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🥇Shipping from China to the UK | Air, Rail & Sea Freight [2022]

What is the best way to ship goods to UK ?

Are you about to import (or export) products between UK and China? You still have a doubt regarding the regulation or transport method? This is because it is very difficult to find decent information among the ton of online advice that SINO Shipping has done its “country guide”. This country guide dedicated on UK should give you all mains details related to your shipment between China and UK: delay, rates, process, duties and taxes…


Table of contents

What is the best method to ship your goods from China to UK?

You’re probably aware that UK is one of the biggest and leading economies of the European continent. Its vast population of 60 million of inhabitants makes it a great market for enterprises. Because UK is totally surrounded by waters, it developed its ports infrastructures and water navigations since a long time. The biggest part of the goods entering to the UK territory are coming by ships. But in the last 40 years, UK diversified the means to access the country by constructing the Eurotunnel, which is greatly used for freight. With numerous big and busy airports, the Kingdom is also well connected to the rest of the world by air. Thanks to its wide network of collaborators, SINO Shipping is able to propose you every method of shipping existing between China and UK. Our shipping and moving specialists will evaluate the most suitable solution for your case.

Let’s take a look on the best transportation method according to the type/volume/weight of your goods.




Ocean freight will be the best deal for you if :

  • Your suppliers are located near a major Chinese port
  • Your goods are bigger than 2 CBM
  • You’re not in a hurry to receive them

Contact us now ! Your personal SINO advisor will find out customized solution for your import process from China to UK.

TOP 5 – Shipping line


Overview – Ocean cargo from China to UK

Remark SINO : Bear in mind, the 3 most important criteria for sea freight are the price, the time of transportation, and the security.

Ocean freight from China to Hong Kong is a very common method used by enterprises located in northern China, near a major port.

The major advantage resides in the fact that you can ship massive quantities of goods for very low prices. Depending on where you are, it can easily be the cheapest solution.

*The drawback that is inherent to this method is the necessary time delay to receive your goods.

Remark SINO : If you’re interested to know more about sea freight from China, check our dedicated article on the topic: Sea Freight China.

Shipping company offering services from China to UK ports to France?

UK’s port traffic is well distributed amongst its numerous ports on its different coasts. Ports in UK are not amongst the busiest of the world individually, but if you combine all their traffic, it results in 470.683 million of tonnes handled for the year 2017. We can conclude that as a country, UK is very dynamic in its maritime trades. Most of the UK trades are made with the EU, and China is their biggest international trade partner.

Contrary to other countries, UK ports are also trading a lot between them. The busiest ports of the UK in terms of quantity handled are in order of appearance, Grimsby & Immingham, London, Southampton, Liverpool and Milford Haven.

Below, we’re reviewing quickly all the latest performances of the 30 major UK ports. These are the latest data released by the UK Minister of transport, for the year 2016:

Port of Forth

Forth is more focused on the outward flows with 80% of the goods leaving the port, while only 20% of the flows are going inward. It is the 2nd biggest UK port for the liquid bulk handling with 23 million of tonnes managed there in 2016. In the liquid bulk, 6 million of tonnes were oil product in 2016, which put the port at the 5th place of the country for this type of products. Also, 16% of all the UK LNG (liquid and natural gas) are handled in this port. This explains why 80% of the goods handled in this port are liquid bulk, 5% are Lolo shipments, and only 3% and 1% are respectively dry bulk and general cargo, and Roro. 60% of the goods managed are from the EU, 30% are International, and the last 10% are for or from domestic destinations. All of this represented a good’s management of 27.439 million of tonnes in 2016.

Port of Tees & Hartlepool

Tees & Hartlepool is more focused on the outward, which represents 66% of its good flows. Only 34% of the flows were going inward. It is the 4th largest port in the UK for liquid bulk shipment, with 20 million tonne handled there in 2016. It explains why 75% of the cargo handled in the port is liquid bulk, 10% are dry and other general cargo, 8% are Roro and 7% are Lolo. 55% of the goods flows are connected to the EU, 25% to domestic destinations, 20% to international ports and the last 10% to European and Mediterranean countries. 26.873 million of tonnes were handled there in total in 2016.

Port of Grimsby & Imminghamol

It is one of the 3 busiest port in the UK. 25% of its good flows are going outwards while the other 75% are coming inward. 55% of the flows are attached with the EU, 25% to international countries, 15% to European and Mediterranean destinations, and the last 15% to domestic ports. It is the 5th largest port in the UK for liquid bulk handling with a total quantity of 19 millon of tonnes. Also, it is the 3rd port in the UK for the management of oil products, with 12 million of tonnes managed there. To finish it is the 2ndlargest UK port for Roro management with 16.1 million of tonne handled. Around 30% of the goods handled are liquid bulk, 30% are Roro shipments, 30% are dry bulk and general cargos and the last 10% are Lolo shipments. A quantity of 54.403 million of tonnes of goods was handled there in 2016.

