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How to Import Products from China!

March 18, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 843 Comments
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Many of you will choose to import goods from abroad (outside the European Union). If and when you do, it’s essential to fully understand how importing works; what extra costs are involved, time frames for delivery etc.

For many new traders, Importing sounds like a nightmare to go through. But in fact, it’s not that complicated at all IF you know the basics behind the importing process – payment, shipping, taxes and customs. In this blog post I’ll try to cover most of the important aspects of importing from China and other countries outside the EU.

What does “importing” mean?

In general, importing means that you’re buying goods from a supplier outside your country. However, in my examples I won’t be counting European Union countries as goods can be freely moved across the EU without paying extra import duty or VAT. For most of you, China and the United States will be the top two countries to import from, so let’s cover them in detail.

Shipping Methods

Shipping costs will make up a substantial percentage of your total product cost, so it’s important to keep them as low as possible at all times. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger your order, the lower ‘per item’ shipping costs you’ll face. There’s no point in importing one pair of unbranded shoes from China as the shipping costs will be far more than the cost of the product itself. Volume is the key to success when building your eBay business around an “Importing from China” product sourcing concept. But that doesn’t mean you have to start off with full container loads either!

Here are the 4 most popular shipping methods you can use to import goods from China:

1) Regular Post. This means normal, regular China Post which can take up to 6 weeks to arrive. No online tracking is provided. It can be used for parcels under 2kg. Usually, you will only use regular post for samples and again ONLY if time is not that important and you can afford to wait a few weeks for a package to arrive. China Post is not the most reliable system so be prepared for lost/stolen packages.

If at all possible, I try to avoid using China Mail for any shipments as the delivery time is simply too long.

If your supplier is located in Hong Kong, you can use HK Airmail which is way more reliable, comes with a tracking number and usually arrives within 5-10 days.

2) Courier. Shipping with a courier company will be the most suitable method for most people starting out IF it involves small, lightweight items. With courier companies such as TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx you pay a premium price for each kilo BUT you get fast delivery times and an online tracking facility. These days most courier shipments take just 3-5 business days to arrive in any Western country from anywhere around the globe. I personally use TNT and DHL most of the time as their prices have worked out lowest for me. For a 50kg package, expect to pay around £4 or £5 per kilo.

3) Air Freight. This is somewhere between courier shipping and sea freight. Shipping times vary from company to company, but in general range between 5 to 10 days which is not bad at all! With Air Freight costs will be significantly lower than with courier companies, but extra work is involved when the goods arrive in your destination country. With Air Freight you’ll usually have to handle documentation and customs clearance on your own (unlike with courier companies), which for many newbies may seem impractical. Of course, you can always outsource these tasks to a freight forwarding company at an additional cost.

With Air Freight, expect to pay £2-£3 per kilo for a 100kg shipment.

Air Freight is usually cost effective once shipments are in the range of 100kg or more UNLESS very bulky items are involved; if that’s the case your only viable option is to use Sea Freight.

4) Sea Freight. This is the most popular shipping method used by big companies to import goods from China. The cost per kilo (£100-£150 per pallet, even less if you can order full or half-container loads) is very low but the downside is the lengthy delivery time. Depending on where you’re located it will be in the vicinity of 30 to 40 days in most cases.

Just like with Air Freight, you’ll have to take care of the documentation, customs clearance and delivery of goods from the port to your home or office. It’s not that complicated to be honest – I do this on my own on a regular basis, but I understand that for newbies it could seem too complicated and that’s why I recommend using a freight forwarding company that will take care of all the procedures and deliver goods right to your door.

Also, with Sea Freight it’s very important to calculate all the EXTRA COSTS involved once the goods arrive in your country. Your supplier will usually give you the FOB price, which means that the goods are loaded onto the ship. But that’s not the end of the story! Once your shipment arrives at the port there are all kinds of extra charges, such as:

  • Unloading charge;
  • Port fees;
  • Docking fees;
  • Storage fees;
  • Clearance fees;
  • Etc.

And I’m not talking small figures here! These fees can run into hundreds of pounds! That’s why it’s crucial to take these numbers into account BEFORE you order any goods so that you know precisely what your final product cost will be.

Again, the easiest way to keep these costs under control is by using a freight forwarding company. You can ask them to quote for door-to-door delivery which includes all the fees associated with Sea Freight shipping.

Even with all the additional fees Sea Freight is still the cheapest shipping method for imports from China. Remember that it’s cost effective ONLY if your order is big enough. Usually, a half pallet or one full pallet will be enough if your margins are right. Again, this will depend on the kind of goods you’re importing, their value and weight. Sometimes Air Freight offers the same savings as Sea Freight with the added bonus of much speedier delivery.

In general, Sea Freight is better for bulky items or in cases where the shipping time is not that important. Personally I try to stick to couriers and Air Freight as often as possible as I just can’t stand the long wait involved when using Sea Freight. (but then again I deal mostly with small, light weight items).

Advantages of Using a Freight Forwarder

Here is some good news – I have recently started recommending a freight forwarding company called Woodland Global. You may already have heard about them if you’re an active member of The Wholesale Forums as Darren, who works for them, is a member there and he helps people with questions about importing.

Woodland Global is a great company to deal with and so far I have only heard positive feedback about them:

  • There are no yearly or joining fees;
  • They’re UK based and very easy to get in touch with;
  • They’re fast because they ship containers from China on a weekly basis;
  • Their pricing is very competitive, even for small-time importers;
  • They will deliver goods to your door and take care of all the documentation.

In a word – Woodland Global is a perfect solution for small-time importers! Their fees are very affordable and they’ll even deal with small orders. If you’re interested in their services and need a quote, get in touch with Darren on TWF or simply use the contact page on their website.

Imagine the kind of opportunities this opens up to you, especially if you’re just starting out on your journey and you’re still looking for the perfect niche? Most people stay away from bulky items as they don’t want or don’t know how to deal with Sea Freight shipments effectively. Now, with the help of a freight forwarding company, it’s suddenly not so much of a problem anymore!

Woodland Global can even pick up goods for you in China and deliver them to the nearest port. However, if possible, always try to arrange shipment of goods to a Chinese port via your supplier, as this will often work out to be cheaper.

Shipping from the US

If we talk specifically about importing from the USA, the cheapest option for sending parcels is with the US Postal Service. They’re reasonably priced, especially if you don’t opt for their fastest shipping method. You can send up to 30kg per shipment and the closer you get to that 30kg mark, the cheaper the price per kilo.

Even if your order comes in at 50kg, you can simply split it into 2 shipments and still send it via USPS. Of course, this will only work with small, lightweight or valuable items, not furniture or LCD TVs. For bulky items you’ll want to go back to using Air Freight or Sea Freight.

As you can see, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but in general you should be able to make your decision based on these 3 major factors:

1) Size and weight of the shipment

2) How long you can wait before the shipment arrives

3) Value of goods

In other words, the best shipping method will depend on your order!!!

