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Overview of Import Procedures

China

Last updated on 30 Dec 2019


Contents

Changes (data updated on 30 December 2019)

Enhancements as regards the Incoterms® 2020 have been brought to the import documentation for the P.R. of China. Attention is drawn to the following changes:

Incoterms® 2020

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has revised and updated the International Commercial Terms (Incoterms®), resulting in the new Incoterms® 2020, which will be effective from the beginning of 2020. Although the inclusion of these commercial terms and rules into sales contracts is optional, they are widely used in international trade practice. For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Incoterms® in this overview.

News

P.R. of China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Signed

On 17 October 2019, the P.R. of China and Mauritius signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in Beijing, China. The negotiations for said FTA were initially launched in December 2017. After the signing, both parties are yet to implement the domestic procedures for the formal entry into force of the agreement.

Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation with Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Coming Into Effect

On 25 October 2019, an agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the P.R. of China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) came into effect as the parliaments of the concerned states ratified this trade deal according to their domestic constitutional requirements. This agreement focuses on the development of a better economic cooperation and increase of transparency with regard to regulatory systems.

General Information

  • Conventional long form of country name: People's Republic of China

  • ISO Country Code: CN

  • Population: 1,384.69 million (July 2018 est.)

  • Area: 9,596,960 sq km

  • Population density: 144 inhabitants per sq km

  • Capital: Beijing

  • Major ports: Dalian, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin

  • Customs airports: Baotou (BAV), Beihai (BHY), Beijing (BJS/PEK), Changchun (CGQ), Changsha (CSX), Chengdu (CTU), Chongqing (CKG), Dalian (DLC), Dandong (DDG), Fuzhou (FOC), Guangzhou (CAN), Guilin (KWL), Guiyang (KWE), Hailar (HLD), Haikou (HAK), Hangzhou (HGH), Harbin (HRB), Hefei (HFE), Hohhot (HET), Huangshan (TXN), Jiamusi (JMU), Jinan (TNA), Jinghong (JHG), Jinzhou (JNZ), Kashi (KHG), Kunming (KMG), Lanzhou (LHW), Lhasa (LXA), Luoyang (LYA), Manzhouli (NZH), Meixian (MXZ), Mudanjiang (MDG), Nanchang (KHN), Nanjing (NKG), Nanning (NNG), Nantong (NTG), Ningbo (NGB), Pudong (PVG), Qingdao (TAO), Qiqihar (NDG), Sanya (SYX), Shanghai (SHA), Shenyang (SHE), Shenzhen (SZX), Shijiazhuang (SJW), Taiyuan (TYN), Tianjin (TSN), Urumqi (URC), Weihai (WEH), Wuhan (WUH), Wuyishan (WUS), Xiamen (XMN), Xi'an (SIA/XIY), Xi'ning (XNN), Xishuangbanna (JHG), Yancheng (YNZ), Yanji (YNJ), Yantai (YNT), Yinchuan (INC), Zhangjiajie (GYG), Zhangjiang (ZHA), Zhengzhou (CGO), Zhuhai (ZUH)

  • Business languages: Chinese, English

  • Currency: 1 Yuan Renminbi = 10 Jiao = 100 Fen

  • ISO Currency Code: CNY

Note

The tariff codes correspond to the current Customs Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China, which is based on the Harmonized System (HS) 2017; the P.R. of China applies the HS on the basis of the HS Convention (for further general information on the Harmonized System, please turn to the section thereon below).

Sanctions

Due to the European Council Declaration of 27 June 1989, an arms embargo on China is in force. However, China is not an embargo state in the sense of Art. 4 (2) of the Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2000 of 22 June 2000 (EC-Dual-Use-Regulation) in its currently valid version. For the assessment of export licences not covered by the scope of this embargo, the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports applies.

International Agreements

China is a member of the following organisations and has signed the agreements listed below:

  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously named Bangkok Agreement

  • Customs Convention on the A.T.A. Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods (A.T.A. Convention), please refer to the document Carnet A.T.A. for further details

  • Convention on the International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention), please see the document Carnet TIR for details

  • International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Convention)

  • International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (as amended) (Revised Kyoto Convention)

  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - enhanced engagement country status

  • World Customs Organization (WCO)

  • World Trade Organization (WTO).

Preferential Treatment

The Chinese customs grants preferential rates for numerous goods originating in various countries, namely in the member states of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA, i.e. Bangladesh, India, Laos, South Korea, Sri Lanka) and the member states of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA, i.e. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). Furthermore, preferential rates are granted for goods originating in Australia (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement - ChAFTA), Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia (China-Georgia Free Trade Agreement), Iceland, New Zealand (New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement - NZCFTA), Pakistan, Peru, Singapore (China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement - CSFTA), South Korea and Switzerland. In addition, mainland China has concluded two Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPAs) with both special administrative regions, referred to as the Mainland and Hong Kong CEPA, and the Mainland and Macau CEPA, respectively. Furthermore, an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is in force between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, which is, de facto, a free trade agreement (FTA).

Goods which are originating products in the sense of the agreements above or which are included in special rules may benefit from preferential treatment in China.

Export Controls

Besides the stipulations of the country of importation, export control provisions may have to be observed in international movements of goods and services. The subject of such provisions may be particular commodities, countries of (final) destination and legal or natural persons involved in the respective transactions. These persons may comprise, but are not limited to, the following legal entities or individuals:

  • exporters and consignors

  • importers and consignees

  • end users

  • freight forwarders and their agents

  • banks and financial institutions.

The listed entities may include governmental agencies in the country of (final) destination, too.

Countries may even partially or completely interdict external trade with another country. However, goods may also be exempt from such embargoes if exported for humanitarian or special reasons.

In general, the following types of merchandise (as well as related services and maintenance) are regulated in the framework of export control laws:

  • arms and ammunition

  • military equipment

  • designated explosive substances

  • strategic goods (e.g. encryption technology for communications equipment)

  • dual-use goods, i.e. commodities which may be used for military and civil purposes alike (including software and technologies)

  • goods which could be used for torture, capital punishment or similarly inhuman treatment.

In principle, the competent authorities of the exporting country regulate the scope of goods to be controlled upon their exportation and in respect of the parties and countries involved in the transactions. Following the examination of the relevant documentation, export authorisations may be issued. The export control authorities may also require documents from the respective bodies in the country of destination in order to control the goods and monitor their delivery chains. Such documents may comprise, e.g., international import certificates, end-user certificates or delivery verification certificates.

In addition, specific import requirements may apply to the abovementioned goods as well.

As regards controls of dual-use goods in the framework of the European Union (EU), the basic legal stipulation is Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009, setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items. The responsibility for the execution of the so-called Dual-Use Regulation lies, however, with the competent authorities of each individual Member State.

Exporters should be aware of the fact that they may be held legally responsible for respective foreign trade transactions, comprising all different aspects of transboundary movements of goods and services. This individual responsibility is usually not transferable to other persons. Advice should be sought from the competent authority in the exporting country.

For additional details of applicable measures for the P.R. of China, please turn also to the section on Sanctions above.

Customs Procedures

The Chinese customs authorities mainly differentiate between the following types of customs procedures for imports:

  • release for free circulation

  • temporary importation

  • re-export

  • customs warehousing

  • processing of dutiable goods

  • customs transit.

Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme

In order to obtain facilitated customs clearance procedures in the P.R. of China, importers may apply for the status as an authorised economic operator (AEO) with the Chinese customs authorities.

Furthermore, the P.R. of China has concluded agreements providing for the mutual recognition of AEO statuses with certain countries and their respective schemes, i.e. with the European Union (EU), Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland. By way of example, since November 2015, foreign trade participants recognised as AEO in the EU and in the P.R. of China may benefit from mutual advantages as regards security controls and customs clearance procedures. The P.R. of China aspires to achieve the mutual recognition of the AEO programmes with further countries.

