Customs Law in China

China is the world’s second largest importer of goods, after the United States. Import regulations help to make trade with China more complex than with EU countries.

The EU’s Market Access Database lists customs duties and other taxes applied to products exported to China. The basis of calculation is the customs value of the imported goods, which is usually a CIF value.

The following costs may be deducted from this value, provided that they are separately listed in the invoice: fees for assembly and installation in China, transport and insurance costs after the first discharge location in China, import duties and taxes. Some advanced technologies and key components are not subject to customs duty and import VAT.

Advertising materials such as brochures or catalogues without commercial value can be imported duty-free. If they do carry a commercial value, 7.5% customs duties and 17% VAT are payable. Samples valued at less than CNY 400 can be imported duty-free. Samples that will be re-exported can be imported for up to 6 months after a security deposit has been made. Carnets are only permitted for fairs and exhibitions. 

Additional import fees:
The handling fee averages 0.4% of the customs value. For goods which are not subject to duties it is 1.5%. Regular VAT is 17%. A reduced VAT of 13% applies to some fast-moving consumer goods such as cereal, cooking oil and magazines. The basis for calculating VAT is the total of customs value, customs duty and any other excise tax.

Certifications and registrations

Various product certification obligations such as the China Compulsory Certificate (“CCC”) apply to certain imported goods.

Additional import licenses are required for some goods, and often the importer or an importing company based in China must be the applicant.

Food exporters must register in advance with the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (“AQSIQ”). The exporter will receive a registration number which must be indicated on the packaging of the exported goods. The registration number is valid for 4 years and may be extended one year before it expires. A special AQISQ registration is required for exporters of meat and dairy products.