Welcome to Express Customs Broker’s Guide to Importing from China. Here we will outline the process of finding a supplier, establishing communication, making payments, and receiving your goods.


Importing from China: Finding a Supplier When searching for suppliers, many of us initially turn to China due to its reputation for affordable and abundant products. However, finding a reliable Chinese supplier can be a challenge, especially for those starting a business with limited contacts.


The internet is an excellent starting point for finding suppliers in China. Websites like and attract numerous Chinese suppliers competing for business. Using keywords related to your desired product, you can quickly find multiple suppliers that manufacture the item. While finding a supplier online is relatively easy, it is essential to exercise caution as not all sources can be trusted. Although trusted sites like have a vetting process, scammers may still manage to slip through the cracks.


For serious importers seeking to establish a product distribution business, visiting suppliers in person by traveling to China is often the best option. Trade shows offer a convenient opportunity to meet with numerous suppliers within a short timeframe. With thousands of trade shows held each year, it is easy to find a show that aligns with your specific requirements.


Importing from China:


Communication & Relationship Building is Key Building a strong relationship with your Chinese suppliers is crucial for the success of your import business. While face-to-face meetings are beneficial initially, email communication offers convenience and ease. Most Chinese individuals have a decent command of English due to mandatory language education, but cultural differences may make written communication more effective. Email allows suppliers the time needed to consider their responses and articulate their thoughts clearly.


Once a relationship is established, it is advisable to start with sample orders or small test orders. This enables you to evaluate the quality of the products and ascertain if the supplier can consistently deliver the desired quality. Additionally, placing a small order initially helps verify the supplier’s legitimacy and prevents substantial financial risk before proceeding with larger orders.


Maintaining the relationship with your Chinese suppliers is just as crucial as building it. While many suppliers may initially show interest in working with Western distributors, they often prioritize working with a few reliable clients. Therefore, it may be necessary to foster the relationship by offering gifts and making occasional visits.


Importing from China: Paying for and Receiving Your Goods Some importers are surprised to discover that their Chinese suppliers only accept payment through methods like Western Union or wire transfer. These payment options are less secure and challenging to trace in case of any issues with the shipment. Unfortunately, these are the most common forms of payment in China, as credit cards are not as widely used.


When receiving your goods, it is crucial to ensure all details are clear before the cargo is shipped. As an importer, unexpected costs can be avoided by gathering comprehensive information in advance.


Ocean freight from China is generally cost-effective. Most shipping costs arise from transporting goods from the factory to the port of exit or from the Canadian port to your destination. It is essential to understand terms like FOB (Free on Board) or EXW (Ex Works). FOB indicates that the supplier is responsible for handling and arranging all shipping costs from their location to the ship, including necessary documentation. Once the goods are on the ship, you become responsible for the cargo and any associated shipping costs. On the other hand, EXW means the supplier will not handle any shipping costs, requiring you to manage transportation from the supplier’s location to the port. This can be challenging when dealing with suppliers located far away. As competition intensifies, many suppliers prefer EXW to explore alternative revenue sources.


After the goods are transported from the factory and loaded onto a ship, your primary point of contact will be the local office of the shipping company at the port of arrival. This office will handle all charges going forward, typically including a handling fee (around $100-$150). For any questions regarding arrival times, you can contact the local office or your chosen customs broker.


Importing from China:


Customs Examination Fees One aspect often overlooked by importers (unless advised by a knowledgeable customs broker) is the unexpected customs examination fee. All shipments entering Canada are subject to inspection, and first-time importers have a high probability (around 99.999%) of having their first 2 or 3 shipments inspected. Regular importers can expect inspections about 1 in 15 shipments. Therefore, additional costs related to examination fees should be anticipated. Examination fees can vary widely, ranging from $150.00 to over $2,000.00. Contrary to popular belief, these fees are not charged by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) but by the warehouse conducting the examination. The warehouse incurs significant preparation work to facilitate the inspection, which is reflected in the fees charged.


When importing from China, it is important to consider numerous factors that affect the process, including finding reliable suppliers, establishing effective communication, making secure payments, and understanding shipping terms. Expertise and insight from a customs broker like Express Customs Broker can help navigate the complexities of importing from China and provide the necessary support to ensure a successful importation. Additionally, Express Customs Broker is committed to delivering excellent customer service, understanding that customer satisfaction is the foundation of their business.