Ningbo port is one of the major ports in China, handling even more tons of cargo than Shanghai port. Its natural setting and deep water make it the perfect port for importing heavy cargo. We have compiled this guide to help businesses and individuals importing from Ningbo to the UK.

Understand Your Quote

The three most common quotes you’ll encounter when importing from Ningbo to the UK are “FOB Ningbo,” ‘EXW Ningbo,” and “CIF Ningbo.” FOB means that your supplier will deliver your goods to Ningbo port and take care of export procedures. Depending on the details of your FOB quote, you or your supplier will pay the local carrier. Additionally, you should check your quote to know who will take legal responsibility for damages and losses that occur during local transport.

EXW means that your supplier will make the goods available for pick-up at the warehouse and hand over liability for the goods to you at that point. Suppliers will often give you their EXW price for your first purchase as it’s the most competitive. However, it’s best to ask for their FOB price to see how much they will charge you for shipping. In the end, FOB is cheaper than EXW because supplies work with local carriers who can offer a better price for inland transport compared to international freight forwarders.

CIF means that your supplier will cover freight and insurance until your goods land at your desired port in the UK. CIF is the most expensive quote. As with other incoterms, you should check the details of your quote to see who will be responsible for any losses and damages that happen along the way.

Should you ship LCL, FCL, Express or Air?

The best transport method for your goods depends on several factors; how urgently you need the items, your budget, and the size of your shipment. Additionally, other factors, such as peak and off-peak seasons, also come into play. Generally, if your goods are around 100kg, it’s best to ship your goods as Less than Container Load (LCL), where your shipment shares a container with other boxes and pallets. LCL takes a few days longer than FCL as your goods will need to be consolidated at the origin port and de-consolidated at the destination port. If your goods are around 200kgs, it’s best to ship FCL even though your cargo doesn’t fill the whole container. You’ll pay a flat rate which will be cheaper than paying for space by the cubic meter in LCL.


If your items are light and need to arrive in the UK urgently, air and express are your best options. Air is more expensive than ocean freight, and you will pay for both the volume and weight. If you have a small shipment and need it delivered as fast as possible, express is your best option. you might consider express.

Calculating Import Duty and VAT

When your shipment arrives from Ningbo to the UK, you will need to pay import duty and VAT before HMRC releases your goods. Ideally, your seller or the freight forwarder will include the commodity codes of your goods in the paperwork.

The commodity codes of your items will indicate the amount of duty and VAT you need to pay, and it’s wise to research your costs in advance to avoid any surprises. You can find the commodity codes for your items in the UK trade tariff tool. To help you find your way around the UK trade tariff, here are the chapters, headings, and codes for the most common Chinese imports in the UK.

Computers and electrical items

Computers and other electronics fall under Chapter 84 and 85 of the tariff. For example, use the code

  • 8528 72 10 00 to find the duty for importing televisions
  • 8471 30 00 00 to find the VAT for importing laptops

Furniture and household items

Chapter 94 of the tariff covers the common household goods like seats, bedding, and decor. For instance, heading:

  • 9405 for lamps and lighting fixtures
  • 9404 for mattresses, cushions and pillows, and
  • 9401 for convertible seats

Construction materials and prefabricated buildings

  • Chapter 25 covers the codes for importing lime and plastering materials.
  • If you are importing tiles and flooring from Ningbo to the UK, find the codes in chapter 68.
  • For prefabricated buildings look in chapter 96, heading 06.

Clothing, footwear and accessories

Chapters 61 and 62 cover clothing and footwear items in great detail.

  • To find the codes for knitted or crocheted clothing, look in chapter 61
  • Codes for non-knitted items are in chapter 62


If you are importing toys to sell on eBay or Amazon, check for the commodity codes in the following chapters.

Getting a Freight Forwarder

Importing from Ningbo to the UK can be complicated, especially if it’s your first time. Working with a specialist freight forwarder is the best option, as you will have a single point of contact throughout the process. An expert forwarder will give you professional advice on incoterms, transport methods, and import customs.

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Contact Barrington Today

When importing from Ningbo to the UK, you need a partner you can trust. Here at Barrington Freight, we pride ourselves on making the shipping process easy and smooth. We offer efficient freight forwarding services to destinations across the world, including imports from several Chinese ports. Our warehouse in the UK is well connected to the major seaports and airports, and we have an excellent pallet forwarding service. Contact us for a competitive quote.