also doesn’t require or involve several documents.

FOB Shipping to UK from China

This is also another common shipping incoterm that many importers bringing in good to UK from China have to understand.

Apparently, it is an abbreviation for Free on Board.

Well, what you need to know regarding this particular incoterm is that it somewhat requires or involves a number of documents.

What this obviously implies is that several costs, responsibilities, as well as risks involved in the importation process, are equally and fairly shared.

In most instances though, it is always the responsibility of the seller or supplier to cover for all costs involved in shipping the consignment.

But you also need to know that this can be to a limited point where the container is loaded on a vessel at the port.

In simple words, it means that your supplier will be responsible for the transportation of goods from their floor to the port of loading.

However, the responsibility shifts back to you as the importer the moment the vessel leaves the dock in China.

Additionally, FOB shipping terms also indicate that as the buyer, you must also take care of all the charges revolving around export clearance.

By the way, this is way important since the Chinese customs authority can seize your shipment if you fail to produce clear export information.

CFR Shipping to UK from China

It is also another common incoterm that you’ll always come across as an importer shipping good from China to UK.

CFR shipping is an abbreviation for cost and freight, and it is also a legal term in international commerce.

Nevertheless, it is a term that is strictly used for consignments transported by sea or inland waterways.

In general, CFR explains stipulates that it’s the responsibility of the seller to arrange for transportation of the container to port of destination.

So all you need to do as the importer is to obtain the necessary documents from the supplier to enable you to get the goods from the carrier.

Also, the seller should not necessarily purchase marine insurance to cover the risks of loss or damage of shipment during transit.

Still, this does not vindicate the seller from taking responsibility for any risk, loss or damage before clearing and loading the goods at the port.

Well, these are the common incoterms that you’ll possibly come across upon deciding to import goods from China to UK.

Of course, you may also come along other ones that are not mentioned here.

However, all you need to do is to ensure that you understand every detail of that particular shipping policy before appending your signature on it.

The most significant thing to do is ensure that you determine a specific incoterm which guarantees efficiency and reducing cost.

The bottom line is to ensure you get an incoterm which is simple, transparent and offer reasonable cost control.

On the other hand, you also need to be conscious of the fact that the particular incoterm you choose also depends on various factors.

Of course, you can use several ways to obtain the ideal incoterms as long as you get value for your money, efficiency, and convenience.

For instance, you may choose to obtain let’s say FOB from your seller and maybe DAP shipment from your freight forwarder.

It is all dependent on how you look at it and whichever way you deem ideal, convenient and cost-effective for the entire process.

Estimate cost of a shipping container from China to U.K

Let make it clear; shipping cost for containers from China to UK is dependent on a wide range of factors.

China Airlines Cargo

China Airlines Cargo

Also, it is something which involves many aspects that tends to alternate on a daily basis also depending on various elements.

The truth, however, is that you’ll find many costs involved when you’re importing products from China.

It thus makes perfect sense to ensure that you understand all the varying costs to ensure you have a clear insight into your actual price.

You see, understanding the shipping cost is fundamental since it enables you to price your products accordingly.

So that at the end of the process, you’ll be able to record reasonable profit margins to run your business.

Basically, the main determinants of shipping cost from China to UK include the size of the container, size of product, insurance, duties and cartage costs.

The cost also depends on the distance from the port of loading to port of destination as well as the mode of shipping.

In most cases though, many goods from China to UK are often shipped by sea.

But there are instances where some use railway transport as well as plane carriers.

For the sake of this guide though, I’ll give you a general overview of the cost of shipping a container from China to UK.

For example, shipping a 20” FCL container from Shanghai to let’s say Felixstowe is approximately $750.

And shipping a 40” container over the same distance may cost approximately $1400.

Shipping container

Shipping container

But as I always say, the cost can vary depending on several factors.

In this case, the port of loading and that of destination is what significantly determines the general shipping cost.

