Do you need help with importing goods from China to the UK? Confused by the "Brexit" of the United Kingdom which is no longer a member of the European Union? Although you can find thousands of articles online and spend nights reading about it, we decided to make this guide to save you time and make your life easier.Logistics from China to UK involves effective supply chain coordination to ensure the safe and timely transport of goods. We will guide you through the different modes of transport you need to use, the requirements and regulations you need to be aware of before importing products from China to the UK (or the opposite for that matter).
Whether you're a large company, a small business, a start-up or an individual, DocShipper can organize freight shipping from China to UK from start to finish, without you having to do anything. Tell us about your project, so our experts can find the most appropriate solution for your freight and give you tips on how to save on shipping costs. We'll answer any questions you have!
What is the best method of transport between China and UK?
In this part of our guide, we have reviewed and detailed the different possible ways of transportation between China and the UK. Sea, air, and rail freight: we will help you to choose the most suitable and affordable way for your shipment.
DocShipper Recommendation: Ocean freight will be the best option if :
- The volume of your shipment is higher than 2 CBM
- You are looking for the most affordable method of transport
DocShipper Note: Do you need advice or do you want a quote for a sea freight solution? Click on our button to fill in our online form, a dedicated expert will contact you within 24 hours!
Sea freight from China to UK
Overview - Ocean shipping from China to the UK
You can choose ocean freight to deliver the cargo from China to UK.When importing goods to the UK by using sea freight, you may be wondering which port in the UK your product could be shipped to. Sea freight rates from China to UK vary depending on several factors such as the size, weight, and nature of the cargo as well as the distance to be travelled. One of the first questions you may ask when you first look into sea freight is “which port is close to me?
There are 5 main ports through which a cargo ship from China could be routed. Although Felixstowe is the common destination for most shipments arriving in the UK, here’s an overview of several other ports in the UK which could your shipment arrive through as well.
The main shipping seaports in the UK
The Port of Felixstowe
Located on the east coast of England, the port of Felixstowe is the largest and busiest container port in Britain and one of the largest in Europe. If you are importing goods from Asia, this is almost always where your cargo will arrive. Regardless where in the UK your warehouse is located or where your goods need to be delivered, Felixstowe's location in the East Midlands allows you to get your goods where you need them.
The Port of Felixtowe handles more than 4 million 20-foot containers each year and offers shipping services to and from 700 ports worldwide. Felixstowe plays a crucial role in keeping the UK’s trade moving and delivers real advantages to customers, the community and the British industry.
Website: Port of Felixtowe
The Port of Southampton
The Port of Southampton is the second-largest container terminal in the UK. Ideally located on the south coast of England. The port is known to be the largest deepwater port in Britain, which can handle many types of cargo and more than 1.5 million TEUs per year. It is also the UK's leading vehicle handling port, Europe's leading cruise turnaround port and the UK's most productive container port. Operated by DP World Southampton, the terminal has the new 500m SCT5 deepwater quay, which has been specially built to handle the world's biggest ships.
Website: Port of Southampton
The Port of London Gateway
London Gateway is the newest of the British ports. As its name implies, it is located in London on the Thames river. The advantages of this port located in the outskirt of the capital are huge, as it can completely simplify the supply chain for London businesses. London Gateway has also the largest logistics park in Europe! It is known for handling large volumes of perishable and weather-sensitive goods. Operated by DP World, London Gateway is the UK’s most advanced, connected and integrated logistics hub. It has a highly automated container terminal with a 2,700 m long continuous quay, ship-to-shore gantry cranes with up to 25 rows and an annual capacity of 3,500,000 TEU.
If your business or consignee is located in the city or nearby, this port will make your goods available almost directly at your feet, which can save you inland transport costs.
Website: Port of London Gateway
DocShipper Alert : DocShipper is an international freight forwarder that organizes the transportation of your goods from the supplier's warehouse to the final destination. Relax, because we take care of everything: from packing, to organizing the transport, to customs clearance and administrative procedures, regardless of the shipping method (air, sea, road, rail).
Contact us to receive a free estimate in less than 24 hours. You have a question ? Call our consultants for free.
The Port of Tilbury
It is the oldest port of London, still in operation and also located on the banks of the Thames in Essex, the port of Tilbury is now mainly used to import goods such as forest products, grain and all types of bulk.
The Port of Tilbury also operates the London Container Terminal, which is Europe's largest terminal for reefer containers. It has 1,400 reefer outlets at the terminal and access to a 25,000-pallet refrigerated warehouse operated by NFT.
The Port of Tilbury is now facing strong competition from the new London Gateway, which is becoming one of the UK's major ports and is only a few kilometres along the banks of the Thames River.
Website: Port of Tilbury
The Port of Grangemouth
Grangemouth is Scotland's main container port and is located halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is located in the heart of Scotland's industrial area. It handles around 150,000 containers a year. The port of Grangemouth is the only port in the UK that exports more than it imports. But it is important to note that the cargo flow represents almost 30% of Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP), highlighting the port’s essential role as an economic facilitator for Scotland.
