When you import goods from China, the most depressing thing is that you encounter customs inspection. Knowing that there is no problem with the goods and export declaration documents, why your cargo still need to inspect? Other importers wonder why they have to inspect my goods every time, when are you shipping from China, instead of inspecting other importers?


Regardless of whether it is a customs declaration company, a Chinese export company, or a Chinese freight forwarder, the most fearful thing is to encounter customs inspection. General customs inspection not only requires the customs broker to accompany the inspection but also prepares a large amount of information and spends a lot of time; at the same time, it may also disrupt the original scheduled ETD and cause delays in the export of goods from China.


So keep reading, whether you are an overseas importer, an FBA buyer, or an overseas freight forwarding company, this article will allow you to fully understand all the issues related to Chinese customs inspections, and it is also the most detailed google inspection of all the core content. Insider, if you like this article, remember to forward your social media to let more importers know how to import from China safely and with assurance



Definition and overview of customs inspection shipping from China:


What is customs inspection when you import goods from China?


Customs inspection refers to the actual inspection of the goods by the customs after accepting the declaration from the customs declaration unit to determine whether the nature, origin, condition, quantity, and value of the goods in and out of the country are consistent with the details already filled in the goods declaration form. Administrative enforcement actions. Inspection is a kind of administrative power granted to the customs by the state, and it is also an essential link in the customs clearance process. Customs inspections can be thorough or random inspections.



The inspection operation can be divided into manual inspection and equipment inspection. The customs may determine the specific inspection method according to the cargo situation and actual law enforcement needs.


The manual inspection includes appearance inspection and unpacking inspection. Appearance inspection refers to the inspection of the packaging, transportation marks and appearance of goods with intuitive external characteristics and easy to judge basic attributes;


Unpacking inspection refers to checking the actual condition of the goods after taking the goods out of the container and removing the outer packaging.



What is the purpose of customs inspection?


The first is to verify whether the content declared in the declaration link is consistent with the inspection order and goods by checking the actual import and export goods and the customs declaration documents. Through the actual inspection, it is discovered whether there is any concealment of declaration and non-declaration that cannot be found in the declaration and review process. Actually wait for smuggling violations or other import and export issues.


Second, the inspection can verify the doubts raised in the declaration and review process, and provide a reliable supervision basis for tax collection, statistics, and follow-up management.



Where is the customs inspection location?


Generally, inspections are carried out at import and export ports, stations, airports, post offices, or other customs supervision places in the customs supervision area.


For import and export bulk cargo, dangerous goods, fresh and live commodities, and cargo transported by barge, upon the application of the import and export consignee and consignor, the customs may also inspect and release at the operation site.


Under special circumstances, upon the application of the import and export consignee or the consignor or its agent, and the customs review and approval, personnel can also be sent to factories, warehouses, or construction sites outside the specified time and place to inspect the goods.



How many ways of customs inspection?


Customs inspections can be thorough or random inspections. The inspection operation can be divided into manual inspection and equipment inspection. The customs may determine the specific inspection method according to the cargo situation and actual law enforcement needs.


The manual inspection includes appearance inspection and unpacking inspection. Appearance inspection refers to the inspection of the packaging, transportation signs, and appearance of goods with intuitive external characteristics and easy to judge basic attributes; unpacking inspection refers to the removal of the goods from containers, container trucks, and other boxes and the removal of the outer packaging Check the actual condition of the goods.


  Equipment inspection refers to the use of technical inspection equipment to verify the actual condition of the goods.

1. Thorough inspection, which means unpacking (package) the goods one by one, and checking the goods type, specifications, quantity, weight, and origin of goods in detail with the goods declaration form one by one.


2. Sampling inspection refers to the selective unpacking and spot inspection of the goods according to a certain proportion, and the goods must be unloaded. The degree of unloading and the ratio of unpacking (package) are subject to the requirements of inspection instructions that can determine the name, specification, quantity, and weight of the goods.


3. Appearance inspection, checking the packaging, marking, and trademark of the goods. Appearance inspection can only be applied to large machines and bulk raw materials that are not easy to handle and move. In addition, the customs also makes full use of scientific and technological means to cooperate with inspections, such as inspection facilities and equipment such as floor scales and X-ray machines.


The customs inspection department shall not exceed 48 hours from the acceptance of the inspection until the completion of the inspection and the feedback of the inspection results. Exported goods shall be released within half a working day after the inspection is completed. During the inspection process, if any suspected smuggling or other violations are discovered, the time limit is not restricted.