Additionally, all importers, exporters and customs agents residing in the P.R. of China are subject to an Enterprise Categorisation. Further details of this matter may be obtained from the section on Registration below.

Customs Regulations

In analogy with the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade issued by the WCO, Decree No. 172 of the General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China (GAC, also referred to as China Customs) lays down rules regarding the China Customs Advance Manifest (CCAM), e.g. Measures for Manifest Administration for Inbound and Outbound Means of Transportation of the P.R. of China. These measures on registration requirements for all means of transportation used in international trade and on compulsory summary declarations to be provided in form of lists containing passengers, freight and other effects (Automated Manifest Rule) became operative on 1 January 2009. Please refer to the documents entitled Registration with the Chinese Customs Authorities and Cargo Manifest for further details.

According to the Customs Law of the People's Republic of China, goods to be imported into the country are to be declared to the customs authorities and import formalities are to be conducted within 14 days of arrival. Please refer to the following documents for further details:

  • Customs Import Declaration

  • Commercial Invoice

  • Packing List

  • Certificate of Non-Preferential Origin

  • Air Waybill

  • Rail Waybill Conforming to both COTIF and SMGS Agreements

  • Bill of Lading

  • Insurance Certificate

  • any importer's permits, approvals, registrations or licences, and/or exporter's certificates in the case of restricted items (please refer to the product-specific sections below for further details of documents required for restricted items).

The Chinese authorities have implemented the electronic data processing systems entitled China E-Port as well as the International Trade Single Window for the electronic submission of the Customs Import Declaration and of the supporting documents. In order to use the above-mentioned systems, importers are to register beforehand with both portals, respectively.

Importers may, moreover, apply for a Pre-Classification for Imported Goods which may accelerate customs clearance procedures.

A number of commodities is subject to a general Commodity Inspection Certificate or a specific Inspection Certificate for Medicines issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). The conformity of product labels, e.g. for imported foodstuffs or cosmetics, will be checked upon arrival of the products in the framework of the Commodity Inspection Certificate. The inspection certificates will include a note on the compliance of the labels ("audited labels are found to meet the standards").

In order to prevent the introduction of highly pathogenic viruses and contagious diseases into the country, the Chinese authorities may require additional measures to be carried out prior to the shipment of goods and/or at the time of entry into the country, e.g. as a consequence of the outbreak of such in the country of provenance. By way of example, vehicles and containers may be required to have been subjected to specific treatments and proof thereof may accordingly be required to be submitted to the quarantine authorities at the point of entry and the goods themselves might also be subject to quarantine under the supervision of the competent Chinese authorities.

Licences and quota regulations may also apply. Please see the section on Import Regulations below.

Free Trade Zones and Warehousing

In China, there are 15 free trade zones or bonded zones (economic and technological development zones) under the administration of the State Department, which are located in Tianjing, Shantou, Guangzhou, Shatoujiao and Futian (both in the Shenzhen special economic zone), Zhuhai, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Haikou, Dalian, Qingdao, Zhangjigang, Shanghai, Xiangyu and Ningbo. Six of these free zones are classified as special economic zones: Hainan, Pudong, Shenzhen, Shantou, Zhuhai and Xiamen.

The customs authorities provide for bonded warehousing, which is free of charge for commodities intended for transit or dutiable goods processing. These goods may be stored in a warehouse for up to one year (which, under certain conditions, could be extended for a second year). However, a range of steel products may no longer be processed in bonded warehouses free of charge with effect from 31 July 2014, i.e. customs duties and import taxes are payable in this case.

Any treatment of warehoused goods is subject to customs supervision. Goods intended for free circulation are not permitted under bonded warehousing.

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, including Shanghai Waigaoqiao Bonded Zone, Waigaoqiao Bonded Logistics Zone, Yangshan Bonded Port and Shanghai Pudong Airport Free Trade Zone, was inaugurated in September 2013. The zone is intended as a testing ground for market opening and administrative reforms; accordingly, areas such as facilitation of trade and investment, the convertibility of the Yuan Renminbi (CNY) as well as methods for the efficient supervision of goods will be explored in this framework over a period of two or three years. Further free trade zones modelled after the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone have been established in Fujian, Guangdong and Tianjin. Which kinds of foreign investment are not permissible in the respective free trade zone has been stipulated by means of a negative list.

Customs Value

The customs value of imported goods is determined by their transaction value, which is usually based on the CIF value. Rules on determining the customs value are applied by the customs authorities according to the Agreement on Implementation of Article VII (Customs Valuation) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994). If the customs value cannot be determined on the basis of the transaction value of the imported goods, the following values are to be applied successively as a basis for its calculation:

  • the transaction value of identical imported goods

  • the transaction value of similar imported goods

  • the deductive value

  • the computed value

  • the value deduced by way of an appropriate fall-back method.

Registration

According to the Foreign Trade Law, all economic operators must register with the Registration Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), or with one of the local record registration organs which come under the Ministry of Commerce of the P.R. of China (MOFCOM). Registration is generally conducted within two weeks and results in a Business Licence, which must be renewed periodically. Importers must, moreover, obtain an Import and Export Business Licence and a Customs Registration. For further details, please see the quoted documents.

In addition, all importers, exporters and customs agents residing in the P.R. of China are subject to an Enterprise Categorisation. All such enterprises are divided into three different categories:

  • authorised economic operator (AEO), subdivided into advanced certified enterprise and general certified enterprise (previously referred to as category AA and A enterprises); please also see the chapter on Customs Procedures above for further information on the AEO programme

  • general credit enterprise (previously referred to as category B enterprise)

  • dishonest enterprise (previously referred to as category C or D enterprises).

Newly registered companies will be classified as general credit enterprises. Please refer to the quoted document for procedural details of the classification and possible upgradings. Whereas business entities with an effective compliance management would be classified as advanced certified enterprise or general certified enterprise and may expect certain facilitations, those classified as dishonest enterprise may be subject to more elaborated inspections. The categorisation transposes the World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards, which aims at securing and facilitating global trade.

Resident offices must also be registered with SAMR. This registration is to be renewed annually via the submission of a report containing information on the business performance and expenditures of the resident office as well as evidence for the existence of the foreign enterprise it represents. Upon registration of the resident office, evidence must be presented that the foreign enterprise has been in existence for at least two years. Furthermore, no more than four representatives, including one chief representative, may be designated by the foreign enterprise. A resident office of a foreign enterprise in the P.R. of China may not engage in commercial activities, but may carry out activities related to products and services of the represented foreign enterprise, e.g. market surveys, displays and campaigns, liaison activities, service providing and domestic procurement and investment.

Trademarks intended to be used are to be registered at the China Trademark Office (CTMO) of the SAMR. Please refer to the document entitled Trademark Registration for details.

Government Procurement

The so-called "Buy Chinese" policy, based on the Chinese Government Procurement Law, stipulates that government agencies and related entities must preferably purchase goods produced or manufactured in the P.R. of China. Said goods may only be imported if they are unreasonably priced or not available in sufficient quantities in China, if the domestic goods are of unsatisfactory quality, or if the imported goods are to be used outside the P.R. of China.

Foreign Investment

In order to encourage foreign investments in China, the Chinese Government has gradually set up a relatively complex legal basis and constituted a foreign investment policy system. The main legislation applying to this field are the Company Law of the P.R. of China, the Law on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures and the Measures for the Administration of Foreign Investment in Commercial Fields. The three main forms of foreign direct investment provided for in China are Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, Chinese-foreign contractual joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned enterprises. Other investment forms include share companies with foreign investment, foreign investment holdings, joint exploitations and build-operate-transfer models.

Anti-Dumping and Anti-Subsidy

The Chinese legislation provides for anti-dumping measures in case of importation of commodities at low prices which cause a threat to domestic industries. Provisional anti-dumping duties may be raised or securities like bonds or deposits may be asked for. Anti-subsidy measures, e.g. in the form of anti-subsidy taxes or guarantees, may be taken if imported products are subsidised and have caused material injury or threaten to cause such injury to domestic industries.