As Grangemouth is served by the M9, and make it easy to deliver places in the country by using the national motorway and rail networks. Using this port can add a few days to transit time, but if you are importing full containers into Scotland, it can save you a few hundred pounds on road transport that would otherwise be routed from another port in the UK. The port of Grangemouth would be a good option if you are just starting out a business in Scotland and need to keep an eye on your budget.
Website: Port of Grangemouth
The Port of Liverpool
The Port of Liverpool is located on both sides of the Mersey River, has a strategic geographical location in the north-west of the United Kingdom, serving the industrial cities of Liverpool and Manchester very easily. The weak point of this port is that it receives very few ships directly from the major Chinese ports. This can lead to additional costs and longer transit times to get your goods there. The port is currently in the process of expanding its infrastructure to become one of the major ports in the UK.
*Please note that for ocean freight, departures in China are possible from the main ports such as the port of Shenzhen (Sekhou/Yantian), the port of Guangzhou (Huangpu/Nansha), the port of Ningbo, the port of Shanghai, the port of Tianjin, the port of Qingdao, the port of Xiamen (Fuzhou) and the port of Hong Kong.
How much time does it take to ship freight from China to UK?
Average sea freight shipping time from China to UK is between 3-6 weeks.
Please note that ocean freight is the slowest method of transport, so it is necessary to plan ahead in order to have generous margins for possible delays. In addition, Chinese manufacturers generally do not stock any goods; most of the products are made to order.
Do I have to ship by consolidation or full container between China and the UK?
There are 3 types of standard size containers that are used for both commercial and personal freight. They are used to ship dry goods and are the ones most importers will use. :
- 20 feet (33 cubic meters capacity)
- 40 feet (67 cubic meters capacity)
- 40 feet HQ (High Cube, 76 cubic meters capacity)
Let's now compare the 2 different transport options with these containers:
Consolidation or LCL (Less than Container Load)
LCL shipping option will be suitable when you do not have enough goods (quantity or volume) to fill a full container. In addition, it allows you to pay only for the space you need, making it profitable for your small shipments. Your goods will be loaded with other shipments, which are going to the same port of destination.
We recommend you to use this method if :
- You are going to ship in smaller volumes instead of buying large quantities from suppliers.
- You intend to group several shipments together and/or plan to deliver to several recipients inbound
- Your goods are not voluminous but too heavy in terms of weight, sea consolidation will be more affordable than airfreight.
DocShipper advice: We recommend that you use LCL option if you have a volume of goods between 2 m3 and 13/14 m3. Beyond that, it will be preferable and cheaper to ship in full containers.
FCL (Full Container Load)
FCL is an internationally used abbreviation for "Full Container Load". This means that all the space in the container belongs to a single customer from the loading to the final destination. The container will be sealed from departure from the supplier's premises until delivery to the consignee, which minimises handling and reduces risk and expense.
It will be useful for you to use this method if you intend to purchase a relatively large quantity of goods.
In conclusion, a full container FCL will be safer and cheaper for a larger volume, even if you only fill half of it. Indeed, from 15 m3, a full container can also have the advantage of being cheaper than LCL.
DocShipper advice: The tariff is usually a flat rate for the entire container. The cost per cubic metre is generally less than the estimated LCL cost per cubic metre. Remind that it will be cost-effective to use this method even if you only fill half the container.
Advantages of LCL shipping
- Price per cubic meter based on the volume occupied
- Suitable for all types of goods
- Most affordable option for small volumes
Disadvantages of LCL shipping
- Require palletization
- More handling which increases the risk of damages
- Ocean freight is the slowest method to ship your goods
Advantages of FCL shipping
- Sealed container from departure to arrival
- Reduces handling and decreases risks of damages
- The most affordable option for larger volumes
Disadvantages of FCL shipping
- Slowest method of transport
- Purchasing large quantities or a minimum volume of 15 CBM
DocShipper Alert : Are you planning to ship goods from China by sea? Whether it's a groupage shipment or a full container, DocShipper takes care of all the procedures with the various players in the logistics chain.
A single point of contact, dedicated service, peace of mind, expertise... DocShipper makes importing and exporting more pleasant.
Contact us to receive a free estimate in less than 24 hours.
You have a question ? Call our consultants for free.
Special sea freight between China and the UK
Shipping a container from China to the UK depends on several factors you will need, including the size of your shipment, as well as the commodity. . If you are about to ship specific goods, the below are available.
These containers are specially designed for the transport of perishable foodstuffs or chemicals in a temperature-controlled environment. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and are equipped with the latest technology for regulating the atmosphere, temperature or humidity level.
Roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships are vessels specially adapted to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailers, trailers or railway cars, which are driven or towed on their own wheels into and out of the ship.
Why use Ro-Ro shipping from China?
The safest and most economical way to handle and transport oversized or special project cargo. Shipments are often transported in one piece using specialized trailers from the port of origin to the destination. Less handling, no exposure to water or weather as the cargo is always stowed in the car decks of the Ro-Ro container for the entire voyage.
