International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China


SINO Relocation – Moving department of SINO Group !

You plan to move to China but you don’t know how to proceed? This is exactly why the experts of Sino Shipping have created this article. Indeed, you will find reliable information about Chinese customs clearance when it comes to Household goods and personal effects and about how import them. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask to one of our experts.

Table of Contents

1. How to get a permit to import personal effects into China?

In order to have the right to import household goods, that is to say to get an import permit, you have to provide those documents to Customs:

  • Original Passport
  • Original Resident Permit (1)
  • Original Work Permit (2)
  • Company Letter certifying the employment
  • Ocean Bill of lading and/or Airway Bill

SINO Warning : You have to ensure:

  1. That your Work Permit is valid for not less than 12 months.
  2. That your Resident Permit is valid for not less than 12 months.

*If these conditions are not respected, Customs will reject your application and you won’t get the import permit.

SINO Advice : As a consequence, we strongly advise you not to mobilize your household goods before having secured your work and residence permits.

It is not necessary that you should be present at the Customs Office during the application of the Import Permit. Indeed, our agent could act on your behalf to process this application.

SINO Warning : Please note that you are only entitled to import one air and one sea shipment for your personal and household effects. Any subsequent shipments are strictly prohibited, or subject to very heavy import tax and duty.

Moreover, if you are a returning Chinese, the only way for you to import used household goods and personal effects is to show evidence that you have worked outside of China for more than one year such as a relevant work permit/visa of the country.

2. Customs Clearance

Legal requirements depending on your status

3 different statuses: foreigners, returning citizens, diplomats. Legal requirements for Customs Clearance depend on your status.

2.1 For foreigners

Required Documents for Customs Clearance:

  • Passport
  • Work Visa valid for 1 year
  • Residence Permit valid for 1 year
  • Employment Certification (preferable in Chinese) from employer’s registered office or Chinese host organization
  • Health Certificate, full examination with blood tests to prove absence of communicable diseases
  • Appointment Letter obtained from Representative Office at origin, notarized
  • Customs Permit (must be approved prior to arrival of goods)
  • Application for Customs Sealed Letter – three copies
  • Import Permit of Personal Effects valid for 3 months
  • Ocean Bill of Lading/Air Way Bill – Prepaid and fax copy in advance to Destination Agent
  • Arrival Notice – Ocean shipments; to be completed by client upon arrival at port of entry
  • Baggage Declaration Form – required for all shippers; obtain upon arrival at the airport and stamped by Customs Authority
  • Certificate of Origin (may be required)
  • Inventory list (in English or Chinese); items must be specifically listed and described

SINO warning : 

  1. Those issued with less than 365 days and point of entry is Shanghai, you will need to provide an explanation letter requesting exemption and to be granted preferential duty treatment.
  2. Shanghai ports: discrepancies in item counts on inventories compared to original Bill of Lading could cause the halt of the shipment clearance until discrepancies are clarified by client.

Inadequate descriptions on Pack Lists/Inventories will cause additional inspection, duties, demurrage and potential penalties. For further information, please contact us. 

Our SINO experts answer within 48h !

2.2 For diplomats

If you have the Diplomat Status, then:

  • Household goods, automobiles and motorcycles may be imported duty and tax-free and without inspection.
  • You have to be physically present in China prior to your shipment’s arrival to process Customs clearance. Clearance takes approximately 10 working days.

Required Documents for Customs Clearance:

  • Consulate Officer Certificate
  • Passport with Diplomatic Visa and Card
  • Import Permit (obtained from the Embassy)
  • Notification Letter from the ship line (available once the vessel arrives in port)
  • Ocean Bill of Lading and/or Airway bill – original
  • Detailed Inventory – translated in English or Chinese
  • Pro-forma Invoice

2.3 For returning citizen

To be considered to be a returning citizen, you must :

  • Have a visa from origin country
  • Have worked abroad at least 12 months to import household goods duty-free
  • Not have visited China more than one within 15 days of return

*If you don’t meet these criteria, you will be subject to pay Customs duty on the entire shipment.

Required Documents for Customs Clearance :

  • Chinese Residence Certificate
  • Passport
  • Visa/green card – verifying residency abroad for a minimum of 12 months
  • Baggage Declaration Form – obtained upon arrival, stamped

Clearance Procedure – Our Advices

During clearance, each shipment will be subject to extreme close scrutiny and thorough examination by Customs and Quarantine based on the packing list, and the applicable import taxes and duties are levied. Any items not properly declared on the packing list may be confiscated, detained, or incur penalties.

SINO Advice : Please ascertain that the contents of all packages are clearly marked on the packing list and that there are no miscellaneous cartons or packed-by-owner packages.