Customs inspection records:


After the customs inspects the import and export goods, it must fill in an inspection record. The record is filled in by the customs officer who performs the inspection task. The content of the inspection record generally includes the inspection time, location, the name of the consignor or consignor of the imported and exported goods or their agent, and the status of the declared goods, and the transportation and packaging of the inspected goods.


The situation, name, specification, model of the goods, country of origin, natural attributes (quality, oldness, quantity (weight), import and export status (raw materials, semi-finished products, complete machines, complete sets of assemblies, complete sets of spare parts, etc.), The situation of taking samples and inspection conclusions, etc. The customs inspectors and the customs declarers accompanying the inspection should sign their full names on the inspection records.


The inspection record is the true reflection of the on-site inspection of import and export goods and is the official record and documentary evidence jointly recognized by the customs and the consignor or consignor of the import and export goods or their agents. It can provide a reliable basis for customs tax collection, statistics, and follow-up management. It is also strong evidence for customs to investigate and deal with violations of regulations and handle tax disputes.



What are the inspection requirements of China Customs?


The customs has the following requirements during the inspection:

  1. The consignee or consignor of the goods or their agents must be present and be responsible for handling the removal, unpacking, and repacking of the goods according to the requirements of the customs.


  1. When the customs deems it necessary, it may conduct inspections, re-inspections or take samples, and the cargo management personnel shall be present as witnesses.


  1. Applicants should provide transportation and accommodation to and from, and pay related fees, and pay the fees in accordance with customs regulations.



In addition, China country’s Customs Law stipulates that when the customs inspect incoming and outgoing goods, it should compensate for the actual loss if the goods are damaged. At this time, the customs officer should truthfully fill in the “Report on Inspection of Goods and Articles Damaged” and sign it in duplicate, and the customs officer and the party concerned should keep one copy for each. The two parties jointly negotiate the extent of damage to the goods or repair costs and determine the amount of compensation based on the dutiable value verified by the customs.


All compensation shall be paid in RMB. Prerequisites for the release of customs goods According to the provisions of China’s customs law, except for goods specially approved by the customs, import and export goods can be released by the customs after the consignee and consignor have paid the tax or provided a guarantee.



After the customs declare the import and export goods, after reviewing the declaration documents, inspecting the actual goods, and going through the procedures for tax collection or tax reduction or exemption in accordance with the law, the relevant documents can be signed and released, and the owner of the goods or their agent can pick up Or shipping goods. It is worth noting that the release of import and export goods by port customs means:


For general trade import and export goods, customs supervision ends


For goods that need to be transferred to the customs to continue to be supervised by other means, the goods enter another way of customs supervision; for goods that need to be transferred to another customs location, Customs A’s supervision ends and Customs B’s supervision begins.



Operating procedures:


1) After the customs confirm the inspection, the on-site customs officer will print out the “Inspection Notice”, and if necessary, make an inspection seal and submit it to the customs broker.


2) Arrange an inspection plan. The on-site customs inspection acceptance post arranges the specific time for the inspection and generally arranges the inspection plan for the next day on the same day.


3) When the customs inspect the goods, the consignee of the imported goods, the consignor of the export goods, or their authorized customs declarers shall be present and be responsible for assisting in moving the goods, unpacking and resealing the goods. When the customs deem it necessary, it may conduct inspections, re-inspections, or take samples.


4) After the inspection, the accompanying person will sign and confirm the “Inspection Record Sheet”.



A few notes for inspection by China Customs:


  1. Inspection fee

In the inspection process, the customs broker of the customs broker needs to be accompanied by a representative, and a certain inspection service fee will be charged, which must be included in the cost of the enterprise. If the FOB term is established with a Chinese supplier, any additional inspection costs incurred will be borne by the supplier. This is the advantage of the FOB term. If the CIF  or EXW  requires the importer to pay for these additional costs.


  1. Overdue storage fee

If you encounter customs inspection, you need to queue up for inspection. Once the problematic goods are inspected and are stranded at the port, the importer will increase storage costs.


  1. Time plan

Because there is no budget for an inspection time, the shipping schedule or delivery date is delayed, which will increase various additional burdens and additional costs.



