Moving to China

Moving to China


See additional & updated information at the end of the document

Ports: Shanghai, Xingang

Prohibited: Any Articles Deemed To Be Detrimental To Chinese Political, Economic, Cultural, Moral Or Hygienic Interests. The import of firearms is strictly prohibited.

Note:  As of January 1, 2007, shippers are required to pay a 30% customs duty on golf clubs if the golf clubs being imported are part of the shipper’s household goods shipment to China.

Household Goods and Personal Effects

Required Documents:  An Import Permit (“Customs Sealed Letter”) is required for customs clearance.

Documentation that is required for Import Permit is listed below:

  • Chinese Residency Card (Green Card)
  • Passport with Z visa
  • Employment Card
  • Company’s Customs Registration Book
  • Representative Card (required for foreign representative office)
  • Company’s Business License (required for Joint Venture or wholly owned company)
  • Application Form with client’s signature and company’s chop
  • Inventory packing list for all incoming shipments
  • ‘Baggage Declaration Form’ (required by some cities)

Two copies need to be completed identically and handed to the Customs officials to get stamped.  The form returned to the shipper should be forwarded to his destination agent for clearance of his goods.

Customs Regulations:

Application for Employment Card and the Chinese Residency Card are issued within approx. 3-4 weeks after arrival to China.

AFTER issuance of the Residency Card, the expatriate applies for import permit of his/her personal effects/household goods to the local customs bureau..

ANYTHING listed and approved in the application may be imported within the next 6 months only.

All shipments are subject to inspection by local Customs.

Since January 1995, all electrical appliances, furniture, lighting fixtures, foodstuffs, bedding, wine/alcohol included in shipments of household & personal effects will be subject to import duty.

All electrical items must be clearly indicated on the inventory with its model, serial number & size (if applicable).

All video tapes & CD’s must be clearly indicated on the inventory. Such items will be subject to an estimated 2-3 weeks inspection by Customs Bureau. Any items containing pornographic and subversive material will be confiscated and a fine may be levied on the owner.

Asian/Chinese antiques must be indicated on the inventory with a separate demand to local Customs to register them for re-export.  There is no guarantee that such items will be allowed out of the country.

Fax machines, photocopy machines are NOT ALLOWED in personal shipments.


Remarks: Each shipper is allowed to have two shipments to China duty free and one must be an air shipment. Duty free will only apply to household and personal effects. All shipments to China need an import permit. After the arrival of the shipper in China, the shipper must apply for a Residence Certificate and Working Card. With the Residence permit and Working Card, then the shipper can apply for the import permit. The process for the two documents can take from ten to thirty days. Air shipment must store at point of origin until shipper’s import permit is available.


Required Documents:  

  • Written application to a designated Customs office
  • ‘Import Cargo Declaration’
  • Invoice
  • Documents required for Import Permit are the same as household goods

Customs Regulations:

  • Import restrictions are governed at the local level.
  • Import duty and taxes are applicable and duty free for diplomats.


Remarks: It is recommended that you contact your agent for specific advice and information.

Pets and Animals

Required Documents:

Customs Regulations:


Remarks: Pets and animals are subject to strict quarantine regulations. It is recommended that you contact your agent for specific advice and information.


Required Documents:

Customs Regulations:


Remarks: Personal Computers with encryption capabilities require pre- approval of software prior to importation into China.  Import of Personal Computers and laptops with simple password software for e-mail, windows, Microsoft outlook, etc. as part of a HHG shipment do not require pre-approval. It is recommended that you contact your agent for specific advice and information

Restriction of Non-Manufactured Wood Packing Materials (WPM)

Since January 2006, The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People China requires that wooden packaging material imported into China be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and properly marked.

The new measure follows ISPM-15 (International standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication 15) Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade to standardize the treatment of wood packing materials used for the transport of goods.