Bulk cargo is carried directly into the ship's hold. A distinction is thus made onboard between bulk and general cargo. Solid and liquid bulk goods : (such as coal, minerals, oil, cement, etc). Ships are specialized for each type of cargo, they are called bulk carriers.
OOG (Out of Gauge) cargo means "out of gauge or out of standard". OOG containers could be divided into Open Top Container and Flat Rack Container:
The Open Top Container is used to transport heavy and/or bulky finished products, which can only be handled and loaded using a crane or overhead crane.
The flat-Rack container is used to transport heavy, bulky and oversized items in height and/or width. For articles that are too long, too wide, too high and too heavy.
This type of equipment is particularly suitable for goods that are not on the scale of the shipment, but which cannot be loaded into standard containers. Shipping your oversized commodity in this way will make it easier, saves time for loading/unloading and increase the safety of the cargo.
You are looking for special sea freight to ship bulky goods or an oversized vehicle (such as a boat for example), do not hesitate to contact us, we are able to offer you a solution for any type of cargo.
How much does sea freight cost between China and the UK?
The most important thing to know when calculating freight is the weight and volume of your cargo. In fact, transport pricing is always based on the weight/volume ratio.
The weight/volume ratio: according to the sea freight equivalence rule "1 ton = 1 CBM".
- If you are using consolidation/LCL method, the basic rate will be calculated according to the weight/volume ratio rule and according to the principle of 1,000 kgs = 1 CBM. The tariff is established in the payload unit (PU) which is equivalent either to the mass expressed in tonnes or to the volume expressed in cubic metres, always "to the advantage of the carrier". Therefore, the higher value that will be used.
For example: If the weight of your shipment is 6,000 kgs with a volume of 9 CBM, it will cost the price of 9 UP. If the weight is 7,000 kgs with a volume of 6 m3, the price will correspond to 7 UP.
- If you are using the FCL shipping method, the rate is a flat rate per container, it will depend on the type of container used and the shipping companies supplying it.
Port and Shipping Surcharges
Surcharges are applied by shipping companies and ports, in addition to the basic rate and which depend on a specific context. We have listed them below:
BAF: Bunker Adjustment Factor
This tariff surcharge is a percentage applied on a freight basis, corresponding to fluctuations in the price of crude oil. Shipping companies started to apply it after the first oil shock in 1973. Since then, it has remained payable.
CAF: Currency Adjustment Factor
This tariff surcharge is also a percentage applied to it on the basis of freight + BAF and corresponds to fluctuations in the dollar rate. Since the vast majority of ocean freight rates are calculated in US dollars, companies hedge against exchange rate risks with this surcharge.
THC: Terminal Handling Charge
THC represents the handling charges at the port of loading and unloading. In the case of an FCL shipping, the price is always per container, whilst in the case of LCL shipping, the price is calculated per number of tonnes or CBM.
ORC: Origin Receipt Charge
This surcharge is only payable from ports in China. It finances and helps on the quick development of Chinese ports.
A ship arriving in a congested port will have to wait, sometimes for several days, before it can unload its cargo. Therefore, shipping companies apply a surcharge to compensate for this "loss of revenue".
Demurrage is compensation to be paid when the loading and/or unloading time exceeds the time stipulated in the voyage contract, whether or not this excess is due to the shipowner's fault, for example in the event of a strike or port congestion. Shipping companies call "demurrage" the cost of renting the container while it is parked in the port.
As you can see, there are many factors that make the cost of shipping different. Do not hesitate to consult our expert today by filling out our online form. You can also visit our page dedicated to ocean freight for more information on this mode of transport: Sea freight
DocShipper Recommendation: Airfreight will be the best option if :
- You have a volume of less than 2 CBM.
- If you want a quick delivery
DocShipper Note: Do you need information, advice, or a quote for your air freight shipment? Click on our button to fill in our online form, a specialist will contact you within 24 hours!
Airfreight from China to UK
Classic airfreight vs Express airfreight
Although 90% of goods are shipped by sea, when importers need to get goods to the UK quickly and reliably, such as high-value, seasonal goods, clothing, electronic products and/or products with a high risk of deterioration at sea, they use air freight. With this method, your cargo can be transported from a factory in China to your destination in the UK in just a few days.
It is important to differentiate the 2 options, both in terms of price and in terms of service:
- Classic airfreight uses the space available for commercial flights on scheduled airlines such as British Airways, Air China, Qatar Airways, Emirates...
- Express airfreight is operated by the networks of "courier companies" that offer door-to-door solutions, such as DHL, FedEx, TNT, UPS...
With the courier companies services, your goods can be delivered at your door anywhere in the world within a week. It's an "all-inclusive" service, there's no need to personally clear low-value shipments through customs. In addition, you can save on transport costs for small volumes of less than 1 CBM, which is even more competitive than the LCL sea freight option.
