Understanding China Import Tax: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to importing goods from China, it’s essential to have a grasp of import charges, customs duties, and clearance procedures. Chinese products are a popular choice for many importers worldwide, offering the potential for significant profits. However, navigating the complex landscape of China import tax can be perplexing for newcomers. In this guide, we’ll break down the intricacies of import duty on Chinese products and help you make sense of the process.

Customs Duties: Types and Covid-19 Effects

Importing or exporting goods involves paying import and export taxes, commonly known as customs duties. These taxes must be paid to avoid any legal implications. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had minimal effects on import-export taxes, experts suggest that custom duties may increase in the future. So, what are the implications of this for importers worldwide?

The Impact on Major Importing Nations

Countries like Australia, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, and ASEAN nations have seen no significant changes in their tariff structures. However, skyrocketing freight costs in late 2020 and early 2021 have presented importers with a major challenge.

The Role of Value Added Tax (VAT)

Importers from China are required to pay a series of taxes, including the Value Added Tax (VAT). This tax has recently been adjusted to either 9% or 13%, depending on the type of goods being imported. Agricultural and utility items enjoy a 9% tax rate, while manufactured goods are taxed at 13%. Taxable services provided in China by foreign entities are subject to a 6% VAT rate.

Understanding Consumption Tax

Certain imported goods, such as cigarettes, alcohol, high-end items like jewelry and cosmetics, and luxury automobiles, are subject to China’s consumption tax. The tax rates vary depending on the type of product being imported, and various methods can be used to calculate it.

Delving into Customs Duty

Customs duty rates for imports vary from most-favored-nation tariffs (MFN) to temporary duty rates and provisional tariffs. For exports, there is typically a single customs duty rate. However, temporary export duty rates may apply in some cases.

Customs & Taxes When Importing from China: US, UK, Australia, Canada, ASEAN, Ireland & Switzerland

  1. United States: Goods valued at $200 or more are subject to import charges, and the recent trade tensions with China have led to tariff increases.
  2. United Kingdom: Most imported goods from China are subject to import duty in line with EU regulations, but changes may occur post-Brexit.
  3. Australia: Australian importers typically pay lower import duties than their US and EU counterparts, thanks to trade agreements.
  4. Canada: Importers in Canada must navigate a complex tax system and keep track of sales taxes in addition to import duties.
  5. ASEAN: The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area has created opportunities for the free movement of products, services, and investments among member states.
  6. Ireland: As part of the European Union, Ireland shares common tax rates for goods from outside the EU, making imports to the region easier.
  7. Switzerland: Switzerland imposes import duties, VAT, and other levies based on the CIF value of imported products.

6 Types of China Import Duty

  1. MFN Duty Rates: These apply to all goods imported into China, offering cheaper duty rates.
  2. Conventional Duty Rates: Applicable to regions without specific trade agreements with China, these rates are generally higher than MFN rates.
  3. Special Preferential Duty Rates: Trade agreements provide preferential duty rates on imports from signatory regions, offering cost advantages.
  4. Tariff Rate Quotas: TRQs apply to specific goods and can result in lower tariff rates for items imported within the quota.
  5. Provisional Duty Rates: China adjusts provisional tariff rates annually to meet domestic demand, offering temporary benefits for importers.
  6. Anti-Dumping Duties: Imposed on Chinese products offered below market price, anti-dumping duties are a concern for some importers.

What’s Customs Value?

Understanding the customs value is crucial, as import taxes and other charges are calculated based on this value. It’s essential to declare an accurate customs value to avoid issues and potential fines.


1. Are there any fees or taxes I have to pay when I replace or repair a device? In most cases, you won’t have to pay import duties twice if you send imported goods to China for repair or replacement.

2. Are there any import duties or other taxes to pay in China? China does not tax foreign businesses or individuals. However, there are some costs to consider when purchasing from China.

3. How can I save money on import duties and other taxes when doing business with China? The most common way to reduce import duty rates is to understate the customs value, but this is illegal and comes with consequences.

4. When a product is drop-shipped from China, who is responsible for import duties and other taxes? The importer, which is the recipient of the goods, is typically responsible for import duties and taxes.

5. Why does one supplier declare a lower value at customs declaration? Suppliers may do this without understanding international tax regulations, which can result in problems for importers.

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