Payment Options

When dealing with ANY supplier for the first time, you have to be extremely careful. There are so many scammers operating out there in the wholesale industry, so before you decide to send money to your supplier, make sure you do all the background checks available to you to make sure you’re dealing with a legit company. And even then, always, always start with a small trial order to avoid huge losses if that supplier turns out a scammer.

When you have done all the checks and verified the supplier, you can place your first order. Which payment method is safest to use? Usually, suppliers will accept the following:

Wire Transfer – this means sending money from your bank account to the supplier’s bank account. This is the most common payment method used in B2B transactions. Wire Transfer doesn’t offer ANY protection, so only use this method with suppliers you trust 100%. Sending money to a supplier in China can take up to 5 working days.

Transfer fees will vary from bank to bank but in most cases will be in the region of £10-£30. Most banks offer international wire transfers at a reduced cost when you use the bank’s ONLINE banking facility. Finally, the fee you pay your bank to carry out this transaction is usually a fixed one which means that the more money you send per transaction, the lower per pound fee you’ll pay.

Most Chinese companies will accept wire transfer as a default payment option. If they don’t, it may be a sign that something dodgy is going on. Make sure you only send money to the company’s bank account and not to a personal bank account, no matter what story the Chinese supplier tells you.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even though your bank may charge you only a fixed fee for making the payment, that there are usually additional fees involved. Banks typically add a markup to the exchange rate and so you end up having to pay more to send money overseas.

TransferWise:​ ​Companies that specialise in international money transfers could save you a substantial amount of money if you’re looking to make frequent transfers to your Chinese suppliers.

FCA and FinCEN regulated, TransferWise are ​up to eight times cheaper than banks​ when it comes to making international payments. They always convert money at the mid-market exchange rate – ie. the rate you see on Google is the rate you’ll receive. The only fee you’ll pay is a small, upfront fee on the value of the transfer. You can also ​make global USD payments to your Chinese supplier​ and with their fixed fee of $2 + small % cost of currency conversion, their rates are very competitive.

Setting up the payment is simple as well. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information and state what currency you’d like to pay them in and then fund your transfer. Options include bank transfer and debit/ credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.

With over 3 million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.

You can find out more about TransferWise in my post ​here.​

Credit/Debit cards – one of the safest ways to pay for goods is by using your credit card. Chinese suppliers will vary rarely take credit card payments but companies in the EU or US will, in most cases, be happy to accept credit card payments. Some companies may add on a small extra fee to cover the fees they have to pay themselves when they accept a payment by credit card.

Why are credit cards good for paying your supplier? First of all, with most card issuers you can initiate a charge-back if something goes wrong with your order or the supplier turns to be a scammer.

Secondly, most cards offer a cash-back or points system where you can actually get some money back in the form of bonuses from your bank – be they frequent flyer points or extra cash in your bank account.

Lastly, if the supplier accepts credit cards it’s a pretty good sign that he’s legit, especially if we are talking about suppliers in the UK and US. Why? Because it’s not that easy to set up a merchant account and start taking credit card payments. Companies have to undergo a strict verification process to be able to take card payments and this is something most scammers won’t do.

PayPal – I’m sure you’re fully aware of what PayPal is and how it operates. These days, most Chinese suppliers will accept PayPal payments. All your payments with PayPal are protected, so you can always open a dispute and request a refund if a supplier has scammed you. Now, you will not always win those disputes, but PayPal’s most recent policy is generally buyer friendly and sellers are the ones who have to prove that the transaction was legit and the goods were delivered.

Again, it’s not that easy to open a PayPal account in China, which is why scammers try to avoid using PayPal and will push WU, MG or other similar, unsafe payment methods. As with a wire transfer, make sure you’re sending money to the PayPal account of the company you’re dealing with and not a personal PayPal account.

Escrow – Legitimate suppliers know how important safe payment methods are to buyers and that’s why when dealing with suppliers on Alibaba, you now have the option of using Alibaba’s escrow payment system.

What is escrow? With escrow, you first send the money to an escrow company and they hold it for you until you receive and inspect goods and only then release the money to your supplier. It is by far the safest payment method as you ONLY pay your supplier once you have received and inspected the goods.

Western Union, MoneyGram etc. – NEVER ever deal with a supplier who only accepts Western Union, Money Gram or similar payment methods! The only time you should use Western Union is when you are ordering product samples as WU transfer fees are much lower than bank transfer fees.

But only do it with totally verified, trustworthy suppliers. When you use WU, you can’t actually send money to a company; only individuals can send and receive money via the WU network.

Most scammers will only accept payments via Western Union. If branded goods are involved, it’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with a scammer!

Personally I try to stick with PayPal when dealing with Chinese suppliers and PayPal or credit card when dealing with US based suppliers. Wire transfer is usually ok for European suppliers and manufacturers, if we are talking about verified suppliers.

Currency Exchange Rates

There’s not much really you can do about currency exchange rates; you simply have to accept them as an additional cost when dealing with suppliers abroad. If you’re dealing with large amounts of money (in excess of £10k+), you can look for currency exchange companies that may offer you better rates. Personally I have never used such companies as I’m only dealing in high profit margin items these days where 1% doesn’t have any impact on my bottom line.

If PayPal is the only payment method offered by your supplier, you simply have to accept PayPal’s exchange rate as it is. If wire transfer is an option, you could probably get a better rate from your bank BUT they’ll take a commission on an international transfer which will offset all the savings you would make on the currency exchange.

If you have a really strong, long-term relationship with your supplier, and you’re 100% confident they won’t scam you, try offering a PayPal Mass Pay option to your supplier – in return for a percentage from the total you have to pay (PayPal won’t charge any fees to a supplier using Mass Pay).

So for example, if you pay $1000 via PayPal in the usual way, PayPal will charge a fee of around $30 and the net amount the supplier will receive will be $970.

But if you agree to using Mass Pay, the supplier might charge you only $980, generating savings for both parties. $20 may not seem that much but that’s only if you send $1000. For larger payments this method can save hundreds of $ in fees! REMEMBER, only do this if you’re 100% confident about supplier you’re dealing with!

To sum it up – factor in currency exchange fees as an additional cost that you can’t do anything about! PayPal will probably turn out to be the best payment method for you, especially if you sell on eBay (buyers will also pay you via PayPal, simplifying cash flow for your business).


When you import goods into the EU from abroad, you have to pay two kinds of tax before the goods are actually released to you:

  • Value Added Tax (VAT)
  • Import Duty

The VAT rate is different for each European Union country, so make sure you check your country’s specific VAT rate before making any calculations. The current VAT rate in the UK is 20%.

Import duties vary widely from product to product so do check the accurate rate with the help of this free online calculator:


Import duty will be usually be in the range of 2%-5%, but with some products it can be as high as 10% or even more. On the other hand, with some product groups you won’t have to pay import duty at all, so be sure to check out that online calculator to see exactly how much import duty you’ll have to pay for your particular goods.

