Carry Cargo are experts in shipping to China and here we have outlined some of the pitfalls and problems that may surface when exporting to that country.

Shipments destined for China require expert knowledge of documentation & customs procedure to avoid time consuming and costly mistakes.

The Canada market can, if you are not extremely diligent, be a minefield of hidden requirements which, if not met in full can delay an urgent shipment or indeed, result in confiscation of goods.

Our Export team at Carry Cargo International has a wealth of in depth experience, practical knowledge and cultural insight which combine to allow you to have confidence that deadlines will be met and customers satisfied.

From the initial drawing up of Letters of Credit through to request of necessary proofs of delivery, Carry Cargo can advise, highlight elements of risk and help exporters avoid traps.


Capital: Beijing

Principal Ports

Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Huangpu, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Tianjin, Xiamen, Xingang, Yantai, Zhanjiang


1.3 billion

Transport Infrastructure

China has a huge transport system. Its railways total 86,000km of track; its roads 4.1 million km, of which just over 3.5 million are paved. Some of the main ports include Ningbo, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Hong Kong and Dalian. The country has 507 airports, 463 of which have paved runways. It also has 47 heliports.

Main Industries

World leader in gross value of industrial output; mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminium, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilisers; consumer products, including footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles and satellites.

Main Products Exported

Machinery, electrical products, data processing equipment, apparel, textiles, radio telephone handsets, integrated circuits

Trade Relationships

International Reputation

One of the world’s top 10 largest economies, China continues to invest in massive infrastructure developments and export opportunities exist for foreign business, particularly in the energy, telecommunications and transport industries.

Major Trade Partners

The US, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Germany

Bills of Lading

No special regulations. As long as there are no payment or title (ownership) issues then check if the goods can move with an express bill or on express release to avoid potential delays that may occur when shipping with the full marine bill of lading (ie cargo cannot be released until the original has been handed to the carrier in your buyer’s country).

It is advisable to ensure the transport document, bill of lading or air waybill for shipments to China quote the Chinese Consignee’s CR (Customs Registration number).

Authorised Economic Operator Status China has introduced a scheme for approving reliable and compliant traders with the benefit of awarding faster customs clearance. The status of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is granted to Chinese importers who, over a period of time, have proven to be compliant partners of the China Customs Authority. Accredited importers are allowed to self-assess their customs entries and are granted expedited processing of their shipments with minimal checks. China will also be introducing a procedure to recognition AEO or equivalent status issued to exporters in other countries (eg European Union). A Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the two AEO schemes was signed between China and the EU in September 2014. Please note: Hong Kong has a separate AEO scheme in place.

Certificates of Origin

Certificates of Origin (CofO) are no longer mandatory for EU shipments into China but a statement of origin must be clear on the invoice.

Special Certificates

  • Quarantine Certificates are required for animals, plants and biological products. These products are generally quarantined on arrival. Plants and some but not all plant products require a phytosanitary certificate. Phytosanitary controls are required for the import of certain plants, seeds, potatoes, seed potatoes, fruit and berries, plant propagation material products and peat that could present a phytosanitary risk. Further information on the International Plant Protection Convention can be found at

  • China Compulsory Certification is required for certain goods including electrical equipment and machinery. Mandatory certification is required for over 360 products of 20 product groups. The CCC-list product groups are: wires and cables; low-voltage electrical apparatus; electric tools; household and similar electrical appliances; information technology; telecommunication terminals; switches for circuits; small power motors; welding machines; audio and video apparatus; lighting; motor vehicles, tyres and safety parts; agricultural machinery; medical devices; safety glass for solar cell assemblies; detectors for intruder alarm systems; safety glasses; latex products; certain constructional toys; fire fighting equipment; drills, chainsawas and hedge trimmers; and certain audio, video and information technology.

New regulations came into force in January 2015 on the CCC inspection for motor vehicles. The inspection of the manufacturer’s premises, which forms an indispensable part of the certification procedure of the initial application, must comply with the new rules from 1 January 2016. Previously issued certificates remain valid until 1 January 2016.

Further information can be obtained from the British Standards Institute or the State General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in China.

  • Certain special equipment, such as boilers and pressure vessels, are not subjected to compulsory certification but require a separate “Special Equipment Manufacture Licence”.
  • Foodstuffs are subject to the Food Hygiene Law. State Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) must approve labels for foodstuff at least 90 days before the importation or sale. Foreign exporters of all kinds of foodstuffs must be registered with the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and, from 1 October 2012, you may also have to register with the authority’s Filing Management System for Exporters/Agents and Consignee of Imported Food.
  • Products for human and animal consumption, eg food, health food supplements, milk, sugar, soft drinks, tea, coffee, pet foods, animal feed, protein crops, etc may also require a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) — check with your customer. CFS for these goods is produced by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in the UK.
  • Exports of milk and milk products to non-EU countries must be accompanied by a Declaration Origin (Dioxin) issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in the UK.
  • Import of foreign pharmaceuticals, including raw materials and drugs, may require special permission from the State Drug Administration. Imported medical devices must be registered with the State Drug Administration.
  • Shipments of wildlife and wildlife products subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) require an import permit.

  • A number of commodities, eg metal, plastic and paper scrap as well as certain used machinery and electrical equipment require a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) in the country of export. The inspection is to be applied for by the exporter at a local branch of the Certification and Inspection (Group) Company (CCIC), an inspection company authorised by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the PR of China (CNCA) under the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the PR of China (AQSIQ).
  • A number of used goods, eg used machinery and second-hand electrical products, are banned from being imported into the PR of China by order of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). Importers of other used mechanical and electronic appliances must obtain a MOFCOM import licence, and a Pre-Shipment Inspection Certificate for Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment must accompany the shipment stating the goods have undergone a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) in the country of export.
  • Under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) applicable to the importation of rough diamonds, a Kimberley Process Certificate is required.

Commercial Invoices

Invoices to be issued in one original and one copy, each bearing an original signature. Invoices must include a full and accurate description of goods; first six digits of the commodity code (HS Code); transport details; full packing information including weights and dimensions; value and currency of the supply including separate indication of additional costs such as freight and insurance; the shipping term (the Incoterms® 2010 rule, eg FCA, CIP, DAP); country of origin; method of payment and the full addresses of all parties concerned. It is advisable to ensure invoices for shipments to China quote the Chinese Consignee’s CR (Customs Registration) number.


The correct designation of the country as stated at the top of the page should always be used on commercial invoices and other documents.

The Chinese authorities have stated that all supporting documentation must be legalised by the Chinese Embassy in the country of export and certified by either a Chamber of Commerce (or by a notary, depending on the nature of the particular documents). This requirement appears to vary depending on the country of origin so seek clarification from the customer in China before obtaining legalisation of documents.

Source: Croners