Prohibited Imports

A number of goods are classified as banned commodities. The Chinese Government issues a list of prohibited imports which comprises import prohibitions regarding both, prohibitions on a general level and certain second-hand machinery and equipment in specific. Please refer to the documents Import Prohibition and Prohibition to Import Certain Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment.

Import Regulations

Import regulations of the People's Republic of China are still based on the quota and licence system to some extent. The Quota and Licence Administrative Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) is the authority responsible for the administration of these measures. As to licensing procedures, please see the documents Import Licence, Automatic Import Licence and Automatic Import Licence for New and Used Mechanical and Electronic Appliances for further details. Automatic import licences are considered as granted if the authority does not reject the application within 10 days. Please see the documents Customs Quota Certificate for Agricultural Products and Customs Quota Certificate for Fertilisers for further details.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and General Importability of Goods Subject Thereto

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures may be applied within the territory of a country to protect the life and health of its population, fauna and flora from one or more of the following risks:

  • diseases carried by animals

  • plant pests (e.g. insects, bacteria, viruses)

  • toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs

  • additives

  • contaminants (e.g. heavy metals, residues of pesticides or veterinary drugs, extraneous matter).

SPS measures may be included in the relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures of a country or an economic community.

The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO), also referred to as SPS Agreement, sets out the rules that the WTO member states are obliged to follow when they implement SPS measures governing food and feed safety, animal health and plant health. Said Agreement applies to all SPS measures which may, directly or indirectly, affect international trade. Every WTO member has the right to take respective measures to pursue the abovementioned protection goals. Under the WTO rules, countries are allowed to set their own standards, but their regulations are required to be based on scientific evidence and international standards, i.e. the imposed measures must be transparent and comprehensible. WTO members are to notify the content of a proposed sanitary or phytosanitary regulation, whether new or not substantially the same as the content of an international standard, guideline or recommendation, and the covered products to the WTO in advance.

International organisations working towards an international harmonisation of SPS measures include the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE, former Office International des Epizooties, for animal health), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC, for plant health) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (a joint Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), for food safety). In addition, the SPS Agreement offers technical assistance to developing countries with regard to capacity building and programmes concerning food safety, animal and plant health.

SPS measures must be in proportion to the potential risk involved and must be equally applied to national and imported goods. These measures may take various forms, such as requiring products to come from disease-free areas, specific treatment or processing of products, prescribing an inspection of products, quarantine regulations, setting the allowable maximum levels for pesticide residues, or permitting the use of only certain additives in food.

For any merchandise potentially bearing SPS risks, comprehensive risk assessment measures usually apply in order to ascertain whether the good is importable or not. This holds true in particular for animal or plant species or products which have previously not been traded between two countries. In the course of establishing the health standards to be met for a certain good, specific conditions under which the particular item will be importable are usually defined, e.g. the mandatory fumigation treatment of designated plant produce or the vaccination of particular animal species against their characteristic diseases. Such terms are then reflected in the respective health certificate (i.e. those certificates mentioned in the chapters on animals, plants and products thereof in this overview).

Animals and Products of Animal Origin

Consignments of animals and products of animal origin are subject to a Commodity Inspection Certificate at the customs point of entry and are to be accompanied by either a Veterinary Health Certificate for Live Animals or a Veterinary Health Certificate for Animal Products. For the importation of live animals, a Permit to Import Live Animals and Plants Subject to Quarantine to be applied for at the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is mandatory. Animal products may require a Certificate of Analysis. A Clearance Certificate for Products of Lawfully Captured Fish is required for the importation of designated fish and fish products. Said document is to be obtained from the Bureau of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

For the importation of endangered animal species, please turn to the chapter on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora below.

With regard to issues concerning Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, amongst others (please also refer to the same-named section above), the authority responsible for veterinary controls of live animals and animal products in the P.R. of China may be contacted as follows: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the P.R. of China, Veterinary Bureau, 11 Nongzhanguan Nanli, Chaoyang District, CN-100125 Beijing, phone numbers: +86 10 59191428, 59191492, fax number: +86 10 59191428.

Importers should note that specific temporary protective measures may be imposed on the import of animals or products of animal origin, e.g. as a consequence of the outbreak of contagious diseases. For further information on the animal health status of the country of origin, the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), a service provided by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), may be consulted. Exporters are also advised to contact the importer, freight forwarder or the abovementioned authority for updated and detailed information concerning possible import prohibitions.

Pest Risk Analysis (PRA)

The P.R. of China applies pest risk analysis (PRA). On the national level, PRA is regulated by the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Entry and Exit Animals and Plants Quarantine and its implementing regulations. The International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 2 setting the Framework for Pest Risk Analysis agreed upon in the scope of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) provides the framework for PRA which has been accepted by the signatory countries.

A PRA is to be conducted on plants, plant products or other regulated articles by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), i.e. the Plant Protection Office, if the risk associated with their importation is unknown. This is usually the case if goods are imported to the country for the first time or if they are imported from a new area of origin. A PRA may also be required in further cases, e.g. if the goods are to be imported for a new intended use or if the phytosanitary legislation of the country of export has undergone changes. Moreover, the revision of an already existing PRA may be required, e.g. if a change in susceptibility of a plant to a pest or a change in the virulence or aggressiveness or host range of a pest has been identified. Depending on the outcome of the PRA, the NPPO develops and stipulates the specific phytosanitary requirements for the importation of the product in question as risk management measures.

In general, the PRAs are conducted following a process of mutual data exchange between the NPPOs in the countries of origin and destination. A stakeholder, e.g. plant exporter, importer or trader, would thus need to approach his NPPO to initiate a PRA. Usually, the PRA is to be applied for by the national stakeholder at the Chinese NPPO. According to Article XI of the Provisions for the Administration of Risk Analysis on Entry Plant and Plant Products of the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the P.R. of China (AQSIQ), the relevant domestic units or individuals may submit an application and provide the necessary technical information. The NPPO may request further information from the NPPO in the country of export for the purpose of conducting the PRA.

There is currently no comprehensive list of completed PRAs available. However, the former Ministry of Agriculture of the P.R. of China published an Entry Quarantine Pest List in 2007 which is being updated if and as appropriate on the basis of newly completed PRAs.

PRAs are furthermore regulated by the national standards GB/T 20879-2007 ("Technical requirement of pest risk analysis for import and export plant and plant product") and GB/T 21658-2008 ("Guideline for pest risk analysis of import and export plant and plant product"), which may be obtained from the Standardization Administration of the P.R. of China (SAC), 9 Madian East Road, Haidian District, CN-100088 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 82262609.

The authority responsible for PRAs in the P.R. of China may be contacted as follows: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the P.R. of China, Plant Protection Office, 11 Nongzhanguan Nanli, Chaoyang District, CN-100125 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 59191451. For forest seeds and seedlings, the following competent body may be contacted: State Forestry Administration of the P.R. of China (SFA), He Ping Li East Road 18, CN-100714 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 84239104, fax number: +86 10 84238883.

In terms of commodity inspections, please contact the General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China, 6, Jianguomen Avenue, Dongcheng District, CN-100730 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 65194114.

Plants and Plant Products

The importation of plants and plant products requires a Permit to Import Live Animals and Plants Subject to Quarantine and the goods are to be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. Goods subject to phytosanitary control will be scrutinised by a commodity inspection at the customs office of entry (please refer to the document entitled Commodity Inspection Certificate for further details). Certain plants and plant products used in agriculture fall under the quota regulations. Please see the document Customs Quota Certificate for Agricultural Products for further details. Manufactured products of plant origin may be subject to a Certificate of Analysis.