Port of Liverpool

25% of the port’s flows are directed outward, while the other 75% are directed inward. 25% of these flows are linked with international ports, 35% with countries in the EU, 20% to domestic ports and the 20% in rests are exchanges with other Europeans and Mediterranean countries. Liverpool is the 7th largest UK port for liquid bulk with 11 million of tonnes handled in 2016. Also, it’s the 4th UK port for Roro traffic with a management of 7.6 million of tonnes. 35% of the goods handled there are liquid bulk, 30% are dried bulk shipments, 27% are Roro cargos and the remaining 8% are for Lolo. It handled 32 million of tonnes of goods in 2016.

Port of Felixstowe

Like Ipswich, 45% of the flows in Felixstowe are leaving and 55% are entering. These flows are shared at 65% with international ports, 25% with the EU, 9% with European and Mediterranean countries and the last 1% with other UK ports. 90% of the cargo handled are Lolo and the other 10% are Roro. In total 28.202 million of tonnes were operated in 2016.

Port of London

In London, shipments are leaving the port at 85% and entering in the port at 15%. 50% of these flows are shared with the EU, 15% with other European and Mediterranean countries, 15% with international destinations, and the last 20% with domestic ports. London Port is the 6th largest port in the UK for liquid bulk handling with 15 million of tonnes in 2016. Amongst this liquid bulk, 13 million of tonnes were composed with oil products, which put the port on the 2nd national place for Oil product management. Also, it is the 3rd UK port for Roro traffic operations with 7.8 million of tonnes handled in 2016. On average, 30% of the goods handled there are liquid bulk, 30% are dry bulk and general cargo, 20% are Lolo and the last 15% are Roro cargo. In 2016, a total of 50.380 million of tonnes were handled in London.

Port of Dover

45% of the goods traffic is directed outward and 55% are directed inward. All this traffic is shared with the EU exclusively. Also, the totality of this traffic is composed of Roro shipments, and Dover is the 1st port in UK for Roro traffic with 27.1 million of tonnes handled there in 2016.

Port of Southampton

In Southampton, 45% of the goods flows are going outward the port, and 55% are coming inward the port.  45% of these flows are linked with international ports, 20% with the EU, 17% with other UK ports and the final 18% are shared with European and Mediterranean countries. Southampton is the 3rd busiest port in UK for liquid bulk handling, with 20 million of tonnes managed in 2016. Amongst it, 9 million of tonnes were oil products, which puts Southampton on the 4th national place for the Oil product management. All this liquid bulk is representing 55% of the goods handled. The other shipments are for 30% Lolo cargo, 8% are dry bulk and general cargo, and the last % are for Roro. In total 36.05 million of tonnes were managed there in 2016.

Port of Milford Haven

In Milford Haven, 33% of the goods flows are going outward, while 67% are going inward. All these exchanges are made at 45% with other international ports, at 20% with the EU, again at 20% with European and Mediterranean countries, and finally 15% with other UK ports. It is the biggest UK port for liquid bulk handling with 33 million of tonnes managed in 2016. It is representing 97% of the goods managed there while the other 3% are for Roro cargos. 54% of all UK Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is managed in Milford Haven. Totally, 34.77 million of tonnes were operated there in 2016.

Should I ship by consolidation or full container from China to UK ?

LCL – Consolidation

LCL which is the acronym for Less than a Container Load, is a method used to manage space in containers. It is used when as a shipper, you’re sending goods that are a lot smaller than the volume of a container. Then you will be associated with other senders in your situation, in order to fulfill completely a container. You will share the space with them and pay only for the space you’re using.

*The billing basis in the maritime LCL is the W/M (Weight/Measurement). The W/M considers the volume or weight to the benefit of the company. The ratio between weight and volume is 1000 Kg / 1 m3

Info SINO :  LCL freight will be more cost effective for you if you’re sending shipments that are smaller than 15 cubic meters.

FCL – Full Container

FCL which is the acronym of Full Container Load, is the second technique to handle space in a container. This time, instead of sharing the space, you’re renting the full container, with all the space dedicated to your shipment only. It is used mostly when voluminous shipments are required to be sent.

SINO Shipping provides three types of full containers:

  • The 20 feet which has an internal capacity of 33 cubic meters;
  • The 40 feet which is able to carry up to 66 cubic meters;
  • The 40 feet HQ, which has an internal capacity of 76 cubic meters.

SINO Plus : Financially, it will be a viable solution for you if your shipment is larger than 15 cubic meters. It will be easier to handle also.

LCL vs FCL, which one is the best for you?

How long does it take to ship from China to UK by sea freight?

We’re presenting you the usual transit times from China to UK in the table below:

*Please keep in mind that those transit times are just indicative timing between China and UK

How much does it cost to ship a container from China to UK ?

*British importers are massively using sea freight for two major advantages: you’re able to ship large volume of products for low costs

If you’re adding this with the distance separating the two countries, and the price of the other methods, it justifies why the biggest part of the goods flows between China and UK is done via ocean freight. If you have to establish regular and voluminous shipments, don’t go further maritime freight will be your affair!