You also need to factor in the cost for hiring a freight forwarder.

By the way, if you want to make all the shipping process smooth, it’s imperative to work with a freight forwarder.

Of course, the charges for their services are also dependent on numerous factors.

Still, you need to find one that offers cost-effective services given that this is also business.

An ideal way would probably be to get referrals from your networks.

Better still, you can search online and read reviews of some of the well-established entities which offer such services.

The good thing with freight forwarders is that they always provide room for negotiation depending on the nature and load of work.

So you should never at any specific time rule out seeking their services for fear of cost.

Evaluate Cost of Goods to Import from China to U.K.

Well, different goods available for importation from China to UK have varied rates.

What happens typically is that suppliers and manufacturers often price their goods differently.

So the truth of the matter is that there is no specific or fixed amount of a particular product available for importation.

China Exports

China Exports

And to make it better, the availability of the several goods in different parts of the country also makes it necessary for you to get the best deals.

The secret in getting these best deals is to ensure that you search for the product exhaustively in various possible outlets.

You can also choose to use the services of an agent who can help you in getting the best prices for the goods you want to import.

You see, if you’re a first timer, it becomes somewhat difficult to know all the points where the particular products are manufactured.

So when you choose to deal with a local agent, it becomes easy to maneuver around and find such products at better rates.

The upshot nonetheless is that you need to carry out due diligence if at all you have to get the best prices for goods you’re importing from China to UK.

Calculate importing from China to U.K. Duty & VAT Charges

Listen, for you to import products from China to the UK, you have to know how to calculate the total costs surrounding the process.

Whether you’re shipping the items merely for residential or commercial use, you have to determine the total cost.

But the trick here often arises when it comes to calculating the charges and coming up with the correct figure.



In short, what I’m trying to say here is that for any business to thrive, it’s necessary to understand all the aspects revolving around it.

It is imperative to understand first how the tax system in UK works.

This, of course, gives you an idea of the approximate cost you might incur.

Understanding how to calculate the tax is also essential as it allows you to know the price which conforms to the UK market.

As a first-timer, you’ll always find it difficult to calculate the import tax.

However, you need to know that it is a simple task as long as you understand the basics.

So let’s look at how to do it, and we start with the understanding of what duties and taxes involves;

What do import duty and taxes involve?

In the UK, whenever you bring in goods outside the EU region, you have to pay duty and tax to the UK customs department.

The authorities will only release the goods once you pay the amount.

In other words, when calculating the cost of importing goods from China, you have to take UK duty and VAT charges into account.

Sample Calculations

Sample calculations

The UK customs department have provided a duty and VAT tax estimator which indeed simplifies the entire calculations.

Furthermore, you may find yourself importing goods from China but still uncertain of how to pay the duty and VAT.

In most instances, it is the company that you use for shipping that shall contact you to inform you of the amount you need to pay the HMRC.

You also need to note that there are specific goods which have different duty and VAT charges from others.

Therefore, you may find that perhaps this time you bring in some products and the cost becomes lesser or higher than another time.

In a nutshell, it is significant to ensure that you research thoroughly on how the tax system works in the UK.

It is what will apparently guide you on calculating the duty and VAT.

In the next section, I want us to look at the documentation necessities when importing goods from China to UK.

Chapter 3: United Kingdom Import Documentation

Well, it is somewhat general knowledge that as an importer, you need to clear with the customs department before letting your items into the country.

By the way, documentation plays an integral role in the business of importing as well as exporting products.

The truth of the matter is that the efficiency of clearing your goods at the customs department is highly dependent on many aspects of documentation.

The accuracy, timeliness in submitting the documents, availability of such records as well as the filing of necessary applications are among the vital aspects.

And the worst part is that any mistake or failure to submit the appropriate documentation can cause delay and demurrage on imported cargo.

For such reasons, it can lead to loss of business opportunities that in many instances can be regrettable.

