China-USA international shipping: what you need to remember

China is a major manufacturing center as well as a large potential market for export goods. A thriving business ecosystem, strong logistics network, efficient supply chain management, and currency regulation practices make exporting from China relatively manageable and highly productive to global shippers.

Table of contents

  • Export goods from China
    • Chinese export in 2022
    • Chinese export license
    • Documents required for exporting goods from China
  • How to import to the USA
    • USA import taxes, duties, and tariffs on goods from China
    • Documents for import into the USA
    • Incoterms cargo transportation from China to the USA

Export goods from China

If you’re considering exporting from China to the USA, familiarizing yourself with the rules and regulations will help you avoid obstacles and ensure your goods move smoothly. PartnerTrade has put together everything you need to remember about the rules and procedures for exporting from China and importing to the US.

Chinese export in 2022

After a trade slowdown caused by COVID-19, export of goods from China have recovered. Here are some key highlights of China’s export in 2022:

  • In June 2022, the total value of export reached $331.3 billion.
  • In the first half of 2022, export from China grew by 17.9% per month.
  • China’s export growth indicators for June 2022 exceeded the market forecast by 49%.

Chinese export license

An export license is a government document that allows a supplier to export certain goods from China. Special export licenses are required for dangerous or prohibited goods.

Suppliers in China are usually responsible for licensing your goods to export. Check with your supplier to make sure they provide it.

What if your supplier does not provide an export license?

Some small suppliers do not provide an export license, which allows them to avoid bureaucracy and additional costs. In this case, your freight forwarder will have to arrange it. PartnerTrade managers will help you with this issue and solve the following problem.

Documents required for exporting goods from China

Here are the documents that shippers usually need to export from China:

  • Export license
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Certificate of origin
  • Bill of exchange
  • Insurance certificate
  • Purchase order or letter of credit
  • Customs bond
  • Customs entry documents
  • Certificates from partner government institutions for special goods such as food, cosmetics, or electronics

How to import to the USA

USA import taxes, duties, and tariffs on goods from China

Customs clearance and payment of customs duties are essential aspects of importing goods from China to the US.

Taxes and duties levied on imported goods depend on two factors:

  1. Country of import (in this case, China)
  2. HS code of the product. This code classifies your goods, letting US authorities know what products you’re importing and how much duty you have to pay

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies assess duties when goods arrive in the United States. The calculation is made as a percentage of the amount you paid for your product.

To estimate how much duty you should pay when importing from China, look up the product’s HS code and check if your goods are subject to the obligation.

Documents for import into the USA

Here are some of the most common documents:

  • Importer Security Filing (ISF)
  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial invoice documents for importing
  • Packing list
  • Certificate of origin
  • Delivery form
  • Customs bond
  • Insurance
  • Partner government agency certificates (if applicable)
  • Arrival notice.

In most cases, your ISPs handle these documents, and you will probably never hear about them.

Incoterms cargo transportation from China to the USA

When shipping from China, choose the Incoterms that best suit your cargo. Incoterms can affect rates, so discuss the different options with your supplier to determine what makes the most sense.

Here are some of the most common Incoterms:

Free on Board (FOB)

Used only for maritime transport. This incoterm means that all duties and obligations of the supplier end once the goods have boarded the vessel. It is a good choice if you want more control over the shipping process and cost.

EXW (ExWorks)

This means that responsibility for the goods transfers to the buyer right from the warehouse long before vessel loading. That is, the buyer undertakes the end-to-end transportation of the goods. 

FCA (free carrier)

In FCA, the buyer assumes responsibility for the cargo after the supplier packs and transports the goods to an agreed location, usually a port. In this case, the buyer gets control of the shipment earlier than when using FOB.


Some other less commonly used Incoterms include DDP (Delivery Duty Paid), CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight), DAP (Delivered At Place), CIP (Carriage and Insurance), and CFR (Carriage and Freight).

Export procedures from China to the USA can be challenging to navigate. Choose PartnerTrade as an experienced freight forwarder and logistics partner to make it hassle-free. 


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