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How to clear customs from China?
How to clear customs from China?

Cross-border shipments of goods must pass through customs before entering or leaving a country. To do this, you will need to prepare some additional documentation and understand the regulations in Canada and the United States.


While dealing with customs matters may seem complicated, it's not as difficult as it might seem, especially if you work with a trusted shipping company and customs broker. This can help you avoid unexpected delays or fees.


Our import clearance guide can help you understand and successfully complete international shipments.


What is China Customs clearance?

Customs clearance is the submission of documents to a government customs agency that oversees and clears the import and export of goods. The customs broker provides the necessary documents to prove that the tax or duty has been paid, and after verification, the goods can be released.


Customs clearance documents are prepared by the designated customs broker and delivered to the shipper. It will prove that all taxes or duties have been paid. The goods will then be released for import or export.

The customs clearance process refers to the process by which goods pass through customs (the government agency responsible for overseeing compliance with international trade laws). Customs officials monitor every shipment coming in and out to ensure it complies with the country's regulations. Import or export customs clearance is then carried out. However, the goods may be inspected at any time.


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What is the customs clearance process from China?

While the implications of customs clearance are simple, the process itself involves multiple steps that can be overwhelming at first glance. How long does it take to clear the imported goods? Understanding the import clearance schedule is crucial for businesses engaged in international trade. Let's break it down to find out exactly what happens when your shipment arrives at customs.


File check.

A customs officer will review your shipment documentation to indicate that the clearance process has been initiated. This may include a commercial invoice (CI) (indicating contact information for shipper and consignee, date of export, description of the goods and their value), buyer's purchase order, packing list, shipping note, bill of lading (BOL) or air waybill. And certificates of origin (such as NAFTA or USMCA certificates of Origin). Further documentation may be required by the buyer, financial institution or the terms of the credit or the importing country. For example, Canada also requires a Canada Customs invoice for incoming goods.


Tax and duty calculation.


Depending on the goods being transported, the customs broker will ensure that appropriate taxes and duties are prepaid or collected according to the type of goods being transported, the declared value and the customs laws of the importing country. Customs officers are responsible for verifying and tracking whether these fees have been paid.


Pay taxes and duties.


If you have not paid the taxes and duties applicable to the goods, the customs officer will demand payment.


DDP (Delivery duty paid). If the goods are marked as DDP, all taxes and duties are prepaid, usually through your customs broker, who can calculate and process them in advance to cover the cost of customs clearance.

DDU (delivery duty unpaid). Goods marked DDU will be forwarded to an independent customs broker to collect from the consignee the amount due as well as additional costs for inspection, warehousing, handling, insurance and payment.

Release the goods. Once all outstanding taxes and duties have been paid and the product has cleared the import customs, the goods will be released by Customs and shipped to their final destination. Some freight companies have warehouses that allow goods to continue "bonded" transit in the warehouse until they clear customs. If you don't have the right documentation to properly clear the goods, you usually incur a fee. In other words, the carrier's ability to get "bonded" is beneficial, but should not be something that shippers rely on every time their goods cross the border.


How to clear customs from China?

Customs clearance from China involves several steps and requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure compliance with Chinese and destination country regulations.


Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:


Hire a customs broker:

Customs brokers can help manage documentation, ensure compliance with regulations, and speed up the clearance process. Customs brokers are experienced in dealing with complex international trade and can avoid costly mistakes.

Get the necessary documents:

Commercial invoice: Details the transaction between the exporter and importer, including the value of the goods.

Bill of Lading (BOL) : A legal document issued by the carrier to the shipper detailing the type, quantity and destination of the goods.

Packing list: Provides specific shipping information, including item details and packing information.

Certificate of origin: Sometimes it is necessary to verify the origin of goods.

Import License: Some goods may require an import license or permit.

HS Code: Ensure that goods are properly classified according to the Harmonized System (HS) for the purpose of calculating duties and taxes.

Prepare Importer Security Declaration (ISF) :

For shipments destined for the United States, an Importer Security Declaration (ISF) must be filed at least 24 hours before the shipment leaves China. This includes detailed information about the goods and interested parties.

Compliance with import regulations:

Understand and comply with the import regulations in your country. This includes knowing the applicable duties, taxes and duties based on your goods' HS code.

To submit your entry documents:

Upon arrival at the port of destination, submit the entry documents to the customs authorities. This includes commercial invoices, bills of lading, packing lists and any other required documents.