Main Airport in China
- PEK – Beijing Capital International Airport
- CAN – Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
- PVG – Shanghai Pudong International Airport
- SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport
- CTU – Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
- SZX – Shenzhen Baoan International Airport
- KMG – Kunming Changshui International Airport
- XIY – Xi’an Xianyang International Airport
- HKG – Hong Kong International Airport
Main Airports in the UK
- LHR – London Heathrow Airport
- LGW – London Gatewich Airport
- MAN – Manchester Airport
- NCL – Newcastle Airport
- BHX – Birmingham Airport
- LPL – Liverpool Airport
- BRS – Bristol Airport
- EDI – Edinburgh Airport
- GLA – Glasgow Airport
What are the advantages of airfreight?
1. The fastest shipping method
When your goods need to be transported quickly, air freight is undoubtedly the best solution compared to sea freight and rail freight. Nowadays, in some cases, receiving your goods on time can be a big advantage in a niche market.
2. Reliable departure and arrival times
Flight arrival and departure times are very reliable, as airlines tend to be well ahead of schedule. Even missing a flight would not cause much delay, as there are usually flights leaving every hour.
3. Send your cargo almost anywhere
Many airlines have an extensive network of destinations that covers almost the entire world. This means that you can send your shipment to almost any destination.
4. Save on insurance cost.
Because air freight has a relatively short transit time, the insurance coverage rate is lower. Even though air freight can be expensive, it saves money in terms of reduced insurance costs.
5. High level of security and reduced risk of theft and damage
Air transport offers the advantage of a high level of security, with strict controls at the entrances to airport areas reducing the exposure of cargo to theft and damage.
6. Less storage and fewer items in stock
Thanks to the shorter transit times of air freight, you can send smaller quantities and more often, so large storage space may not be necessary. In addition, customs clearance, cargo inspection and handling are more efficient, as most goods are released within a few hours.
7. Less packaging required
Normally, air shipments require less packaging than sea shipments. This means that you save time and money by avoiding an additional packing service.
Most of the companies, especially courier companies, give you the possibility to track your goods using an application, which allows you to follow the status of your shipment from departure to arrival.
Please note that air freight is only one part of the "supply chain". Indeed, in addition to the main transport, you will also need the administrative services related to export and import, taking into account airport charges, and delivery to the final destination. Services that we can also offer you at DocShipper!
How much does air freight between China and the UK cost?
The cost of air freight from China to the UK is also based on the weight/volume ratio, which will be defined as the chargeable weight, multiplied by the price per kilo.In general, the average cost for air freight from China to UK is around 3-6 USD per kilogram.
The IATA tariff, which is in principle mandatory, may be subject to volume discounts. It is a weight range tariff, rapidly decreasing, which is different from one country to another. There is a minimum charge for small shipments.
Please note that the rate per kg of classic air freight is relatively cheaper than that of courier companies despite the higher fixed charges. Finally, the greater of the gross weight (on the scale) and the volumetric weight (based on dimensions) will be used to determine the air freight price for both classic and express airlines.
How to calculate the volumetric weight of your shipment?
It is very important to remember that shipping costs from China to the UK vary according to the mode of transport chosen (sea, air, land) and the characteristics of the goods (weight, size, fragility, etc.).
For classic airfreight, the air equivalence rule allows a weight/volume ratio of 1:6 (1 tonne per 6 CBM) and a tax to gross weight ratio of 1:6 or less. The actual volume is therefore divided by 6 to obtain the volumetric weight used as the basis for charging. For express freight, the rule is 1:5.
Here is the example if the volume of your shipment is 1 CBM:
- Classic airfreight : 1 CBM = 167 Kgs (1:6)
- Express airfreight : 1 CBM = 200 kgs (1:5)
DocShipper Alert : DocShipper assists small and medium-sized businesses and individuals in importing or exporting, by arranging all the steps in international transport, including customs clearance. If you are looking for assistance from A to Z, request a quote. We look forward to learn more about your needs!
How much time does it take to ship air cargo from to China to UK ?
The time it takes to ship air cargo from China to the UK depends on several factors such as the chosen airline, the nature of the cargo and the distance to be travelled. In general, the transit time for air freight from China to UK varies between 3-7 days expected. However, times may be longer depending on various factors such as customs formalities and possible delays.
We advise you to choose the air freight solution if you are in the rush to receive your goods. It will be the fastest option you have at your disposal, and in some cases, it can also be the cheapest! There are many solutions available to you, just choose the right one! Fill out our online form for expert advice.
DocShipper Recommendation: Rail freight will be the best option if :
- Your shipment is large or heavy
- You wish your goods to be delivered faster than sea freight
DocShipper Note: You have questions about rail freight? Do you need advice on how to ship your goods by train? Or would you simply like a quotation? Click on our button to fill out our online form, our experts will contact you and find the solution you need!
Rail freight from China to UK
Rail freight between China and the UK
Because air freight is sometimes too expensive and sea freight does not allow you to deliver your goods on time, rail freight is quickly becoming a transport option for European and British importers. Starting from virtually nothing in 2013, rail freight is now available to many destinations in Europe, including the UK.