Several major reasons and key control factors for customs inspection:

  1. The system is randomly checked, this is not controlled by humans, and no discussion;


  1. Customs special operations, this is a relatively unlucky time period. However, generally in case of major special actions, the freight forwarder will notify the importer in advance, and the supplier will reserve time for an inspection to minimize the risk;


  1. Processing trade, the import and export declarations under the first manual of the new general processing trade factory will be subject to key inspections;


  1. Price declaration, if the price is lower than the price library when importing or higher than the price library when exporting under the same brand, same model and other factors, it will trigger manual review and even control inspection;


  1. Declaration elements. Some customs declarers do not understand the meaning of the declaration elements and the requirements for filing, so they will fill in the declaration elements incorrectly, which improves the probability of inspection and control;


  1. Document errors, occasionally encounter errors in the accompanying documents provided by the entrusting unit, once errors will increase the inspection rate


  1. Separate the declaration. In order to circumvent the application for a license, the declaration is divided into parts by means of splitting the declaration. Once the reported information is monitored, wait to be checked!


  1. Enterprise qualification, needless to say, if the enterprise’s qualification is relatively low, or the previous inspection has encountered problems, it will enter the customs inspection blacklist. The probability of inspection is very high.



How to reduce the probability of Chinese customs inspection?

The reason for customs inspection is mostly the irregular declaration of enterprises, and the irregular declaration is more caused by the imperfect internal management system of the enterprise and weak legal consciousness.


As a consignor or consignor of import and export goods, you should work from two aspects to further reduce the probability of being inspected by the customs, so as to reduce various derivative problems caused by the customs inspection.


  1. Effectively carry out document review

The vast majority of import and export companies use customs brokers to declare customs. The customs brokers must have high qualifications and have a double-post audit process for document preparation and review, which will further reduce the error rate. The wrongly declared documents shall be adjusted and changed in time, especially the filling of declaration elements. Submitting the declaration with luck will increase the risk.


  1. Actively apply for customs AEO certification

After standardizing the various customs systems and procedures within the enterprise, the enterprise should apply to the customs for AEO certification in time. According to the customs policy, the inspection rate of customs declaration can be reduced to less than 3% for enterprises that have obtained AEO general certification.


Why is it checked and how did the cost arise?


Inspection is an important means of customs supervision. Customs declaration is only a procedure. The customs will conduct random inspections on some sensitive product names based on  own experience and policies at the time. Of course, there are sometimes random inspections for no reason.


During the inspection, the container will be opened to see whether it is consistent with the customs declaration information, product name, quantity, declared value, and other information, whether there is tax fraud, evasion of commodity inspection, and the HS code classification of the product name is incorrect.


Customs inspection does not charge money, but because the inspection is carried out in the port area, the port area is responsible for unpacking, loading, and unloading, sealing, etc., so it has to pay the port area.


How much is the cost of the inspection?


This may be the issue that importers are most concerned about. Different Chinese shipping ports and different terminals will have different standards. Prices generally range from a few hundred RMB to thousands of RMB. Because of the different inspection processes, some are inspections. Half a container, some are inspecting the entire container, all the goods are taken out, so the labor costs are different, but the inspection can usually get the official inspection form of the customs.



How to charge the inspection fee for LCL and FCL when shipping from China?


LCL inspection may be a headache for shippers, especially if the value of the goods is relatively small. Some shippers don’t understand. My goods value is only a few hundred dollars, less than 1 cubic meter. Why do I charge such an expensive inspection fee? I’m really sorry about this. The inspection does not depend on the value of the goods. Sometimes LCL is combined with the large containers and sometimes with small containers If a container is inspected by a factory, then this supplier needs to bear all the LCL inspection costs. If 4 factories encounter inspections at the same time, their 4 factories will share these inspection costs equally.



What are the factors that are generally checked by Chinese customs?


  1. The weight does not match and exceeds the allowable error range

“Packing List” has an important data called the gross weight. Gross weight is a very important data in the customs declaration process. The weight in the “Packing List” of some factories is estimated without weighing, and some factories load less when loading containers. The data in the Packing List was not changed in time, which caused the declared weight to be inconsistent with the actual shipping weight. When the weight exceeds 500 kg, it will ring, which means that the cabinet is likely to enter the anti-smuggling department.


  1. Brand issues

Some factory officials did not know the importance of the brand in the export process, and thought it was the factory brand, not a famous brand, so they did not fill in the “Packing List”. Sometimes I know that it is a famous brand, but I did not provide two authorizations in Chinese and English, one is the production authorization issued to the factory, and the other is the factory authorized to the customs broker. There is also a busy rush for the goods, the wrong brand is written or the wrong goods are sent. In short, those with a brand say there is no brand, and those without a brand are said to have a brand. Must declare truthfully.


