When you want to move cargo from Shantou city, you may want to consider shipping your goods through the biggest port in eastern Guangdong. The Port of Shantou is a natural river seaport opening up to the South China sea and it handles roughly 40 million tons of cargo per year. If this is your first time importing from China, you may be overwhelmed by the seeming complexity of the process and the terminology. To help you get ready and understand the major steps in the process, we have put together this guide on importing from Shantou to the UK
Customs offices in both China and the UK will require you to have an EORI number to submit export and import declarations respectively. If you have imported into the UK before, you probably have an EU EORI number. The UK has since shifted to GB EORI numbers for imports heading to England, Scotland and Wales, and you will need to get a new number. If the final destination of your goods will be Northern Ireland, you can keep operating with an EU number or get one specifically for NI.
Additionally, getting VAT registered is a good idea, as VAT registered businesses can claim a refund of any VAT paid during the import process. If you don’t have an EORI number, and register for VAT, you will automatically get an EORI number with your VAT certificate.
Finally, if you are importing restricted goods such as medicine, you may need to acquire an import license here in the UK and an export licence in China. The latter will not be necessary if your contact in China offers to handle the export process for you i.e gives you an FoB quote (more on that later).
FoB officially stands for Free on Board and defines the point at which the seller transfers the liability and ownership of the goods to you. FoB also defines who handles the costs of each step of the transport process.
A quote reading ‘FoB Shantou’ means that the seller/consignor will arrange for transport to the port of Shantou and pay for the cost of loading. The seller transfers the ownership and liability of the goods to you once they are loaded onto a ship at Shantou Port.
You(the consignee) pay for freight, insurance, unloading and inland transportation from the UK arrival port to the final destination.
To avoid surprises, never assume that an FoB quote means that the seller pays for local transport. There are four different types of FoB quotes, and in some cases, you pay the local transport costs, and in other cases, the seller pays the local carrier. Here are the four different meanings that ‘FoB Shantou’ can carry:
In this case, you assume ownership of the goods the moment the local carrier in China collects the goods from the seller’s location and signs the Bill of Lading. The responsibility of paying the carrier falls on you. You also take responsibility for filing claims if the goods are damaged or lost.
Similar to the first quote, you assume ownership the moment the carrier picks up the goods. In this case, however, the seller pays the carrier. In case the goods are lost or damaged, the responsibility of filing claims falls on the seller.
When your seller gives you this quote, it means that he retains ownership of the goods while they are in the carrier’s hands. You own the goods once the carrier delivers them to you.
In this case, the seller retains ownership of the cargo as the carrier delivers it to you. You assume responsibility and risk for the goods once you receive them from the seller. The seller pays the carrier and assumes the responsibility for losses and damages.
Freight from China to the UK comes in four options; FCL sea freight, LCL sea freight, air freight and express.
Most importers prefer sea freight as it is the most affordable and has no weight restrictions (FCL). If you are importing a lot of cargo from Shantou to the UK, a Full Container Load shipment (FCL) is the best option, even if your goods don’t actually fill the container. You will pay a flat rate and your goods will ship to Felixstowe or Southhapton in about 25 days.
For goods that cannot fill a container, then your shipment will share container space with other goods. You will pay on a cubic meter basis and your goods will arrive at Grangemouth, Immingham, Tees or Liverpool.
If your goods are less than 100kg then express shipping is the fastest and most affordable option. For small items exceeding the 100kg mark, air freight is the cheaper option.
You may choose a single method to transport your goods or divide them up into different consignments to transport via different methods. The latter is often the case during peak season when importers cannot afford to have all their inventory delayed at sea. An expert freight forwarder will advise you on the best option for your cargo and schedule.