It is considered the perfect intermediary between sea freight and air freight, and this opportunity is huge.
Imagine having your products delivered in less than half the time than it takes for sea freight. And at a much lower cost than air freight!
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), an organ of the Chinese government, has in recent years promoted and efficiently developed the use of the railway method between China and Europe in a reliable, safe, and efficient manner. This has led to an increase in traffic of more than 90% between the two territories.
The Yiwu - Madrid railway line, also known as the "New Silk Road", which is the longest freight railway line in the world, connects China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and Spain. It is operated by Trans-Eurasia Logistics. Further north there is also a railway line called "Trans-Siberian" which crosses Russia and is accessible from cities in north-eastern China.
The United Kingdom will be accessible via the platform in Duisburg (Germany), where the goods will be transhipped onto another railway line running from northern France to reach Folkstone (UK) via the Eurotunnel.
Transit time by train from China to the UK
Expect an average transit time between 20 and 25 days, from the terminal of loading in China to arrival in the UK.
Today, 22 Chinese provinces offer rail freight:
The "New Silk Road" and its Transit time to the UK
China has the largest rail network in the world. Suppliers from all over the country can offer rail transport to their customers. The Trans-Eurasia departure terminal is located in Yiwu, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, also known as the world's largest market for the supply of any product.
It is also a railway hub for goods transported to and from Europe. Thus, a supplier from Shenzhen, Shanghai or Xiamen can easily have his products delivered to Yiwu, for further transport to destinations in Europe, especially in the UK.
Transit times by rail freight are twice faster sea freight!
DocShipper note: Rail freight is a fast-growing method, and prices are becoming very competitive. If you would like more information on this mode of transport, please do not hesitate to contact our team. You can also go to our dedicated page: Rail freight
What are the advantages of rail freight between China and the UK?
Rail freight is a mode of transport increasingly used by British and European importers. These new railway lines operating between China and Europe are changing trade patterns and compete directly with shipping and airline companies. Indeed, rail freight is very attractive due to its cost 50 % lower than air freight and its transit time 50 % shorter than that of sea freight.
- A fast, safe and efficient transport solution.
- The high frequency of departures makes the solution flexible for your shipments.
- Large capacity allows to load many containers, and therefore a lot of quantity.
- Defined and reliable transit times.
- Much less CO2 emissions for a better environmental profile.
- Special containers such as reefers, open tops, tanks, etc. are available.
Door to door service between China and the UK
Door-to-door is an all-inclusive service, from the pickup from your supplier in China to your home or warehouse in the UK. Whether it's for sea or air transport, we offer you this easy option for all shipping methods!
This service is the most commonly used, the most convenient way to ship your goods and also the most appreciated! With this method, you are free of all the steps related to shipping. We take care of the whole process from the beginning, from loading and collection of your goods, the routing to the port/airport/rail terminal, through customs clearance to delivery at destination. Door-to-door is the most convenient and efficient solution.
By combining our experience with the professionalism of our partners in China and in the UK, we guarantee you a quality service from A to Z, you will not have to take any steps and you will be relieved of some of your worries. This method will save you time and also money!
Door to door is our speciality at DocShipper! We can take care of all your logistic needs and guarantee you a professional quality service: packing, storage/warehousing, loading/unloading, customs clearance, international freight, trucking... These services will all be included in our offer!
What are the advantages of the door to door services?
Door-to-door delivery services have many advantages. It is a convenient way for customers to free themselves from having to organize the shipment of their goods. The advantage you get as a customer is that Docshipper takes care of your shipment from A to Z and ensures that the product arrives safely at your address.
This means that you benefit our complete service, whether it is for sea freight, classic or express air, door to door services can make your life easier!
When you entrust us with your cargo, you can be fully focused on your usual day-to-day activities without having to worry about shipping.
One thing we are very proud of at DocShipper is our friendly staff and their attention to detail. When you order your freight through us, you get a very personalized experience. In addition, we will help you track your shipment every step of the way.
All our partners guarantee you a quality experience. You can be sure that your goods will be delivered in the best conditions to your warehouse or home.
You are looking for door-to-door service from China to the UK? Please contact us! You will save time, energy of course and probably money. Indeed, it is by choosing the "all-inclusive" solutions that we can offer you the best prices!
Please visit our dedicated page for more information: Door to door service
You can also fill out our online form to get a free quote.
Customs clearance in the UK for goods imported from China
In this section, we will guide you through the customs procedure which is an essential step when importing products from China to the UK. It is therefore important to understand the rules and obligations that apply on the UK's territory.
Here you will find all the steps of this procedure that will help you understand how the duties and taxes you will have to pay are calculated, and by whom they will be collected.
Brexit and its effects on customs clearance
The "Brexit" will above all influence the UK's relations with the European Union. On the other hand, as China is a third country of the EU, customs clearance procedures and the rules governing imports from China will remain similar to those applied as a member of the Union. Importing means bringing goods from a third country into the EU.
