Documents needed for import from China

Update date:
21 May 2024
Date of publication:
06 Jun 2023
Reading time: 4 minutes

Table of contents:

When importing from China, we need every good to go through customs clearance in order to be released. It is advisable to complete the documents in advance so that when the goods are presented for clearance, the customs agency has all the documents it will need to send to the customs office. This will help to speed up the process considerably , often with missing documents the goods may generate additional costs in the form of storage due to prolonged customs clearance. Usually, once the goods arrive there, we have a few free days to take the goods. After that, additional charges may apply. 

In importing from China, an important thing to note is the documents needed for import. 

The two basic documents needed when importing goods from China are packing list and commercial invoice. Both of these documents should be issued by the seller in China. The commercial invoice should contain the details of the seller and the buyer and include all the items of goods along with the price. A sample of what a commercial invoice from the shipper might look like can be found in the link opposite or in the image below: (Model Commercial Invoice)

What a commercial invoice should contain: 

  • Details of the seller in China, including address (company name, address, telephone) 
  • Buyer details (company name, address, telephone)
  • Date of issue of the invoice and the invoice number 
  • Commercial rule INCOTERMS e.g. EXW Shenzhen 
  • Price per unit 
  • Determination of quantity of goods (e.g. pcs.) 
  • Summary of the value of goods in a specific currency
  • Signature and stamp of the company that sold us the goods. 
  • Information about the origin of the goods ( Addition: Country of Origin: CHINA ) 
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When we receive an invoice from our Chinese shipper, it is always worth checking the above information to make sure nothing is missing. 

In the case of a packing list, the exact quantity of the goods in units, how much space they take up and how they are packed must be included. You will find a sample packing list opposite. (Model Packing List)

What the packing list should contain: 

  • Buyer details as on invoice 
  • Seller details as on invoice
  • Cargo weight (net and gross) (with and without packaging) 
  • Total net and gross weight of the item 
  • Volume in CBMs of specific items 
  • Volume in CBM total load 
  • Date of issue and packing list number 
  • Item with information on what goods are in the cargo and how many pieces 
  • INCOTERMS terms of delivery, e.g. EXW Shenzhen 

Non-electronic and standard products only need a packing list and a commercial invoice. However, it is always advisable to find out whether a particular product requires other special documents. There are so many products of different categories that it is difficult to determine whether a certain product will require special certificates. 

In the case of electronic products, a declaration of conformity and a CE certificate for the product will already be required. It is always advisable to ask whether the shipper has such a document before importing goods. The CE mark must also be placed on the product in the case of electronic products. It is also essential that the importer's details are on the product. 

For products that will come into contact with food, you will need to submit an application to the sanitary authorities, at a cost of approx. PLN 200. In addition, the authority will need a corresponding document from the shipper that the goods are safe for food contact. 

It is worth noting that for some specific products, other documents may be required which are not included here. Before importing a particular good, it is always worth checking whether it requires any specialised documents for clearance. If you are unable to find this information on the internet, it is worth checking with customs agencywho may know the answer to our question. However, there are situations in which even a customs agent may not know the required documents for a particular product, in which case you should go directly to the customs office and seek help there. 

It is important for new importers to obtain an EORI number before importing goods. Any company wishing to import goods and place them on the market is obliged to obtain such a number. Without this number, you will not be able to deal with customs. 

We will be able to submit an application for an EORI number on the platform: PUESC and will be accepted by the Chamber of Fiscal Administration in Poznań. 

To apply we will need: 

→ Established account on PUESC platform 

→ Electronic signature 

Upon receipt of proof of posting EORI number its form is: 

EN - from country + COMPANY TIN + 5 zeros 

PL123456321800000 -> This is what the finished product looks like EORI number 

How to transport goods from China?

Rail transport

Maritime transport

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