In general, the UK customs department requires you as the importer to submit a set of documents before starting the clearing process.

So your air carrier, shipping line, freight forwarder and clearing agent all need to submit their respective import documents on your behalf.

In an ideal world, when shipping your freight from China to the UK, some of the import documents that you’ll have to submit include the following;

· Commercial invoice

It is one of the most important documents which verifies the sale and also giving a description of the products as well as reflecting the price of the consignment.

Commercial invoice

Commercial invoice

The basis of customs valuation is dependent on the value that the commercial invoice reflects.

The customs also confirms the rates charged in the commercial invoice and can raise the alarm if there is any discrepancy.

· Packing list

This is a document which contains information regarding the parcels in the consignment.

The packing list provides an overview of the dimension, shipping marks gross as well as the net weight of each parcel.

Packing list

Packing List

It also highlights the number of units that each parcel contains.

Fair enough is to realize that it’s mandatory to place the shipping marks on all the cargo covering each parcel or piece.

· Certificate of origin

In the UK all imports have to come with a certificate of origin as a way of determining the classification of the cargo under a specific schedule.

This document is essential as it enables the customs to effectively prevent imports from third-party countries from routing imports via EU member countries.

Certificate of origin

Certicate of Origin

Also, it enhances efficiency when it comes to the collection of duty and tax as well as improving license restrictions.

· Bill of lading

This refers to a negotiable multi-modal transport document that the shipping line issues.

This document certifies the carriage of the particular cargo as stated in the specific invoice on behalf of the importer depending on terms of sale.

Bill of lading

Bill of lading

In other words, it refers to the document that carrier or agent issues in a bid of acknowledging receipt your cargo or shipment.

In various instances, it serves three prime functions which include the following;

– Provides a conclusive receipt acknowledging the loading of goods

– It portrays evidence showing the terms and conditions as well as the contract between the importer and the carrier.

– It acts as a document of title to the goods of course subject to the Nemodat rule.

Generally, these are the main documents that you have to produce when importing goods from China to the UK.

Of course, there are some that you’ll definitely have to submit as a formality or a way of facilitating record keeping of the process.

Nonetheless, it’s important to take note of the fact that other than importing documents, you also have other necessary elements in the import process.

In the same regard, let me highlight a few elements that still revolve around import documentation which you need to have in mind;

· Commodity code

You see, the aspect of using the commodity code is an integral part of the overall importation business in the UK.

This element is significant because it enables you to fill in all the declarations and other necessary paperwork.

Commodity code

Commodity code

It is also necessary since it allows you to confirm whether there’s duty or VAT that you need to pay.

Additionally, it also enables you to determine more about duty reliefs.


Still, on the aspect of import documentation, you also need to understand that the UK has a manner of handling all its imports using current systems.

This is known as customs handling of import and Export Freight (CHIEF).

This is merely a system which records the declaration to the customs of cargo by air, sea or land.

This system generally enables you as an importer, exporter or freight forwarder to fill customs details electronically.

It is so effective that it also checks and detects and possible entry errors.

In other words, we can state that the CHIEF is a national computerized system that helps in collecting revenue.

It also plays a critical role in collecting accurate statistics regarding international trade and protects society by regulating the import of restricted goods.

· EORI Number

This refers to the Electronic Operator Registration and Identification number.

This number is a necessity for any individual that carries out custom activities in the EU.

In the UK, it is the role of HMRC to allocate the EORI number for the sake of custom access declaration and customs clearance.

One fundamental feature of the EORI number is that it is exclusive and granted for an indefinite duration by the customs authorities.

Indeed, having an EORI number is mandatory as it enables you to prevent inconveniences arising from deliberate possession of the consignment.

· CR Number

When importing or exporting goods from China, it is mandatory to have a Customs Registration number also known as CR number.

In fact, this number is often indicated on the commercial customs invoice, and it’s necessary during the clearing process at the customs.