Ensure that :

  • All electrical and electronic items are clearly listed on the packing list with make and size
  • The type of sofa is clearly listed on the packing list (number of seaters, material).

*The Customs assessed value is dependent on the make and size of the particular item and will affect the final taxes and duties levied.

Any discrepancies between the packing list and the actual content of the packages may cause the shipment to be detained, confiscated or immediately returned to origin. Normally it will take around 5 working days to clear your shipment subject to all necessary import documents in order and available.

How long does the shipment take?

  • Sea shipments take approximately 10-15 working days to clear Customs.
  • Air shipments take approximately 3-5 working days to clear Customs.
  • If gross weight is over 300 kg, it may take approximately 10-15 working days to clear Customs in some cities, e.g. Shanghai.

3/ General Information when it comes to Import Duty and Taxes

  • Client must arrive into China prior to arrival of the shipment and be present during Customs the clearance process.
  • Duty rates for air shipments are typically 30% higher than sea shipments.
  • If you import more than one shipment, shipments must be declared together.
  • You are only entitled to import one air and one sea shipment for your personal and household effects. Any subsequent shipments are strictly prohibited, or subject to very heavy import tax and duty. If the Destination is Beijing, these permits must be applied for at the same time.

Furthermore, be careful when importing more than one of each type of the major appliances such as refrigerators or televisions etc. in the same shipment, Customs may consider the shipment containing commercial goods thus making clearance very difficult.

Additionally, items that were manufactured within the last six months may be subject to import taxes. Therefore it may be best to leave these items behind.

SINO Warning :

  1. Used household goods and personal effects are dutiable for Chinese persons holding a foreign passport and foreigners entering China for an extended period (not holding a Residence Card).
  2. For foreigners without a 1year Work Permit and Residence Permit shipment cannot be cleared and will incur storage and demurrage.
  3. Those who have the permits but are less than 1 year will be charged full duties on entire shipment

4. Dutiable and prohibited items

Prior to shipping your items, be sure to check if there are any restrictions, licensing, or special provisions on the import of your goods. If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts.

Shipping any prohibited items can delay your shipment and potentially run you into trouble with the local government.

4.1 Dutiable items

Major electrical and electronic goods (both new and used) are subject to import duties. The list of dutiable items includes: Computers, monitors, certain computer peripherals, televisions, video cameras, video players, video recorders, air conditioners, audio equipment, refrigerators, washing machines, cameras, fax machines, programmable switchboards, computers, telephone sets, wireless paging systems, electronic calculators, printers, typewriters and word processors.
All Furniture is dutiable.
Pianos are dutiable. Grand pianos and baby grand pianos are not allowed to be imported unless you can provide an adequate and appropriate professional certificate.
All lighting equipment is dutiable.
Audiocassette tapes, videocassette tapes, compact discs, DVD’s etc. (limited importation applies) will be inspected by customs officers.
Each shipper can import a maximum of 50 kg of foodstuff (rice, seed or any meat is forbidden to import) and beverages as personal effects. However, we recommend you not to include food in the shipment in order to avoid complications.
Oriental antiques and objects must be declared in detail, otherwise re-export might be prohibited.
One set of golf clubs can be imported duty free, with additional clubs dutiable at 30% of customs value.

SINO Warning : Dutiable/restricted items must be clearly indicated on the inventory and loaded last for easy access.

4.2 Restricted items

Multifunction photocopiers can be imported as household goods or personal effects.
Food, medicine or other products from epidemic-stricken areas cannot be imported.
No printed or recorded material deemed detrimental to the political, economic or social interest of China should be included in any shipments.
Large CD collections, Stamp collections and libraries will require special customs clearance process.


4.3 Prohibited items

Weapons, firearms, ammunition, drugs and narcotics.
Counterfeit or pirated goods.
Pornographic materials.
Materials found to be morally or politically offensive, or anti-communist.
Endangered species, alive or dead, certain milk powder and meat products.
Plants and seeds.
Certain type of food products, wine, liquor, beverages and alcoholic drinks are prohibited in certain cities in China. When they are not prohibited, they are subject to high duties and taxes. That is why we strongly recommend you no to include wines or liquor in the shipment.
Animals and plants, including samples, including endangered species.
Cordless communication facilities.
Satellite systems and GPS systems.
Narcotics, drugs, medicines or anaesthetics may not be imported.
Motorcycles, unless if the owner is a diplomat. But even if it is the case, the motorcycle will need to remain in a bonded warehouse until it has been registered and issued with a number plate.
Photocopiers are prohibited.

