Importing Goods from China: A guide

When importing products from China ask yourself 3 simple questions:


Many begin importing goods from China because costs are low and profit margins are high. China has in fact become a reliable source—both in terms of quality and quantity—for many products and industries.

What?: You can import just about any good from China these days.

  • What kind of importing?
    • Personal use: Single product bought on an online platform such as Alibaba and shipped directly to one’s address via DHL or Fedex
    • Resale: Buying in bulk to resell to distributors, retailers or consumers
    • Component parts: To add value to a manufacturing program, i.e. parts or accessories for products made in the USA.
    • Promotional purposes – marketing materials, gifts.
  • What goods can you import from China?
    • Raw materials and components
    • Complex and/or tech-intensive products
    • Basic consumer products – footwear, garments, jewelry.

Click on the Best Product Categories to Source From China to learn more.

How?:  These are the ten steps that will take you from product development to receiving goods.

  1. Identify and develop your product: The more you know about your product the better. You’ll want to identify every detail – the materials needed, machinery needed to manufacture, etc. This enables you to get a more accurate quote from suppliers and ensure that the quality of your product is clearly understood.
  2. Research the rules for importing your product – know your rights, the tariffs etc.
  3. Secure funding for your sourcing program. You will need to pay upfront before you receive the merchandise.
  4. Find:
    1. A customs broker
    2. 3PL (Third Party Logistics)
    3. A freight forwarder
    4. An inspection company
  5. Identify a supplier – See: China Sourcing How-To: Qualifying Suppliers
  6. Negotiate terms and request a sample
  7. Place an order
  8. Conduct quality inspections as necessary before, during, and after production and upon arrival to your destination
  9. Arrange and monitor logistics
  10. Receive your shipment

Each step of the above process requires careful attention and management. (Learn how to avoid some common pitfalls: The Seven Deadly Sins of Importing From China)

Click on our Industry Experience to learn more.

For best results:

  1. Do your research – all of it. What you don’t know can hurt you. The better understanding you have of your own product, the easier it is to convey to suppliers and perform quality checks.
  2. Hire professionals: Establishing and managing a supply chain is a challenging task – even more so if the supply chain is in a different country. Language, customs, and expertise in different aspects of the supply chain can become roadblocks and cause delays or disaster. We suggest getting professional help. See below links for more information:

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