SINO Advice : Because many factors are involved like the ports of departure and arrival, the CBM’s market rates, the carrier, the category of your products… It will be senseless to give you average prices. These explains the monthly fluctuations of the prices according to these parameters. Our quoting policies are leading us to quote each request case-by-case. Ask a quote now to our SINO shipping consultant, you’ll be informed of the latest market prices.

Special sea freight services

Reefer container from China to UK

Some goods are constantly in need of a controlled environment. To allow their great transport, Reefer containers are maintaining constantly a chosen temperature. Many categories of products like chemicals, food and others are sent exclusively with this method. SINO Shipping is fully proficient to book you a Reefer container from all the cities in China in destination to the UK.

Roro/Bulk/OOG from China to UK

These ships are very well shaped for the transfer through ocean of vehicles like trucks, buses, boats or simply cars. This kind of vessels is composed by a retractable ramp on it’s back that enables vehicle to be driven directly inside the ship. 

If you have big quantities of raw materials to transfer, bulk cargo is a good solution. This type of vessels has great cisterns that permit to stock great quantities of liquid or solid raw products like corn, oil, cement… without using containers.

OOG, which stands for Out of Gauge, are shipments that are more voluminous than a container, and that can’t be split to be placed in several containers. These items are requiring a particular heed to be shifted. We can provide this type of solutions too.

*All these kind of freight solutions can be asked to us. As all goods can’t fit the constraints of a container, we developed a very complete spectrum of freight solutions. From China to UK, we’re fully proficient in the handling of bulk, roro and oog cargo.



Air freight will be the most efficient solution if :

  • Your goods are smaller than 2 CBM and 200 kg
  • You’re in a hurry to receive/send the goods


Remark SINO : Naturally, if your need to get your goods delivered as fast as possible, air freight is the best option for you.

Overview – Classic vs Express air freight

On door-to-door, one day is necessary to transfer your goods from China to the UK. For an express air freight (courier) the total time of your good’s transfer will not exceed two days, from the pickup at your supplier’s place, to the delivery at your address in the UK. For the same process it will take a week to deliver your goods via classic air freight. Express is faster because the courier companies have automatized customs clearance, which shortens largely the process.

Remark SINO : Most of the time, express and classic air freight are used for shipments under 160 kgs and 2 CBM,because that’s where those methods are competitive towards sea and air freight. Also, you will find express air freight almost exclusively satisfying for parcels under 20 kgs and 0.5 CBM, because for larger shipments it will be more expensive. Regular air freight rates will have less difference in the price per CBM between a small and a big shipment.

What is the difference between volumetric and gross weight?

* Your products will be charged with another method for our express services. The volumetric weight will be calculated with this ratio: 1 CBM = 200 kgs.

Those two methods are the gross weight and the volumetric weight of your items. After finding the two results, thanks to these two methods, you will have to keep the highest one that will be used to charge you. The other can be forgotten.

SINO Plus : Each customer has different needs, that’s why, at SINO Shipping will determine your quote on a case-by-case method.

Should I choose a Classic Air freight from China to United Kingdom ?

Which airlines company should you ship with ?


British Airways is the national carrier of UK. The company has cargo flights to mains international airports worldwide.

Info SINO : You want further information about their services ? Check directly the official website: IAG Air Cargo


China cargo airlines is the cargo subsidiary of China Eastern, and it represents the first all-cargo airline operating dedicated freight services.

Info SINO : You want further information about their services ? Check directly the official website: China Eastern Cargo (website in Chinese).

SINO Plus : Since our beginnings, we’re working greatly with these cargo airlines. Our successful cooperation allows us to provide you great freight performances with great prices from China to UK. If you need an office or address delivery, ask us to add a trucking service from the airport to your location. With SINO Shipping, China and UK seems like a door away from each other!

How long is the transfer from China to UK by air freight?

Here are presented the transit times between the major Chinese cities to the UK:

*This transit time are just indicative, and they are not including the whole delivery process (pickup, customs clearance…)

Remark SINO : It is hard to estimate as it mainly depends of the budget: a direct flight available within a day is possible, but will probably be more expensive. Also, please note that the transit time doesn’t not include the whole process (pick up & delivery, customs clearance…). In average, you can expect 6/9 days (export/import process included).

How much does it cost to ship a parcel from China to UK?

Same as ocean freight, numerous parameters are involved in an air freight, so it will be difficult and unfair from us to give you “average” rates. We’re still evaluating each request individually, so if you’re interested, don’t hesitate to ask our Air freight Team the most recent transit times and rates. You will have a valuable answer within 48 hours!

SINO Plus : Each customer has different needs, that’s why, at SINO Shipping will determine your quote on a case-by-case method.

Should I choose an Express Air freight from China to UK ?

