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How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

How to Import From China to UK in 2022 – the Complete Guide

Why are we here? To find the best procedure to import business products from China to the United Kingdom.

When you want to import products and you count Chinese for your success, there are certain rules that you need to follow. Note that not every person who decides to venture into this type of business is successful, and the difference stays in the details.

Here are the most seven essential steps and pro tips to follow when importing goods from China to the UK.

How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide


7 Essential Steps to Follow When Importing From China to the UK


Step 1: Identify Your Import Rights

When you purchase products from any foreign country, you become the importer. Before you purchase commercial into the UK, you will need to identify whether you have the import rights.

Step 2: Do a Thorough Research

Doing good research is the most important part of any business, and you cannot neglect it if you want to get good results. Try to understand your niche to improve your marketing strategy. Understanding your niche will also assist you in establishing the best price for your items, and this is very important.

Step 3: Identify the Products you Want to Import

The key to a perfect import and export process is to find the right products. You need to take this decision after the research stage because you will need to collect some information about the market you want to venture into.

When importing products from China, you can start with low-risk items like clothing. These types of items will always be successful in most of the UK markets, and so you cannot fail easily.

Once you get comfortable with these types of businesses, you can consider upgrading to other items like electronics.

Step 4:  Find good and Reliable Suppliers

Once you have gathered the information that you need about a product, you will need a supplier. The Chinese exporters will be your main partners, and such relationships need to be based on trust. The best way to find a reliable supplier is to check online forums and portals.

Step 5: Search the Taxes and Duty

Import duty is calculated in different ways, but most import duties are calculated as a percentage of the total value of a commodity. It differs from one product to the other, and it is dependent on the product that is being imported, its value and quota controls.

Step 6: Find a Reliable Custom Broker or a  Freight Forwarder

You already have many things to worry about, and therefore you need not add shipping procedures and documentation to your list. Work with a reliable customs broker that will keep updating you from the moment you order your products. This will allow you to concentrate on your business.


Step 7: Ship the Products on Time

Don’t ship your products last minute as this might cost you more than you want to pay. But note that shipping too early may force you to pay for inventory costs. However, consider that some delays may occur in the process. Be prepared and plan accordingly.


8 Tips to Importing from China to the UK


When compared to other nations, the United Kingdom features a myriad of strict conditions or requirements for products. Therefore if you are thinking about importing from China to the United Kingdom, it is a good idea to have a clear understanding of importing regulations, labeling requirements, product limits among others.

Although it is highly recommended that you look for a well established, professional freight forwarder but as an importer who understands basic common sense, getting a professional and a reliable freight forwarder will not be a headache. This is because you will be in a position to filter out the ones you want to compare with.

Also if you know the range of costs and the time spent in the process of importing goods from China to the UK, then you be able to estimate the costs of the products you are importing.

If done professionally, importing goods from China to the UK can help you reduce the associated costs, improve the range of goods and services that you offer to your customers thus giving your business a great competitive edge. But there are essential things that you must prepare in your mind before you start importing from China to Uk.  Here are some important importing qualifications.



1. Make Sure that you Have an Economic Operator Registration Identification Number

The United Kingdom uses this identification number as a means of keeping records for both exported and imported products. When importing from China, all businesses within the European Union are expected to have an EORI number. It is needed for a commercial invoice if you are using the CHIEF System & you have to submit an electronic export declaration. This number is also needed if you are using courier or freight forwarder. To apply for an EORI number is very easy, you will apply it online, and it will take a maximum of 3 days to receive it.

2. Check if You Need a Licence & that your Products are not Banned from Importing to the United Kingdom.

Even before you attempt to import products from China, make sure that you obtain a valid license. If you wish to find out if you need a license and how you can acquire one, then visit the department for international trade.

Also, some products are subject to import controls. It is therefore important to check if any of the product import controls apply to the items you want to import.

3. Use the Right Code for the Items You are Importing

To find out the correct code for the items you want to import from China to the UK, go to the United Kingdom Government Trade Tariff. Apart from looking up for commodity codes, you will also look up for VAT and duty rates.  Commodity codes are essential in classifying your imported products so as;

· To find out if you have to pay for any duty or VAT charges.

· To check if there are any duty reliefs.

· To complete declarations and paperwork.

4. Declare Your Products by Registering with the customs handling of import & export System

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Freight forwarders, importers and exporters use this system to electronically input customs data and information, automatically check for errors & calculate payable duties and taxes. This system also identifies which consignments need documentation or examination of products thus allowing for a faster entry for low-risk products.