On import, the goods must be cleared through customs before they can be put into service or resold. Customs levies duties, taxes and charges which are determined according to the commodity code, origin and customs value of the goods. Intangible goods and services do not need to be cleared through customs. These include, for example, software and electronic books.
With the departure of the UK from Europe, British businesses will have to prepare for the UK to become a 'third country' to the EU. The term 'third country' simply refers to a country that is not a member of the European Union. The UK withdrew from the EU at the end of January 2020. A transition period is foreseen from the beginning of February until the end of 2020. The withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK contains provisions on the transition period arrangements concerning, for example, the free movement of goods between the 2 territories.
During the transition period, the current rules continue to be in place as if the UK were still a member of the EU. The EU and the UK will negotiate their future relationship in the year 2020.
Regardless of the type of agreement the EU and the UK will negotiate, all goods imported or exported between the parties after the transition period must be cleared through customs. All goods must be cleared through customs, even if no customs duties are imposed. This will result in considerable additional costs for businesses trading with the UK.
If you are about to import a commercial quantity of goods into the UK and intend to resell them, you must be registered as a business entity. This does not need to be a specific type of business; it can be as a sole trader, partnership, company limited, etc. Registration is important so that you can at least make a self-assessment statement to tell HMRC what you bought/sold.
If you are importing goods for personal use, you do not need to be registered as a business.
You need to be registered as a business to sell your goods in the UK and HMRC can make sure you pay the correct amount of tax on your imports and income.
Value for customs duty
Importation of products from third countries to the UK and to the European Union leads to the payment of customs duties and taxes. These are calculated by applying a percentage to the value of the imported goods.
This is the "transaction value" method. It’s based on the price you pay when you buy the goods before bringing them to the UK. It is also called the CIF value (incoterm). It is the price that the goods will have cost you by the time they reach a point of entry into the EU, no matter to which country they are delivered.
This value will be used as the basis for the calculation of customs duties
Import value for trade statistics
HMRC uses your import value to compile the UK's trade statistics. Like the customs value previously, the statistical value is the value of the goods added to all its transportation costs, but only at the entry of the goods into the UK. It often coincides with the customs value at the border of the Union, for example when the goods arrive at the port of Felixtowe or Southampton, which are both the point of entry into the EU and the point of entry into the UK.
In the case of the point of entry into the EU customs territory is not in the UK, (Railfreight) the transport costs used to arrive at the UK border will have to be added to obtain the statistical value.
It is used to collect the UK's foreign trade statistics and to collect some national taxes.
Value for import VAT
As well as using the import value to calculate the Customs Duty payable on your imported goods, HMRC uses that value to calculate import VAT. Also known as "first destination value" is used as the basis for collecting VAT on UK's territory
The VAT basis includes:
- Taxes, duties, levies and other charges except for VAT itself (customs duties and all other related national taxes, if any, are included in the basis of assessment for the calculation of VAT).
- Incidental costs, such as packaging, storage, transport and insurance costs incurred up to the first place of destination of the goods in the UK.
How to calculate customs duties and taxes?
It is important and essential to know the rate of customs duties and taxes applied for the product(s) you want to import into the UK, in order to determine the amount you will have to pay.
First step: Determine the "HS code" of your product.
The HS code of a product (Commodity Code) is one of the three essential notions, along with the origin and the customs value of your goods, to determine the tariff that will be reserved for it.
The Harmonized System (HS Code) is used by 207 countries and covers more than 95% of world trade. The system ensures a methodical and unique classification for the countries that use it. A number is assigned to each type of good or commodity traded internationally and also allows the comparison of trade flows in order to obtain statistics.
Here is the composition of an HS Code
How to find the HS Code of your product?
The best way to find out the HS code of your product is to ask your supplier for it. They will surely know it well if they are usually exporting their products.
It is also possible quite simple to make your own research on the tariff database of any country that uses the "Harmonized System" by simply entering a keyword, such as "pineapple" in our example.
We are going to show you how:
Please reach the UK customs website
Click on the " Start now " button to reach the next page :
Enter the keyword "pineapple" and then click on the "search" button.
Now you have to click on the section title "04", where you can read pineapple and some other fruits name.
Now you know the HS Code for your pineapple!
08 04 30
Please don't close this page, we will use it in our next step to check the rate of customs duties.
How to check the customs duties rate with the HS Code?
Now that you have the HS code, it will be interesting to know the rate of customs duties and taxes applied to your product when importing it into the UK.
Please, go back to the page as shown on the previous step:
Click on "pineapple" to display the list and percentage usually applied to this product.
To make sure that this rate is the same for pineapples from China, please click on the full HS code displayed on the right side of the screen.
This will take you to the following page:
Enter the country of origin "China" as shown on this screenshot to display the customs duties rate.
Information analysis: In our case, we can see that the customs duties on Pineapples coming from China are 5.8% of the CIF value, to this we must also add the VAT.
Does Docshipper charge duty?