Crop seeds and seedlings may only be imported by holders of a Seed Business Licence for Import and Export issued by the General Office for Administrative Examination and Approval under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Moreover, an Examination and Approval of Crop Seeds or Seedlings for Import and Export must be obtained. Breeders may apply for a Registration of New Plant Varieties, which entitles them to exclusively produce or sell the variety in question for commercial purposes and/or to licence other parties to do so.

For details of the requirement of a Pest Risk Analysis (PRA), please turn to the previous section.

Information on the importation of endangered species of wild flora may be obtained from the following section.

The authority responsible for phytosanitary control in the P.R. of China may be contacted as follows, inter alia concerning issues of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures (please also turn to the same-named section above): Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the P.R. of China, Plant Protection Office, 11 Nongzhanguan Nanli, Chaoyang District, CN-100125 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 59191451.

Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

In the framework of China's membership to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES - also referred to as Washington Convention), a Permit to Import Endangered Species and Products Thereof is to be obtained from the State Forestry Administration of the P.R. of China prior to international movements of said species into the country or accross its territory. Additional documentation must be enclosed in order to prove that the species or products are moved in accordance with the provisions of the Convention. Please turn to the quoted document for additional information.

Foodstuffs and Related Goods

The National Health Commission develops, where appropriate in conjunction with further responsible authorities, e.g. the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs or the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), mandatory national food safety standards. These concern threshold values (e.g. for pathogenic microorganisms, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs, biotoxins and contaminants), approved food additives, their dosage and permissible application, requirements for nutritional ingredients of particular foodstuffs, labelling, hygienic and quality requirements as well as methods and procedures for food testing. Novel foodstuffs, new food additives and other food-related products, whether locally produced or imported, must undergo safety assessment by the Commission. Upon successful assessment, the Commission will issue a licence which allows for the production or importation, as applicable, of the goods in question.

Moreover, importers of foodstuffs and food additives are required to keep records on the importation and sale of such goods with regard to the product name, specification, quantity, production date, production or import batch number, shelf life (if applicable), name and contact information of the exporter and buyer and the delivery date. Said records and related documents are to be kept for at least six months after expiry of the shelf life of the product in question, or for at least two years after the transaction in case the product does not have a definite shelf life.

Foodstuffs in general may only be imported from exporters who are registered with the General Administration of Customs (GAC). For the purpose of this registration, the exporter's compliance with the relevant requirements is to be certified by the competent authority in the country of export. The latter is, moreover, to submit the national legislation on sanitary and related issues and further documentation for evaluation. A registration number will ultimately be assigned to the exporter, which is to be displayed on the product label of the respective goods. The registration is valid for four years.

Moreover, importers of foodstuffs and exporters of foodstuffs other than dairy products are required to register with the Registration Systems of Imported Food and Cosmetic Importers and Exporters of the General Administration of Customs (GAC). Furthermore, exporters of dairy products are also to register with the same authority.

For details, please see the following documents:

Infant formula milk powders must be registered with the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) in order to be marketed in the country. A manufacturer may register up to three product series of nine different recipes. Every series shall include the following stages: formulas for infants of 0-6 months (stage 1), 6-12 months (stage 2) and 12-35 months (stage 3). For further details of the registration, please turn to the document entitled Registration of Infant Formula Products. In addition, particular product labelling requirements apply for infant formula. Please see the respective chapter below.

Processed foodstuffs are to be accompanied by a Certificate of Analysis, documenting the sanitary status of the product. Additional measures may also apply to high-risk foodstuffs.

The labelling of imported foodstuffs will be checked by the General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China (GAC, also referred to as China Customs) at the customs point of entry upon the arrival of the shipment. Please see the document entitled Commodity Inspection Certificate for further details. Upon the release of the goods, they will be subject to a quality control. A Registration of Health Food to be Imported is, in addition, required for foodstuffs with health claims.

There are regulations concerning the duration of storage for certain foodstuffs: The residual shelf life of these products must be at least half of the entire shelf life at the time of importation. For unprocessed food, the regulations detailed in the preceding two chapters on animal and plant products apply.

With regard to automatic import licences, which are required for tobacco products and few foodstuff items such as poultry meat and certain oils of plant origin, please refer to the section on import regulations in this overview. Imported and locally produced cigarettes may only be sold in China if the smoke of a cigarette does not contain more than 12 mg of tar.

Foodstuffs to be declared as organic products are to undergo a certification in order to ensure that the goods comply with the "Organic Product Certification Implementation Rules". The certification may be conducted by authorised inspection companies. Particulars of the necessary requirements for the certification including the details that are to be provided may be obtained from the relevant document entitled Certification of Organic Food.

Please refer also to the section on Product Labelling Requirements below for the labelling requirements regarding pre-packaged foodstuffs intended for direct sale as well as for organic products.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology which may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. The Protocol differentiates between five risk classes ranging from no-risk to high-risk GMOs, which are defined in the respective lists. The P.R. of China is a member of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Non-parties to the Protocol may nevertheless impose measures for the importation, placement on the market and use of GMOs. For member states, a facilitated procedure may be available in the form of an advanced informed agreement (AIA) on designated products.

In the scope of the Cartagena Protocol, the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) is a platform for the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, modified organisms. It also assists parties to implement the Protocol and has local branches in various countries. Further information may be obtained from the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH), 413, St. Jacques Street, Suite 800, CA-Montreal, Quebec, H2Y1N9, phone number: +1 514 2882220, fax number: +1 514 2886588.

The BCH in the P.R. of China is the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, Biodiversity Management Office, 115 Xi Zhi Men South Road, Xi Cheng District, CN-100035 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 66556322, fax number: +86 10 66556327.

Products containing GMOs must be labelled in accordance with the national labelling regulations; please refer also to the section on Product Labelling Requirements below.

Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices

Medical devices and pharmaceutical products must be registered with the National Medical Products Administration under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). Manufacturing sites of medicinal products intended for human or veterinary use and their manufacturing methods must comply with the requirements of good manufacturing practice (GMP). A corresponding certification is therefore mandatory for the registration of human and veterinary medicines.

Medical devices are categorised as follows: while class I medical devices (low risk) are only registered for the record, class II (medium risk), class III (high risk) and not yet classified medical devices must undergo an evaluation process and the registration thereof is subject to approval by the National Medical Products Administration. As of January 2016, such classes are defined according to whether the device is considered active or passive and whether or not it comes into direct contact with the human body. A large number of medical devices of classes II and III are exempt from the requirement of a prior clinical evaluation. For further information on such products and said procedure, please contact the Center for Medical Devices Evaluation of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), 3-5/F, Tower B3, Five Buildings, 9 Chegongzhuang Street, Xicheng District, CN-1000442 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 68390606, fax number: +86 10 68390706.

The responsible authority for veterinary drugs is the Veterinary Drugs Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the P.R. of China, Administration, Examination and Approval Office.

Psychotropic and narcotic drugs as well as substances that may be used for their manufacture require licences and permissions to be issued by the National Health Commission or the Quota and Licence Administration Bureau, respectively.

All commodities treated in this chapter will be inspected upon their actual importation. Imported medicinal products and drugs must be accompanied by appropriate certificates determining their specifications.

Please refer to the following documents for details of these procedures:

  • Registration of Medicines

  • Registration of Veterinary Drugs

  • Registration of Medical Devices

  • Licence to Import Dual Use Goods

  • Permit to Import Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

  • Customs Release Certificate for Veterinary Drugs

  • Inspection Certificate for Medicines

  • Commodity Inspection Certificate

  • Free Sale Certificate

  • Certificate of Analysis

  • Certificate of a Pharmaceutical Product

  • Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice

  • Material Safety Data Sheet.

Within the framework of the country's healthcare reforms, a number of medical devices and pharmaceutical products are subject to price control measures in the P.R. of China.

For specific labelling requirements for pharmaceutical products and medical devices, please see the section on Product Labelling Requirements.

