Air Transport from China to the UK - Imports from China to the UK

Update date:
16 Feb 2024
Date of publication:
16 Feb 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

Air transport from China to the UK is growing rapidly, providing a key link between two powerful economies - China, the world's second largest, and the UK, a leading financial centre. The growth in commercial, business cooperation is steadily increasing which is fuelling the growing demand for air transport between the two countries.

How long does it take to transport goods by air from China to the UK ? 

The time it takes to transport cargo from China to the UK depends on the service you choose. There are a number of airlines available on the market, which differ mainly in price and delivery time. However, we can assume that the air transport time from China to the UK is around 2 to 7 days.

Air transport is usually preferred for reasons of speed, but requires careful consultation with a professional broker who will optimise routes and delivery times, even taking into account seasonal conditions such as Chinese New Year.

Advantages of Cargo Air Transport

Air freight is an excellent option due to several key benefits. Firstly, the incredible speed of delivery, allowing the route to be covered in a matter of days. Secondly, the assurance of the safety of the goods being transported through careful procedures and quality control systems at airports and airlines.

The flexibility of airfreight enables regular connections between China and the UK, tailored to the needs of businesses. Ideal for industries with a high demand for fresh produce, it also provides the ability to monitor shipments online to keep track of delivery status.

Air cargo transport is the most favourable option for transporting goods from China to the UK, combining speed, safety, flexibility and an ideal fit for industries requiring continuity of supply. 

Choosing the right partner for air transport from China to the UK

In today's global world, working with professional freight forwarding companies is becoming a key element in the safe and efficient transportation of goods from China to the UK.

 Freight forwarding companies offer comprehensive transport services for both exporters and importers. Their experience allows them to optimise routes, provide comprehensive customs and tax services and arrange the necessary documentation. Their cooperation guarantees the safety of goods, appropriate cargo security and monitoring at every stage of transport.

There are many companies available on the market, but it is advisable to use the company that has offers from the largest number of airlines in order to offer a favourable price and service. 

Vat and duty on imports from China into the UK 

As far as taxes are concerned, when importing goods from China into the UK, we have to expect to pay VAT, which will amount to 23% for most products.

The duty on products imported from China into Europe is usually around a few per cent. In some cases, it can be as high as several tens of %. Here you can find duty rates, for each product category: 

Essential documents:

The process of importing from China to the UK involves gathering the necessary documents that are crucial to the proper completion of the transaction. Here is the basic set of documents you should prepare:

  1. Open General Import Licence (OGIL):
    • General licence open to imports into the UK, covering various categories of goods.
    • For specialised imports such as plants, animals, medicines, additional special licences may be required.
  2. Commercial Invoice:
    • A document confirming the terms of trade and the price of the goods. It is a key element in the customs and tax process.
  3. Certificate of Origin:
    • Confirmation of where the goods come from, which can be important given trade preferences and applicable tariffs.
  4. AIR WAYBILL Letter of Transmittal:
    • Air Waybill
    • Document confirming delivery of goods and rights to receive them.
  5.  Packing list:
    • Detailed description and specification of the goods to facilitate proper identification and processing of the consignment.

For products subject to certain regulations, you may need to provide a declaration of conformity and affix the UKCA mark, which has a similar function to the CE mark in the EU market. By ensuring that your documentation is complete and compliant, you will minimise delays and facilitate customs and tax processes, which is key to the smooth importation from China into the UK.


In a phase of global market integration, air cargo transport from China to the UK is not only a booming industry, but also a key element of cooperation between the two economic powers. The safe, efficient and flexible transport of goods is a guarantee for maintaining dynamic trade between China and the UK. Cooperation with professional freight forwarding companies and the optimisation of customs, documentation and logistics processes are becoming essential for companies wishing to compete successfully in the global market. Ultimately, the development of this industry contributes to a stronger bond between the two world economic leaders, presenting them with new prospects for growth and cooperation.

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