Express service – Perfect solution for small package

As we mentioned it before, courier freight is far above from the other methods, the fastest way to transfer goods internationally. Express services are well-appropriated for little parcels. It will surely interest you if your shipment is lighter than 10 kgs and smaller than 0,20 CBM. If your items are larger, we can still send them with this solution on your demand.


How long does it take for a package to be shipped from China to UK ?

Courier enterprises are possessing their own customs clearance divisions, that are enabling a quick clearance procedure. That’s why the transfer of your items between China and UK will not exceed 3/4 days with this method.

How much an Express service costs from China to UK ?

Still, numerous factors are involved in the rates calculation process, so we decided to quote each demand case by case again. Our great relationships with the enterprises mentioned above are guaranteeing us to have very competitive prices with them.

UK Airports

Here is a list of the most important UK airports for the freight. Numbers are the most recent, from the year 2017, redacted by the Civil Aviation Authority.


Gatwick Airport

In 2017, 96,983 tonnes of freights were handled in Gatwick. Amongst this volume, 1774 tonnes were linked with the European union, 94908 tonnes were exchanged with international countries and 301 tonnes where shared with domestic airports.

Heathrow Airport

In London Heathrow, 1,698,461 tonnes were handled in 2017. 111,678 tonnes of this volumes were transferred with the EU, 1585678 where shared with international destinations and 1,105 tonnes were exchanged with other UK airports.

Stansted Airport

In Stansted, 236892 tonnes of goods were managed in 2017. Amongst them 74866 tonnes were traded with the EU, 160823 with international countries and 1203 tonnes were shared with other UK airports.


Belfast International Airport

12308 tonnes of goods were handled in 2017 in Belfast international Airport. 1094 tonnes were traded with the EU, 11 tonnes were exchanged with international airports and 11204 were exchanged with other UK Airports.

Birmingham Airport

In Birmingham, 41803 tonnes were managed in 2017, 12616 tonnes were exchanged with the EU, 25103 tonnes were exchanged with international destinations and 4084 tonnes were traded with domestic airports.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport

In Doncaster Sheffield airport in 2017, 8657 tonnes of goods were traded. 2229 with the European Union and 6428 with international airports. 

East midlands international Airport

324216 tonnes of goods were managed in 2017 In east midlands international airport. Amongst them 219790 were traded with the EU, 61355 with international countries and 43071 with other domestic airports.

Edinburgh Airport

In Edinburgh airport, 20659 tonnes of goods were handled in 2017. 10060 of these tonnes were traded with the EU, 152 tonnes were traded with international ports and 10448 were shared with other UK airports.

Glasgow Airport

In Glasgow airport, 15935 tonnes of goods were supervised in 2017. 826 tonnes were traded with the EU. 14208 were traded with international airports and 901 tonnes were shared with other domestic airports.

Manchester Airport

In Manchester, 120181 tonnes of goods were handled in 2017. 7252 tonnes of this volume were traded with EU countries, 112099 were traded with international countries and the 830 remaining tonnes were shared with domestic airports. 

Newcastle Airport

In Newcastle airport, 5482 tonnes were managed in 2017. 483 tonnes were exchanged with EU airports, 4960 were shared with international airports and 39 tonnes were exchanged with other UK airports. 

Prestwick Airport

In Prestwick, 11393 tonnes of goods were handled in 2017. Amongst this quantity, 3544 tonnes were traded with the EU, and 7848 goods were traded with international airports.



Rail freight is the right balance between air freight and sea freight: Not too expensive for high volume, not too slow as sea freight.

Remark SINO : Do not waste time ! Fill our form and get a price within 48H!

Overview – Door to Door

To care and follow up less your goods’ transit, door-to-door is the ideal logistic solution. It signifies that the whole transport process will be handled by us, from you supplier’s location to your precise address. The transshipments, the warehousing, the decanting, the customs clearance and all the other steps that are inherent to a freight will be managed and completed by our staff. What is an excellent aspect for you is that you will be less involved during the journey than other freight options, because your involvement during the process will be reduced. On the other hand, it is a more expensive solution than the others, as the entire process is on our hands. Also, we highly advise you to take a freight insurance, as many steps and actors are involved.

Remark SINO : If you want to go deeper on the subject we made a dedicated article explaining all the aspects of rail freight from China, check it here Rail freight from China.

What are the main train station from China to UK ?

The Train will cross central Asia and Eastern Europe to join the UK. He will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and finally, he will go through the Eurotunnel to reach London and all other UK cities after. In London, the train will stop in Barking’s Eurohub freight terminal.

How long does it take for a shipment to join the UK from China by train ?

From Yiwu to London, it will take 18 days to travel. But be conscious that with the transfer from your supplier’s plant to Yiwu, and from London to UK, it will add time to the whole freight process. You can count around 25 or 30 days at the most for the entire journey to be completed.

How much does it cost to ship goods by train ?

It’s impossible for us to provide average prices as so many factors are involved, like the distance from your supplier’s location to Yiwu, the type and volume of your goods, their travel requirements… We’re quoting each demand case by case, so our SINO consultants will provide you the latest price and transit times for your complete shipment transfer.



