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What Documents are Needed to Import from China

The papers and documents required to import from abroad are the first things that you should pay attention to when making the decision to import from abroad, to be aware of all the necessary permits, licenses or special documents required, so you do not face a problem when clearing customs. Especially since each country has its own customs laws and regulations.

You should also consider the country of origin of the goods as what may be required when importing from China to UAE, can be different when importing from China to Saudi Arabia.

The absence of one of the documents required for import may cause your goods to be seized at customs or further tests on them, thus increasing the fees related to delay, and there is always the possibility of being fined or even rejecting your shipment.

In order to avoid all of the above, and in order to import safely and easily, we review for you the most important things you need to know about the papers and documents required for import.

Shipping by sea and air from China

List of the most important papers and documents required for import

Proforma Invoice

In international trade, quotations are provided as a proforma invoice. Because it documents the supplier’s intention to sell a predetermined quantity of goods or products, and you as an importer will need the proforma invoice to arrange the financing method, open a letter of credit, apply for appropriate import licenses, etc.

A proforma invoice is similar to a commercial invoice and includes the following data:

  • The name of the buyer and the name of the seller.
  • Detailed description of the goods.
  • Harmonized system classification of those goods.
  • Price.
  • Payment method.
  • Delivery details.
  • The currency used for the quote.
  • The expiration date, which is a specific time frame for the bid you received.

Customs Packing List

The customs packing list shows the goods in the shipment (information about the type of imported goods, quantity, gross and net weight of each package), which can be matched with the proforma invoice. This list accompanies the international shipment from the country of origin to the importing country, and is especially important for carriers to know exactly what they are shipping.

Country of origin certificate or CO certificate

A country of origin certificate is a document issued by a supplier, in which it is stated that the goods shipped have been fully obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a specific country called the country of origin.

Some countries require a certificate of origin to determine the country where the goods originated and a certificate of origin may be required even if you have included country of origin information on your business invoice.

A certificate of origin can serve you and contribute to reduced tax breaks or duties if there are trade agreements between the country of origin and the country to which you import.

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is a necessary and mandatory document for any trade. It is the first document that the customs authority will require when importing goods from abroad, because it contains information about the goods, including details such as description, selling price, quantity, packaging costs, weight or size of goods to determine the value of customs duties at the port of arrival, the amount of shipping insurance, as well as the commercial invoice showing the terms of delivery and payment, etc.

A commercial invoice may look similar to a proforma invoice, which the vendor initially sent you as a quote, but it includes additional details such as an order number or purchase order number, as well as additional bank and payment information.

The customs representative will match the information shown on the invoice with the shipment and decide if it is the same, which guarantees you a quick clearance of the goods, or if there is a discrepancy that requires further examination and scrutiny, which may cause delays in the goods at the port of arrival.

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is one of the most important papers and documents required for import, and it is a legal document issued by the transport or shipping company when it accepts the carriage of your goods to the importing country in exchange for a transportation fee indicated therein, and acts as evidence of a contract of carriage between the shipper and the shipping line to carry out the carriage of goods under the terms and conditions agreed between you as an importer and them.

The bill of lading also includes product information such as the type, quantity, and destination to which the goods are transported. You can use the bill of lading as a shipment receipt at the port of arrival where it must be presented to the customs officer for customs clearance.

Regardless of the mode of transport used, this document must accompany the goods during their voyage, and must be signed by the authorized representative of the carrier, the shipping company and the recipient.

Beware that you lose this policy, if any of the other documents necessary for import are lost, you can extract others, while the bill of lading is extracted by the carrier and it is very difficult to extract another one.

Air Waybill

An air waybill is a receipt issued by an airline to prove the carriage of goods. It is a non-negotiable, valid and legally binding contract.

The air waybill is prepared by the airline or its authorized agent. The air waybill includes serial numbers that you can use when inquiring about the status of a shipment. The air waybill can be prepared electronically.

Insurance Certificate

Insurance certificate is one of the papers and documents required for import, as it is required for customs clearance of imported goods.

This certificate helps entities verify the shipment, whether the sale price contains the security deposit or not. It also helps determine the exact value that ultimately determines the total import duty.

The mission of the insurance policy is to protect the goods against all risks that you may be exposed to during their transportation, and the role of the insurance company ends as soon as the goods arrive at port or within 30 days of their arrival if they will be stored.

Quality Certification

Quality certificates from the papers and documents required for import, the quality certificate is an acknowledgment issued by certain authorities at the request of the facility, stating that the goods concerned all conform to their standard specifications, after conducting a number of technical studies.

Quality certificates certify that a particular product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests, and that it meets the qualification standards and specifications stipulated in contracts or regulations.

