Sourcing goods from China can prove quite advantageous. Manufacturing costs in China are lower, and a supplier in Suzhou, China, will sell to you at a better price, allowing you more significant profit margins. The Port of Suzhou is a collective name for three separate ports. If you are buying goods from any location in and around Suzhou, your supplier will probably choose to send your items to this port. We created this guide to assist you in importing from Suzhou to the UK. Specifically:

  • How to get an EORI number
  • How to get a VAT number
  • Understand your quotes

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Get an EORI number and VAT number

Before Brexit, UK importers could use an EORI number from any EU member state. With the Brexit transition period done as of January 2021, you require a GB EORI number to import to England, Scotland, and Wales and an XI EORI number if your goods are crossing to Northern Ireland. To get a GB EORI number, fill out this online form and submit it to HMRC along with the following documents:

  • Your UK government gateway ID and the password
  • Your VAT number and the date of registration
  • Your National insurance number
  • Your UTR ( Unique Taxpayer Reference), and
  • Your business starting date and SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code.

If your company is not established in the UK, you don’t require a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), or a National Insurance number.

HMRC will not charge you for your application, and you should receive your number via email within three days of applying. This duration may extend to five days if HMRC needs to review your application.

To get an XI EORI number, you first need a GB EORI number. If you have a GB number or expect to receive one following your application, fill in the registration form for an XI EORI number and send it to HMRC with the following documents:

  • Your XI VAT number,
  • Any VAT number given by a European Union country
  • At least two documents proving that your business is permanently established in Northern Ireland, for example, your bank statements.

Getting your XI EORI number will take a maximum of five days.

Understand your quote

Incoterms are a set of globally-recognised terms for the delivery of goods; they spell out your responsibilities as a buyer and those of your supplier/seller, for example:

  • Who is in charge of organising and paying for transport
  • Who bears the risk of loss and damage, whenoint does the risk transfer from seller to the buyer.
  • Who is in charge of getting the items through import and export customs

There are several incoterms, grouped into classes C, D, E and F but FOB, EXW, and CIF/CFR are the most common.


Under FOB shipping terms, you and the seller share the costs, risks, and responsibilities fairly evenly. You cover all costs from the loading point in Suzhou port until the goods arrive at your destination. Once the products are on the sea, you carry all the risk of damage or loss.

In turn, your supplier deals with:

  • The Entry Summary Declaration – this is the cost paid by your supplier when declaring goods to ship a line
  • Document fee and Licence fee
  • Terminal handling charges
  • Custom clearance in the port of Suzhou
  • Telex’s release. Unless you pay your supplier through a Letter of Credit, you should receive a telex release of the Bill of Lading
  • Any other charges in China and the port of Suzhou such as loading costs.


Your responsibilities when importing goods from Suzhou to the UK on EXW shipping terms are quite straightforward. All costs, arrangements, and liabilities are your responsibility. From collecting the cargo from your supplier’s factory to having the goods delivered to your location in the UK


CIF and CFR are two different terms, but they are pretty similar. The only difference between the two is that in CIF, your supplier handles maritime insurance. When importing goods under CIF/CFR conditions, your responsibilities begin when the shipment arrives in the UK. Your supplier will handle everything, including documentation, customs, and even transportation of your goods to the UK. You are responsible for all arrangements and fees once your goods arrive at your chosen port in the UK.

Get an expert freight forwarder

If you’re new to importing to the UK or simply want to simplify the process, you may want to consider working with a freight forwarder. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Rather than dealing with multiple carriers and freight companies, you will only deal with one company.
  • Many freight forwarders also double as customs agents and can guide you through the often complicated customs procedures.
  • Freight forwarders can identify service providers worldwide to complete your shipment thanks to their local relationships.
  • Using a freight forwarder gives you peace of mind, as you have ready assistance should something go wrong. For instance, if you need to file an insurance claim.

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Barrington Freight is the place to go if you need a trusted partner to deliver your cargo from China to the United Kingdom. We aim to make the importing from Suzhou and other Chinese ports as painless as possible by providing the best freight forwarding services in the UK. All our services , including LCL, FCL, air, and express freight come at an affordable and reasonable cost.