We will not take any commission on your customs duties. We will return the documents issued by the European customs to prove it to you. The customs clearance fees will only correspond to the constitution of an administrative file of declaration. These customs clearance fees will, of course, be collected by DocShipper because we will compile the file for you, while the customs duties and taxes will be collected by the government.
When importing goods to the UK, There are a lot of documents and paperwork associated with the process of clearing shipments. It's very important to ensure that you can provide them all. Here’s an overview of what these are.
Bill of Lading
This is the official shipping document that contains all the details of the shipment. Once the goods are on the vessel and you have paid your supplier for them, the supplier will return them to you. Once he does, you will officially own the goods. Traditionally, your supplier sends you the original bill of lading by mail. You would receive three originals and would have to send us one to allow us to release the goods. This still happens sometimes, but we try to have the bill of lading released electronically ("telex") so that you don't have to worry about handing a piece of paper in the mail.
This may be an AWB (airwaybill) for air cargo.
An export packing list is a document that shows all the details of the product(s) and packaging contained in each shipment. Shippers are responsible for editing this compliant document, which will be used by the various parties throughout the supply chain. The packing list is required for all sea and air freight shipments.
This is your supplier's invoice which includes: his contact details as the seller, your contact details as the buyer, the nature of the goods and the amount you paid for them. Your supplier will send you this invoice, which will be used to declare your goods at customs. It is the figure on this invoice that is used to calculate the amount of duty and VAT in the UK.
Certificate of Origin
This is not a mandatory document but it can be very important if you wish to benefit from preferential rates of customs duty for certain types of products. It is used in international trade to indicate the country of origin of the goods shipped. It is important to differentiate the origin of the goods and their provenance. It is the country of manufacture that must be mentioned. The purpose of this document is to authenticate the country of origin of the goods shipped. This official certificate indicates that the exported products were indeed manufactured in a specific country mentioned in the certificate.
Certificate of conformity (EC)
An EC certificate of conformity allows a product to circulate and be sold freely on the European market. This standard provides the consumer with proof that the product meets the environmental, safety and health requirements set by the EEA (European Economic Area). A guarantee of conformity is not a guarantee of quality. It simply means that the product meets the requirements to be sold in the member countries.
Your EORI number (Economic Operator Registration Identification)
An EORI number allows customs to keep track of what is being imported and exported. It is a one-time registration only. For more information on the EORI number, visit the dedicated page on the official government website: EORI in the Uk
Restricted and banned goods
Specific and strict restrictions apply to the import of certain products or items that will require licenses and/or permits, and others cannot be introduced into the UK and European territory at all. They’ll be seized immediately by customs. Please consult the lists below to find out what you can and cannot bring into UK's territory.
- Agricultural products
- Alcohol, Tobacco
- Livestock feeding
- Chemical products
- Pharmaceutical products
- Food supplements
- Some kind of plants
- illegal drugs
- offensive weapons, for example, flick knives
- self-defence sprays, for example, pepper spray and CS gas
- endangered animal and plant species
- rough diamonds
- indecent and obscene materials
- personal imports of meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries
If you plan to import any of the above items into the UK territory, you must check directly with our experts.
Are there any agreements between China and the UK?
There is no Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between China and the UK or the EU, nor Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). However, the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) recognises China as a supply market for European businesses. Since 2018, this association has started discussions with the two representations (European and Chinese) in order to put in place agreements that would promote trade.
In addition, the development and use of the "New Silk Road" (railway line) brings added value and demonstrates that there is a strong opportunity for improving trade and economic relations between the two territories. A free trade agreement could further favour importers and exporters who contribute strongly to their country's economy. The Foreign Trade Association is using these main arguments for an agreement to be signed and explains that it would be good for China, Europe and therefore for the UK!
DocShipper’s other logistics services
Warehousing and storage
Our warehouses are strategically located near the major cities of China. We can, therefore, receive your goods for as long as you need it, before shipping it to the UK (or elsewhere). If you plan to consolidate from several suppliers and fill a full container, or conversely if you have a full container from departure and want to split it at the port of arrival and distribute to several destinations. We are able to provide you with this service!
Please visit our dedicated page: Warehousing service
Packing and conditioning
The packing of your goods is an aspect not to be ignored as it guarantees perfect stability of the load during transport, offers excellent protection during storage and facilitates handling. Our partners, professionals in the field, are able to provide quality repackaging services both in China and in France, so do not hesitate to contact our team if you need services such as cardboard boxes, pallets, crates, bubble wrap, adhesive tape, etc...
More information on our dedicated page: Packing services
The insurance rate is variable depending on the method of transport used, the nature of the goods and the insurance company. It is possible to increase the declared value by up to 20% to cover, in addition to the goods, any damage suffered. The subscriber declares the value of the goods and the costs related to the main transport.
Visit our dedicated page: Insurance services
Supplier Management in China
In order to provide you with an even more comprehensive service, we are also able to contact your supplier in advance. We will find out exactly what the characteristics of your product are. We will check that the supplier is able to provide all the required documents (Certificate of Conformity, etc.) and review all details such as condition and packaging so that you can have products delivered as safe as possible. We will also check the dimensions and confirm the HS code.