The benefit of the quality certificates required during import lies in:

  • Ensure that imported goods conform to a number of quality standards required from the quality of the goods to their specifications and their ability to meet consumer requirements.
  • The presence of a quality certificate for the goods is considered a promotional feature, because it earns the goods the confidence of the consumer due to the presence of a certificate that guarantees their compliance with quality standards., and thus will increase sales.
  • Increase competitiveness in local and global markets.

Letter of credit from the bank

Also called a “letter of credit”, it is a document that represents the bank’s undertaking that the buyer will pay the value of a goods to the seller on time in the amount requested. The bank pays on behalf of the buyer provided that the documents proving the seller’s shipment of the goods are provided to the buyer.It is one of the common payment methods in international trade operations, as it meets the financing needs of the importer and the supplier’s desire to provide cash.

Letter of Credit Guarantees:

To ensure that you can pay the amount you will pay for, banks usually require a pledge of securities or cash as collateral to agree to issue a letter of credit.

Letter of Credit Fees:

Banks charge a fee for the service, often a percentage of the volume of the letter of credit.

Types of letters of credit:

There are several types of letters of credit, but the most famous are:

  • Irrevocable Letter of Credit: It cannot be cancelled or amended, except with the express consent of all interested parties: the buyer, the seller and the issuing bank.
  • Revocable Letter of Credit
  • A pre-transfer letter of credit that allows the supplier to transfer all or part of the value of the letter of credit to a third party (to a second or more beneficiaries).
  • Confirmed Letter of Credit: Double confirmation of payment is given to the beneficiary in addition to the issuing bank’s undertaking.

Import License

An import license is a permit issued by the importing country under which you are allowed to import specific quantities of specific goods and goods, and you can only import with this license.

The task of an import license is to ensure that you meet the import requirements before approval and that you have mandatory health and safety requirements. This license also allows the country to control and monitor the movement of international trade across its borders.

Global Seal of Standard No. / 15 /

If the imported goods are packed in wooden boxes or on wooden pallets, a special universal seal indicating that these materials (wood for the box and pallets) has been treated either thermally or with methylbromide are required as approved phytosanitary measures that significantly reduce the risk of pest introduction or spread by wood packaging materials.

In the absence of this ring, the wooden packaging materials are sterilized at the port under the supervision of the Department of Prevention or Plant Quarantine.

Inspection Certificate

When you import expensive goods, you may need to request an inspection certificate. The inspection certificate is proof that the goods you import are identical to your order and of good quality. Generally, the manufacturer offers this certificate, but unless there are international inspection companies doing the job.

Countries that require pre-shipment inspection certificates vary from year to year and are based on the value of the shipment exceeding a certain amount and in some other countries they are requested regardless of the value.

Documents needed to import from China

Shipping by sea and air from China

Why have we allocated the required certificates to import from China?

Because China topped the list of the most exporting and importing countries for goods and services according to World Trade Organization statistics. And because it turned in record time into an Asian giant that threatens the American hegemony over the world, and because it is the first country to import Arab countries from it.

In addition to the previous papers required for import, when importing from China these documents are required:

Quality Certification

Note that we mentioned the quality certificate previously, there is a set of restrictions in some countries for importing from China with regard to quality certificates, which are as follows:

  1. If you are importing the goods from China and these goods are made in China, it is necessary that you provide a quality certificate for those goods.
  2. A quality certificate is not mandatory if you import your goods from any country other than China, even if the goods are made in China.
  3. You are not obliged to provide a quality certificate for goods imported from China if they are not made in China.

Declaration of conformity with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

This declaration shows that the imported goods comply with international wildlife protection regulations. It is issued by the national CITES management authorities.

If you import any of the goods listed on the CITES list, you will need a CITES permit, otherwise your goods may be confiscated and you may be legally questioned.

Import Declaration

The import declaration is one of the documents sometimes required by the customs authority. Its form varies, depending on the requirements of the customs office of the importing country.

CE Health Certificate

This certificate is evidence of compliance with EU legislation and indicates that the product complies with the health, safety and environmental protection requirements set out in the European Community Directives.

There are many institutions that have the right to conduct CE assessments. This certificate does not require the document is required in all import cases, and sometimes the producer can certify its products itself, but in other cases, an independent quality check is required.

Single Administrative Document (SAD)

It is the documentary basis for customs declarations in the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The importer prepares the social security policy. The form is available online. SAD should be used in trade with third countries.

One of the most difficult challenges facing importers in international trade is securing the papers and documents required for import, and because providing documents is crucial for seamless shipping. Most countries have digitized the extraction process, so don’t have to multiply these documents, you can’t simply extract them from the comfort of your home for a safe and successful import.

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