You have secured a buyer in China. Now you are excited and cannot wait to ship. It is exactly how my client felt a few weeks ago. They are a long-time supplier to international oil companies who also operate in China.
The supplier shipped the first order out. The order arrived, but China Customs refused to release it without a designated importer. To make a long story short, the goods were never released and the shipment ended up being returned to the States. The buyer eventually had to cancel the order.
Obtaining a buyer in China is great news. However, the process in importing and exporting to China is quite complicated and leaves no wiggle room for errors. Without preparations, you may lose out on the hard-earned new business.
What Steps to Take
There are a few steps to take on your part. Let’s go through the prerequisites in exporting to China successfully:
- Confirm the documentation required by China Customs beforehand and plan out how to obtain it.
- Your buyer in China has to have an import license; otherwise, you or your buyer has to line up with a 3rd party company with the proper import license. This conversation has to happen at an early stage when engaging buyers, before time and money is invested in a process that won’t be able to proceed.
- In case your products are regulated by the China FDA, AQSIQ or another Chinese agency, be prepared to wait it out until you can obtain the certificate. You want to investigate the cost and potential size of business to see if this wait is worth the cost. Most of time, it is the seller’s responsibility to bear the cost. You may also want to refer to my article on How to Overcome Chinese Import Regulations.
- Be aware that there is a chance you cannot export to China at all. For instance, for beef products or any other bio products using beef, your industry association should be aware of any existing treaties that may restrict importation of your product.
Final Responsibility Falls on You
Even though the importation process occurs in the land of China, you, as an exporter, are responsible for providing the correct paperwork needed to ship the products so as to meet all importation requirements. Some Chinese buyers are capable of importing their orders on their own while others have no experience at all. In that case, you may need to step up and create an entire infrastructure surrounding importation.
Unfortunately, exporting to China is not as easy as just finding a buyer. You need to do your due diligence and ensure all the Customs requirements are met before signing deals or shipping product. Getting into China can be a great opportunity that you don’t want to pass up, so my advice is to consult with an expert before moving forward. Good luck!
Casey W. Xiao-Morris is a veteran China Business Consultant at Leverage China, LLC., helping her clients succeed in China’s market. Casey can be reached at cxmorris@LeverageChina.com.