So generally, you need a CR number as a way of verifying that you’re a legal importer hence authorized to carry out such businesses.

It is a critical number because it makes it possible for you to ensure that your movements when importing items from China is seamless.

Labeling requirements

Well, UK is one of the countries where the safety of the people, animals and the environment, in general, is a key priority.



You see, the customs department have stipulated that any item which gets into the country must bear all the necessary labels.

This is most common with food and chemical items.

Such products must have appropriate hazard warnings indicating the origin, chemical composition, dimension, and weight.

And if it is difficult to label or mark the product, you can as well include the data on any printed material.

The labeling always depends on the type of product that you’re importing from China or any other country for that matter.

CE marking, for example, is compulsory for any product unit as well as its packaging.

WEEE marking, on the other hand, is mandatory for all the electronics and it has to be affixed on the product packaging.

For textile, the UK has set a mandatory labeling requirement which has to cover language, fiber composition, and care instructions.

Therefore, as you can clearly see, labeling of import products is one of the key aspects that the UK authorities have put in place.

· UK import license

This document comes in various forms depending on the particular type of product that you’re importing to the UK from China.

What happens is that it’s not necessarily vital when importing industrial goods into the UK.

Nevertheless, you still need to have it as an importer since it enables you to ease your import activities.



Some of the categories of products that require you to have a UK import license include chemicals, agricultural products, and pharmaceuticals.

Also, live animals and plants and a number of medical products also require you to obtain a special import license.

It is the Import Licensing Branch that issues this particular document as a way of meeting the control standards set by EU.

So in a nutshell, you need to know all these important information and documents as a UK importer.

The essence is that they make it possible for you to determine the right move to make as well as relieving you from unwarranted inconveniences.

What you need to acknowledge is that all these and many other import documents are helpful in creating order.

You know how importation business can be chaotic if there are no specific rules set.

And for the interest of sanity in carrying out this particular business, is indeed ideal to ensure that such documents and details are available as a control measure.

Moreover, the documentation also helps in creating a viable database which is helpful in determining and tracking practicality of the business.

In the next section, we will look at another critical aspect of this guide which revolves around quality compliance standards for import goods.

Chapter 4: Understand United Kingdom Quality Compliance Standards for Imports

If there is something that you need to keenly understand about the UK imports is the quality standards.

One thing for a fact is that the UK in general never compromises quality standards on any particular aspect.

As an importer, you need to know that the UK authorities have high esteem for superior standards.

Quality Compliance

 Quality compliance – source: EBC Group

And before the goods get into the country, there is a unit which is responsible for assessing all the elements regarding compliance with quality standards.

It is quite apparent that there’s a high risk associated with inferior quality products.

Some of the risks range from environmental degradation and health hazards among others.

Therefore, all the products getting into the country are subjected to set quality procedures as a measure of ensuring that they meet the required standards.

As a matter of fact, UK has a well-established body mandated to handle all issues revolving around quality assurance of all imports.

So this agency has laid down stipulations tasking the importer to ensure that the goods imported conforms to the set standards.

As an importer, you’re also tasked with signing and keeping a copy of the declaration of conformity for a particular period.

Therefore, there is entirely no way that you can ever find a poor quality product getting into the UK by any standard.

All the measures put in place are effective and help in a significant way to seize and destroy or return any low quality imported product.

This is of great benefit to the well-being of the country to both the residents and the environment in general.

Chapter 5: Role of China to UK Freight Forwarder in Importing from China to the UK

In import and export business, one of the most critical professionals that you need to work with is a freight forwarder.

Just for your information, a freight forwarder is an agent who arranges for international shipment of different types of consignments.

The truth is that a freight forwarder also known as a forwarding agent is an indispensable member in the entire international trade.

Ideally, this professional plays quite a number of roles in making sure that the cargo arrives at the destination accordingly.

However, you also ought to understand that a freight forwarder is somewhat a general name, but there are specialized functions within the profession.