If you have contracted one of the freight forwarder services providers to handle all of your importation woes, then it should be covered. But if you are managing importation by yourself then ensure that you have registered with this system to declare your imported products.

5. Pay the Required amount of VAT

If you are importing from China to UK, then you are supposed to pay VAT together with the total sum of import customs and duty amount. In this scenario, customs amount equals the total cost of the imported items including any import duty charges, developmental charges that you pay to your distributor and shipment costs from China to the UK.

Ensure that you clear any pending VAT charges that are due. Note that you must pay VAT if you’re registered, but you can claim it back through your standard VAT return.

United Kingdom duty is normally determined by a percentage given to the type of products that you are importing. It is based on tariff codes, and it is usually between 0 % to 12 %. You can always work out your tariff code on the tariff classification site. But the VAT rate usually stands out at a fixed rate of 20 %.

The VAT on Taxable Imports= 20 % of (the cost to but your products + UK Duty + Shipping Costs and Insurance)

6. Include Full Details on All Labels and the Invoices

Clear details of the sender and the receiver should be contained in all the labels and invoices you use. Other details may include the quantity of the products, their value and the description of the contents being shipped plus the commodity code. Ensure that your invoices are typed and avoid changing it manually.

7. Get a Custom Registration Number & Power of Attorney

When importing goods from China to UK, you are supposed to have customs registration number as well as power of attorney for products that are non-documented regardless of their value. Both importers and exporters are supposed to register with customs authorities. This allows the importer or the exporter to get the customs registration number which must be detailed on the invoice for clearing customs.

One of the benefits of using a freight forwarder is that he will advise you on all those above thus making importing goods from China to UK a headache free and simple.  It is therefore advisable you get a reliable freight forward agent who you can always consult about the custom limits of imported products.

8. What You Need to do after Confirming the Products You Want to Import

After you have identified goods import duties, the next step is to know common import charges from China to the UK. This is important because it will help you to understand and estimate how much costs you are going to incur.  Many businesses use courier forwarders to import products from China to the UK. If you need advice concerning VAT and import duties, you should hire a professional courier forwarder agent.

The next step is to find a manufacturer from China. This is simple since you can easily find one through some of the Chinese Business Sites, markets and fairs. Therefore if you are starting up small orders and you do not want to go all the way to Chinese land, then you can find online suppliers.

However, if you have experience in importing goods from China to the UK & you want to dig deeper into certain goods category, then it is advisable you go to China and visit a large scale wholesale market to find a reliable supplier.


Best Products to Import from China to the UK


China is one of the most important partners in the United Kingdom market for many decades. With such a wide UK country, the demand for certain products is also increased. The good news is that China can supply most of the United Kingdom necessities.

There are several profitable items to import from China to the UK and as time goes by new opportunities appear. The economic relationship between China and the United Kingdom began many centuries ago and the best products to import from China are:


Clothing items are basic products to import in the UK, and it will always be highly demanded. China offers high-quality clothing materials and apparel that can be imported in all parts of the UK. The reason as to why people prefer Chinese clothing is not only based on their high quality but also their affordable prices.


Another type of products that are highly demanded in the UK is electronics and related accessories. China is a perfect and reliable producer of all types of electronics. You can import cheap price electronics or expensive ones. All of them will sell fine on the United Kingdom market. Many importers in the United Kingdom have ventured into electronic business because they are easy to sell and they attract good profits.

Best Agents to Import from China to UK


Importing custom designed goods from China to the UK does not necessarily require that you visit China. In most instances, you can get the best agent close to your business.

If you are looking to ship items from China, it is natural for people to assume that a China-based sourcing agency understands more about their nation as compared to others that are located outside. While to some extent this may sound true, but importing goods from China involves lots more than just finding the right agent.

In reality, many agency companies know very little about the United Kingdom safety standards, customs and VAT procedures, and product labeling which can have negative consequences for importers.


An agent located in the United Kingdom, on the other hand, is likely to know to understand those conditions and requirements. Besides agencies that are headquartered in the United Kingdom have subsidiaries or representation in China.

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Tiger Global

It is a sourcing agency that was founded in the year 2008. It focuses on garments, fabrics, molded plastic items among other consumer products.

Tiger Global is based in the UK and China, and it is associated with many famous brands such as Myprotein, Costa Coffee, Bubblepix and Virgin Pure.

China Sourcing & Supply

This is a United Kingdom-based sourcing agency that was established back in the year 2003. Its main work is to import goods from China & to source them for most businesses in the United Kingdom.

China sourcing & supply provide a comprehensive list of end to end services for its customers. These include:

· Guarantee factory commitment.