The wood packing material must be marked in a visible location on each article, on at least two opposite sides of the


article with a legible and permanent mark in black ink. Labels and adhesives are not allowed. The mark should look as follows:

In the above image, the XXX is the country code, and 000 the producer number, YY indicates the treatment type, and AAA indicates the inspection agency logo.

WPM that are exempt from this regulation include:

  1. Manufactured wood materials such as plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board and fiberboard.
  2. WPM consisting entirely of wood pieces less than 6mm thick in all and any dimensions, including sawdust, wood-wool and paring etc…

For more information on Chinese ISPM 15 regulations, please visit the following site: mdWxsJjY9ZW4mMzM9KiYzNz1rb3M~

Export of Relics out of Mainland China:

The Chinese Bureau of Relics just announced significant changes pertaining to the export of relics (antiques) from Mainland. The following is condensed from a newspaper article while official wording is being awaited from Relics Bureau itself. So the following may still be subject to change, but the new regulations are already being enforced. So you may need to alert any shippers with goods already in transit.

Private Export of Relics earlier than 1911 will not be Allowed Outside of China

The 60th reigning year of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing Dynasty, or 1795 was the previous standard for relics being exported from China. All relics made or produced before that year were and still are prohibited from being exported. However, this standard has been changed to 1911. “1911”will replace “1795” as the new time standard for relics being exported out of China.

Furthermore, for those important relics, the year limit is set to 1949; and for important relics and fine arts by ethic minorities, the limit is 1966.

Relics restricted in this revised regulation will include porcelain ware, gold ware, silverware, copperware and some other metal wares; jade ware, lacquer ware, glassware, carvings and sculptures of all materials; furniture, handwritings, calligraphies and paintings, rubbings, books, documentations, weaves and embroideries, cultural equipment, postage stamps, currencies, appliances, handicrafts and fine arts, etc.

Any customers wishing to import into China items of Chinese origin that could fall under the new regulations, must register them with the authorities prior to customs release. Anyone not doing so may have great difficulty in later re-exporting these items when they leave China.

Please note:
The information on this page is intended as a guide and  NOT as a complete or definitive resource.
The information on this page should not be used as an authoritative reference.

Updated June, 2007



China Customs Update – April 25, 2008

China Customs continues to experience a rapidly changing policy with regards to customs requirements and clearances across China. Much of this is associated with the lead up to the Beijing Olympics and the political environment surrounding the Beijing Olympics.  These changes are either in addition to current policies or supersede current policies where applicable. Regrettably, China Customs are not providing advance notice of these changes.

Shanghai Changes

All HHG and PE shipments, air and sea, from Germany and France will undergo 100% inspections beginning immediately.  It is expected that this will cause moderate to severe delays in the clearance times for both air and sea shipments as shipments from both countries are now being given a lower priority.

This policy also affects all exports of HHGs & PE shipments going TO France and Germany.

For Export Shipments through the ports of Shanghai, customs authorities have implemented a very strict policy regarding the inclusion of pirated DVDs and CDs in any HHG & PE shipments.  If pirated DVDs or CDs are found during an inspection, customs will confiscate those items AND FINE THE CLIENT as well.  Please note and inform your customers accordingly, we will do likewise.

This policy may spread to other ports in the near future.

Beijing Changes

Effective May 4, 2008 all non-diplomatic inbound shipments must undergo a security examination and will incur additional fees as a result.  Customs declarations must be submitted within 2 days of shipments arrival.

For clients holding work and resident permits valid for 1 year or more, we may apply for import permit for both the air and the sea shipment at the same time.  For work and resident permits that are less than a full year (365 days) then the following will apply:

If between 355-364 days – an explanation letter to customs will need to be prepared. If between 335-354 days – Customs will require a deposit.

If less than 335 days – Either full duty or a deposit, subject to approval and agreement from customs. Where a deposit is taken, this is refunded after papers are submitted valid for a minimum of 365 days.

Thank You to Asian Tigers China for providing the above update