REMEMBER!!! Import duty is payable only on the goods’ value, but VAT will be applied to the TOTAL of:

Goods’ value (price paid to the supplier)
Import Duty

So VAT is calculated on the value of the goods + shipping + import duty. I just wanted to clarify this as people often get a nasty surprise when they see a bigger number than the 20% of the goods’ value they were expecting.

Register for VAT or not?

Many people who are just starting out importing will ask this question – should I register as a VAT payer before I import goods from abroad? The answer is NO, NO and NO! Without going into numbers and complex calculations, you will want to stay away from VAT registration as long as possible (that is, until you reach the maximum turnover after which you HAVE to register for a VAT number by law).

So just remember that you don’t have to register before you reach the threshold. The current VAT threshold in the UK is £77K over the previous 12 months. You can even ask for an exception to be made if your turnover exceeds this amount temporarily. You’ll find more details on the HM Revenues and Customs website. VAT thresholds vary from country to country, so if you’re based outside the UK, be sure to check the local laws regarding VAT registration.

Read more about VAT registration for small businesses here.

EORI Number

A few years ago the EU introduced an EORI number to monitor imported goods. This number is used for statistical purposes and there are no extra costs involved.

You’ll find more information about EORI on the HMRC website. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re a registered business it’s a good idea to register for EORI before you start your importing activities or else the process of receiving your shipment when the goods arrive in the UK may be delayed.

EU regulations, CE mark.

With some product groups you have to be extremely careful when importing goods from China, or any other country outside the European Union as you must ensure they comply with EU rules and regulations. Some sensitive product groups are:

  • Health & Beauty products
  • Electronics
  • Children’s toys and equipment
  • Food
  • Chemicals, drugs, creams etc.

What you’ll find is that most Chinese suppliers will tell you that all the certificates are in order : DON’T take their word for it! If you can, verify that all the documentation is genuine so you can import those goods into the EU without any chance of them being seized and destroyed at customs.

Copyright & Patent Issues

Another sensitive question – patents. You’ll eliminate copyright issues as long as you stay away from branded items and items with branded designs (such as kids’ toys with Disney characters, company logos, movie characters etc.) With patents, the situation is more difficult as there is no easy way to find out whether an item you want to import from China doesn’t breach any registered patents. What you can do though is ask your supplier about potential issues with this BEFORE you place your order.

Patent issues often come up with electronics and specific instruments and devices, so if you’re dealing with some really fancy device or piece of equipment, make sure the supplier’s products don’t use any patented, protected technology.


Don’t be afraid of the importing process, but start small.

It’s not as complicated as it looks, especially if you use courier as a shipping method. With couriers you don’t have to worry about long shipping delays or customs clearance as they will take care of all the documentation for you.

Take it step by step – place a small order on AliExpress and see how it works out. On AliExpress you’re protected by an Escrow Payment System, so if something goes wrong with your order, you can always open a dispute and get your money back.

Good Luck!

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  1. Hi, Thank you for this great and easy to understand article. I was getting bogged down in understanding importing tariffs, commodity codes andthe taric and falling deeper into the rabbit hole.

    I will of course keep reading elsewhere because i imagine rules have changed in 3 years but thank you for the beginning stepping stones!

    I’m going to start with DHL.

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Alex!

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks greatly for all the information and for really taking your time to respond to comments and questions.

    I wish to know if it is against the law to import used branded mobile phones into EU.

    Also is it against the law to import accessories like motherboard for mobile phones.



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Edwin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, why would it be against the law? I see no problems with doing this.


  3. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for writing this very helpful and insightful article. I have a question about shipping. This is my first attempt sourcing products and selling in the UK. My Chinese supplier is quoting me $1600 (via DHL) to ship 17 cartons to the UK. Each carton size is 30x64x59cm and each carton weighs 23kg. As i write it seems like it’s a lot of weight actually. Most likely I will start off with maybe 4 or 5 cartons.

    My first question is, is this a reasonable price to pay for shipping in your opinion? I’ve already emailed woodland group and i’m waiting for a reply.

    Second, what is the difference between Woodland Group and a company like DHL or UPS for example?

    Third, this question what is freight forwarding? (sorry this question may be answered in your answer to question 2)

    Many thanks!


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Patrick,

      Order of that size should NOT be shipped via courier (DHL). It’s simply too big, too heavy to be cost effective that way.

      You want to use sea freight to get a reasonable shipping price. You have already contacted WG so you’ll see for yourself how much cheaper sea freight will be.

      Difference between is that companies like WG (freight forwarders) – they only deal with commercial shipments, mostly via sea (containers etc.). they do not offer C2C services like DHL, UPS, Fedex etc. They won’t deliver a letter or small package for you in 2 days from the UK to the US for example.


      1. Patrick

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your quick reply. I’ve emailed Darren directly now as the guys on the main contact page are very slow in responding. Hopefully I’ll have more joy from Darren.

        Thanks again for your assistance and a brilliant article.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Patrick! 🙂

  4. Hi Andrew,

    This blog is fantastic and just what i needed! but I was hoping you could help me with a few questions.
    I have decided to import tutu’s, hats and bibs and i have ordered a few samples from aliexpress to check the quality and time for delivery. I am completely new to this (a nurse by trade hence my lack of understanding) Is it possible to haggle on aliexpress if i order in bulk?
    This Initial order is free shipping via airmail or china post so am i right to think that it will go to my local post office for me to collect? if so will i have to pay royal mail a fee?

    If I’m happy with the quality i will likely make a bulk order, but these items are very low in weight so would i be better getting a courier? UPS are quoting me £133 for a 15kg 55x42x35. this seems expensive. if i went for shipping or air mail what air/ports do i use? any?
    aliexpress also offer free shipping even on bulk items via ‘sellers shipping method’ but I’m worried i will incur hidden charges with this.
    The supplier i am dealing with has offered free DHL delivery with a large order, would this be door to door?
    sorry for the multiple questions!
    Thanks for your time

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amy,

      Before you do anything else, please research/find out laws & regulations on importing such goods.

      These are children clothing items, which in EU have very strict regulations on materials, colouring etc. to be used, certification etc. I don’t deal in this niche so I don’t know the details but I highly recommend you research this before you import anything. I’m sure you don’t want to breach the law and don’t want to get in any trouble if something happens to your customer kids.


  5. I was looking a logistic company and found your blog post. I read a great recommendations here about “woodland group”. Please don’t be offended but it smells like a hidden advert in your post. I tried to check out their website and they don’t have address nor phone number. Companies like them just don’t look legit. Just like they want to hide it. When you come to a problem you never can reach them just send a “contact form” and hope you get answer in 24 hours. This has turned me down.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Imre,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can guarantee you that Woodland Global is 100% legit and genuine company. You have nothing to worry about.

      Also – I don’t get ANY compensation/commission from them whatsoever! I recommend them because they’re best at what they do, with weekly shipments from China and very competitive prices.

      They have all the addresses and phone numbers on website. For UK region check here:



  6. Vindya Perera

    Hi andrew,

    Without knowing I have Import some car alloy wheel center caps from china.mercedez ,audi etc.So it was DHL courier post .so now my parcel is in custom clearence event about a week.As this is my first big order from china and I have no Ideia what will happens next.Will I loose my ORDER?
    I am an ebay business seller.Please help with some information.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You have to wait and see what happens.

