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Importing Freight and Cargo From China to the UK

Cargo from BeijingOnce the difficult task of identifying a supplier in China has been accomplished, the import procedure into the United Kingdom is relatively straightforward. While the price of the goods that the supplier is offering is important, it is also essential to invest in a quality assurance agency. A quality assurance agency will conduct investigations of the supplier, covering factors like physical location and premises. The agency will also confirm that the sample is truly representative of the bulk goods that the supplier will send.

Importing into the UK from China requires a tentative time line of approximately 3 to 4 months. This covers the entire process, from inquiry to shipping. After an initial inquiry is made, preliminary quotations are given. This entire process will normally take about two weeks of negotiations, depending on the individual supplier. During this time, there will be a lot of communications back and forth including price negotiations, details of the product and so on.

Sampling is the next logical step forward, and this can also be a red flag if the supplier refuses to provide samples. It is not advisable to transact with a supplier who is not willing to provide samples, also this factor considerably lowers credibility. However, once a reliable supplier is found, sampling should take about 4 weeks in the overall process.

The next stage is production which should cover the next 4 weeks of this process. This is an important step, as getting consistent and good quality from Chinese manufacturing companies can be difficult.

In the past, there have been instances of a few UK businesses that have received imported goods of substandard quality. Some businesses prefer to have someone posted in the country to oversee the manufacturing process, and ensure that the standards of quality are met at all times. An ISO certification is not a very reliable indicator, as these can be bought to suit the needs of the Chinese business.

The actual shipping is a rather complicated process, and this is perhaps best handled by a good broker or shipping agent. Most Chinese manufacturers do not have their own export licences and employ a broker to handle this aspect for them. These handlers typically charge 2% to 5% of the total value of the shipped goods. The Chinese companies also offer FOB (Free on Board) shipping, which covers all shipping expenses right up to the port of destination. This will include collection costs, loading and delivery fees from shipper to port, documents related to exports, storage and consolidation as well as terminal handling charges.

The importer will also need to consider costs such as the terminal handling, destination port charges, customs clearance charges, import duty and value added tax (VAT) and transport.

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