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How to import cargo from China to South Africa?
How to import cargo from China to South Africa?


The main mode of global import and export is by sea or air through South Africa. Shipping has the advantages of low cost, large quantity, full container (FCL) or less container (LCL), and has become the first choice for most international trade. Shipping from China to South Africa is an excellent way to obtain goods that can be resold.

However, the challenge lies in the large number of unfamiliar and complex terms, making the process of transporting goods from China somewhat similar to learning a foreign language. No one claims that international shipping is simple. In fact, determining the most cost-effective way to transport goods from China to South Africa can be quite challenging. Small businesses can often improve their mode of transport on the China-South Africa trade route to save time and money.


What are the steps of importing goods from China to South Africa

1. Research and planning

Identify your product

Identify the specific products you want to import.

Check if the product is allowed to be sold in South Africa and if any special permissions or certifications are required.

Market research

Analyze the demand for your products in South Africa.

Understand the competition and potential pricing.

2. Find suppliers

Online market

Use Alibaba, Global Sources, Made in China and other platforms to find suppliers.

Verify supplier credibility through audits, certifications, and third-party audits.

Trade fair

Attend trade fairs and expositions such as the Canton Fair to meet suppliers in person.

Quality assurance

Samples are requested to evaluate the quality of the product.

Consider using third-party inspection services to ensure product quality before shipping.

3. Negotiate and place orders


Discuss payment terms, delivery schedules and international trade terms (FOB, CIF, etc.).

Negotiate price and minimum order quantity (MOQ).


Draw up a clear contract detailing the terms and conditions.

Make sure it covers product specifications, payment terms, delivery schedules and dispute resolution mechanisms. 

4. Shipping and logistics

Mode of transport

Choose air and sea transport according to the urgency and budget.

For larger shipments, shipping by sea is usually more cost effective.

Freight forwarder

Consider hiring a freight forwarder to handle logistics, paperwork and customs clearance.

They can provide door-to-door service to simplify the import process.

5. Duties and taxes

Import regulations

Please check the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for import regulations and documentation requirements.

Ensure compliance with South African International Trade Control Council (ITAC) regulations.

Duties and taxes

Find out what duties and taxes apply to your products.

Use the SARS tariff code to determine the tariff rate.

Required document

Commercial invoice

Packing list

Bill of lading (sea) or Air waybill (Air)

Certificate of origin

Import license (if required)

Customs declaration form

(1)Tariff rates in South Africa range from 0% to 45%, with an average rate of 18.74%. Some goods are not subject to tariffs (such as laptops, electric guitars and other electronics).

(2)VAT applies to most imported goods at a rate of 14 per cent of the combined FOB, duty and excise duty payable, plus a 10 per cent increase on FOB.

(3)South Africa does not have a minimum threshold, meaning that customs duties, VAT and other applicable taxes are payable regardless of the value of imports.

(4)Anti-dumping and countervailing duties target goods deemed to be "dumped" into South Africa as well as subsidised imports.

 6. Clear customs

Customs broker

Consider using a customs broker to handle the clearance process.

They can assist with accurate paperwork and speed up the process.

Pay duties and taxes

Pay the necessary import duties and VAT.

Ensure that all payments are made to avoid delays in customs clearance.

7. Delivery and distribution


Arrange transportation from the port of entry to your warehouse or distribution center.

Consider buying insurance to protect against potential loss or damage during shipping.


Plan your distribution strategy in South Africa.

Ensure timely delivery to your customers or retail partners.

8. Compliance and legal considerations

Health and safety standards

Ensure that products comply with South African health and safety standards.

Obtain the necessary certifications if applicable.

Intellectual property

Verify that the product does not infringe any patent or trademark.

9. Payment and currency exchange

Payment method

Use secure payment methods, such as letters of credit (LC), wire transfers (T/T), or escrow services.

Negotiate favorable payment terms with suppliers.

Currency exchange

Pay attention to exchange rate fluctuations.

Use forward contracts or other financial instruments to hedge currency risk.


What is the cheapest way to import products from China to South Africa?

The cheapest way to import products from China to South Africa depends on two main factors: commodity prices and shipping costs.

Find affordable items:

Use a platform like 1688 to find suppliers that offer volume at lower prices.

Optimize shipping rates:

Freight is affected by the weight of the goods, volume, delivery time and other factors, please choose the Courier or delivery method according to these factors.

The secret of successful import from China to South Africa:

Build relationships: Build strong relationships with suppliers to ensure reliability and better negotiating leverage.

Stay informed: Keep abreast of changes in import regulations and market conditions.

Risk management: Consider all potential risks and develop contingency plans.


If done correctly, importing from China to South Africa can be a lucrative enterprise.

By thoroughly researching and planning each step, ensuring compliance with all regulations and establishing strong supplier relationships, you can minimize risk and ensure the success of your import business.

Wherever your shipment is heading, Winsail's logistics experience adds reliability and security. With the company-wide knowledge to handle transborder deliveries, warehouse management and more, we provide end-to-end support.These may be can help you to know more about the freight forwarder:
What kind of product can not export in China?
Importance of cargo consolidation in ocean freight

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