Can I ship Personal Effects to China?

Importing goods into Mainland China can be tricky. Never send anything to China without having the destination formalities in order, it will almost certainly cost you additional fees, have to be re-eported or even destroyed.  Regulations can change from province to province and you need to check recent details with your agent.  You can not import goods into china on a tourist visa.  You must be either a national or have a work visa with appropriate approval from you employer.  You may also need documents stamped at the airport on your way into China.

Excess Baggage to China.

When shipping small amounts of excess baggage to china it is always advisable to send it via air door to door.  Shipping small amounts via sea to China is never advisable as the port service charges will always make it cost prohibitive.  Also smaller operators involved with usually ask for special “clearance fees”.  You can send goods to the airport if you are really confident you can get it cleared without to much trouble.  Otherwise an air express service door to door will be the better option.  If you have more than about one cubic meter then the sea option will become more economical.


Personal effects are dutiable in China for both nationals and expats, particularly electrical goods.  Things change in time and in different provinces but for Nationals things are a bit more relaxed.  We have been shipping to China for a long time and it is the place we are lease likely to give advice to because we can have everything in order and still charges are levied by the authorities. Sometimes clients will ship with almost no duty other times there will be a lot more so it is best to seek advise at the time of shipping.  We can send a quick email before the goods leave in order to determine the regulations for the particular goods and to make sure the passage is clear at the destination.

There is also a limitation on the amount of separate shipments you can send, usually one by sea and one by air at any one time and they must be imported within six months of your arrival and you must arrive before the personal effects.

All documents need to be lodged before the goods arrive in China so don’t send things to China on the fly, you will regret it, and NEVER just send it to the port and think you can sort the customs out yourself, you will regret it.

Prohibited and Restricted Items

The following documents are required for import of goods to china, passport and visa, residence permit, letter from employer, a detailed inventory,  a work visa and a customs permit. A customs declaration form must be completed on your arrival at the airport.

  • Alcohol and tobacco products
  • Foods
  • Personal Effects
  • Office equipment
  • Electrical/electronic items (new or used) are subject to import duties (including computers) make, model, and serial number must be on inventory
  • One of each electrical/electronic item per customer may be imported such as TV’s, stereos, refrigerators, VCR’s, washer/dryer
  • Audio cassette tapes, video cassette tapes, compact discs, etc. (limited importation applies) will be inspected by Customs Office
  • Cordless or portable phones (Import Permit required)
  • Radio transmitters and components
  • Bicycles
  • Oriental antiques and objects d’art must be declared in detail, otherwise re-export might be prohibited
  • Textiles and fabrics of wool, silk and artificial and synthetic fibers and bedding
  • Cosmetics
  • Cameras, watches, clocks and their parts and accessories
  • Small quantity of prescription medicines may be allowed (with a copy of the prescription)
  • Computers/printers – only one of each item allowed per customer
  • Weapons and ammunition
  • Drugs or poisons
  • Fresh food, especially meat
  • Pornographic and subversive literature, films, tapes, etc.
  • Endangered and rare animals and their products
  • Motorcycles are prohibited
  • Privately owned vehicles are considered a luxury item and are dutiable
  • Restrictions and taxes depend on the type and size of vehicle
  • Only one pet per Residence Permit, regulations for licensing of dogs are complicated and strict
  • Health Certificate and original Certificate of Rabies Vaccination is required
  • Subject to strict quarantine regulations
  • Veterinary inspection must be arranged by owner upon arrival

Having said all that don’t be afraid of shipping personal effects or excess baggage to China, here at YouFr8 we do it all the time.  You just need an expert.  Call us and we will guide you through the process.


Here are some links to Chinese Customs.  The information is a little hard to negotiate and we again recommend going through a door to door agent like YouFr8.

Chinese Customs English Language Site 

Chinese Government Clearance information for Individuals