23 Nov Which steps to take when importing from China
When you are thinking of import steps from China, there are some important regulations to be observed. Many importers were surprised to learn that global trade is by no means as free as you might think.
As an importer from China, you are obliged to observe numerous import restrictions and regulations. To follow those regulations is in your interest. Neither the manufacturer nor in most cases, the distributor is liable. To avoid fines or have your shipment banned from entering the USA, you must always be up to date with possible changes. Particularly in a time where the political climate between China and the US is sensitive.
A second important point to consider is to never rely on or assuming that your Chinese business partner knows all the relevant regulations.
The paragraphs and instructions are now so extensive and complex that even the most experienced entrepreneurs no longer have an overview. For your Chinese counterpart, the situation is most likely not much better! In some cases, you might want to contact a business lawyer before doing any business with China.
Step 1: What can you import from China
Many people, when thinking about free trading, assume they can import whatever they want. But that is not the case. Besides that, you are not allowed to import everything for your liking; there are many products from China that are subject to
- Importing monitoring
- Quantity restriction
Other restrictions apply to:
- Agricultural products
- Some textiles
It is essential that you strictly adhere to all the relevant restrictions because you, as the importer, are the only one responsible.
Importing pirated copies or plagiarized items is strictly forbidden.
Please note that even if you do not recognize the plagiarism as such, you are still responsible. Not observing this regulation can not only lead to destroying the goods without financial compensation but also will be followed up with a lawsuit!
Further limitations exist, for example, for
- Genetically manipulated organisms
- The import of live animals
- Chemical products containing certain substances, such as, e.g., mercury.
Did you know:
Restrictions by the import of goods from China were introduced to keep the US market competitive.
Environmental protection and health are two topics that are taken very seriously in the US. For example, there are requirements for limiting the nickel content in products that have direct skin contact. This applies to watches, jewelry, but also jeans buttons and many more items.
The focus of environmental protection regarding electronic waste stipulates that the importer must guarantee and pay for the return and disposal of old electrical appliances – even after many years. Further guidelines prescribe limits for dangerous substances.
- It must be considered that completely different directives can apply to very similar electrical products.
Step 2: Certificates for certain products to import
There is, of course, a lot of written evidence about the safety of equipment and products. Thus, for specific articles, a declaration of conformity is required, certifying that the products comply with the applicable regulations. You can submit this declaration of conformity yourself or have it approved by the TÜV if you want to be on the safe side. The products must then be marked with the CE mark and show the address of the person responsible for the import from China to the US.
- Pressure vessels
- Elevators, and much more.
Caution: In case of doubt, the manufacturer or importer must prove that the article complies with the regulations required.
Furthermore, specific standards in the US are not legally binding but are considered as standard in terms of buyer protection. These include, for example, DIN, ISO, or BS. If there is no compliance, it becomes a problem for the importer.
Step 3: Quality of products to import from China
When it comes to quality certifications, it is crucial that all certificates are as required by the relevant regulations. It is the responsibility of the importer to comparing the certificate number with the documents at the issuing testing institute.
Among other things, it is crucial whether the sample you have is identical to the one used for certification. For the test, however, the manufacturer’s permission is required; otherwise, the test report may not be viewed. Besides, most certificates are time-limited. This means that the license must be renewed after five years. Always make sure that the date of the document is correct.
- Check if the certification is authentic and not a fake!
Final: Which steps should you take when importing from China?
- Communication with the manufacturer is vital; get in contact with different manufacturers to find out who is best for you
- On-site audits; have a look at the production facilities if possible
- Request sample (from raw material, finished product, similar products)
- Verification of the sample
- Raw material testing
- Deposits are common but should not exceed 40% depending on the product
- Inspection during production, keep in touch with the producer and stay up to date
- Goods acceptance – check the goods before you pay the full price, once you have paid, your bargaining position is much worse
- Who handles the shipping costs and the transport, familiarize yourself with the Incoterms?
- Monitoring the shipping
- All tests should be done by experienced people who are familiar with the product and current regulations.
- All certification marked GS, TÜV-cert, and ETL verified, require a periodic factory inspection. That will ensure that the product is of consistent quality and that the products are identical to the samples used for certification.
Attention: Liability for the products imported from China
Whenever a problem with an imported product arises, it is always the liability of the importer. Never with the manufacturer in China.
After all, according to the Product Liability Act, the distributor is liable to the US, i.e., the importer. Even in the case when you succeed in proving a fault of the manufacturer, it will be challenging to get him to pay for the damage. Therefore, make sure that the products are perfect in terms of health and environmental protection. If you do not observe the relevant regulations, you are risking a lawsuit with a high financial loss.