By Paul Milton, CEO of G&M Compliance

Tapping into the Chinese market is often a long and complicated process. After all the hard work that is put into creating a product and preparing it for Chinese consumers, it’s deflating to see it sit in customs and gather dust—not to mention the steep fees. Avoiding the four common roadblocks below will help ensure your product clears Chinese customs efficiently:

Choosing the Wrong HS Code

One of the keys to clearing Chinese customs in a timely manner is to identify the correct tariff schedule number for your product, also referred to as a tariff code or Harmonized System (HS) code. Not all codes are created equally, and the type of code your product requires will affect the type of certification that must be obtained to have it clear customs. Selecting the wrong code can lead to unnecessary back-and-forth with customs officials to apply the right code and could force you to restart the clearance process.

In certain cases, multiple HS codes may apply to your product. In these cases, one code may be more advantageous than others, and applying the right code can save you weeks or even months in Chinese customs.

The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a Schedule B search engine with up-to-date product codes. Using this tool, you can look up applicable product codes and see which ones may apply to your product. After reviewing the results, your compliance department or a third-party compliance agency like G&M Compliance can help you identify which code is most beneficial for your product.

Shipping the Product Incorrectly

Once you are ready to ship the product to China, it is important to follow the proper protocol. Shipping the product requires both a shipping company and an expediter, who is responsible for ensuring the product is compliant with Chinese regulations and standards.

You are required to put together a shipping plan, and this plan must match the paperwork from both the shipping company and the expediter. If any of these documents are inconsistent, it can lead to unwarranted delays and other complications.

Failing to Obtain the Right Certification

Before you can clear Chinese customs, your product must have the correct government-mandated certification.

China Compulsory Certification is the most common form of mandatory certification. It is required on more than 132 product categories, including electric tools, information technology equipment, motor vehicles, children’s products, and more. Obtaining CCC certification involves a number of steps, including shipping samples to China, arranging testing, working with Chinese test labs to work out any issues, and submitting the final report to the certification body for review. For certain product types, a factory inspection may also be required.

Depending on the type of product, you may need to obtain certifications from other Chinese agencies, including State Radio Regulation of China, China Food and Drug Administration, China Information Security Certification Center, or State Radio Regulatory Commission.

If the proper steps are not followed to obtain the right certification, your product may be held at customs and subjected to costly penalties.

Failure to Prove Exemptions

Not all products are required to obtain the CCC mark. However, if the exemption for your product is not properly documented, it can lead to the same type of unnecessary fees and delays.

Too often, manufacturers and distributors will obtain “CCC rejection letters” from U.S. or European certification bodies, just to find that they are not recognized by Chinese officials. To avoid this, it is best to obtain confirmation straight from Chinese regulators so you can ensure your product is exempt from certification and avoid delays and penalties.




With more than 50 years of combined experience in product certification services behind us, G&M Compliance is more than qualified to assist you in meeting any certification needs, whether domestically or internationally. We assist manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and retailers to bring their products into compliance with UL, CSA, EMC/EMI/FCC, European and international Standards. Once compliance has been determined, we help you obtain the marks you need to get your products to market quickly and affordably.

Posted by Paul Milton, CEO of G&M Compliance