      If it has been already a WEEK in Customs, call DHL and find out what’s going on.

      But these are fakes obviously, something you can’t resell so in your best interest would be to reject the shipment and get money back from supplier.


  7. sam davids

    Hi Andrew,

    This blog is amazing, I have one question.

    I imported some goods from my regular supplier from China, and i sent the funds through paypal (£2200)

    But the issue is that the products are all defective. i have tried to message the supplier but they are saying im lying.

    My question is, would i be able to open a chargeback claim with paypal and get my funds back?

    and if i could what does it involve?

    Thanks again


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      Say supplier that you’ll open PayPal case and get your money back that way.

      Maybe they start to re-think their strategy then?

      If not, simply open case in PayPal for goods not as described. You should win it and get your refund.

      If that doesn’t work, last resort would be doing a charge back via your credit card company.


  8. Irene Wong

    Hi Andrew,

    Currently I have a customer from UK would like to purchase some branded watches from me ( from Hong Kong), and most of the branded watches I purchased are from EU countries. The reason behind due to his watches volume per month ain’t big enough to get such discount from his current supplier, as compare to mine. So, any possible ways that I could ” resell” those watches to him and what procedures or ways I need to be consider.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irene,

      Sorry, what is your question exactly?

      You can sell those watches to him, why not. I can’t see any problems with this transaction.


  9. Abdalla Eisawi

    Hi Andrew

    Hope you can help with this quick query. I’m intending to import electronic plastic enclosures that will be used as parts for assembling medical simulation items (i.e. teaching clinical surgical skills). There are other components such as timers (like one used in kitchen) which I will also import.

    I understand that ‘medical equipment’ is VAT exempt. Is that restricted to the end electronic product sold to customers ONLY after assembly or does that cover the parts purchased to assemble product AS WELL. It is notable that some parts like the timer component is not inherently a medical device but will be part of when. How does customs work out as well.

    Kind Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Abdalla,

      I’m sorry but I can’t give advice on such specific situations.

      You should simply contact HMRC and ask them directly.


  10. Lickson Munjoma

    Hi Andrew,

    I have read your blog plus your answers to various question and you are exceptional. I was wondering if you could help me understand the process of importing from China to UK in respect to what I want to buy and sell.

    I am planning on ordering necklaces, (50pcs at £0.4 per pc) +(24pcs at £0.6)+(24pcs at £1)+(12pcs at £4). All this comes to 110 approx and its free shipping with Express EMS. I am guessing what’s left for me is paying the duty, VAT and probably the delivery cost to my door.

    As I am not sure, I was wondering if you could point out further things/costs I need to be aware of during this process and also what documentation do I need from the wholesaler or myself. I want to try to be as legit as possible, to have a good foundation for my customers.

    Thank you, much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lickson,

      You’ll pay approx 25% in VAT & import duty, so that’s say 30 quid on top of £110 you pay for products + delivery. Then there will be small customs clearance/processing fee (usually £10 – £20 PER shipment).

      As you use EMS, goods will be delivered to your door @ no extra cost, via Parcel Force.

      Documentation – you need invoice & proof of payment, that’s it.


      1. Lickson Munjoma

        Wow, awesome and thank you for the quick reply. Do I have to go to some office to pay the fees or is there some kind of direct debit involved?

        Kind regards

      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’ll pay a simple invoice issued by the courier company.


      3. So when does the EORI number come into play? Do you have to give that to the supplier in China to put on the shipment? I’m still a little confused exactly how EORI works.

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Kerry,

        EORI number will be asked by either freight forwarder (if you use sea freight for example) OR when goods arrive in the UK, for Customs clearance procedure.


      5. Lickson Munjoma

        Awesome. Thank you again for your help

        Kind regards

  11. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    I’ve recently requested some product samples from china (Mobile Accessories)

    But DHL is asking me to pay Duty and VAT on that sample parcel.

    I just wanted to make sure as an individual buyer and seller (Ebay seller), do I really need to pay VAT? I’m not even registered for any business or VAT.

    And if so, does it mean when I import in volumes, I need to pay VAT even though I’m not registered as a business?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, of course.

      You have to pay import duty & VAT (over certain value) on imported goods.

      It doesn’t mater you’re a business or not, VAT registered or not.


  12. […] live in the UK and want to import some goods from China – I have found a supplier and am ready to place an order with delivery via sea freight. However I […]

  13. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

    Hi Andrew,

    Even though I am U.S. based and am looking to sell on Amazon, there is a lot of relevant information here for me, so thanks SO much!

    I have a question about communication with companies I’m looking to source with on Alibaba:

    In my initial correspondence with companies, my experience has been that about 50% will respond to my business e-mail, or ask me to contact them via their business email instead of communicating via Alibaba’s message center. I have to say, I prefer to communicate this way as well, as I find Alibaba’s message center less efficient.

    Do you feel there are any real risks of communicating with business outside of Alibaba as long as actual purchases are done using Alipay and all Trade Assurance requirements are meet in writing inside of Alibaba’s system? I was even thinking that perhaps I could copy and paste prior discussions into Alibaba’s message center at the end, but maybe this isn’t needed?



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Julie,

      It’s perfectly fine, yes, as long as the deal is done via Alibaba.

      I use email/Skype all the time to communicate with suppliers in China as I agree, Alibaba’s message system is somehow user un-friendly.


      1. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

        Great, thanks again for your quick reply!


      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Julie! 🙂

  14. Nrupen Patel

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m thinking to import some mobile accessories from china and got a question to myself that do I need to register a business and have EORI & VAT number before starting any process?

    or I can just have a parcel from Chinese supplier without any hassle? the goods won’t weight beyond 35-40kg. together.

    I’m planning to sell this accessory on eBay and amazon.

    your advice will be lifeline to my new venture.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nrupen,

      No, you don’t have to register a business to start importing from China. And you definitely don’t have to register for VAT!

      You may be asked for an EORI number on order this size but you can just wait for your shipment to arrive and then register for it, if courier asks for it.


      1. Nrupen Patel

        Thanks very much Andrew,

        I highly appreciate your efforts to answer my question promptly.

        if in case, I would be asked EORI number, is it a long process to obtain one? and is it awarded to an individual like me?

        Thanks once again for your guidelines.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        EORI registration process usually takes 2-3 days.

        And yes, you can get it even being an individual.


      3. Nrupen Patel

        Great …. 🙂

        Thanks very much Andrew,

      4. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome! 🙂

  15. […] ordering some supplies from China. I have never imported anything to the UK but I read your blog post regarding importing and found it very […]

  16. Hi Andrew,

    I have imported some children’s clothes from ali express and dhgate, and after reading your articles and searching online I have gotton the impression that unless I am a big supplier and can afford to go out to china and inspect the manfacturers myself I shouldn’t be importing and selling.