Remark SINO : Trucking is a must in international shipment, indeed we need it to handle local delivery: Pick up from warehouse to port/airport of departure, and obviously delivery from port/airport of arrival to final destination. SINO Shippingunderstood it and aim to offer the most suitable solution for our customers, that’s why we decided to provide Door to Door services from/to China.

Contact us now! Your personal SINO advisor will find out customized solution for your import process from China to France.

Overview – Door to Door

Door to door is the stress-free logistic solution. As it name says, we will take totally in charge the transport of your goods from your supplier’s facilities to your address. All the steps that may be involved, like the customs clearance, the trans-shipment, the warehousing, the decanting… will be taken in charge by us. The major advantage for you is that you will have to care less than with other methods, because you only have a tiny responsibility during the process. On the other hand, this method is the most expensive, as we’re taking in charge all the processes. Also, a freight insurance is strongly advised as many steps and protagonists will be involved

Remark SINO : For further information about our Door-to-Door service, take a look to our dedicated page: Door to door service.Otherwise, please feel free to contact us, we will find you the best option for your shipment. Fill our online form in a minutes and get your quote within 48H!

Why door to door service is necessary ?

The customs clearance and other steps are obligatory for your goods. To communicate and to optimize time spent with customs, you must use services from a freight forwarder. We are well-experienced for all the necessary steps to transfer your goods, like the final delivery in your home or warehouse.

*We ensure you that it will be a lot harder for you to take only a limited part of the process in charge than for us to operate it completely.

SINO Shipping – Door to Door specialist ?

We built a large part of our great reputation on the quality of our door to door services. We’re always making our best to provide a full satisfaction to our customers. Our proficient staff positioned in all the principal Chinese cities are dedicated to the caring of your goods, and to be sure that they are travelling safe and smooth. We’re amongst the most competitive and knowledgeable enterprises in the market, so we will enhance your supply chain management.



Like any other well-developed country, the customs procedure for international imports in UK is very precise and detailed. As China and UK doesn’t have a common Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the clearing procedure in the UK will be the longest. In the end it will result in further paperwork to accomplish and normal tariff barriers for goods imported to UK from China. Although, as UK is still negotiating the Brexit with the EU, there may be a legal uncertainty and trading rules may change quickly. It will be the same affair if you’re trying to export UK products in China.

How much duties and taxes will I pay ?

In all international trading processes, the first duty to complete is to determine the commodity code of your products. Like the biggest part of the other countries in the world, UK is using the Harmonized System of tariff nomenclature, to classify internationally the products traded. It allows all the countries to speak the same “language” to designate goods traded. The words composing this language are the HS codes. It is a combination of 6 numbers, attributed to each single type of products.

Calculate applicable tariff with the HS code

The HS code is the identification number attributed to goods through the HTS. Here is all the information contained in a HS code :

If you didn’t determine the HS code of your goods yet, we advise you to find it on this valuable website: Find HS Code. Otherwise, you should be able to find it directly with your supplier.

The UK government have a great online tool to determine the HS code of your items, if you still don’t know it. Go to the look up commodity codes page, and follow the different sections to determine the final HS code of your products.

If we’re still following the example of fresh pineapple, you will finally find an import duty of 5.80% and no VAT applicable. Here is the final page.


Different taxes existing for your goods


There is three VAT tariff applicable in the UK, the standard rate VAT, the reduced rate VAT and the zero rate VAT. The standard VAT rate was increased at 20% in 2011, and it’s still the actual rate. The reduced VAT rate is at a value of 5%. Some gods imported are exempted of VAT.

Info SINO : The VAT that is applying on the goods you want to import is detailed on the final commodity code page, still in

Different taxes existing for your goods

As UK is currently negotiating the Brexit with the EU, the actual UK government is trying to find agreements with its biggest economic partners. China and UK’s respective trade minister met several times in order to consider eventual trade agreements, this said, specialists are saying that it won’t be a boost for UK’s trades as they cannot be more advantageous than the relation with other European countries when UK was still in the EU. As UK and China still don’t have any economic agreements and didn’t opened up official advances to implement a Trade Agreement, the actual situation may continue a few years. This means that you will hardly have the opportunity to be tax exempted. It will only happen on particular goods and for particular purposes.  China is not in the country list of preference agreements of UK also.

Does Sino Shipping charge duty ?

About the customs clearance, you will only pay the amount asked by British customs. We’re not taking any advantage on the good’s duties and we will provide you the draft produced by the UK customs, where the specific required amount is precised, as a proof of honesty.

Customs contact in China

Official name: General Administration of Customs of China

Official Website: Chinese Customs Website

Customs contact in UK
british customs

Official name: HM Customs and Exercise

Official Website: UK Customs Website

Customs process

When importing from China, you must register an EORI number, if it’s not done already. The necessary time to obtain it is 3 working days. Then you’ll have to declare your imports, or we can handle it for you, before paying VAT and duties.