Cosmetics

Cosmetic products must be registered with the National Medical Products Administration under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) of the P.R. of China. The authority differentiates between general cosmetics and special-purpose cosmetics. Moreover, new ingredients are to be registered with said authority before they may be used in cosmetic products. Please refer to the following documents related to the registration procedures:

Imported cosmetics are subject to inspection conducted by the General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China (GAC, also referred to as China Customs). Furthermore, importers of cosmetics are to be registered with the GAC. Please refer to the document entitled Registration of Importers of Foodstuffs and Cosmetics for specifics.

Non-Agricultural Chemical Substances

The importation of chemical substances is supervised by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the P.R. of China (MEE). New chemical substances must be registered with the Ministry's Solid Wastes and Chemicals Management and Technology Center before they are placed on the market for the first time. Please refer to the following documents:

The responsible authority will decide, whether a regular declaration is required or a simplified declaration is sufficient. A different registration procedure is necessary for new chemical substances intended for scientific research. Please contact the responsible authority for further information.

For certain chemicals, the MEE requires a Registration of Environmental Management on Import/Export of Toxic Chemicals. In addition, an Environmental Control Release Notice for Toxic Chemicals is necessary for each actual importation of these substances.

Certain ozone-depleting substances (ODS) may only be imported if an Import Quota for Ozone-Depleting Substances has been allotted to the importer. An Import Licence is also required for ODS. China runs a phase-out programme for ODS. The production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), as well as Halon, CFC-13 and CTC (carbon tetrachloride) have been prohibited since 2010. The importation and exportation of CFCs as a refrigerant in compressors and related products for the refrigeration industry had already been forbidden since March 2006. Trichloroethane (TCA) was phased out by 2015.

Paint products to be imported must be inspected by the General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China (GAC, also referred to as China Customs) and subsequently be registered with the SAMR. Please see the document entitled Registration of Paint to be Imported for further details.

For specific labelling requirements for hazardous substances, please refer to the section on Product Labelling Requirements below.

Agricultural Chemical Substances

Specific measures apply to chemical substances for agricultural application. Namely, certain fertilisers fall under the quota regulations. Please see the document Customs Quota Certificate for Fertilisers for further details.

Moreover, pesticides to be imported must be registered with the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the P.R. of China (ICAMA). The General Administration of Customs of the P.R. of China (GAC, also referred to as China Customs) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have launched an electronic network verification system to manage and supervise the import and export of pesticides. The system, which enables an inter-departmental exchange of data and thus facilitates customs clearance procedures, allows enterprises registered with the system to submit applications for the Registration of Pesticides via the internet, to check the application status and also to receive certification online.

Please note that a registration with the Solid Wastes and Chemicals Management and Technology Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) as described in the section on Non-Agricultural Chemical Substances above may nevertheless also be required.

Please turn to the chapter on Product Labelling Requirements for specific labelling requirements for pesticides.

Hazardous Goods

China is a member of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, commonly known as the Rotterdam Convention. This Convention undertakes to ensure that exports of designated chemical substances may only take place with the consent of the importing party. By means of the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure, information is gathered and disseminated as to whether an importing party wishes to receive future shipments of a certain chemical and to ensure the compliance with that decision by the exporting party. The treaty further requires all parties to notify the Convention Secretariat about any national legal changes with regard to a ban or a severe restriction of a chemical. In terms of the actual shipment of a product, information about the characteristics of the chemical must be provided, labelling requirements adhered to and stipulations such as the indication of the HS Code in the shipping documents met, thus guaranteeing the sound handling of such substance.

In case a company is seeking to export chemicals which are covered by the Convention (i.e. the pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention) or which are subject to national regulatory action (i.e. bans or severe restrictions in the importing country's own territory), an export notification must be sent to the Designated National Authority (DNA) of the importing country nominated to this effect in order to obtain prior consent. For further information, please refer to the document entitled Export Notification for Goods Coming under the Rotterdam Convention.

In addition to the Rotterdam Convention, China is also party to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (also referred to as the POP Convention), a treaty designed to curb and eventually abolish the production, use and trade of toxic, long-lasting chemicals by requiring its signatories to take measures to eliminate or restrict the production and use of POPs and to minimise any possible unintentional releases of such substances into the environment. Exemptions, i.e. the continued use and/or production of one or more chemicals covered by the treaty for a certain period of time, may be applied for by the member states. Furthermore, amendments to the treaty (lastly done so in 2009 with the addition of nine more chemicals to the original list of twelve chemicals) are subject to the approval and ratification of each signatory state, thereby allowing the country time to implement the measures required to adhere to the new stipulations. As a consequence, imports and exports of the chemicals covered by the Stockholm Convention may be subject to prohibitions or severe restrictions. Importers are also advised to contact the responsible authority for issues of nature protection, i.e. the Official Contact Point (OCP). The OCP in the P.R. of China is the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), Division of International Ecological and Environmental Conventions, Department of International Cooperation, No. 115, Xizhimennanxiaojie, Xi Cheng District, CN-100035, Beijing, phone number: +86 10 66556519, fax number: +86 10 66556513.

The P.R. of China is also a signatory to the international Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction also known as Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and thus monitors the import of substances that may be used to produce such weapons. Imports of chemicals subject to the stipulations of the CWC may hence require a particular authorisation from the designated national authority at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chaoyangmen Nandajie 2, Chaoyang District, CN-100701 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 65961114.

On 31 August 2016, the P.R. of China ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The Convention intends to ensure that exports of mercury may only take place with the prior consent of the importing country and for the purpose of environmentally sound interim storage or an allowed use. Such consent must also be sought in the case of export transactions from a member state to any country which is not a party of the Convention. Forms for the provision of written consent by a party or a non-party to the import of mercury are both made available by the Convention in different languages.

In addition, the phase-out of mercury-added products has been agreed upon. Therefore, by 2020, the P.R. of China will ban the production, exportation and importation of numerous mercury-containing products, e.g. dry cell batteries, switches and relays, certain types of florescent lamps, cosmetics, pesticides as well as designated non-electronic measuring devices (e.g. thermometers and blood pressure monitors). Parties may apply for the registration of exemptions from the stipulated phase-out dates for one or more products or processes listed in Annex A or B of the Convention if their use or import is deemed essential. Unless a shorter period is indicated in the respective register by a party, exemptions usually expire five years after the relevant phase-out date and may be extended only once per product upon request.

Standardisation

Goods imported into China must comply with the applied Chinese standards. Mandatory certification is required for a wide range of products subject to regular reviews. Please see the document China Compulsory Certification (CCC) for further details. The submission of a Declaration of Conformity is a prerequisite for the certification and may also be required for customs clearance and market access of goods not subject to CCC.

Small amounts of goods subject to compulsory certification according to the catalogue may qualify for a Special Processing Programme (SPP). This holds especially true for products which would not obtain the CCC mark, due to diverging norms, if the importer can accredit that these products are needed for special purposes in the P.R. of China (as an example, spare parts for pieces of equipment required in manufacturing processes may be granted access to the Chinese market through SPP). Certain special equipment, such as boilers and pressure vessels, are not subject to compulsory certification but require a separate Special Equipment Manufacture Licence.

Regarding the content of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic appliances, designated products intended for the Chinese market must be accompanied by a Certificate on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS-Certificate) and/or a corresponding declaration or disclosure put up in Standard Chinese. This measure corresponds to procedures initiated by the RoHS (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive 2002/95/EC. Please refer to the quoted document for further details.

Efforts towards the harmonisation of Chinese standards with international standards and cooperations with standardisation authorities in other countries are under way, e.g. in the framework of the German-Chinese Standardization Cooperation Commission and the Europe-China Standardization Information Platform. The latter provides general information on a number of Chinese standards, e.g. with regard to electrical equipment, medical devices, machinery, environmental protection, aerosol containers, packaging, textile products, toys and child care articles and leather, and may be accessed at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/cesip. It should be noted that the actual standard documents are to be purchased from the Standardization Administration of the P.R. of China (SAC), 9 Madian East Road, Haidian District, CN-100088 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 82262609.

