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Exporting to China: What needs to be considered?

Goods worth 14,726 million Swiss francs were exported to China in 2020.

For Swiss and Liechtenstein SMEs from all sectors, the Chinese market is interesting and, furthermore, they currently enjoy advantages over their EU competitors thanks to the Free Trade Agreement.

But what do you need to consider when exporting to China?

China Skyline

Required export documents

1. Commercial invoice

In addition to the usual commercial information, the invoice must contain the following:

  • HS code and country of origin
  • FOB value, CIF cost and CIF value
  • Legitimate signature of the exporter

2. Packing list

The shipment must be accompanied by a packing list containing an overview of the details and contents of the packages, including their dimensions and quantity.

3. Declaration of origin

A EUR 1- CN movement certificate must be issued for preferential products of origin in accordance with the stipulations of the free trade agreement between Switzerland and China.

Approved exporters may, however, provide a declaration of origin on the invoice instead. Furthermore, the invoices must be uploaded to an electronic data exchange platform used with China (EACN).

Experience has shown that Chinese importers often require a certificate of origin. In most cases, this means the movement certificate for confirming the preferential origin and not the "traditional" certificate of origin. Here it is advisable to clarify with the importer what exactly is required.

You can also obtain detailed information on the import formalities applicable to your products in China from our free customs database.

Registrations

In addition to the usual mandatory product registrations that are often required in many countries (e.g. cosmetics, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, etc.), certain product groups in China may also be subject to CCC certification. CCC stands for China Compulsory Certification and is intended to ensure that products meet the standards of the People’s Republic of China. Certification can be a lengthy process and expensive. This is why it is advisable to arrange who will cover the costs in the purchase contract.

You can also check whether your product needs a CCC certification inspection in our free customs database.

Have you also registered your trademark / logo in China? If not, we strongly recommend that you do so before shipping your products. We would be happy to help you with this.

Sanctions / Embargoes / Export controls

At the time of writing, no sanctions or embargoes have been imposed on the People’s Republic of China. However, this can change at any time, which is why we recommend you check whether corresponding measures have been imposed prior to each export.

Certain products and product groups, such as dual-use goods, also require an export permit for delivery to non-sanctioned countries.

S-GE tips

Business relationships

Successful business relationships with Chinese companies need to be well-established and require good care. Unexpected business inquiries should therefore be approached with caution. It is not seldom that fraudulent schemes are hidden behind such inquiries.

Incoterms

A large part of the goods delivered to China are transported by sea. However, regular air connections also allow for shorter delivery times and the rail transport route is now also well developed. When negotiating the contract, bear in mind that certain Incoterms clauses should only be used for sea transport, which means they should be adapted to the chosen means of transport. Even if, for example, your customer in China wants the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) clause for a delivery by air freight.

Payment conditions

We recommend that you always request payment in advance from Chinese customers or work with a letter of credit.

All information in this article is provided for guidance only and is neither exhaustive nor legally binding.

Questions or further information

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact the ExportHelp team of Switzerland Global Enterprise at exporthelp@s-ge.com or by phone 0844 811 812.

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