Import declarations to customs

The import declaration can be handled by yourself, but if you’re not a skilled importer, it will be a loss of time money and energy for you. It will be better if we carry it.

In case of a rail freight, because the goods will enter in the EU before being brought in the UK, an Entry Summary Declaration must also be provided to UK customs. Here is how to build the customs declarations if you’re doing it on your own.

Paying duty on imports from China

Your goods will not be released by customs until you’ve paid all duty and UK VAT. You might be able to claim duty charges and VAT back or delay payments for some imports from outside the EU, for example if you are temporarily importing goods with the intention of moving them to another EU country.

After paying the duties and VAT applicable on your goods, they will be released by customs. If your situation requires it you can ask for a delay payments or duty charges and VAT back.

Paying VAT on imports from China

When it’s the first time that you’re bringing the goods in UK, you must pay the duties and VAT directly to the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs). 

Then, the HMRC will send you the form C79, which is the import tax certificate, to prove you paid the import VAT. If you’re Chinese antiques and works of arts you can import them into UK at a reduced rate of VAT.

Here is below the import scheme that your goods will follow when entering the UK’s territory:


What are the Licenses required (import & export)?

It is important to check if you need a License before you start to import or export goods in or from UK. Importing or Exporting goods without the corresponding license may conduct you to a law court, so be very careful. For temporary imports or exports, it must be also needed.

Import license

The goods that are requiring an Import License to enter the UK territory are:

  • Firearms
  • Plants and Animals
  • Medicines
  • Chemicals
  • Textile
  • Food

*Depending on the origin of your products, the Import License may not be necessary.

Export license

You will have to ask for an Export License if you’re trying to send these types of goods out of the UK territory:

  • Technology
  • Military or paramilitary items
  • Plants and animals
  • Artworks
  • Chemicals
  • Medicines

For the export licenses it all depend on the country where you’re sending the items and on the potential use that may be made of the goods. e.g. sending weapons in the middle east.

More details are available on this official page: Import and export licences

Necessary documents

The Bill of Lading or Airway bill (BL)

In international trades, the Bill of Lading is on top of the list of the most important import documents. The Bill of Lading is testifying about the information of the shipment, like the Manifest is witnessing on the data of the whole container. Also, it testifies that the Carrier received its payment from the freight forwarder or the importer. After the BOL, the Letter of Credit will be released. As it name says, the Bill of Lading is attached for a sea or rail freight, while the Airway bill is inherent for an ocean freight.

Here below is an example of a Bill of Lading, explaining the information contained on it:

1 = Shipper
2 = Consignee
3 = Notify party
4 = Vessel No.
5 = Port of loading / discharge
6 = Place of receipt / delivery
7 = Containers No.
8 = Goods description
9 = Net weight
10 = Dimensions / volume

A packing list

The HS code of each good you’re importing should be mentioned on the packing list. The MSDS document and the international code must be attached to the packing list if you’re aiming to import chemical or hazardous products.

A commercial invoice

The original invoice serves to customs as a base to verify if the goods you’re importing are matching your declaration.

The Manifest

The customs manifest (or cargo manifest) is describing all the cargos that are shipped on the vessel. It is used to determine if the containers present when the ship/train/plane leaved China are still present when arriving in the United Kingdom.

The manifest serves as passport of the cargo. It is witnessing the origin of the container, if they’re legally shipped and the identity of their owners.  Sometimes, the manifest is not separated from the Bill of Lading because both documents are serving a similar use.

Import & Export declaration

It allows specific goods to cross the border of UK. The quantity of goods allowed to move is detailed on each license. Import and Export licenses are used by countries as a levy to secure their national markets and companies from strong international competition. It is also meant to protect the natural environment and population from potential harm originated by the items.


Prohibited & restricted items

Remark SINO : If you have one of the following item, you should check directly with our SINO Experts. Some of those items are restricted or even totally prohibited, it is important to anticipate such shipment to avoid any problem.

Drug Contraband
Counterfeit Notes

Trade agreement

As detailed before both parties are still strengthening diplomatic relations, before considering establishing an Agreement.

Trade relationship

As Xi Jinping says we’re in the “Golden Era” of the Sino-British relations. Historically the two countries have been opposed numerous times, like for Hong Kong and British previous colonial ambitions, and in World War 2.

UK is the 9th export partner of China with a value of 56 billion of USD of goods traded. It is the 7th import partner of China, with 16 billion USD of UK products sent to China. In the other way, China is the second import partner of UK after Germany, and its 7th export partner. These are the latest statistics of the World Bank for the year 2017.

Additional shipping services

Our warehousing services

Storage service in China

We will store your goods in our warehouses in China before they leave to UK. We’re positioned in every big city of China, both in terms of warehouses and collaborators. The transfer from your supplier’s facilities to our warehouse will be easy and smooth. Our full warehouse network is equipped with CCTV gears and constantly watched, 24/7 by security staffs with trained dogs. All the movements inside and around our warehouses are always taped and seen.