Radio Transmission Equipment

A Type Approval for Radio Transmission Equipment is to be obtained from the State Radio Regulatory Commission (SRRC) under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the P.R. of China (MIIT) to ensure that said equipment conforms to the relevant standards and norms. The type approval is also a prerequisite for the Permit to Import Radio Transmission Equipment, which is to be applied for at the same authority. Please refer to the quoted documents for details.

Motor Vehicles

Motor vehicles to be imported into the P.R. of China fall into two categories. On the one hand, the importation of certain used machinery is forbidden; please refer to the document Prohibition to Import Certain Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment. On the other hand, in general, an Automatic Import Licence for New and Used Mechanical and Electronic Appliances is necessary and additional standardisation requirements are to be met. Upon the release of the goods, they will be subject to a commodity inspection, which is also required for particular motor vehicle parts. Please refer to the document entitled Commodity Inspection Certificate.

Aircraft

Aircraft to be imported into and operated in the P.R. of China must conform to the applicable national and international technical norms. In order to prove said conformity, a certificate of airworthiness is to be applied for by the importer at the Aircraft Airworthiness Certification Department under the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). For more information on this matter, the responsible authority may be contacted as follows: Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Aircraft Airworthiness Certification Department, Aircraft Certification Division, 155 Dongsi Street West, CN-100710 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 64092331, fas number: +86 10 64033087.

Industrial Technologies

The importation of certain kinds of technologies into the P.R. of China is prohibited or restricted, as stipulated in the catalogues released by the Ministry of Commerce of the P.R. of China (MOFCOM). Technologies the importation of which is restricted require a licence, which is to be applied for at the Department of Scientific and Technological Development and Trade in Technology under the MOFCOM. Other kinds of technologies are freely importable, but nevertheless require a registration of the respective technology import contract with the same authority. Please refer to the following documents for further information:

Waste

China is a member of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Furthermore, China has ratified and implemented the Decision III/1 on an amendment to the Basel Convention. The so-called Ban Amendment, which has not entered into force as an international treaty to date, aims at prohibiting all transboundary movements of waste from OECD countries, EU Member States and Liechtenstein to other, especially developing, countries. China is thus not an importer of hazardous wastes as defined by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

The Chinese authorities differentiate between three categories of waste: prohibited waste, automatically permitted solid waste and restricted solid waste. Designated waste materials (e.g. human hair, waste petroleum products, pharmaceutical waste, sugar cane molasses, mica waste, waste of silicone content, scrap of vulcanised rubber, wastes of leather) are prohibited from importation; please refer to the document entitled Import Prohibition for further information.

Permissible waste imports may not be intended for final disposal. Such waste may only be imported as raw materials for recovery purposes. The National Center of Solid Waste Management, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), issues two different types of import permits, depending on the type of waste:

  • Automatic Permit to Import Solid Waste

  • Permit to Import Restricted Solid Waste.

Exporters must, in addition, apply at the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) for a Registration as an Overseas Supplier of Rubbish Material. Please refer to the quoted documents in this section for further details of the said procedures.

Please refer also to the document entitled Pre-Shipment Inspection Certificate for Scrap Material and the section on Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) below.

Designated non-hazardous waste may be eligible for importation into China, e.g. tungsten carbide scrap or wastes of animal hair. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides a guideline for the international trade in said goods by virtue of its Decision of the Council concerning the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations. A corresponding OECD guidance manual has been developed.

The OECD control system is based on two types of control procedures (please note that waste exported outside the OECD area, whether for recovery or final disposal, does not benefit from this control system):

  • green control procedure: for wastes that present a low risk for human health and the environment and, therefore, are not subject to any other controls than those normally applied in commercial transactions

  • amber control procedure: for wastes presenting sufficient risk to justify their control accordingly.

By way of example, the European Union (EU) approved the aforementioned Decision. Therefore, consignments of waste being exported from the EU are subject to the basic Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste and its amendments. In order to assist countries outside the OECD to ensure that these import only the types of waste they agree to, exports of non-hazardous waste for recovery purposes to such countries are regulated. Potential destination countries therefor provide information on permissible waste by completing respective questionnaires for non-hazardous waste and for mixtures of waste. China has already replied to said questionnaires and various types of waste have consequently been classified as follows:

  • prohibited waste (e.g. worn clothing and other worn textile articles)

  • waste subject to prior written notification and consent as described in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006; to be controlled by the customs authorities of the EU Member State from which the waste is exported (China has not yet notified materials which may come under this category)

  • waste not subject to specific control measures (China has not yet notified materials which may come under this category)

  • control procedures, which are to be followed in China under its applicable national laws (e.g. the above-mentioned tungsten carbide scrap and wastes of animal hair); usually subject to the formalities listed further above and to be controlled by the Chinese customs authorities at the time of the importation of the waste into China.

The applicable legal basis is Regulation (EC) No 1418/2007 (as amended). As the waste codes set out by the Basel Convention and the Harmonized System (HS) codes may only be compared on a rough level, the Chinese authorities should be consulted prior to the importation of materials coming under the last point on the list above.

More information, the applicable legal stipulations and completed questionnaires may be found on the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/import-and-export-rules/export-from-eu/waste-shipment.

Used Goods

A number of used goods, including certain used machinery and second-hand electrical products, are banned from being imported into the P.R. of China by order of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). For other second-hand goods, e.g. used mechanical and electronic appliances, an automatic import licence must be applied for by the importer at the same authority. Such goods must also be registered with the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). Please refer to the documents listed below for further information:

  • Registration of Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment

  • Automatic Import Licence for New and Used Mechanical and Electronic Appliances

  • Prohibition to Import Certain Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment.

Please refer also to document entitled Pre-Shipment Inspection Certificate for Used Machinery and Electrical Equipment and the section on Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) below.

Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI)

A number of commodities, e.g. metal, plastic and paper scrap as well as certain used machinery and electrical equipment require a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) in the country of export. The inspection is to be applied for by the exporter at a local branch of the Certification and Inspection (Group) Company (CCIC), an inspection company authorised by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the P.R. of China (CNCA) under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). Please refer to the following related documents for further information:

Please refer also to the sections on Waste and Used Goods above.

Commercial Samples

In general, commercial samples and advertising material with or without commercial value is subject to the same requirements as commercial consignments. Commercial samples of a value below 50 CNY may be imported duty-free in accordance with the Chinese customs legislation. For this purpose, the goods are to be accompanied by a Pro Forma Invoice including the statement "no commercial value". In case of express deliveries of samples, the Customs Registration number of the importer is to be additionally stated.

Consignments Sent By Post

According to regulations issued by the Ministry of Public Security, various goods may not enter the P.R. of China by post. Overall, the prohibition is in place for all kinds of goods that may endanger national security, disrupt social order and undermine social stability, amongst others. Specifically, those articles including, inter alia, certain firearms, explosives, various chemicals, radioactive substances, drugs and precursors, certain publications such as those spurring hate and extremism or undermining the country's social stability and national unity as well as pornographic media, endangered species, equipment used for espionage and goods originating in infected areas, may not enter the country by post.

For more information on this matter, please consult the Ministry of Public Security.

It is noteworthy, that several of the above-mentioned products generally require permits, licences or authorisations as depicted in the respective chapters of this overview in order to enter the P.R. of China by other means of transportation. Additionally, certain goods are prohibited from importation into the P.R. of China altogether. Further details may be obtained from the corresponding section on Prohibited Imports above.

Harmonized System

As a multipurpose international product nomenclature, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), commonly referred to as Harmonized System, constitutes a universal economic language and code for goods.