*Note : Alcohol attracts very high import tax and duty and is prohibited to be imported in certain cities in China. It is strongly recommended not to import this item into China as heavy fines will be levied and the prohibited items will be confiscated.

5. Importation of pets

Only dogs and cats are allowed importation into China. One pet is allowed per adult passport holder and requires a special import permit and prior approval of Customs before importation into China. Pets are subject to an examination by an inspector at the owner of the goods’ residence in China within 30 days following arrival. A small fee is required for the examination of pets by an inspector.

Required Documents:

  • Health Certificate – 7 days before departure
  • Original Certificate of Rabies Vaccination must be over 30 days and under 1 year
  • Entry Recorder – within 2 week

Info SINO : Animals imported in Beijing will be quarantined for 30 days, while those entering via Shanghai are quarantined for 7 days.

6/ Why choose to call on our services

  1. First of all, we can take charge of the packing of your goods in order to facilitate you the process.
  2. We can do all of the following type of removals: door-to-door, port to door, door to port etc. Don’t hesitate to ask us what it the most consistent service in your specific case.
  3. If you have any doubt about whether some of your goods are subject to any restrictions, taxes or duties or not, feel free to send us the inventory of your goods in order that one of our experts tell you their respective classification.
  4. Moreover, choosing us will insure you that all requirements are met prior to import, especially for discrepancies regarding air and sea shipments.
  5. Customs regulations may differ between cities. You can contact us for specific information before importing.
  6. We will be able to provide you with proper quote and best rates, adapted to your needs.

3 Packages, 3 ways to move according to your budget


6/ Why choose to call on our services

Staying safe when you have left the country

Our team of experts at Sino Shipping are able to explain the immigration and customs rules and regulations in simple terms, enabling you and your family to have complete understanding of the processes involved.

We make it our mission to complete all tasks on your behalf, further simplifying your immigration and customs clearances. The tasks include processing your entry visas, assisting with the paperwork for your work and residence permits, and handling any immigration issues.

Keeping your status updated

At some point, you will encounter changes in terms of your employment status, marital status or other forms of family developments.

Sino Shipping ensures your record is kept updated and we go to the extent of accompanying you to the local immigration services to make the updates.

Immigration requirements

As a foreigner, it is vital for you to be well-informed about the immigration requirements in relation to business and employment matters.


At Sino Shipping, we have simplified the process for you by providing important immigration information for countries throughout the world.

Download immigration requirement

Keeping your status updated

As a business traveller, you are required to remain compliant with the immigration rules and regulations of the particular country you are visiting Our easy-to-read FAQs are designed to provide all the required information you need to know about each country.

Providing International moving and relocation's services in Hong Kong

You plan to move your personal effects from or to Hong Kong ? You need an experienced international movers specialist of Hong Kong ? Here we are.

Sino Shipping is a registered standardized international moving company established in 2015, which is specialized in International Sea/Air transportation and warehousing of personal effects. Our presence: Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Beijing, Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Taiwan.

Door-to-door relocations to China and Hong Kong

As leaders in this field, we take pride in handling, moving and storing your items to the best of our ability. Our team of professionals are highly experienced, organized and committed to ensure the safety of your items.

Our state-of-the-art facilities, equipped with the latest equipment and technologies, are strategically located throughout the world, enabling us to consistently secure the handling and care of your items. We only utilize the best packing materials and methods.

Borderless service

With business operations in nearly 60 countries, and over 200 facilities, we are able to provide effective relocation services from Hong Kong to most countries at cost-effective rates, with better management quality.

We strive to ensure every service meets our clients’ needs and requirements, and work to their advantage.



With our good reputation in the field and well-established forwarding network, we provide trucking, customs Clearance, warehousing, distribution, multi-modal Transportation (Total Logistic Solutions) and other related services

Dedicated Move Managers

Our Move Managers are adept with the skills and expertise to make your moving experience a breeze. When you engage our services, we will assign a dedicated Move Manager to cater to your every needs, every step of the way

Transport of personal effects from/to Hong Kong

Our broad range of services include providing every possible transportation method as well as safe and secure facilities for the smooth delivery of your items.

All shipment can be tracked online, 24 hours a day.

Road transport

Our extensive fleet of trucks are designed to offer reliable and fast regular service, across state and national borders.

Sea transport

For long distances, or distances inaccessible by road, we offer container shipments – a cost-efficient way to move items of all sorts and sizes.

Air transport

Quick and safe, items can also be moved via air freight.

Safe and Secure Storage Facilities

Due to our global presence, we are able to provide secure, crated storage facilities to store your items. All of our facilities are built with maximum protection, reducing the possibility of pests, fire, water and theft.

Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

At Sino Shipping, we make every effort to ensure your items arrive in good condition. However, sometimes accidents and damages are unavoidable. 

As a result, we offer a comprehensive door-to-door insurance plan that provides maximum protection to your items against potential risks associated during road, rail, ship and air shipments. Should there be any form of damages to your items, the plan will provide replacement cost coverage.

Bring in the support and start a new life

As you move to a new neighbourhood, there is a lot for you to see and do. A new experience is always waiting at every corner and the best way to begin your journey is to go on the Internet to get some ideas on how you can make the best out of your new life.

Find out where are the places that pique your interests and go to those places to discover new friends. As much as you want to enjoy your independence, having new friends will help make your move all the more enjoyable. Get some feedback from the locals, on how to live like a local.

Visit places that encourage social interactions, like restaurants, coffee shops and sports venues. Seek out expat groups and seek their advice on how to make the transition easier.

If you are not sure of what needs to be done, we at Sino Shipping are here to render our assistance. Let us know how we can help you.

Couples supporting each other

Moving to another country with someone makes the moving process fairly easier. Together with your partner, you can discover more dining, shopping, cultural and entertainment places that suit your lifestyles. Contact us if you require information and resources about your new area.

As a couple, make it a point to provide support to each other. The adjustment period for each person differs from one person to another, so just because you are well-adjusted, it does not mean your partner is too. Keep a look-out for each other and help one another.

If you are looking for employment, the Internet offers ample information with regards to job openings available in your area. However, take note that your employment options may be dependent on your visa status.

For those intending to start a family, keep abreast of the childcare, medical care and school options for your children.

Relocating can be hectic, but it is well worth it

Firstly, make a decision as to when you would like to move. Once you have made the decision, arrange for a consultation with Sino Shipping at least 3 months in advance and we will provide a quotation and advice that is tailored to your needs.

During this duration, you can make the decision to sell or give away anything you no longer need or decide not to bring along during the moving process.

At the same time, conduct research as to the different types of bank accounts available in the country you are moving to. Make sure your bank is aware that you will be moving abroad and check with your credit card companies whether there are any additional charges for using your cards abroad. Based on their response, evaluate whether it is best to incur foreign transaction fees or to open a new bank account abroad.

Apply the same concept with your insurance policies. Check with your tax adviser about your tax status and if you are required to make any payments as a result of your move.

If you are traveling with children, make sure you are equipped with the documents needed to facilitate your children’s schooling arrangements. The documentation may include current school and medical records.

Ensure all your important documentation are available and within reach. Check the validity of your passport, the number of empty pages and the date of expiry.

As for your house, make plans whether to list it for sale or rent it out. Engage the service of a reliable property management company and let them help you to find a suitable new owner or dependable tenants.

If you do not intend to bring your car along, make arrangements to get it sold, stored or be taken care by someone reliable.

Pet owners have to be aware of the special requirements, rules and regulations when it comes to transporting them to another country. We recommend speaking to your vet about the best way to move your pet, and we will do our best provide a safe, comfortable and and relaxing moving service for your pets.

Another area of concern is you have to know whether your electronic and mechanical devices will work abroad. If required, invest in suitable adapters and transformers.

While you are at it, check on your mobile plans as well. If getting a new contract abroad proves to be cheaper, then perhaps you may have to consider to do so.


Never too early to begin your research

Before moving to a new place, it is always better to get some feedback from people as to how is the situation like at the new place.

Is the place more convenient for businesses? Does it offer a balanced lifestyle? How is the political situation? Ensure all of your concerns are addressed and eventually, make the decision to choose a particular country to move to.

Once you have determined the country, find out all the information you need to have in order to relocate to that particular country. A helpful resource is to approach the country’s embassy or consulate and acquire the important information such as:

  • Permit and visa for foreigners
  • Medical exams and immunizations, if applicable
  • Possible restrictions and/or taxes on certain items
  • Specifications for bringing in pets

From this list, the most important aspect is the visa requirements and you will be required to provide a certain amount of documentation which may include your passport, medical records, birth certificate and proof of residency.

Check throughout what are the required documentation and submit it with your visa application.

On another note, search online for advice from expats who have moved to the country of your choice. They can give a balanced view, the negatives and positives, based on their experience.


Cruising the borders

Our extensive network of experts are well-adept with the current immigration and customs rules and regulations.

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

Our SINO experts answer within 48h !


About SINO

SINO Shipping is a trusted international freight forwarder with over 35 years of experience, offering a full range of logistics and transport services. With a strong presence in China and a commitment to efficiency, reliability, and customer satisfaction, SINO Shipping ensures stress-free and cost-effective logistics solutions for businesses worldwide.