Info SINO: You want further information about our warehousing services ? Check directly our dedicated page: Storage services.

Storage service in UK

We’re also able to store goods in our UK warehouse before delivery to your address. The same security conditions are applied as all our warehouses in Mainland China. Also, we have very competitive rates for our warehousing services, so don’t be afraid to ask us!

If needed, our international network of warehouses is also well developed in the UK. The same security standards are constantly protecting your goods from misfortune, like in China. Also, our storing rates in UK are amongst the lowest in the country, so don’t be shy of asking us!

Our packing/unpacking services

Because it is the best security to protect your goods from any eventual damage, the packing of your goods must be highly considered and carefully handled. We’re giving you below some pro advices if you want to manage it yourself. Our packing teams are fully skilled to kindly wrap all your products, without regarding their type.

Info SINO : Packing is essential for convey products under optimal conditions all along the logistics process.

Packing material

Carton box is the most basic and the most used packing material worldwide. Despite its age, it is still very efficient to protect goods nowadays. We’re using only the most qualitative carton boxes to wrap your goods and we have them in all different dimensions to suit all your objects.


It is necessary to put the cartons on pallets, in order to protect them and to ease their handling. If your supplier can’t ensure this procedure, we can also do it. We have all types of pallets adapted to all kind, sizes and weight of goods. Our moving teams are skilled in the use of pallet truck, ensuring a smooth flow of your goods.

Wooden boxes

These materials are generally used for <strong>large furnitures and machineries.</strong> Two techniques are existing, the wooden crate and the wooden case. The wooden case is mostly used when your objects can be manipulated no matter where they are headed. The wooden crate is used for goods that have a very important direction of use.

Our teams are only using <strong>quality wooden boxes, fulfilled with great polystyrene</strong> to protect your goods during the transit.

Others: bubble wrap, tape, wrapping paper…

We’re fully equipped to provide a tailor-made packing of your goods, no matter how tiny or big, fragile or heavy they are. You can trust us for this very important step of the import/export process

Why packing is important for the insurance ?

Packing is a step that must be handled with the highest precautions. A good packing will save your goods in most cases.

Info SINO : You want further information about our packing services ? Check directly our dedicated page: Packing services.

Freight insurance

How much does a freight insurance cost?

The price of the freight insurance you might subscribe to is directly linked with the declared value of your personal belongings. That’s why we’re advising you to not declare a “too low” total value of your goods, as in case of damage you will be incompletely refunded. Also, not a “too high” value as you will end paying a too expensive moving.

The price of your insurance will be calculated based on 2-3% of the value of your freight + items.

SINO Info : You can go deeper, to know what freight insurance will suit the best to your cargo by consulting our dedicated article Freight Insurance.

Supplier management in China

Control quality in China

As a responsible freight forwarder, it is our duty to control the quality of your goods and packing. It will ensure the longevity of your business and it is very important to avoid any possible issue. In this objective, we’re establishing close relationship with your supplier to keep your freight secured.

Relationship with supplier

Our polyglot team, fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese is a guarantee of no misunderstanding in terms of freight management with your suppliers. We will perfectly arrange the pickup, the packing and licenses needs, to keep your goods flowing smoothly. Even if you’re requiring us a FOB (Free on Board) transfer, we will check the volume, weight, the class, the HS code of your goods to let no place to randomness.

3PL Services in China

Order fulfillment/Packing & labelling in China

We’re proud to announce to all our e-commerce entrepreneurs, that we’re able to take fully in charge their order fulfillment, packing and labelling in China. We know how the e-commerce supply-chain is complex, and we can handle all the steps for you, like the warehouse organization, the order management, the packaging, the shipping and the customer communication.

Last mile delivery

Without regarding the size of your shipment, from a small parcel to a complete container, we’re able to do the last mile delivery, no matter where you are situated in Hong Kong. We’re fully proficient on Hong Kong geography.

Shipping personal effects from China

Excess baggage

From China to Hong Kong, we do ship excess baggage via Express Air freight, a fast and cheap process. On your choice, you can directly pick it up at the Hong Kong International Airport, or we can deliver it to your address.

Moving service from China to Hong Kong

We also offer relocation services. In order to get more information about them, please go on our dedicated website and do not hesitate to contact one of our moving department experts: SINO Relocation.

Free regulation advisor

Our 10 years of expertise on the Chinese freight/relocation market, gives us a full view of what may be required depending on the type, volume and weight of products you’re shipping. Don’t hesitate to ask our professional point of view, we will advise you for all your administrative or paperwork issues.

More than a decade of good services in Asia permit us to provide tailor-made freight solutions at ultra-competitive prices. Do not hesitate to contact our Expert collaborators for precise information about your transfer, we’re always happy to serve and spread knowledge!

FAQ – For 1st time importer from China

FAQ – Regulation

Manifest; Import / Export license or removal permit; Bill of lading or airway bill; The original invoice; Packing list; Import / Export declaration. All the documents are detailed in the necessary documents subsection.

