Tianjin is a major sourcing destination for many companies in the UK, especially for electronics, machinery, and textiles. Tianjin harbour, a major deep-sea and riverine port and the largest port in China’s northern region, is the largest artificial harbour in the country. Goods headed to and from Beijing often move through Tianjin port, and If you’re buying goods from Beijing, your supplier may choose to export to you through this port. We have created this guide to help you understand the process of importing from Tianjin to the UK, specifically:

  • How to receive your Bill of lading
  • Choosing between FCL, LCL, air freight and express, and
  • Calculating import Duty and VAT.

The bill of lading – Telex or Original Documents

Beginners importing from Tianjin to the UK are often confused when the seller asks whether they want to receive the telex or original BOL. The Bill of Lading or sea waybill is an important document used throughout the maritime shipping process: the equivalent documents for air and road freight are the air waybill and CMR respectively.

Once you make a booking with your freight forwarder or ocean carrier, he will prepare the House BOL, including the terms and conditions of carriage. Once your forwarder receives your cargo from your supplier, he will hand over the BOL to the supplier as confirmation that the goods were handed over in an acceptable condition.Once the ship carrying your goods docks at Felixstowe or any other UK port, the import customs office and your carrier will expect you to present the BOL so that they can hand over, and clear your cargo to enter the UK. So how do you present a document that was handed over to your seller back in Tianjin, China? That’s where the telex release comes in.

The telex BOL is an electronic version of the BOL sent by email. You have the option of requesting that your seller send you the original document via post, but that is highly inadvisable. Documents do get lost in the post and collecting your cargo without a BOL is a complicated process involving long-term bank guarantees and costly fees, so it’s best to avoid losing the document.

The Best Way to Ship from Tianjin to the UK

Many international traders choose sea freight because it is cost-effective, and efficient, especially for heavy cargo. If you are importing a large number of items, the best option is to ship them as a full container load (FCL) at a flat rate. If your goods aren’t enough to fill a container, you can import them as a less-than-container-load (LCL) shipment.

If your shipment will fill a shipping container, or if you can wait until you have enough orders to make a full load, FCL is the way to go. LCL allows many importers shipping small consignments to share a shipping container, and pay a per-volume fee for the space occupied. The cost of LCL shipping is determined by the volume and weight of your goods. Perhaps your cargo will only take up half of a shipping container’s capacity. In that case, LCL is a cost-effective and practical option. You won’t have to bother about container sizes and types because your freight forwarder will handle it for you.

If you need your goods transported quickly, the long transit times of ocean freight might not deliver your goods from China to the United Kingdom on time. Using air freight will reduce your transit time from 25-40 days to about 10 days. Air freight from China to the UK is considerably more expensive than sea freight, but for small consignments, it may cost the same as LCL. Therefore, for small consignments, it’s best to choose air freight. You’ll enjoy the fast transit times, and the costs will be reasonable enough to make a profit. Other reasons you may want to choose air freight over LCL are:

  • It’s a great way to avoid sea shipping delays during peak seasons. You have the option of splitting large consignments into two and sending the more urgent items via air.
  • It’s convenient, especially when both you and your supplier are located near international airports and away from seaports.
  • Because of the short transit period, air freight is perfect for importing fragile goods that can get lost or damaged at sea.

Express shipping from Tianjin to the UK is a door-to-door service and is great for importing small consignments, such as factory samples. Express shipments can arrive in anywhere from one to five days. With the fast transit times, however, comes a high cost, making express the most expensive shipping method.

Calculating and Paying Import Duty and VAT

The value and type of goods you import determine the amount of import duty you will pay. A great way to calculate the import duty and VAT payable on your goods is to search for their HS codes on the UK tariff.

We’ve simplified the calculations to make estimating the UK Duty & VAT you’ll have to pay as simple as possible, and we’ve provided an example to work with. In reality, HMRC uses figures called a “VAT Value Adjust” and does not work from the complete shipping quote (which also affects UK Duty), but you may use this example to get a good estimate:

If you pay your supplier £2000 for your items, the UK Duty rating is 3.5 percent, and the delivery cost is £300, then

UK Duty = 3.5% of £2000 = £ 70.00

VAT = 20% of ( UK Duty [£70] + Shipping [£300] + Cost of the goods [£2000])=£474.00

As a result, the total duties and taxes payable to import the goods would be £544.00 (£70 for UK duty and £474 for VAT), in addition to the £300 transit costs.

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If you’re looking for a reliable forwarder to deliver your items from Tianjin to the United Kingdom, Barrington Freight is the place to go. We pride ourselves in being friendly, down-to-earth experts in international freight, and we provide LCL, FCL, air, and express freight at competitive prices. If you’re ready to ship with us, please visit our warehouse at the Bowden Terminal in Basildon, Essex, or contact us!

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