If you have never imported commercial goods from China before, then the idea of placing an order in the People’s Republic can seem a little daunting. However, it isn’t that bad so long as you realise that goods will typically take about six weeks to arrive from there to the UK. Air freight is a bit quicker but prohibitively expensive for most types of cargo. Even smaller items that take up just a single pallet, for example, will be better sent to the UK within a shipping container. Use an LCL service rather than an FCL one for smaller loads because this means sharing the logistical costs of importing items. What else should you bear in mind when importing from China?
Choose Reputable Chinese Suppliers
It cannot be underlined enough that not all Chinese suppliers can deliver the things that they say they can. Many have websites that are packed with goods but this doesn’t mean that their warehouses are. If you can go directly to the manufacturer, so much the better but for administrative, legal, and linguistic reasons, this won’t always be possible. If you use a wholesaler – as many British importers do – then make sure they enjoy a good reputation before placing an order. Due diligence really pays dividends when it comes to Chinese firms and intermediaries.
Consider Which Container Port Is Best
Shipping goods from the nearest seaport to where your supplier is located makes sense in many cases, but not always. According to Barrington Freight, Chinese importation specialists based in Essex, the northern seaports of China are vast but not necessarily geared up to handle commodities and finished goods. They’re primarily used for raw materials and heavy cargo. If you use a busy port like Hong Kong or Shanghai, for example, then finding a reliable agent can be hard. Seek out a BIFA-accredited British freight forwarding firm to help you instead.
Prepare Customs Clearances in Advance
With your goods on their way on an ocean-going vessel, it is extremely important that you make sure there will be no delays to your Chinese imports once they get to British shores. HMRC expects all commercial imports to be registered online before they are inspected. You’ll need an EORI number for this and – potentially, at least – some professional advice from a customs clearance agent on how to declare your imports’ commodity coding. Mistakes can be costly so spending a few pounds on getting things right is certainly worth it.
Arrange Onward Transit
Once your Chinese imports have been cleared, they will still need to arrive at their onward destination. Typically, freight forwarders arrange door-to-door services to warehouses or production facilities but there are other options, too. For example, you could consider dropshipping directly to your customers. This way, imported goods from China are forwarded to the people who have ordered them with you and you won’t even have to store or handle them yourself. This method of delivery is increasingly popular with e-commerce businesses but it can work within many commercial models these days.