3. the quantity of cartons

When the customs inspects the goods, it often does not count the number of pieces in your container, but it will count the number of boxes based on the data on the customs declaration. Under normal circumstances, it may be over-reported and under-reported. If 1,000 cartons are declared for export, but 950 cartons are actually exported, then there is basically no problem. However, if 950 cartons are declared and 1,000 cartons are actually loaded, then there is a problem, because the customs may think it is smuggling.


  1. Missing and concealing customs declaration

Many factories often produce several products in one container, which may be groceries with many product names. The factory feels that the goods are very mixed, sometimes neglecting statistics, missing one or a few product names, or temporarily adding some products that were not originally planned for export when loading the container, and they were not provided to the customs broker, resulting in actual goods and The real goods are not the same. This situation leads to the most frequent anti-smuggling department. The customs is most likely to feel that it is missing or concealing the declaration.


5, gift issues

Sometimes the factory sends some small gifts to customers in the container to express gratitude or be entrusted by someone. Some are samples, but they don’t say hello to the customs broker. They think a gift is few and there should be no problem, but in case of luck is not so good If it is, the problem may arise when you encounter check counters, especially if you are sending brand-name goods.


6, be reported

Usually, there will be situations where the goods are being reported by others. This situation cannot be avoided. The only thing that an importer and exporter can control is to ensure that the goods and export documents are consistent, legal, and compliant customs declaration exports.



How long does the Chinese customs inspection take?

In order to improve efficiency and protect the legal rights of the parties, customs in various places currently stipulate the time limit for inspection. For example, the Shenzhen Customs stipulates that the normal inspection time limit for each box (vehicle) from the unpacking inspection by the inspectors is: within 3 hours for thorough inspection; within 2 hours for random inspection; and within 1 hour for appearance inspection. (If the goods are suspected of smuggling violations and other abnormal conditions, the inspection time limit depends on the situation).


It should be noted that the above time limit refers to the inspection time after the goods have been transported to the inspection operation area and unpacked, not the entire time from notification to completion of the inspection. In fact, due to various reasons, some domestic ports often spend a lot of time on transporting containers from the yard to the inspection area, resulting in longer inspection time. This situation is not at all caused by inefficient customs inspection.



What are the specific fees for inspection?

The composition of the inspection fee: container removal fee, agency fee, miscellaneous fee, crane fee, weighing fee, short transfer fee, storage fee, unpacking fee, external management fee, sealing fee, etc.


Clearance fee will be incurred when the goods are too many and difficult to find


If the container and cargo do not catch the ETD, then there will be storage fees at the terminal and demurrage fees from the shipping company.


Generally speaking, the inspection fee is a bit complicated, and the specific situation needs to be treated in detail.



Is the inspection regular?

Although the inspections seem to be random inspections, they are actually somewhat regular. For example, the time for customs declaration should not be too late, especially on Friday afternoon. For example, the declaration elements must be detailed and clear, and the product name and HS code of the customs declaration materials must be unified. For example, according to the policy at that time, if the tax rebate of a certain product is adjusted at a specific time, the inspection rate for this product name may increase during this period. The Chinese government is worried about exporters’ fraudulent tax rebates, and the general inspection rate will increase.


What should I do if the problematic goods have been inspected?

Once the inspection notice is issued, the freight forwarder must notify the owner of the goods as soon as possible. If the declaration is truthfully declared, the inspection will be arranged normally; if there is a problem with the goods, the inspection needs to be careful.


The normal process is like this. The freight forwarder will be notified by the customs broker that the goods need to be inspected, but not immediately. With the help of scheduling time, it is necessary to make it clear at this time what is wrong with the goods and whether other channels are needed to avoid deductions. goods.


Most customs brokers can solve the problem if the problem is not serious. As for the cost, the cost is definitely different in different situations.


This fee is not the same as the inspection fee, because there is no invoice or receipt. It depends on the consignor’s willingness to issue it. If you don’t want it, follow the normal procedure. This requires the trust of the importer and the forwarder.


The normal procedure is to assume that the problem is found. The customs will ask the owner to write a description, such as the HS code is wrong, why it was wrong, is it deliberately fraudulent, why the commodity inspection is not done, etc., sometimes it may just need to be renewed Classification or supplementary commodity inspection is sufficient; if the customs does not accept the explanation, it will follow the customs procedures to make corresponding transfers. If the circumstances are serious, the anti-smuggling department will be dealt with.


Bestforworld’s suggestion is to go through the normal procedures if there is no problem with the documents of the goods. If there is a problem with the goods documents, but the goods are in order to catch the fastest shipping schedule, you can let a capable freight forwarder, who has a good relationship with the customs, make quick amendments and clearing. Ensure that the goods are released quickly and can be on time.