10 Steps to Start Importing from China

When it comes to importing goods from China to the United States, getting started is the most complicated part of the process. Free trade agreements have made business exchanges between the two nations a cinch. By spending a bit of time preparing yourself for the process, you can get started in no-time at all.

tips for importing goods from China

While the process is simple, it is also an exact one. It is absolutely crucial that you follow all customs requirements and do not make any assumptions when it comes to importing goods. A small mistake can be a costly one when it comes to importing goods from anywhere in the world. When you are first starting out, make sure you know the rules and regulations inside and out.

While just about anyone can develop a business plan and start importing goods from China, it is still hard to get started if you don’t know what to do first. Here are 10 simple steps to help you get started and move ahead with your business plan as you import goods from China.

1. Know your product

When you make the decision to start importing goods from China, you need to know your product inside and out. Once you make a decision to import a product, it will be difficult to go back and change your mind. Get it right the first time by choosing carefully and only purchasing items in an industry you are familiar with.

2. Research Distributors

Exporting goods is a big industry in China, and just like here in the U.S. there are companies that are good to do business with as well as less favorable businesses. For the best experience, find a reputable dealer that you can trust. A good distributor will also make the entire importing process easier.

3. Make the Right Connections.

In order to ship goods out of China you are going to need a shipping agent that is skilled and familiar with the shipping process.

4. Attain the Correct Documentation.

This is a big part of the customs process when shipping goods from one nation to another, and China to the U.S is no exception. By attaining the help of a skilled shipping agent you can ensure all documentation is completed correctly.

5. Know the Rules and Regulations

China is not the only country with shipping regulations. The United States has its own laws when it comes to customs and importing goods. Make sure that you are following all protocols for both nations; otherwise your goods will not be delivered as planned.

6. Learn the Costs

You are going to pay customs duty, shipping costs and fees to those helping with the importation process. If you are caught off guard and are unable to pay a fee the importation process will come to a halt.

7. Start Small

Importing goods is expensive, and you are going to have to pay fees on top of the purchasing and shipping costs. While you might think that you will be able to sell a large quantity of product, it is better to start with a small order and test the waters before jumping in.

8. Find a Reseller

Have your business plan in set before the product arrives in the United States. If you plan on using a reseller, sign a contract with that seller beforehand. If you are going to sell the product yourself, attain all proper tax documentation for your business endeavor.

9. Contact the Service Port of Entry

Find out any additional regulations that pertain to your specific location. Know who your local contact will be, and if the service port has any stipulations regarding pick up and transportation.

10. Arrange Transportation

If your product is especially large, then you are going to need transportation to move it from point A to point B. Know where you are going to bring your product, when you will be delivering it and how it will be getting there.

Once you have all of these steps in order you are ready to make your order and get going with your business endeavor. Remember that organization is key. The more prepared you are before the process starts, the more likely your experience importing goods from China will be successful.

About The Guest Author:   Ricks Sarouk is an Online Marketer and Importer who has over 10 years of experience in the import/export business. Rick is the distributing manager for REA Cabinets one of the largest cabinet distributors in the U.S.  

Container Ship Photo via Shutterstock


2 Comments 10 Steps to Start Importing from China

  1. Walter Hay

    After a lifetime in importing and exporting beginning with my first job after leaving college, I can agree with Ricks that getting started is the hard part.

    Once a person has processed their first import transaction they will find the subsequent ones easier every time, but they should never let down their guard.

    Having operated an importing business for 22 years until my health enforced retirement, I learned how to source safely despite the many risks in just finding reliable and trustworthy suppliers, but I also learned the easy way to handle shipping if the orders are small enough and margins are high enough to allow for shipment via air couriers.

    Courier charges are high, but opportunity cost of funds tied up or borrowed while awaiting sea transportation can also be high. The key to viability is learning how to buy at the best possible price without haggling and without compromising quality for the sake of price.

    1. Ivan Widjaya


      Thanks for your valuable information. Just wondering, are you partnering with a local rep or do everything yourself?


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