Developed and continuously enhanced by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the HS consists of over 1,200 four-digit headings grouped in 97 chapters, which are arranged into 21 sections. Most of the headings are further subdivided into five-digit or six-digit subheadings. In total, the Harmonized System comprises about 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a six-digit code (HS Code). HS Codes are identical in different countries, provided the latter apply the same version of the HS. The classification of goods into HS-based nomenclatures generally follows the same principles. In trade practice, however, it may not be necessarily the same.

In an interval of usually five years, the HS is kept up to date reflecting changes in technology or in international trade volumes. The last amendment became effective in 2017 when the sixth revision of the HS replaced the former version referred to as HS 2012. However, the actual implementation of the current HS version (HS 2017) as well as the adaptation of related non-tariff measures may take place at varying points in time in different countries.

Requirements for Import Formalities

Import documents may be presented in any language, but it is advisable to submit them in either English or Chinese, or to enclose an appropriate translation. In general, application forms should be completed in the same language as used therein.

Not only in view of the periodic amendments of the HS, commodity codes and related descriptions included in commercial documents should always contain a reference to the nomenclature basis, e.g. HS 2012 or HS 2017 (please refer to the section on the Harmonized System above). In case the commodity codes indicated go beyond the six-digit level of the HS and refer to the tariff nomenclature of the destination country, these codes should be adjusted with the importer.

Exporters should bear in mind that besides officially required documentation, additional necessities may result from contractual agreements with the importer. If a sales contract or a letter of credit (L/C) stipulates that particular documents are to be supplied by the exporter, their provision constitutes an obligation, regardless of official requirements. Moreover, customs or further authorities may request additional documentation if they consider the information given in the customary documentation as insufficient or doubtable. Besides necessities of the authorities, importers or forwarders, requirements for import documentation are also influenced by trade practice.

Incoterms®

Responsibilities of sellers and buyers concerning the delivery of goods under international sales contracts are frequently defined by the so-called International Commercial Terms (Incoterms®). As created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Incoterms® constitute authoritative rules for the allotment of costs and risks to the parties of sales contracts. On the basis of the determination of how costs are allocated to the parties, Incoterms® are also used for purposes of customs valuation. It is generally advisable to refer to a specific edition (e.g. Incoterms® 2010) when Incoterms® are included into contracts or trade documents. However, as the use of Incoterms® for international commercial transactions is optional, the new Incoterms® 2020 could already be incorporated before whilst the former version of the year 2010 may still be referred to in sales contracts. The current 2020 edition will come into effect as of 1 January 2020.

The edition of the Incoterms® 2020 stipulates the following eleven rules:

  • ... for sea transport (and inland waterways):

    • Free alongside Ship: FAS

    • Free on Board: FOB

    • Cost and Freight: CFR

    • Cost, Insurance and Freight: CIF

  • ... for any mode(s) of transport:

    • Ex Works: EXW

    • Free Carrier: FCA

    • Carriage paid to: CPT

    • Carriage and Insurance paid to: CIP

    • Delivered at Place: DAP

    • Delivered at Place Unloaded: DPU

    • Delivered Duty paid: DDP

The former rule DAT has been renamed to DPU, which defines that the place of destination could be any place, not merely a terminal.

If the DDP rule is used, the exporter is responsible for the customs and import clearance of the goods. The importer, however, is required to assist the exporter in obtaining official authorisations where applicable. Therefore, this term should not be used if the exporter is not in the position to either directly or indirectly arrange for the clearance of the commodities.

Legalisation of Documents

All supporting documentation prepared by the exporter is to be legalised by the Embassy or Consular Section of China in the country of export. Prior to this legalisation, the documents are to be certified by either a chamber of commerce or by a notary, depending on the nature of the particular documents. The official full name of the country in which the documents will be presented is usually required to feature on the document (People's Republic of China), i.e. the denomination "China" is not sufficient.

Translations, where required, are usually to be prepared by sworn translators and regularly necessitate an additional certification by the competent authority, e.g. the respective court. The Embassy may moreover set supplementary conditions, e.g. that photocopies of original documents are to be enclosed for the archives of the representation, or that all documents to be legalised are to be enlisted in a specific form.

Currency and Payments

The most widely used mode of payment for imports is the Letter of Credit (L/C). L/Cs with a longer term duration (in general more than 90 days) require a prior permit by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). The customs authorities must confirm the commercial papers if the total value of the transaction exceeds 100,000 USD. A bank guarantee is required for any deposit payment exceeding 30,000 USD. As these limits may be subject to adjustment by the Chinese authorities, please contact the Chinese importer for the currently valid limits. Short-term trade transactions may also be regulated via documentary collections. For most import procedures, a copy of the business contract is required.

The Yuan Renminbi (CNY) is the official currency of the P.R. of China (1 CNY = 10 Jiao = 100 Fen). The exchange rate is regulated by the Chinese Government. The CNY (also commonly referred to as RMB) is not yet fully convertible. To achieve its aims of full convertibility and a cautious internationalisation of its currency, the Chinese Government has implemented a programme on cross-border settlements of payments in CNY. The programme has expanded to be operable worldwide apart from its initial restriction to trade activities with Hong Kong, Macau and the ASEAN member states (i.e. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam). The People's Bank of China, i.e. the central bank, has enabled Chinese importers and exporters to transact in CNY. A number of foreign banks already allows exporters to open accounts in CNY for cross-border trade settlement.

For more information on this matter, please contact the central bank as follows: People's Bank of China, 32 Chengfang Street, Xicheng District, CN-100800 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 66194114.

Packaging and Marking Requirements

Packaging

Hay and straw may be used as packaging materials if accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. They will be subject to a phytosanitary inspection.

China has been applying the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 15 for wood packaging material (WPM) since 2006. All WPM must bear the ISPM No. 15 compliant mark and thus must have been treated with the appropriate quarantine sanitisation treatment methods. Coniferous wood as packaging material must additionally be free of bark. Although, according to China Announcement No. 2002/58 and Notices No. 11 and 32/2005, a Phytosanitary Certificate is not required for such WPM, problems in getting shipments cleared without a Phytosanitary Certificate have been reported. Previously required fumigation or disinfection certificates should not be required by the Chinese authorities any longer. If non-wooden packaging materials are used, it is recommended to enclose a Declaration of Non-Wood Packaging Material to be provided by the exporter.

It should be considered that packages are often stored in the open. Consequently, they should be water-resistant. As transportation is at times difficult, packages may be subject to rough treatment and should thus be shock-proof and extremely hard-wearing. Instructions on the proper handling of packages should be given in Chinese. Exporters are advised to consult the importer for more specific information on product labelling and packaging.

Marking

The correct wording for the destination marking of consignments intended to be exported to China is "People's Republic of China" (P.R. of China). The denomination "China" alone is not sufficient. The marking of consignments intended to be exported to China must be clearly printed in inerasable letters in English and Chinese.

The following details must be marked on consignments to be imported into the P.R. of China in accordance with the applicable national standard GB/T 6388-1986 in Chinese and English:

  • classification symbol as prescribed by the standard

  • contract number

  • sequential number of the consignment

  • specifications (product name or HS Code, indication of the model, size, colour etc.)

  • quantity contained in the consignment

  • gross and net weight

  • date of manufacture (year/month/day)

  • name of the manufacturer

  • volume of the consignment

  • best before date (month/year), if applicable

  • place of destination

  • name of the consignee

  • name of the consignor

  • transport number

  • shipping number.

Country of Origin Labelling

Country of origin labelling is not legally required for all goods. It is, however, a prerequisite to market designated commodities in the P.R. of China, especially merchandise intended for the local consumer, as indicated in the following section.

The country of origin labelling on the merchandise and/or its packaging should correspond to the origin stated on the commercial documents. It should be borne in mind that any indication of a country on the commodity itself may be valued as a declaration of origin. Recently, goods originating in Taiwan are subject to stricter examinations regarding the indication of their origin and regardless of their country of export. It is therefore advisable to priorly contact the importer to adjust the required indication.

