4 Ways to Import Goods from China into the USA

19 February 2018
import goods china usa

When it comes to import goods from China, into the United States of America, it is not an easy task for businesses, especially for the start-ups. It is required to have a full knowledge of business chain from shipping goods to transporting them onto destination. So, importing items from China into the USA requires establishing relationships, setting up shipping and navigating the regulatory channels of US Customs. Here are 4 ways to import goods from China into the USA.

Step 1 – Find a Genuine Supplier in China

Before you start finding a genuine supplier in China for importing your product into the USA, you first make sure you have selected an item, which can be legally exported from China.  How to find a supplier in China? Now, you can start finding exporter of your product in China by contacting Chinese embassy in USA, attending trade events, approaching Chinese trade promotion councils, connecting with government agencies and buying China export data from reliable market research companies like Export Genius. Here are few more ways to find supplier in China for importing your products into US:

Make a list of Chinese exporters or suppliers: Firstly, you have to arrange and make a list of Chinese exporters of your product. This can be done through online outsourcing directories or professional sourcing companies. You can also attend trade fairs or shows in China and check customs data of China. Canton Fair and East China Fair are famous trade events in China. Export agents in China are also good options to find Chinese exporters.

Contact each supplier: Once you have a list of exporters in China, you can begin contacting each one of them through e-mail, fax or phone. You can start asking questions to them about client references, business licensing information, manufacturing & staffing details and the name & location of the factory producing the product. You must also investigate about the product components such as price, samples, quality, etc.

Make a selection of Chinese exporter: Now you have to make a selection of best Chinese supplier of your product on the basis of some factors such as quality & price of a product, order delivery, etc.

Step 2 – Placing an Order

Now it is the time for you to place your first order. Here are some tips for getting your first order of products successfully.

Meet with your Chinese supplier: If it is possible, you should make a trip to meet your supplier in China. This will help you to establish a relationship with the supplier and get a sense of how well their business is operated and how well they can work with your business. For visiting China, you need to obtain a business visa. Documents for business visa to China include – a valid passport from your country of residence, a black & white photocopy of the picture page of your passport, black & white photocopies of previous Chinese visas you have obtained, if any, a recent passport size photo of yours, a completed visa application form, an invitation letter from the supplier you are meeting and applicable fee.

Negotiate a deal with the supplier: Remember business interactions with Chinese suppliers are governed by Chinese culture & customs, for this, different negotiation skills and tactics are required. You must focus on business relationships and moral influence.

Begin placing your orders: Once you are done with the deal, you can start placing your orders. Each company will have a minimum order amount and a basic shipping agreement. The most common types of shipping arrangements for exporting goods from China to US include – sea freight and carrier air mail.

Pay for your products: After this, you have to pay a deposit on the value of your order. Usually, an initial deposit between 30% and 50% will be requested by a Chinese manufacturer to get your product/order into production. You will have to pay reminder amount upon delivery of the products. Remember never pay the entire amount of the purchase price upfront. If there is a problem in your order, you are unlikely to get your money back. There is a difference between wholesale cost and total cost of a product. Wholesale cost is the price of a product, which is agreed in your deal. And total cost is addition of taxes, tariffs, shipping fees, insurance fees, etc. to the wholesale cost. A letter of credit is commonly used in trade with China. Payment to Chinese exporter can be done through credit card, cash, check, PayPal, etc.

Avoid payment fraud: There is risk for you to get indulged into any business payment fraud. It typically involves your order payment being sent into wrong bank account.  

Step 3 – Getting Your Goods through Customs

Now how to get your products through customs of China and USA? Follow the tips below:

Hire a customs broker: Locating and hiring a licensed customs broker will make your importation process much easier. How to find a licensed customs broker? For this, you can have a better communication with customs officials and government sources that can help you in finding a certified broker. You can search on the website of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America.

Obtain necessary permits & licenses: Once you have selected customs broker, you can ask for required permits and licenses, if any. You need to apply them through the appropriate US government channels.

File the Import Security Filling (ISF): You have to file ISF, which is a document specific to products shipped by sea freight. It provides advance shipment information to the US customs. This document is required to be filed 24 hours before shipment sets sail. ISF document contains – details of buyer & seller, record number of importer, consignee numbers, origin country, ship to party, US Harmonized Tariff Schedule, container stuffing location and consolidator.

Get your items through US Customs and Border Protection (CBP): For getting your products through US Customs and CBP, you need to contact a service port of entry near your location. Ask to speak with import specialists who are assigned to the product you are importing. Import specialists can assist you in preparing & filling the required paperwork, answer your queries related to filling an entry, advisory duty rates and product specific requirements. You can visit the website of CBP to get the contact details of port of entry.

Make a submission of initial & additional import documents: After your products received by the port of entry, you have to furnish necessary documents such as Bill of Lading, Packing Lists, Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, Customs Bond and Inward Cargo Manifest in five days limit. After this, you and your customs broker have ten days to file additional documents including entry summary and any relevant invoices that can be used to value the shipment.

Step 4 – Taking Possession of Your Items

At the final state, you can take the possessions of your products by completing last necessary formalities. These are:

Pay your import duties: Import duties will be imposed on your products after calculating the value of shipment as estimated by customs officers and shipment’s grouping on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The value of shipment includes – packing costs, license fees, royalty fees, commissions incurred from the purchase and price paid.

Choose logistics company to transport your items: Contact a logistics company or a commercial cargo company to pick your shipment at the port of entry and transport your products to your warehouse or local sellers.

Check your shipment for accuracy and damage: After getting your products transported at your destination, you need to check your products for any damage sustained over the course of trip. In case, there is a significant damage to your products, you need to rethink about your choice of shipping method.


Export Genius is the right place to find Chinese suppliers for your product importing to USA. It provides China import export data and USA import export data along with Bill of Lading data. This is basically a market research company, providing global trade data of 60+ countries and analysis reports of 20+ countries with authentic shipment records.

To buy our market research report and data, e-mail us at info@exportgenius.in.

For any media related enquiries, please contact us at press@exportgenius.in.

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