Importing from China to the USA: A Comprehensive Guide

In the world of global trade, China stands as a heavyweight contender, and importing from this economic giant to the United States has become a common practice. The reason is simple: China offers a vast array of products known for their quality and reliability. The U.S. imports a substantial volume of goods from China every year, ranging from machinery and plastics to textiles and food products. But before you dive headfirst into the world of importing, there are some key factors you need to understand to ensure a smooth and efficient process.

What Products does the US import from China?

The list of Chinese goods imported by the US is extensive and diverse. From food items to machinery, China’s imports cover a wide spectrum of products. Their reputation for quality and value is well-deserved, and some of the most common products the U.S. imports from China include:

Industrial and Electrical Machinery

China is a leading supplier of machinery, including electrical devices and metal equipment.

Textiles, Clothes, Furniture, and Fabric

China’s textile industry is renowned for producing a wide variety of products, including clothing and furniture.

Fruits, Vegetables, Processed Food, Tea, and Spices

Agricultural products such as tea, spices, and processed food are also popular imports from China.

Plastics and Rubbers

China is a significant source of both raw materials and products made from plastics and rubbers.

How to Choose the Best Import Categories to Trade with China?

When deciding what products to import from China, it’s essential to consider a few key factors to make the most out of your business venture:

Import Light-Weight Items

Opt for products that are small and light, as they are easier to manage and less expensive to ship.

Easily Manufactured Products

Choose goods that can be manufactured with minimal error, ensuring you receive quality products.

Consistency is the Key

Select products that are in demand year-round to ensure a steady flow of business.

Products You Should Not Import from China

While China offers a wide range of products, there are certain categories you should avoid:

Branded Items

Chinese branded items can be expensive, and it’s often more cost-effective to buy local products.

Goods with High Tariffs

Be aware of import duties, as some products, such as electronics and vehicles, come with hefty tariffs.

Food and Supplements

Importing food and supplements from China can be a complex process due to FDA regulations and permits.

Products with Low Value

Focus on products that hold significant value in the market to maximize your profits.

Services and Products That are Legally Allowed in the USA

Before diving into the world of imports and exports, it’s crucial to ensure that your chosen products are legally allowed in the USA. Conduct thorough research to confirm that your selections comply with local regulations and standards.

How to Ship Goods from China to the USA?

Once you’ve decided on the products you want to import, it’s time to consider the logistics. Shipping methods and terms play a crucial role in the success of your trade business:

Courier Shipping from China to the USA

Effective for lightweight items, courier shipping ensures quick delivery and simplifies the customs clearance process.

Freight Shipping from China to the USA

Freight shipping, whether by sea or air, offers flexibility, but it’s important to understand the details of your arrangement.

International Postal Service

An affordable option, but it lacks tracking and may have restrictions on high-value items.

Some Shipment Terms You Should Know

Understanding shipment terms is essential for successful imports and exports:


These global guidelines allocate responsibilities between buyers and suppliers.

FOB (Free on Board)

Applies to water transportation, where the supplier is responsible until goods are loaded onto the ship.

EXW (Ex Works)

The seller is responsible for preparing the goods for pickup by the buyer’s carrier.

CFR (Cost and Freight)

The supplier pays for shipping to the destination, with the buyer handling unloading and onward transport.

CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight)

Similar to CFR but with insurance coverage for added protection.

AWB (Air Waybill)

A non-negotiable bill for air transport.

FCL and LCL (Full Container Load and Less than Container Loads)

FCL refers to a full container, while LCL denotes sharing a container with other shippers.

POD and POL (Point of Discharge and Port of Loading)

These terms refer to the ports where goods are unloaded and loaded.

How to Manage Your Shipping Procedures?

Managing shipping procedures is critical to the success of your importing business:

Gain Full Control

Directly managing shipping arrangements with airlines and shipping lines provides complete control but demands time and expertise.

Collaborate with a Local Freight Forwarder

Enlisting the help of a local forwarder simplifies the process but may involve additional fees.

Recruit a China-based Freight Forwarder

Working with a China-based forwarder offers the advantage of direct communication with suppliers and cost-effective solutions.

Get a Forwarder on Each Side

Having forwarders in both the USA and China provides an optimal balance of control and expertise.

What are the Product Compliance Requirements in the USA?

Importers must ensure that their products meet safety regulations and standards. Understanding these requirements is vital for a successful import business:

Safety Regulations

Products must comply with safety regulations and standards set by U.S. federal agencies.

Amazon Seller Compliance

Amazon may have additional requirements for certain product categories, requiring prior approval.

In summary, importing from China to the USA can be a lucrative business, but it requires careful planning and understanding of the products, shipping methods, and compliance requirements. By making informed decisions and following best practices, you can build a successful importing business that thrives in the competitive global market.

Product Enquiry