    I’ve only sold a few bits, and what I have sold has been really popular, but now im hesitant of ordering anymore stock in. I was in the process of registering with HMRC and getiing public liability insurance but now I have a big black cloud hanging over me and think I should just stop befor eI get into trouble.

    Any advice or clarity in simpler terms would be much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anna,

      Sorry, why do you get such feeling?

      I have never said that you have to be big or go to China yourself to import….

      Can you please clarify?


  17. Hi Andrew

    Really appreciate the time you spend helping us all, dedication and knowledge is amazing.

    Okay, I am setting up a cosmetics (creams, oils, soaps) company and want to import private label products from a good trusted supplier on Alibaba, these will have my own logo which has just been applied to be trademarked.
    This company are 5 years gold supplier and a member of trade assurance.

    My questions are:
    Are there any other or surprise restrictions if the manufacturer have the correct certification (FDA, GMP, MSDS, SGS) for importing purposes? I know there are rules for cosmetics but I think this will be covered by the manufacturer?

    I am undecided to have the company based either in the UK or Hungary, I believe there is no stamp duty on cosmetics to these 2 countries, just the import tax/VAT at 27% for Hungary and 20% for the UK?

    The sales will be mainly an online store and Amazon, obviously if the company is registered in Hungary I have to charge VAT on the first sale, no threshold like the UK. What I want to know is how do I charge Vat online in my store if I am selling to the world basically, do I just account for the sales and VAT where the company is based for example Hungary and charge no VAT to other countries, how does it work please? What is the best way of doing online sales with VAT?

    If i am not registered for VAT (say UK based and the threshold of (£82,000)), and I buy goods from China, I will have to pay 20% VAT on the goods as it was delivered there, correct? I can then still claim this back after 3 months even though I am not registered?

    If I am based as a company in Hungary, I cam sell on Amazon UK/Europe with no problems, you don’t have to be based in the UK to sell on Amazon?

    Any help appreciated, I have had a few coffees to day so excuse any questions which seem obvious:)



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment but with so many TAX related questions and a rather complicated company set-up outside UK, you should consult an accountant and talk ind detail through all these questions.

      Sorry, I’m not an accountant or tax advisor.


  18. Armando Monell

    Hi Andrew,
    Im looking to import phone cases from china and sell through FBA, any recommendations as to getting them in to the amazon warehouse after customs. i do know they have requirements you must meet but do you think some suppliers will meet the amazon expectations if you tell them what those expectations are?
    Thank you
    (of course this route is to be taken after I’ve done several business with suppliers and trust their quality etc)

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Armando,

      FBA gives very specific instructions on how goods, cartons must be labelled for sending them in.

      So you just give those instructions to supplier and see if they can follow them.


  19. Hi Andrew,

    Great article, but I am thinking of buying a few bits from AliExpress and selling them on eBay. It will only be a low amount of stock, possibly spending £70 maximum at a time so will I have to worry about taxes and other things or will the low spend not warrant further work?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Please check out this guide on thresholds for VAT/import duty:



  20. What problems can be encountered when importing licensed goods? Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ryan,

      By default it’s against law so you could be sued by trademark holder if you sell these goods online.

      If it gets that far. BY that I mean – Customs can also seize and destroy such goods before you even receive them.


  21. Hi Andrew,

    I would like to ask if there is any issues with the invoice provided by suppliers to be in Chinese?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, Customs may ask for an English version.

      Most Chinese suppliers will provide invoices in English or English + some Chinese.


      1. I have another question regarding the EORI number. Is it true that for low value goods (< £2,000), I can use the dummy EORI numbers when importing?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Haven’t heard of a “dummy” EORI number, lol, but there’s a certain threshold for courier shipments when you don’t need an EORI number at all.

        Not sure how much the threshold is though.

        With sea/air freight you always need an EORI number.


      3. Thank you for your reply Andrew! Your website is really informative.

  22. Hi Andrew.
    I have got square eyes from reading so much of your website.
    I am just about to start out importing from China and have found your website invaluable for all the information you have provided.
    I am new to all this and have no experience at all.
    I am looking at importing HDMI cables and after reading through some of the comments I am wondering if I need CE and RoHS certificates for this?
    The suppliers I have been talking to have the certificates displayed on their Alibaba pages.
    If I do need them for customs clearance could I use the suppliers or would I need to get my own?
    Would the cables be stopped at customs without them?
    I’ve searched for hours but cannot find this information.
    Many thanks for website.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      No, customs won’t ask for them.

      But to sell them in EU, yes, these products need to be certified (supplier certificates are fine, as long as they’re genuine).


      1. Daniel

        Thank you for your time and advice.

  23. […] so that you don’t get scammed or get low quality goods. I have complete guides on the entire order process and supplier verification, I have detailed the top 10 most common scams so you know what to look […]

  24. Hi Andrew,

    I have already imported two shipments from China using a UK based forwarder. I am now looking at a new product which is slightly heavier than the previous. I have received quotes for the shipment and estimates for the duty/vat by my forwarder. The cost per unit works out at a lot more than the actual unit cost itself! I need to look at ways to reduce this ideally without increasing the order quantity.

    My supplier has provided me a quote (for the shipment) using their shipping co. and it works out around £250 cheaper than the quote from my forwarder. My question is, is there any reason why I shouldn’t use the suppliers shipper? Also if I was to use theirs, would I need to organise the clearance myself and how would I organise to have the cleared goods uplifted from the airport and delivered to me? Normally my forwarder delivers to my door.

    For your ref, my prices are FOB.

    I would appreciate any advice you could offer.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rachel,

      You could of course go with supplier’s shipping price BUT be warned – you’ll face extra costs when goods arrive in the UK – airport fees, clearance fees, storage fees etc. etc. which could actually be more than £250 you theoretically save.

      If you need to bring down shipping cost per product WITHOUT increasing order size, maybe consider using sea freight instead of air freight, which will be cheaper.


      1. Rachel

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your advice. I think I will avoid using the suppliers shipping company to be on the safe side and will look into sea-freight options.

        I think your website is fantastic by the way. Lots of invaluable advice 😉


      2. Andrew Minalto

        Thanks & You’re welcome Rachel! 🙂


  25. James Holland

    Thanks Andrew.

    I’ve been working with a few factories in Zhejiang, China for a couple years. Mostly sourcing, QC and sales. Now looking to start exporting to the UK myself. I was initially very nervous about the documentation process, but it doesn’t seem to be as complex as I thought.

    On a side note for all those sourcing directly from Chinese online stores and factories. The below may help you:

    1. Bargain! Bargaining is a cultural characteristic, so don’t feel guilty asking for a lower price. Be warned however that if you push too low, don’t be surprised if the quality of the product is lowered- They certainly won’t be using their profit to accommodate a large price reduction.

    2. Verify that they understand what you what. They are after all using a second language to communicate with you, and may very well misunderstand some of your points.

    3. Make sure all additional costs are included in your quotation. Particularly for those sourcing directly from factories, you will want the unit cost, mould fees (If you are using your own design) and set -up fees.