Freight forwarder

 Freight forwarder

Well, I want us to categorically look at some of the roles that an ideal freight forwarder plays in importing goods from China to UK.

1. Provides advice

You see, as an importer, the chances are high that you might know quite a lot of information.

However, you may not be able to discharge all the duties that come with this process.

Therefore, a freight forwarder will be able to advise you on some of the essential and critical elements regarding importing goods.

Some of the advice includes planning the most appropriate route for the shipment and calculating the cost for shipping among others.

2. Preparation of import documents

The freight forwarder is also a strong pillar when it gets to the preparation and presentation of the documentation for importing goods.

They have strong connections, knowledge, and experience in obtaining and presenting such documents.

Thus making it easy for you to process your shipment in a much convenient way.

3. Tracking the cargo

They also use all the available technology-based devices to monitor the consignment all through until it gets to you.

The essence of this is that their services guarantee you peace of mind knowing that your shipment is safe.

In the same regard, this agent keeps the shipper notified at frequent intervals.

The vitality of this is to ensure that the shipper verifies all the cargo in the container is what he/she gets.

Indeed the roles of a freight forwarder are numerous that we cannot ideally list all of them in this article.

In fact, if we have to do it, we just need a different guide all together to compile and discuss all the roles of this agent.

That notwithstanding, the ones mentioned above give you a general overview of they perform in most of the time.

Chapter 6: Importing from Alibaba to UK Step-by-step Process

Listen, the influence of online shopping all over the world is becoming a reckoning force.

Nowadays, many suppliers and buyers connect on various platforms where they complete most of the deals.

However, there have been issues in the past regarding online shopping especially when it comes to bulk imports.

Mistrust and quality concerns have been vital elements that many online vendors are trying to address in a bid of making it a safe ground for importing goods.

That notwithstanding, some online dealers are coming out strongly to proclaim the opportunity of helping buyers to import goods from China.

Alibaba is one of the well-established websites in the world that help in connecting buyers with Chinese suppliers.

You can use Alibaba to import items from China to UK.

In fact, many people are currently using this platform and liking the experience day after day.

Now back to the main point here.

In this section, I want to take you through some of the key actions to have in mind when importing from China via Alibaba.

1. Figure out the ideal suppliers

When selecting the ideal suppliers, confirm that they have the right credentials and always avoid dealing with intermediaries at all cost.

The reason behind this is that suppliers can always give you better deals, unlike the middlemen.

2. Request for samples

There’s unquestionably no way you can obtain goods that you have no idea of how they look.

So it’s imperative always to hold on getting samples before placing an order.

Undeniably, there’s a possibility that you’ll incur related costs but it’s better than not getting one.

And in most cases, you’ll only have to pay for freight charges when receiving the samples.

3. Dig deeper to Find more about the suppliers you’re engaging

All online platforms including Alibaba have all types of people that offer different deals.

So it’s your responsibility to ensure that you interact with your preferable suppliers to understand the nature of their businesses.

The best news nevertheless is that the website managers are also consistent with upgrading the security systems.

This is necessary for protecting the interests of both the suppliers and consumers.

4. Determine all costs including tax, duty, and customs

When importing an item from China, you’ll always be required to pay for the customs clearance, failure to which your goods will be rendered illegal.

For that reason, always ensure that you have all the relevant import documents to facilitate efficient shipping of your goods.

5. Make the payment

Now at this point, it implies that you’ve already accepted all the terms and conditions and now you’re ready to await your shipment.

So Alibaba offers a wide range of payment options that you can use regardless of your location.

Of course, the essence, in this case, is to enhance convenience.

So you can never worry about the mode of payment to use since they are quite a variety and you’ll definitely find one that suits you.

6. Wait for your goods

So after you’ve made the payment, the shipping process begins.

The mode of shipping, however, depends on the type of goods that you’re ordering.

