Exporting to China from the UK

Take a look at our guide to exporting to China.

China is one of the biggest economies in the world, has a fast growing consumer market, and with a population of more than 1.3 billion, it makes sense to capitalise on that potential by exporting your goods there. As Britain’s sixth biggest export market, it is a popular place to sell your goods.

China Fact File:

Official Language: Standard Chinese or Mandarin
Currency: Chinese Yuan/Renminbi (CNY)
Central Bank: People’s Bank of China
Calling Code: +86
Capital City: Beijing
Largest City: Shanghai
Population: 1.35 billion

Trading with China

China imports a range of goods, including electrical and machinery, oil and mineral fuels, optical and medical equipment and road vehicles. There are however many legal considerations to think about before exporting to China. It is officially termed “a socialist legal system with characteristics”, so before you begin, you must identify whether the market is open to you and whether restrictions apply. Depending on what sector your business is in, it is possible to set up a 100% foreign-owned company, but you may have to go into business through a local partner.

You may have to obtain a China Compulsory Certification (CCC) mark before you can sell to the Chinese market, depending on what your product is. This is a compulsory quality and safety mark. Check the website for China’s National Certification and Accreditation (CNCA) for a list of all the products that need a CCC mark.

Restricted Items

There are number of restricted items that you need to make sure you are following the correct procedure for if you’re sending them to China. They include, but are not exclusive to:

  • Brochures, Pamphlets and Booklets (advertising and non-advertising)
  • Animal Products
  • Books
  • CD's
  • Communications equipment, computers and mobile phones (and associated equipment)
  • Costume Jewellery
  • Magazines

Prohibited items include (but aren’t exclusive to):

  • Animal skins
  • Antiques
  • Asbestos
  • Biological substances Category B, UN3373
  • Dangerous goods, hazardous or combustible materials
  • Firearms, or parts of
  • Furs
  • Items that could be used as weapons
  • Ivory
  • Jewellery
  • Military equipment
  • Perishables
  • Precious metals and stones

Before you ship any items, you must make sure they are not prohibited, or if they are restricted, that you are following the correct procedures.


The receiver of the goods needs to have a CR, or Customs Registration, number and POA, or Power of Attorney, for all non-document goods.

You’ll need shipping paperwork, including waybills, labels and invoices that must have the sender and receiver details; goods’ quantity, value and full description; clearly marked commodity codes; and a typed invoice with no manual charges.

Use the online Trade Tariff to find the correct commodity code which will provide more information on duty, VAT and other elements. If you use the wrong code, HMRC can fine you and seize the goods, delaying their release from customs and therefore affecting your reputation with customers.

You’ll need a packing list if the shipment value exceeds CNY 5,000; the shipment weighs over 100kg; the shipment includes more than two items; or the shipment is subject to import licences.

Certain items require an import licence from the China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ).

If you’d rather let the experts do the work for you, and take advantage of the Chinese market easily and stress-free, then take a look at TNT’s international export services to start safely shipping your parcels today.