The 6-step Import process

This is a rather large section so I will outline in 6 steps and go into detail in later chapters.


The 6-step import process


This is the general outline of the process. We will look into each process in great detail in later sections. It is also the same process, no matter if you go to China or sit on in the comforts of your home.


These are the 6 steps that you always need to follow trough no matter what product you want to import.


 1) Decide for your manufacturing country. In our case this will be China or South East Asia (depending on your product).

Countries have different export/import regulations. While products may be cheap to buy from Asia, there are many other factors, which might add costs. Requirements for importing specific commodities depend on a wide variety of criteria. Some information, such as whether an item is subject to quota restrictions, eligible for reduced rates of duty, or restricted from entry because they originate in an embargoed country, can be determined only if you know the item’s Harmonized Tariff customs number. This can be found for the US for example under:

If you live in Europe or any other country simply Google: “customs tariff number your country”

Click on the link and head over to the official’s country’s government website.

On these databases you can simply look for a product’s tariff or regulations.

You can also try:

They give you 5 free “look-up’s” the rest is premium & paid services. But to start you can check it out. It’s a great way of finding out all the costs of taxes & customs fee’s you have to consider.

You will also find a lot of tips on items that have “Anti-dumping” tax on them to minimize the import and protect the local industry under above links.


2) Find a product

This can be easy but also difficult. You may want to have a niche product or an item where you can make large profits. We will go into this section in more detail later.


3) Find a supplier

This is the most exciting but also most difficult part; we go into that in great detail later. If you are new to importing there is usually a lot of support from your local government that are ready to answer your questions. But with this E-Book we want to help you to understand the process by yourself.


4) Calculate all duties and taxes

This goes in hand with the first part of the process. Import duty can be calculated in different ways and can make or break your item. I have a rule of thumb myself. I take the Buying price from my supplier and add 20-30% on top. This gives me a rough idea on what my landing price will be. This rule applies to first world countries like the US, Europe, Canada, Hong Kong & Singapore for example. Many 2nd or 3rd world countries are not so open to importing and put a high percentage of duties and tax on top of import products to protect the local industry. Many 1st world countries even have 0% duties & tax to encourage the import. This applies especially on “green products” that are very sustainable and help the reducing energy or waste. A good example is an LED bulb with 0% tax and duties. Of course you can check in detail trough Customs Tariff Numbers (see above) or resources like

We will go trough an example in “Chapter 19) Calculate your costs”




5) Find a freight forwarder and customs broker

Don’t do this process (logistics) yourself. It can be a nightmare, trust me. Ask your supplier who usually has his own forwarders to give you contacts. If you already have contacts in the industry, great, if not, we will also provide you with a list of freight forwarders & customs brokers. Part of not doing this yourself is also because the freight forwarder usually knows all the procedures and documents necessary. This rule applies to bulk shipments in containers only. If you only have a few samples or pieces to be sent then use airmail or couriers such as DHL/TNT/FEDEX and so on. We will also give you some contacts together with this course. Often times your supplier also has a preferred courier for samples with great rates. Ask him to provide them to you.


6) Monitor your shipment and have an Inspection!

If you are having a larger shipment or products that are valuable you NEED to hire a Third-Party for Inspection. This third-party can inspect your shipment during or after production and send you a report. Based on this report you can give the supplier the release of the shipment or have him REWORK your goods. If there are problems found during your inspection the supplier will ALWAYS agree to re-work your shipment because he is still waiting for the rest of his money, which you will only release to him once you are happy with your shipment (do not pay 100% of your order up-front, NEVER). Many Importers skip this step to save costs or trust their suppliers completely. TRUST ME, in my 10 years working with factories for my Buyers I could tell you tons of stories were the products were not 100% according to my Order requirements. It could be a wrong Instruction Manual, many scratches on the product, a faulty wire or heavily damaged carton boxes. Don’t let me discourage you, many times its just minor mistakes that can be accepted but again since I worked for the biggest retailers in the world, products needed to be top-notch. Once you let your supplier know that you will do an inspection on your products he is more likely to pay more attention on your order too. And the best part? This can be done for ~300USD from companies like: Asia-Inspection, TUV, Bureau Veritas and many more.


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3 replies
  1. Ahmed
    Ahmed says:

    Hey Manuel

    Great post as usual.
    I have been doing what you do exactly for the past 3 years in Guangzhou,but my client-base is mostly Middle Eastern companies in regions such as Dubai,Lebanon,Algeria,Egypt,Saudi Arabia, & South Africa.

    Great Insights into the whole process here,and i hope that we can meet one day.

    Take Care,,


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