Pay duties and taxes:

Calculate and pay any applicable import duties, VAT and other taxes. These taxes are usually determined based on the HS code classification and the value of the goods.

Customs inspection:

Be prepared for customs inspection. Customs authorities may inspect the cargo to ensure that it complies with documentation and meets regulatory requirements.

Goods release:

After customs clearance, the goods can be released and shipped to their final destination. Ensure that all transport arrangements are in place to ensure smooth transport of goods from the port to your warehouse or final destination.


When do I need to import customs clearance?

Customs clearance is required for all international commercial goods shipments, but if you have the required documentation and use a broker to help coordinate and help you calculate and pay the required taxes and duties, the process is relatively simplified.


One of the easiest ways to streamline the import clearance process is to work with a customs broker who can handle taxes and duties upfront and charge a flat clearance fee. For example, CSA Shipping participates in the Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) program, which allows us to quickly clear CSA-eligible shipments at the Canadian border and expedite the entire customs process. When you choose an importer that provides high quality customs clearance services, you can focus on growing your business while leaving the details of import clearance to experienced and competent personnel.


Customs fees: explained

Dealing with complex international trade procedures can be challenging. However, with the expertise of a customs clearance agent, moving through the system becomes easier and provides additional protection. Peace of mind is the price you pay when you hire a customs broker to assist with your international shipping.


What does that mean?

 The customs broker will obtain all the required documents for you and assist with the paperwork to ensure that the customs clearance process goes smoothly. A customs broker will help you understand import and export codes and forms (including HTS codes and CF-28 or CF-29 forms), assist with valuation analysis and country of origin determination, and provide support through electronic declaration and reporting systems such as ACI, RLF, EDI and ACE.


Customs brokers are also experts in trade agreements that offer preferential tariffs and rates, such as USMCA/CUSMA (a new agreement for North American trade that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement), and can help you take advantage of any opportunities these agreements may offer, as well as shipping from Canada to the United States. Anticipated customs charges


While each customs broker usually specializes in serving a specific region and may offer different rates, most brokers calculate fees based on product, value, and country of origin. Fees usually include customs clearance fees, inspection fees and agent or bank transfer fees. When using a specific freight company, the cross-border delivery service will include coordination with your designated customs broker to help reduce your workload.


How to avoid customs clearance delays?

The key to avoiding delays in the customs clearance process is to provide your freight forwarder with complete and accurate documentation so that they can coordinate with your customs broker and ultimately present your documentation to government officials for customs clearance.


Understanding how import clearance requirements apply to you and staying up to date with the latest import regulations and related tariff laws is essential to avoid delays. Experienced shipping companies and brokers can assist in ensuring that your documentation is complete and contains correct business information, inventory and cargo values.


Doing so will ensure that proper taxes and duties are collected and that your goods are not flagged by the authorities.


How long will it take after the parcel is cleared?

Package clearance usually takes only a few minutes or hours, but it can take days or even weeks if something goes wrong. Therefore, in order to speed up the customs clearance process, product declarations and document compliance, your freight forwarder must be transparent with you.


6 tips to make the Chinese Customs clearance process easier

While the customs clearance process may seem simple, it can also be overwhelming, especially for novice importers and exporters. However, the following tips will help make the process smoother and more manageable.


Hire an experienced freight forwarder or carrier

A carrier or freight forwarder is the most important gift you can give yourself when starting an export business. Having an experienced and reliable freight forwarder handling your export business will bring you invaluable convenience. With their experience, professional freight forwarders know all about transportation and customs clearance procedures. This knowledge is invaluable and can save you from worry.


Make sure your paperwork is complete and 100% accurate.

Incomplete or even minor errors in paperwork can be costly. If your paperwork is incorrect or incomplete, the customs department will not clear your goods.


Instead, it will stay at customs and you will have to pay a detention fee. In addition, your goods will be released late, resulting in missed delivery dates and more headaches for your business. Therefore, it is best to make sure that all the information on your file is correct. One way to do this is to ask your freight forwarder or carrier to make sure nothing is missing on your documents.


Please be aware that your shipment will be cleared in each country it passes through.

This understanding is very useful when deciding which mode of transport to use to deliver goods. For example, if you choose air freight, your goods will simply go through the customs of the destination country, which will save you a lot of time.


Understand that international trade laws and regulations change frequently

Import and export markets are constantly changing and laws are constantly changing, so it is difficult to keep track of the latest developments and the processes you have followed in the past may not be applicable the next time you use them. Therefore, you should keep abreast of the latest developments in the import and export industry so as not to be caught unprepared.

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