It depends on the type of goods you’re importing, the answer is detailed in the Import license paragraph

Of course, a professional customs broker like us is required to handle the customs clearance process

FAQ – Shipping budget optimization

Air freight will be more advantageous for shipment smaller than 2 CBM and lighter than 150 kgs, in all other cases, sea freight will be more advantageous.

It isn’t mandatory, but we strongly recommend it to you if you can’t run out of supplies for your business.

We strongly recommend to not underestimate to customs the real value of your goods, as it can result in penalties that you should pay. Always put the right value, or a reasonable one if you don’t have the exact one.

Hong Kong being a free port, you will probably have zero tariff to pay for your import.


It depends on the habits of your supplier, but most of the Chinese suppliers are selling EXW or FOB. It doesn’t matter as we’re fully proficient for all these kinds of situations.

Yes, shipment sent on these periods will probably end up on a delivery delay. Ensure yourself to ask a delivery before or after these Chinese national fests.

We advise you to use Telegraphic transfer (T/T), Letter of Credit (L/C), Ali Baba Trade Assurance, Cryptocurrencies or PayPal.

HS Code, weight and dimension of the goods, the packing list, the pickup and delivery addresses.

Hong Kong being a free port, you will probably have zero tariff to pay for your import.

First, for the web platform, check its online reputation. For the supplier, ask him what are the countries where he exports the most. His quality of goods will certainly be a lot better if he is exporting to the US, Europe or Korea than Africa or the Middle East. If the supplier has a long track record on internet, of 5 years or more that’s a plus. On the company website, look if there is a common thread of products sold, like wooden phone case, wooden band watch… then it’s probably a factory. You can see more about it here : China importal.

FAQ – How SINO will help you?

Yes, we can arrange a consolidation process in our warehouses in China, to send you all your goods in one single shipment.

We will follow up with you until the final delivery of your goods and keep in touch until you’re fully satisfied of our service. Our strength is that we understand perfectly the needs of our customers and establish a win-win contract with them.

Contact one of our SINO Advisors, you will get a well detailed answer in less than 48 hours.

Of course, we’re not communicating any data about our customers. Your goods transfer will stay between you and us.

Yes, you can, but the sooner you inform us the better it is to modify the freight process.


Are you searching for a great supplier in Ali Baba or in TaoBao? Are you unsatisfied of your actual freight forwarder and you want to try the services of another one? Do you need to relocate your life in China from UK or in UK from China? Without regarding your situation, you can entirely trust our complete scale of shipping, sourcing and relocation services in China. As we have plenty customers in the UK, we’re used to manage transfer between the two countries. Contact us and try our services to fully appreciate our professionalism!

Our Advantages

SINO Shipping, we understand perfectly the needs of our customers and establish a win-win collaboration with them.

“respect is earned. honesty is appreciated. trust is gained. loyalty is returned.”



Make a request and you will be contacted within 24 hours maximum


We guarantee very competitive price, ask us and compare !

Dedicated customs service

Do not hesitate to contact us for customs or administratives information

Multilingual team

We speak English, French and Chinese to avoid any communication issues

Tailored service

Small or big shipment, we can manage every request


We ensure and secure all our shipments, safety is our priority !

Recurrent questions regarding the shipping from China to the United Kingdom

LCL: 150 USD /cbm FCL: 700 USD/20’: 1400 USD/40’ Express shipping door to door (10kg): 490 USD

Average transit time by sea: 40 days Average transit time by airfreight: 7 days (daily direct flight) Express shipping door to door (10kg): 2 days

There are only 2 options, by sea or by air, it depends on how big the volume and the weight are, and then you will decide which shipping methods is more adequate. You must calculate the ration time/cost.

Your goods will not be released by customs until you’ve paid all duty and UK VAT. You might be able to claim duty charges and VAT back or delay payments for some imports from outside the EU, for example if you are temporarily importing goods with the intention of moving them to another EU country. After paying the duties and VAT applicable on your goods, they will be released by customs. If your situation requires it you can ask for a delay payments or duty charges and VAT back.

No, they don’t immediately open your package without any reason. … They will only instantly check what’s inside of your package if: Your package has been damaged when it reached the Customs office or desk. The damages can include broken seals or plastic or any cover of your package.

When you make a shipping request, you’ll have to declare the value of your shipment. The value you enter on your request form is the value that will be declared at customs, so it is important that you declare accurately. If you declare too high a value, you may be assessed more taxes than you want to pay! If you declare too low a value, your declared value may be considered unreasonable and adjusted upward.

-Negotiate with multiple carriers -Get suppliers to use your shipping account number -Use packaging provided by your carrier -Consider a regional carrier -Use online shipping -Invest in prepaid shipping -Buy insurance from a third party -Factor in all shipping fees before billing customers -Consider hybrid services -Ask about association discounts

Interested in our logistics services? Need further assistance & dedicated information?

Our SINO experts answer within 48h !