    Good luck 🙂

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment James & Good luck with your new venture! 🙂


  26. Sunita Shrestha

    Hi Andrew

    I am trying to start business, importing electrical goods from china and selling on ebay. I have no business experience before.

    I have registered a company on company house. I am unable to open a business account, the bank refused my application.
    Q1. Can I pay the chinese supplier using my personal bank account? Can I pay them online? or Should I go to the branch to make a payment?
    Q2. Can I use my personal bank account on ebay for the customer to pay online? Can the customer pay cash on the branch as well? I can not see through how this payment system works?
    Q3. Can I confirm that courier company like, DHL, UPS calculate the custom/vat for us?

    Thank you so much Andrew.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sunita,

      1) Yes, you can. You can make payment online too.

      2) Yes, you can use your personal bank account to set-up PayPal account, that’s fine.

      3) Yes, correct.


      1. Thanks a million Andrew, you are amazing

      2. Sunita Shrestha

        Thanks a million Andrew, you are amazing
        Hi Andrew again,

        Now I am being pain. May I please ask if there is a difference on custum payment if I make a pay to the supplier by my personal account?

        Thank you

      3. Andrew Minalto

        No, there’s no difference.

  27. Vicky Buckle

    Hi Andrew,
    Its my first attempt at importing from China and I am finding your blog so useful, thank you. The product I am looking at is u shaped pregnancy pillows, they come vacuum packed but the supplier is quoting 120USD for a sample to be shipped via fedex, surely that is steep considering product is only around 15 USD and i think they are only sending one sample. What sort of price should a sample cost. It weighs 3.2kg. Also a 100 piece order would apparently be in a 7CBM container. I wont place an initial order that large but do you think these costs and sizes seem right, i imagine a 7CBM will cost a lot to ship. I did cover the 10 point check for the supplier on alibaba.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Vicky,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It is quite large pack, even vacuum sealed so it could cost $120 to send via Fedex. It could cost a bit cheaper via EMS so you may ask your supplier if they can ship it via EMS.

      But when you place your real/big order, you want to use SEA FREIGHT and nothing else. Courier is out of question for such bulky items. And to make sea freight cost effective you’ll want to order at least 100-200 units+


      1. Vicky Buckle

        Hi Andrew,
        Thanks really helpful. Re the sample how long does EMS take roughly?
        Do you still recommend Woodland Global for freight forwarding, I would rather use one of these companies as a newbie and think it will be a little more straightforward for now.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Vicky,

        EMS takes about 4-6 business days from China to UK.

        Yes, I still recommend Woodland Global as my nr.1 freight forwarder.


  28. Ivan Garcia

    Hey Andrew
    Came by your article today after seeing you post something on defining snf cif and fob anyways im currently trying to order brown rice from alibaba 50 pounds and im getting the option of sea freight or air cargo will this effect a fowarding company? im in miami and was hoping alibaba was like aliexpress where things get delivered to your doorstep but it isnt….I need help ensuring that my shipment wont get lost somewhere…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ivan,

      Why are you ordering just 50 pounds of brown rice from China? What for?


      1. Simon Zhang

        Ya Ivan. I’m confused too for why are you ordering brown rice from China?
        Are you going to resell it, or to eat ownself?

        And, just last few days, I went to alibaba to search for shipping services. And I was curious about the shipping fees, and so, I asked a shipping company about the air cargo and sea freight . Honestly, I don’t really understand about them, but for a 50 pounds of items, about 22kg, it will cost you about $110 for shipping by air cargo as how I was told by them when I chat with in alibaba. Basically, if you want to ship by air cargo, it costs you $4.9/kg. And this is what I am told too, if you want to buy bulky items, you have better choose sea freight, as it is calculated based on cbm,cubic per meter. So generally, it should be cheaper, however, lots of taxes are applied too..

  29. Lee Hampshire

    Hi Andrew

    Amazing article as everyone else has said!

    I’m new to being self employed and am doing this as well as my full time job. I have registered a ltd company but know nothing about it – I just have the urge to try and be more entrepreneurial.

    Yesterday I registered for tax purposes so I could get an EORI number to import and then found your page saying don’t do it…!!

    Can I put it on hold again? Can you recommend a free book keeping program/method for my incomings and outgoings for VAT etc?

    Many thanks


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lee,

      You mean you registered for VAT?

  30. Hi Andrew
    Don’t usually bother writing a response to pages.
    I have just started my own business importing from China. You page was read with great interest, well I got to the end of the page where you said Good Luck, so I must have found it informative.
    So…I just wanted to say thank you for finding the time to write this.
    After all, it is all about research!

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks & you’re welcome Donna! 🙂


  31. Hi Andrew
    I am interested in your final point about not registering for VAT, obviously this sounds very convenient, however is it possible when dealing with customs? Do you not have to declare you are planning to sell the large volume of goods you are importing?
    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      Yes, its totally fine. You can still import goods without being VAT registered.

      Please don’t mix up Vat registration with business registration as such – these are two different things.


  32. Hi Andrew

    I have been reading up on your blogs for a bit now and was wondering if I could just refer to Jarek’s post from 15Feb. I too have been ordering very small bits from AliExpress just to get a feel for various products and have used the free shipping via China Post option. You mentioned you pay import taxes and VAT when you collect the package from the post office but mine have been delivered to my door or through my letter box. As far as I can work out I’m not having to pay anything as they are of small value. If I did have to pay anything would they be retained at my post office until I fetched it?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lindsey.

      Please check out this article for more information on taxes for such imports:



  33. Hi Andrew,
    great post, seems very popular.
    What am I missing here is a way how to save on international shipping cost thanks consolidations in China (mail forwarding services like http://www.tiptrans.com). Those expenses tends to be high, specially compared to product price when you are using air shipments.

    Sure this makes no sense for Aliexpress if they ship for free, but for taobao or other sources it does make a change.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Marian, may do an article on Chinese mail forwarders in future!


  34. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve previously imported a couple of small orders and had them shipped via my supplier’s courier, no problem..

    However, I’m about to import a slightly larger order and I’ve read that if you import by post, and the value of the goods is above £2000 pounds, you have to fill in a SAD (C88) form. Does the same apply to importing via courier too?

    Also the actual value of the goods is less than £2000 but with shipping it will be more than £2000. Will this make a difference?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      You don’t have to worry about documentation if you still use a courier – they will handle everything.

      Only thing – if you haven’t registered for EORI number yet, you should do it now as for higher value shipments EORI number will have to be provided to courier company.


      1. Thanks Andrew that’s good to know.
        I got my EORI number last time so don’t need to worry about that.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        Good stuff Chris!

  35. Nick Corbett

    Hi Andrew
    Like most people on here I am new at this. After endless research into this I have found a product I want to import. Initially I am hoping to order 10 pcs that weigh 10KG each so a total of 100KG. The company I am dealing with have quoted a price for shipping with fedex to be a total of 853$. Does this sound lik a true cost? Your advice would be appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, that sounds about right, if the products are not that big in size.