And it thus means that this also applies to the mode of shipping the particular consignment.

In many cases, Alibaba will always try and deliver the consignment to your specific place depending on the agreement.

Chapter 7: Choose Mode of Shipping from China to U.K

When you’re planning to import items from China to UK, you always need to have a shipping plan to ensure they arrive safely and conveniently.

What happens most of the time is that choice or preference of the mode of shipping consignments always depend on several factors.

The urgency of the goods to get to the market, budget, as well as the bulkiness of products, are among some of the concerns that determine the mode of shipping.

You can use several available options of shipping from China to U.K.

London Yiwu Train

London YiWu train

One option that is regarded as the best regarding speed and safety is air freight.

This generally means that you can transport your shipment from China to UK through plane carriers.

Remember that both the UK and China have some of the best and modern cargo airports in the world.

So it even becomes easy to ferry your shipment and clear it as fast as possible when you decide to use air freight.

Additionally, several plane carriers ply this route, which is essential since it gives you different options to choose from.

The second alternative that you can seek is shipping your items from China via ocean freight.

You see, this is the best means of shipping especially when your goods are in bulk and are not necessarily urgent.

It takes quite some time for your consignment to reach the dock of destination when using ocean freight.

And therefore, it is most appropriate for non-perishable goods.

British Airways

British Airways

The good thing with ocean freight is that it is relatively cheap compared to air freight.

You can also use it to transport huge consignments at a time.

Furthermore, you can use it to import goods without essentially waiting for the entire container to be full.

The number of days it takes for a ship to get to UK from China depends on the route as well as the port of destination.

And then the last option, in this case, is shipping the product via rail freight.

The Yiwu-London railway line was established purposefully for transporting shipments from China to UK.

This railway line covers a distance of 7500 miles making it the second longest railway freight route in the world.

It crisscrosses several countries and major cities in Europe before getting to London.

Shipping your consignment from China to the UK via the railway line takes approximately 18 days.

This, however, is subject to various impending stops given that it passes in different countries with different custom clearance procedures.

Now as you can see, you have quite a lot of shipping mode options to choose from if indeed you need to import goods from China.

And the good thing with all these options is that they guarantee the safety of your goods throughout the shipping process.

In the next chapter though, we’ll look at some of the fundamental elements surrounding the customs clearance process when importing goods from China to the UK.

Chapter 8: Importing from China to UK Customs Clearance Process

Well, importing goods from China has for a long time proven to be a successful tactic of UK sourcing form many of its firms.

The truth, however, is that it is not an easy task as it sounds, particularly if you’re a newbie.

In fact, the entire importing process from the Chinese manufacturer or supplier to your UK destination can be heterogeneous, puzzling and expensive.

Customs clearance

Customs clearance

You also need to take note of the fact that extended transit times, fluctuating delivery costs administrative charges and unexpected delays can hinder the process.

Nonetheless, I’m here to give you a reprieve by highlighting primary elements that can make your work easy when importing from China to UK.

In this section, I’ll tell you some of the key things involved in the importing process.

So that next time you think of doing the same, you’ll find it smooth and efficient.

Assuming that your shipment from China has now gotten safely to the UK port of destination, several things will happen before letting it in.

But first of all, it is always important to ensure that you get a customs clearance agent to help you in maneuvering in this process.

Also, remember that your shipment can never enter the UK if it can’t clear at the customs.

In most cases, Port officials always reject imported goods which are deemed unfit for the UK market.

The most frustrating bit that you can ever experience as an importer in the UK is having your consignment rejected.

In many occasions, you’ll have to bear the cost of transporting it back to China, in this case, or worse still have them destroyed.

Ideally, the custom clearance in the UK often takes a few minutes or hours.

However, it can also take a few days or weeks depending on how your goods are and if there is need of inspecting them.

So upon getting to the port, you’ll have to pay customs whenever you import goods that are worth £15.