We guarantee you quality service! Our staff is fluent in Mandarin / English / French.
For more information, visit our page: Sourcing services
Purchase orders/packaging/labelling: Purchase orders and distribution are also part of the supply chain. To save you time, we have a warehouse located in Camporosso in northern Italy, where we can store your inventory and prepare all your orders. We are able to receive all your shipments from China, and take care of all the services you will need (storage, packing, inventory, labelling, order preparation, distribution).
Delivery to the last mile: All your B2C orders for E-Commerce will be delivered anywhere from our site. With a strategic location in the centre of Europe and not far from France, we will deliver all your customers within 48 hours maximum!
Visit our page for more information: 3PL services
Shipping personal effects and Moving
Are you planning to move to or from China? You are travelling and you have excess luggage or souvenirs to send? Our packing, wrapping or customs clearance services are carried out by professionals and ensure safe shipping and delivery to your home, whether in China, UK, or anywhere else in the world.
Visit our dedicated page: Moving services
Over 10 years of experience in Asia, as well as our many partners worldwide, allow us to manage all types of shipments and to provide adapted solutions and best transport offers to our customers. Our entire team is at your disposal, we will study your case particularly in order to advise you on the most appropriate option for your shipment and provide you with the most competitive rate! Contact us
FAQ - Shipping from China to UK
💷 What is the most affordable way to ship from China to UK?
The volume and weight of your cargo is very important information. At DocShipper, we recommend that you use the following volume ranges as a guide: Express air freight if you have less than 0.5 CBM, between 0.5 CBM and 1.5/2 CBM classic air freight, and finally, sea freight LCL for a volume between 2 CBM and 13/14 CBM, for a larger volume, the FCL will be a better option
📑 What information do I need to provide in order to get a quote quickly?
The dimensions, weight, volume, date of shipment, requested services (sea, air, rail, door-to-door, packaging), pick-up and delivery address and the nature of the goods (HS Code if known). All these details will be essential in order to obtain an accurate and quick quotation.
📦 Can DocShipper group my shipments from several suppliers?
Years of experience in the international transport sector have enabled us to manage all types of requests, particularly consolidation. We will collect your goods in our warehouses, coordinating the different suppliers in order to avoid long term storage. At the destination, we can also separate into several individual shipments to deliver each shipment to their respective consignees. However, we suggest you to contact us for more information.
⏱️ What are the transit times between China and UK?
Multiple options are available to ship your goods between China and the UK. If you choose an express solution (DHL, TNT, FedEx...) you can expect a door-to-door service in less than a week. Classic air freight will take a little longer with a transit time between 7 and 9 days to your door. Expect between 35 and 40 days for a shipment by sea. Rail freight, on the other hand, will take between 20 and 25 days.
🌐 How does DocShipper manage my product from A to Z?
Our vision of logistics is expanding, and our willingness to provide different services leads us to propose other solutions. Our sourcing department assists you in the purchasing process and the quality control of products from your Chinese suppliers. After shipment, our distribution centre (3PL services) in Italy will be able to continue the logistic operations of your E-Commerce, from your stock management to B2C delivery, including the labelling of each product and the preparation of orders for your customers.
💷What are the sea freight rates from China to the UK?
Sea freight rates from China to UK depend on several factors such as cargo size and weight, nature of the commodity, distance traveled and seasonality. There is no set rate for ocean freight, as each shipment is unique and rates may vary depending on these factors.
🧐 Why is shipping from China to the UK so expensive?
Shipping from China to UK can be expensive due to several factors such as distance to be traveled, freight costs, customs formalities and cargo handling costs. Additionally, some products may be subject to import taxes and duties, which may increase shipping costs. Costs may also vary depending on the mode of transport chosen and the characteristics of the cargo.
💷How much is the customs tax from China to the UK?
The cost of customs duty from China to the UK depends on several factors, such as the nature and value of the imported merchandise, the product category and the applicable regulations. There is no single customs tariff, as each product can have its own category and tax rate.
Customs taxes may also vary depending on trade agreements delivered between the two countries. It is recommended that you check applicable regulations and tax rates with the required customs authorities before importing goods from China into the UK.
DocShipper info: Do you like our article today? For your business interest, you may like the following useful articles :
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- Freight Shipping from China to France | Rates – Transit times – Duties & Taxes
- Freight Shipping between China and Germany | DocShipper
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- Freight Shipping between China and Canada | Rates – Transit times – Duties & Taxes – Advices
DocShipper Advise : We help you with the entire sourcing process so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
- Having trouble finding the appropriate product? Enjoy our sourcing services, we directly find the right suppliers for you!
- You don't trust your supplier? Ask our experts to do quality control to guarantee the condition of your goods!
- Do you need help with the logistics? Our international freight department supports you with door to door services!
- You don't want to handle distribution? Our 3PL department will handle the storage, order fulfillment, and last-mile delivery!
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