· Confirming item details such as packaging, certification requirements, & product specifications.

· Comparing samples. This includes matching manufacturer samples with samples provides by the client.

· Quotations, pre-shipping product, and factory inspections.

· Confirm the manufacturer’s production capacity as well as factory ISO standards.

This company is involved in the sourcing and supply of items of different categories such as skin care and cosmetics, hotel supplies, machinery parts, power tools, Production machines, Stationery, kitchen and bathroom tiles, table and cookware, bike auto accessories, wood and bamboo products, sports items, gifts and seasonal parties, and pregnancy health care.

Source selling

This company was established back in the year 2003. It is a United Kingdom-based company that specializes in import and export of different products. They have offices in the United Kingdom and China.

They offer several services such as product sourcing, manufacturing, quality control, supplier verification, shipping, and logistics.

Carmel Clothing

It is a United Kingdom sourcing company that was founded back in the year 1998. Its head office is based in London while they have another office in China. They specialize in a diverse range of clothing items such as outerwear, SmartWare, Carmel softs, Carmel kids and jersey.

They offer pricing & sourcing, delivery solutions, and quality control services to their clients.

Easy Imex

Established in the year 2004, Easy Imex is sourcing and a supply company that is a United Kingdom owned agency, but it operates from China. They specialize in sourcing & product development.

They source a great variety of items such as furniture, pet products, garden, and home products, apparel, gym, and outdoor items.

They offer services such as procurement sourcing, e-commerce sourcing, product development, shipping, and quality control.

Additional licenses, restricted goods and UK quality compliance standards

Most goods don’t require a license when importing them from China to the UK, but there are several categories of goods for which an import license is required.


Additional certification is required for any of the following types of goods:


Quality Compliance Standards On Imports From China To UK

The UK government has certain quality standards imported products need to meet in order to be cleared for commercialization inside the country.

The main quality compliance standard in the UK is the UKCA mark, which stands for ‘UK Conformity Assessed’.

The UKCA mark is the UK version of the European CE mark, and it was implemented in 2021 to replace the CE mark as part of the Brexit initiative.

(Note that CE marking will still be accepted by the UK until January 1, 2022)

The UKCA mark indicates that a product meets the health, safety, and environmental protection standards of the United Kingdom.

Not all products require a UKCA mark. UKCA is applicable to the following categories of products.

In addition to the UKCA mark, UK legislation requires that the manufacturer of a UKCA marked product issues a UK Declaration of Conformity for the product.

1.Locate the appropriate commodity code

You must ascertain the UK commodity codes applicable to your products.

Commodity codes are critical for your cargo because if your items are wrongly labeled, UK Customs may delay or stop your shipment.

To get the relevant commodity code for the items you want to import from China, visit the United Kingdom’s Government Trade Tariff.

2.Obtain your EORI number

Along with your commodity code, you will need an EORI number as well.

Customs in the United Kingdom employ an EORI number to track goods.

All UK enterprises are obliged to obtain an EORI when importing shipments from China.

3.Determine the license requirement

Check with the Chinese government before importing something from China whether it falls within the category of surveillance control.

Visit the Department of International Trade to find out whether an import licence is needed or not and how to make a new one.

4.Ensure the import duty

To import items to the United Kingdom from China, you’ll have to pay customs duty and VAT.

Depending on what you’re importing, you may owe more or less.

Many importers choose to have a broker or a freight forwarder to assist them in calculating the expenses of importing.

5.Paying VAT on Chinese imports

It is important to note that VAT is computed based on the cost of goods plus the cost of transportation plus any duty paid.

It is levied at the prevailing rate in the United Kingdom, which is presently 20%.

6.Import tax calculations

To determine the duty and tax due, you must first convert the price paid to GBP using the UK customs exchange rate, which is updated regularly and is available online.

7.Pay your VAT tax

As part of the overall cost of importing to the United Kingdom, you must also pay VAT.

The total cost of imported goods from China, including duties, fees, and transportation to the United Kingdom, is known as Customs Value.

How much does it cost to import from China to the UK?

How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

Import tax and import duty have an impact on the costs of importing from China to the UK.

If the goods are not duty-free, importers have to pay VAT and UK duty.

Actual cost of the Import goods is simple, an example is shown below in detail.

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If the price of the product is £ 5000 and £700 is the shipping price quote, UK duty is 3.5% of the £ 5000 which is £175.

The VAT to be paid is 20% of the cost of the product (£ 5000) +shipping (£700) +duty fee (£175)

The 20% VAT of £ 5875 = £1175

So, from china to the UK the total shipping cost will be the product cost (£5000)+ VAT (£1175)+ UK duty fee (£175)= £6400

VAT guide on imported goods from China to UK

How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

What is Value Added Tax (VAT)?