It does not matter whether the products are for personal or commercial use.

When importing goods from China to the UK, you’ll have a freight forwarder who will pay customs on your behalf.

Therefore, you’ll not necessarily need to pay for the customs yourself during the clearing process.

But if you need to, there is a letter that you’ll receive which contains the invoice with details of all your different charges the moment your goods get to the UK.

You’ll, therefore, have to make the payments before the customs department releases your shipment.

Incidentally, you have to make the payments as fast as possible since the longer it takes, the more the fees accrue.

A key procedure that you must follow is completing an Intrastat declaration form.

Ordinarily, you’ll have to complete an individual declaration should the value of goods you’re exporting exceed £6000.

In general, the entire process is easy as long as you have all the relevant documents which show the various contents of the cargo.

Once the container clears at the port, you can now arrange on how to transport it to your particular premises.

The most important thing that you always have to bear in mind is that customs will only clear you if you have the right documents.

Additionally, you need to ensure that the products you’re importing to the UK from China meet the set quality standards and aren’t prohibited.

Chapter 9: Case Study – How will BREXIT Affect Importing from China to U.K

Of course one of the biggest concerns at the moment regarding various aspects of the UK, economically, socially and politically is the BREXIT issue.

The UK is set to leave the European Union following the referendum of June 2016.

It thus means that the impact it will have on the importation of products both from China and any other country will be massive.


BREXIT-Photo courtesy: BBC

Practically, it is still unclear for importers in the UK too, and the uncertainty arises from the fact that there are no agreed-upon policies for the exit.

As it stands, China is one of the leading UK trading partners.

And for that reason, the viewpoint of a free trade agreement between UK and China is becoming an issue of concern.

There are quite some elements that UK importers will experience and some of them include the following;

I. First of all, London is regarded as the gateway of the Chinese products to the European Union. It is thus apparent that the city is one of the most important ones for Chinese products to maneuver into the region.

So when the idea of Brexit becomes fully executed, the status of London as a gateway to this region will vanish.

II. It is quite apparent that the vulnerability of the UK to any depreciation in its currency value is more likely. For that reason, there will need to the country to maneuver beyond the potential tariffs.

III. The Brexit will also potentially lead to deterioration of the value of Chinese investments. This is more likely to arise because the EU will need to enforce rules of origin stopping Chinese imports that enter through the UK.

V. Duty and VAT for importing goods from China are also likely to increase or reduce depending on the knock-on effect of the BREXIT. The situation will depend on various bilateral trade talks between the countries given that the UK will now be independent of the EU trade policies.

Well, the truth of the matter is that the BREXIT concern will affect the norms of importing goods from China to UK both positively and negatively.

But one of the greatest effects of the decision would be a rapid depreciation of the British pound.

And to some extent, this probably will be good news to the importers in general.

Oddly enough, the Chinese imports to the UK have increased irrespective of the fact that the purchasing power of the sterling pound is low.

However, this is a short-term trend which remains unsustainable as long as the exchange rate stays unfavorable for the UK consumers.

That said, we are yet to see the actual mid to long-term effects of this decision.

But apparently, China being a non-EU member, chances are high that importing goods from this country will be somewhat a significant idea.

The upshot of this matter is that uncertainty remains to be the biggest threat right now.

Indeed, Brexit poses a bit of some serious possible challenges for UK-Chinese importers as well as the economic ties in general.


Well, as you can see from this guide, there is so much revolving around importing good from China to UK.

Fortunately, this guide has captured all the basic and necessary information that you ought to know.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a beginner; the fact is that the knowledge in this guide is fundamental.

So next time you’re thinking of bringing in goods to UK from China always refers to this article.

And in any case, you have a question, suggestion, recommendation or any other concern; you can always feel free to contact us.

In the meantime, you may find it easy to share this guide on your social network platforms.

You never know, maybe a friend, colleague or acquaintance is looking for the same information.

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