      100 kg packages are not great order size to be honest – it’s too heavy/expensive for courier shipment and too small for sea/air freight. So Ideally I would recommend you increasing the order size so you can use cheaper shipping methods.


      1. Paul N

        Hi Andrew/Nick,

        I would say you can still go for the sea freight anyway, as you say, it’s generally too small to make it efficient, but as you’ll still only pay around £180 anyway if it’s >2cbm. (Obviously plus vat+duty etc and maybe a bit more to get FOB instead). If you’re happy to wait that is.

        But as you advised, you’d be better ordering more upto the 2cbm minimum to make it more efficient on sea.


      2. Nick Corbett

        Hi Andrew
        Thank you for your reply I appreciate it. just one other thing. The company I have been in contact with are including paypal commission on the bill. Is this Normal? I have done as much research on them as I possibly can and they seem legitimate but as this is new to me I need to be extra cautious.


      3. Andrew Minalto

        Yes, this is totally normal when doing business with Chinese suppliers. And even ones in UK or USA as PayPal does take a fee on all payments, unlike with bank transfer when supplier gets all the money you send them.


  36. When starting selling products from china to european customers, dropshipping might be a good idea.
    Do you have contacts / experience to fulfillment services in china that would be usuful? I have bought products on ebay coming from china and it seems the postage is very cheap. But what do you say?

    1. Andrew Minalto
  37. Hello.
    If I import a bulk of food supplements from china. Is the duty calculated on what I pay the CHINESE supplier or on what will be MY selling price to customers?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      The price you pay your supplier of course.

      NOT re-sale price.


  38. Hi, I have a supplier that is quoting shipping inc all import duties and tax what documentation do I need to check this will actually happen?


    P.S. from China to the UK.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      That sounds fishy to me…

      Are you sure it’s e legit supplier?

      How will they take care of customs clearance, fees on your behalf?

      Scammers usually use this tactic…


  39. Hi Andrew,

    I would like to by some tiny wooden laser cut stars from China but the prices suppliers are giving me say: Moq 3000 which is perfect, and price $0.38 a piece price. Fob. This sounds really expensive, I would ask them but I fear I will sound amateur, which I am and they may try to rip me off. 0.38$ for one tiny wooden star, are they trying this already? many thanks in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ama,

      I don’t really know how much these products cost so hard to say if it’s expensive or not.

      Can you get them much cheaper anywhere else?


      1. Hi There and thank you for your quick reply.

        Sure I can get them of eBay from China,around 99p for 100, but this is my competition? Is that allowed? I’m selling for around the same plus a little postage, I thought alababa would of been ideal to source such a product? But I thought 0.38 piece?, then I thought to ask you if this is the right route

        Once again Many thanks

      2. Andrew Minalto

        You can of course buy from your competition, that’s not against any rules (to stay on safe side, can use different eBay account – just so that seller doesn’t see that you re-sell these items).

        But if you can get these for 99p for 100 from eBay, maybe that Alibaba supplier meant 0.38 PER 100 piece pack? And minimum is 3000 packs.

        That would make more sense to me.


      3. Hi There, I think I may need to confirm this with them then first to confirm the pack size. thank you so much for your time. Very much appreciated 🙂

      4. Andrew Minalto

        No worries, you’re welcome Ama! 🙂

  40. Hi Andrew,

    I’m ordering for the 4th time from a supplier and this order is double the size of previous orders – around 140kg. I understand that air freight would be the best option but after contacting Woodland Global (who we’ve used in the past for sea freight shipments) they’ve quoted £1400 as the goods are classified as ‘dangerous’. Our supplier states they have a forwarder who they’ve used for years and their price is $6.3/kg but we’d have to clear customs on our own and arrange for delivery from Heathrow to our address (which is only around 20 miles so we wouldn’t mind having to pick up ourselves). You state it’s fairly straightforward to do this on your own (as you do it yourself), but I can’t seem to find any information on exactly what the procedure involves? Will we be contacted when the goods land at the airport? What documentation do we provide?

    I would appreciate any and all information you can provide please 🙂

    Many thanks!

    1. You still even just use sea freight if you’re not bothered about shipping time. For example, I have a shipment of 100kg that I thought might be best via air frieght as it’s only 0.2cbm, and with WG you end up paying for a minimum 2 cbm price anyway. It still came to around £300 vs £180, so I still went with sea freight instead.

      (In fact I found another product I wanted in the same port, so I’ll effectively have 1.8cbm shipping free available on that one).

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      Maybe that $6.3 per kg is just for freight, not including all the associated airport/clearance fees which WG included in their quote? They can be quite big…

      But if you want to take the risk, you’ll simply need to find a company who can do customs clearance procedure for you. I think WG also offers this service, if not – you can maybe ask them for a recommendation on company who can do this for you.


      1. Do you not have a company you would recommend/have used in the past?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Same WG can do this for you.

  41. Hi Andrew

    I recently tried to order 20kg of chlorine dioxide (10kg boxes x2) from a company in China. Yes, they trade through Alibaba but did refuse payment through Paypal and instead advised me to use Ali Payment Secure. Secondly, I checked their status and found out that they have a gold status. My problem however, stems from the fact that my order costs $160 whilst shipping costs $365, which means shipping is more than double my order. But this is according to them of course. I feel like something is not right here, please help. They say the shipping company they use is FedEx. I asked them to use USPS, they said USPS decline, stating that they don’t do chemicals. The company is in Langfang city in Guangyang district and I live in South Africa. Please help Andrew, if the price is fair then i will just pay.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Cyrill,

      I don’t have any experience with importing chemicals but it’s def. more expensive (shipping) compared to regular goods.

      So with that in mind, $365 for a 20kg package seems very reasonable.


  42. Hi Andrew can you help please . I have friend who lives in China she will arrange for me a container of 700 smart electric boards to UK but am unsure what is needed for her to get thee to me . Does she need licence as its only a one off and do I need licence to bring in . We looked at air freight but most say only to airport so I have asked her about ship although to fill container would be 700 I think more beneficial can you help please and give me idea of what is needed by U.S. To do this .thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Carrie,

      Yes, as far as I know, she would need an export licence to do this. You don’t need any licences, no.

      As for organising shipping via sea freight or air freight, I recommend you contact a freight forwarding company who can help with all this, including customs clearance and delivering goods to your door:



  43. Hi Andrew
    I’ve just spoken to woodland global and their figures for shipping are double/nearly triple what you’ve mentioned on your website for sea freight. I’m waiting for a air freight quote as its only 60KG.
    Is the amounts you have listed in line for 2015?
    Best regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ken,

      60kg is really too small of a shipment for sea freight.

      That’s why you probably get high £ per kg price.


      1. Wabbit

        I can see where Mat was going with this!!
        I’ve been contemplating a move into this field for too long now. Trying desparetly to find a way out of this office job I’ve been in for the last 15 years. Reading your bloggs I feel I’m getting closer. Keep up the good work.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Cheers & good luck with the business Wab!