The Value Added Tax is a consumption duty in the EU.

In Business-to-consumer exchanges, the VAT is included in the cost.

But you cannot pay it straight to the vendor when you import from China to the UK.

Also, when you pay additional VAT on the imports, then, you added in your sale cost.

Hence, you will obtain a refund.

What is the customs value?

In the EU, the customs value refers to the total value of the products (with development costs added) and shipping at the border.

Incorporated in the customs Value:

  • Product development
  • Shipping
  • Insurance

Often incorporated in the customs value:

  • Product sample
  • Tools
  • Molds

Not incorporated in the customs value:

  • Transportation costs
  • Costs paid during loading of the shipment

How do I make sure I pay the right VAT amount?

VAT is the percentage of customs value.

You only have to make sure that the right customs value is shown on these.

The bill of lading, commercial bill, packing list, and necessary documents.

Is the freight cost subject to VAT? 

Yes, because in the EU, the customs values incorporate shipping costs as well.

But logistics expenses that emerge in the EU.

For example, customs clearance and unloading will not be included in the customs value.

Also, the shipper adds VAT on the bill, which is paid apart.

Can I pay VAT to the Chinese supplier?

No. because they are not VAT-enrolled in the EU. Also, you don’t need to pay VAT in China.

Since the vendor in China gets a VAT refund for exporting goods.

When importing from China, how and when do I pay the VAT?

These are the two ways that you can use to import from China to UK.

  • Pay VAT when you reach your Destination Port.
  • State the import value on the annual or quarter declaration forms

Risks and problems when import to Uk

How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

Bringing in your goods from China is not always an easy ride.

There are dangers included and you ought to get ready to confront a few issues.

Also, you need to figure out how to handle them in an effective way.

These dangers and issues are:

1.Vendor Scams

You may run over certain providers who may either cheat you by overcharging you.

Or they can send you an inappropriate product or even escape with your money.

This is the reason we are assuming the job as merchants’ by being attentive in China.

2.Language barrier

A lot of trading firms have English talking sales staff.

But that is not the case with many production companies or wholesale markets.

Vendors ignore the standard of the items.

Some vendors might not give importance to item certificates and standards to use in the United Kingdom.

3.Quality issue

You might be sent inadequate products.

This is the reason you ought to verify the item quality before paying the amount.

Also, it has container stacking surveillance.

4.High expense and prices

You might be cheated now and again, to forestall this.

Ensure you construct a valuable relationship with the producer or vendor.

5.Time-taking freight

You might need to invest a ton of energy and cash scanning for the correct producer and vendor.

Appoint somebody who is local and expert of Import and export freight to support you.

So you can concentrate on promoting to develop your business.

6.Your product gets copied

NDA is a successful strategy when you’ve hired a fair vendor.

Ensure you’ve used the IP security strategy before administering a lot of data to your providers.


How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

Do I need an EORI number to import from China?

To deal in commercial items, you must have an EORI number.

All information is available on the HMRC website, however, if you want more help, please contact us.

The application procedure often takes between 2-3 days, depending on how busy HMRC is.

We always suggest submitting this well in advance of the arrival of your cargo.

Without an EORI number, you cannot pass your products via customs.

How long will my shipment take to arrive in the UK?

It might take up to six weeks from the manufacturer to your doorstep if you import on LCL conditions.

Importing through FCL might take up to 4-5 weeks from the manufacturer to your front door. dates of arrival are still subject to change.

If you’re shipping by air, we recommend allowing 3-7 days for delivery from the manufacturer to your door, provided there are no delays caused by customs.

Do I have to pay import tax from China to the UK?

This is determined by the commodity code assigned to your items.

Your Chinese supplier will be able to notify you of the HS (harmonized commodity) they are using.

They will enable us/you to calculate the import VAT and tax levels with UK HMRC.

Do I need a License to import from China to the UK?

You may be required to get an import license in order to import items to the United Kingdom from China.

Import restrictions apply to a variety of different items, including guns, food, and textiles.

Uk table tax system buying from china to uk

Final thoughts 

How to Import From China to UK in 2021 –  the Complete Guide

We hope that this article has helped you to have a better knowledge of importing to the United Kingdom from China.

If you have a solid foundation of knowledge, and fulfilling all the requirements before you begin is not a difficult task.

When you need help pushing your Chinese import controls company to the next level, we are always here to help.

Get in touch with us right now to get started!


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