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Import duty and taxes are due when importing goods into China whether by a private individual or a commercial entity.  The valuation method is CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight), which means that the import duty and taxes payable are calculated on the complete shipping value, which includes the cost of the imported goods, the cost of freight, and the cost of insurance.  In addition to duty, imports are subject to consumption tax and sales tax (VAT).

Duty Rates

Duty rates in China vary from 0% to 100%, with an average duty rate of 12.47%.  Some products can be imported free of duty, e.g. laptops and other electronic products.

Personal imports are subject to different rules than commercial imports. The duty and tax application will depend on the type of personal import:

1) Cross-Border e-Commerce regime: In two circumstances can this regime apply:

a) goods purchased from merchants registered in China's cross-border e-commerce network, or
b) goods purchased from any overseas merchant AND shipped by a courier company that is able to present three required documents (commercial invoice, airway bill, and proof of payment), and who can take legal responsibility for the import

Personal imports of these types, with a customs value (CIF value) up to CNY 2,000, and where the accumulated transaction value has not surpassed the personal annual limit of CNY 20,000, are exempt from import duty, and subject to 70% of the applicable VAT and Consumption Tax rate. Imports which exceed these limits will be subject to all duties and taxes. NB: Only products in the positive list (i.e. a list of products approved by China's Ministry of Finance) can be imported under this regime. 

2) Parcel Tax regime: all other personal imports, including goods purchased from overseas e-tailers that are not licensed to sell in China’s cross-border e-commerce network, with a product value (FOB value) up to CNY 1,000 are subject to parcel tax. Parcel Tax is a flat rate that combines duty, VAT and Consumption tax. Parcel tax is assessed on the dutiable value of the goods, which is a predetermined amount assigned by China customs to different products, rather than on the product value (with certain exceptions). Imports which exceed this limit are subject to all duties and taxes.

Sales Tax

Goods imported into China are subject to VAT at a standard rate of 17%, or a reduced rate of 13% on certain products, calculated over the CIF value plus any applicable duty and consumption tax.

Minimum thresholds

Duty and VAT are only charged when together they account for more than RMB 50; otherwise the import is exempt from both.

Other taxes and customs fees

Consumption tax is imposed inter-alia on imports of alcohol, petrol, jewellery and cars.  The relevant rates are between 1% and 45%.  It is calculated over the CIF value plus any applicable duty. 

Local Customs office and contacts

More information on import declaration procedures and import restrictions can be found at the Chinese Customs website.

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