  44. hi Andrew
    My father open a small shop and the sell is good recent years so he ask me to order the machine for him in china.
    It my really first time to import big machine (i only buy some small item from china).I make a research for 2 months for the product and finally find a supplier.I already ask the inspector to inspect company I want to buy the product and everything is alright.
    The product value around 80000$ to 100000$ and about 3000 kg.The point is about the shipment and payment for the product.The company CNF price is around 2000$ more than FOB+shipment price if i do arrange shipment myself.And the payment method is they divide to 2 part first 40% for place order and 60% when the product dispatch or on board.Otherwise I pay 60% for place order and 40% when the product is in the shipment company hand.And payment pay by Paypal or escrow.

    Would you recommend me which one is better??Or any other method for this type of situation?
    Do I need to do any more thing to secure the machine??
    Do I need to under go any contract or document with the company about such product.

    I am so scared and I am not joking around just to look cool, most of the supplier that I contact think that I just kidding and wasting their time and sorry for my bad English.

    Any help on this matter would really be appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      What kind of machine is it?

      1. Pual Ai

        hi Andrew
        It shoe machine or lasting shoe machine to be exactly and other shoe machine in total of 4 machine.But the most important of all is the shoe lasting machine

        Looking forward to your reply
        Paul AI

      2. Andrew Minalto

        How you’ll make sure that machine is new, in working condition etc.?

        To me it seems too much risk…


      3. Pual Ai

        hi Andrew

        I should explain in more detail, the company is establish company for 18 years (I did use the inspector to get for those detail) and when we place order it will have a contract and invoice involve.
        when the pre-order machine finish we will have the inspector inspected it for us and when the machine on aboard for shipping we will have the inspector check it for us.if we use freight forward for it,they will check the machine before handle it.
        Or is it better for me to go there myself to check the machine before handle it???

        Looking forward to your reply
        Paul AI

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Ok, but what about service, repairs etc.?

        I just think it is too risky to buy such a machine from China.

        I always buy all business machinery we have locally, so I get full service, warranty, repairs etc.

  45. Hi Andrew

    I’ve stumbled across your blog today when looking for some transportation prices for importing from China. it’s a great blog and I’ll be back.

    I have two questions if you wouldn’t mind.

    1) Firstly, we are about to import from a Chinese company and they have given us a price for door to door shipping using UPS, their price more or less ties in with what you state above £4-5/Kg for courier shipping. The only thing is that I’ve calculated the price on the UPS site and also using the DHL rate card and it comes out at closer to £17/Kg on UPS and £13.50/Kg using DHL. Obviously this has led me to cast some doubt onto the Chinese supplier so I wonder if you could let me know where you get the £4-5/Kg price from as I wonder if I’m missing something here. The total weight is around 158Kg which whilst too heavy by the standards that you use above, the goods still have a great margin if the shipping is at the price that the Chinese company quote and it seems easier than arranging the air freight which the Chinese company quote at only £230 cheaper, if we’re to use a forwarding company to clear customs and deliver on then this would get eaten into even more so it seems easier door to door.

    2) An unrelated question here but something that I picked up on reading through the comments below your post. We have imported previously from India, Canada and have had some very small orders from China via Ali Express. We have never had an EORI number in the past, do we need to do anything about this now or is the EORI number used during import only?

    The Indian company when sending the items have misdeclared the value of the goods and marked them as a commercial sample in the past (same as the Ali Express small orders), we have asked them not to do this but they seem to like doing it. As a result the goods have come through without any charges being levied, do we have a duty to contact someone about this? Being VAT registered we collect VAT when we sell the goods in any case but there may be a small amount of Duty to pay.

    The goods coming in from Canada were all declared correctly, Duty, VAT and Parcelforce customs clearance charged but we still didn’t need an EORI or at least we’ve never been notified about this requirement so I’m slightly confused as the the requirement for this.

    Any help much appreicated.



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mat,

      Thanks for your comment.

      1) First of all, courier account holders get much better rates than what you saw on the website, by as much as 50% and more. Secondly, as it’s a large shipment, further discounts apply. Lastly, in China they get even better rates than say we in the UK so at the end – they always get much better deals and price of £5 per kg on such large shipment is totally normal.

      2) EORI number is needed when imported shipment is above certain value point (can’t remember now how much it was) so that explains why you didn’t need it previously. As you will use courier now too, you don’t really have to worry about EORI. If they ask you for it, then register. If not, no need to do it.

      Yes, you should have contacted courier company for those under-valued shipments, provide them with correct invoice etc. so they can charge you VAT and import duty properly.


      1. Hi Andrew

        Thank you for your fast response, it really is helpful.

        In answer to 1, I guess we would prefer to arrange for the importation ourselves as if we dealt with a scamming supplier we would only lose the cost of the goods and not the shipping cost if the supplier didn’t provide the goods. Do you know what the requirements are to have an account with a good discount like you mention, does it require a large spend? I think the Chinese companies shipping agent quoted $869 for the 158kg, converting that on xe.com that’s actually closer to £3.50/Kg if we could get near there with our own account that would be great!

        In answer to 2, noted about the EORI no. If I understand correctly, if we need it we’ll be asked to provide it and it’s not needed for courier imported goods where the courier act as importer.

        Do we have a legal obligation to contact the courier company about misdeclared shipments and if so, do you think I ought to do something about it now? It’s over a year ago now. Also, how does this work with smaller items sent by China Post which arrive via Royal Mail marked as commercial sample, what should you do in that instance?

        Thanks again for your help, it really is appreciated!


  46. Sonja McCaughran

    Hi Andrew
    If I were to start off very small, probably just on ebay, will ebay let me use my personal ebay & personal paypal account or would I need to start off with business accounts for both.



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sonja,

      Yes, sure, that’s fine.


  47. Hi, i’m hoping you can help on this matter.

    If I am going to be importing goods from Vietnam into Southampton docks, how easy is it to collect the goods myself, and would I need particular documentation to do so?

    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Matt,

      You can’t simply go in and collect your shipment.

      You need some one who can clear goods through customs – like a freight forwarder/customs broker. Once they clear the goods, you pay all taxes, port fees, processing fees etc., then yes, you can collect your goods from the warehouse.


      1. Hi Andrew, many thanks for your response.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Matt! 🙂

  48. Hello
    How r you, Iwant to know that it is okay to send money through HSBC bank in company name as seller iI asking for 50% advance as I am importing water fountain in India.secondly how can Icheck company is fake or real.TNT courier ccompany is good for door to door delivery.

  49. Hello
    Your post are helpful for newcomers.I want to ask I have finalize to import water fountain from China to India . Seller want 50% advance and wants to transfer through HSBC in company name how can I sure that this is real or fake company.Secondly I want door to door courier he is offering TNT courier.Is TNT courier deliver door to door and clears customs . Waiting for your reply.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kuber,

      To check whatever it is a genuine company or not, you want to do inspection on them:


      That does not guarantee that they will deliver you goods though. But at least you’ll know that company is what they say.

      Yes, TNT will clear goods through customs and deliver to your door.


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