Product Labelling Requirements

General product labelling

For most products intended to be sold to the final consumer without re-packaging, e.g. foodstuffs and cosmetic products (information on the labelling of oral products may be found furhter below), labelling in Chinese is mandatory. The minimum content of the labels comprises:

  • name and address of the manufacturer

  • name, address, and contact information of the local agent

  • registration number/product licence number in China

  • kind of product (and function, if applicable)

  • brand name

  • list of ingredients and their quantities

  • generic names of food additives, if applicable

  • net weight

  • conditions of storage

  • date of manufacture

  • expiry date, if applicable

  • lot numbers and product codes

  • product standard code, if applicable

  • country of origin

  • description of the way of preparation, if applicable.

Labelling of foodstuffs

The foreign exporter's registration number assigned by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the P.R. of China (CNCA) under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) must be displayed on the product label of foodstuffs.

Nutritional labelling is compulsory for certain foodstuffs. The nutrition label is an integral part of the foodstuffs label and must be designed to provide the consumer with a clear description of all nutritional components of the foodstuff and their respective values. A catalogue of foodstuff varieties which are subject to mandatory nutritional labelling is published by the National Health Commission; please contact the Commission for further information: Xi Zhi Men Wai South Rd. 1, CN-100044 Beijing, phone number: +86 10 68792114, fax number: +86 10 68792024.

Irradiated or genetically modified foodstuffs must be labelled accordingly. Infants' foods must, in addition, bear the following details:

  • nutrients and nutritional value

  • method of preparation

  • intended age group

  • name and address of the Chinese importer.

Additional requirements apply to infant formula, which is to be labelled in accordance with the Chinese standard GB 10765-2010 and further stipulations by the former China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) which is now administered by the National Medical Products Administration under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). The Chinese requirements for the labelling of infant formula are based on the respective standard by the Codex Alimentarius. The following information is to be provided:

  • product name

  • clear statement of the source of protein (e.g. based on cows' milk/goat's milk/whey), percentage of the sources of protein, if more than one

  • list of ingredients, including the names of edible vegetable oil in decreasing order of weight

  • declaration of nutritive value, stating the amount of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and optional ingredients

  • specific source or country of origin (statements such as "imported milk" or similar are not permissible)

  • date marking and storage instructions

  • instructions for use

  • Registration of Infant Formula Products number.

Labels of infant formula must not contain information which express or imply that the product may be used for the prevention or treatment of diseases or that it has any health effects. Phrasing as to what the product does not contain are neither permissible (e.g. "does not contain ..."). Content which violates scientific principles, is false, exaggerated or inconsistent with the product registration is also prohibited.

A sample of the intended product label and of the instructions for use must be submitted to the SAMR for the purpose of the Registration of Infant Formula Products, together with supporting material. Consignments of infant formula may not be relabelled upon arrival. In order to change certain details on the label, e.g. the product or company name, address of the manufacturer, ingredients, an application is to be submitted to the SAMR.

According to the SAMR, labels of health food products with function claims are to adhere to the Food Safety Law of the P.R. of China. Furthermore, the labels shall include a statement whether the goods were tested on animals.

The following information is required for wine in addition to the general labelling requirements for foodstuffs listed above:

  • alcoholic strength by volume

  • product standard numbers

  • quality level.

Labelling of organic products

Goods may be marketed as organic products, i.e. bear the term "organic" or other characters, designs or symbols which imply that the goods are organic products, in the P.R. of China only if they have undergone the required certification procedure conducted by an appropriate certification body approved by the CNCA and consequently bear either the China Organic Product or the China Conversion to Organic Product certification mark, as appropriate, in accordance with the Chinese standard GB/T 19630-2011 ("Organic products"). In addition, the following information is to be provided on the product itself or the minimum sales package of the product:

  • unique organic code of the product (consisting of the code of the certification body, the year of production and a random number)

  • name or logo of the approved certification body.

Labelling of oral care products

The labels of oral care products are to contain the following details:

  • product name

  • name and address of the producer

  • net content

  • ingredients composition table in descending order

  • shelf life displayed either as date of manufacture or production lot number and date of use

  • safety warning, if applicable

  • storage conditions, if necessary

  • instructions for use, if necessary.

Labelling of pharmaceuticals and medical devices

Labels of pharmaceutical products must be approved by the National Medical Products Administration under the SAMR and are to contain the following information:

  • common name of the pharmaceutical product

  • indication or function

  • specifications

  • list of ingredients

  • application and dosage form

  • possible adverse reactions

  • contraindications

  • dates of manufacture and expiry

  • lot number

  • contact details of the manufacturer (name, address, postal code, phone number, country of origin)

  • storage conditions.

In case of particular medicines, e.g. anesthetics, radioactive or toxic medicines, a specific sign must be printed or attached to the product package.

Labels of medical devices are to provide information as follows:

  • product name

  • type

  • size

  • name, address and contact details of the registrant or his agent

  • Registration of Medical Devices number

  • name, address and contact details of the manufacturer and his production licence number

  • date of manufacture

  • period of use or expiry date

  • conditions for power supply and input power, if applicable

  • callout graphic of the device

  • warning and precautions, if applicable

  • instructions for storage and use

  • graphic or verbal warning that the device is harmful to the environment or emits radiation, if applicable.

If the size of the label of a medical device is small, at least the following information must be provided: product name, type, size, date of manufacture, period of use or expiry date and an indication towards further instructions.

Labelling of hazardous substances

Specific labelling requirements also apply for hazardous substances. Information as follows is to be displayed on the labels of such goods:

  • name of the hazardous substance in Chinese and English

  • main hazardous ingredient, its content and concentration

  • molecular formula

  • dangerous goods code (UN number)

  • respective pictograms and signal words

  • indication of the dangerous character of the hazardous substance (inflammable, explosive etc.) and associated harmful effects on human and animal health and the environment

  • safety precautions

  • production date

  • lot number

  • contact details of the manufacturer (name, address, postal code, phone number, country of origin)

  • emergency phone number or chemical accident and emergency inquiry phone number located in the P.R. of China

  • prompt to refer to the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

  • measures to be taken in case of accidents.

Labelling of pesticides

The following details are to be provided on the labels of pesticides:

  • registered product name

  • list of ingredients

  • Registration of Pesticides number

  • evidence that the manufacturer is an approved producer of pesticides

  • applied product standard code

  • net weight

  • dates of manufacture and expiry

  • lot number

  • contact details of the manufacturer (name, address, postal code, phone number, country of origin)

  • contact details of the manufacturer's Chinese agency, if applicable

  • toxicity category and the respective signal word

  • handling conditions for transportation and storage

  • first-aid measures in case of poisoning.

Samples of pesticides labels must be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for approval before they may be used.

Labelling of electrical and electronic consumer goods

Energy efficiency labelling is compulsory for a number of consumer goods, such as household electrical appliances (e.g. refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, air compressors, ventilators, household cookers, rice cookers, microwave ovens, water heaters, washing machines, self-ballasted lamps, high-pressure sodium lamps, DC switches, transformators), industrial devices (e.g. electric motors, cooling systems) as well as IT equipment and similar goods (e.g. computer monitors, copiers, flat-screen television sets, printers, fax machines, digital TV receivers, microcomputers). The following information must be provided on the energy efficiency label:

  • name or shortened form of the producer

  • specification/type of the product

  • grading of energy efficiency

  • energy consumption

  • implemented standard code for energy efficiency

  • quick response (QR) code, allowing the consumer to consult the appropriate energy efficiency information online.

Prior to the marketing of the goods, modified labels - including those for which a QR code has been introduced for the first time - must be presented to the China Energy Label Center (CELC) for approval. Manufacturers and importers of goods subject to compulsory energy efficiency labelling must submit an annual report on their use of such labels in the previous year to the CELC before 15 March of the following year.

Labelling of goods subject to China Compulsory Certification (CCC)

All goods subject to China Compulsory Certification (CCC) must bear the CCC mark.