Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about exporting to China. You can also ask Mae to direct you to the information you need by clicking on the gold comment box at the bottom of this page.

Please note that some of the links on this page direct you to Chinese language websites.  You may wish to use your own translator, or Austrade can assist with translations and provide you with other international export services.

tariffs & taxes

What is the tariff for exporting to China?

The best place to look for the tariffs is on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s FTA Portal. You can search for the tariff using the harmonised system (HS) tariff code for your product. Portal also helps you search HS code using keywords and then shows you how you may meet the rules of origin to claim the preferential tariff. if you’re not sure what you tariff code is, you may want to contact your customs broker or freight forwarder.

What taxes are applicable for sale of goods in China?

Value Added Tax (VAT) may be applicable on goods sold in China. The website of the State Administration of Taxation of the People’s Republic of China provides additional information and the Australian Taxation Office can advise on Australian tax implications. Advice on the tax should be obtained from professional tax advisers, accountants or lawyers.

Do I have to pay a tariff on food I sell through e-commerce?

Certain shelf-stable food products can to be sold directly duty free to end consumers in China through cross-border e-commerce. More information is available at Austrade.

HOW ARE GOODS TREATED UNDER CHAFTA?

Goods that ‘originate’ within Australia will be eligible for lower preferential duty rates. There are specific rules to determine eligibility. To get preferential treatment, goods will need to have a Preferential Certificate of Origin or Declaration of Origin. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has more details.

export pathways and product distribution

What are the different pathways to export to China?

For food exporters, there are two main pathways to China – either via general trade or Cross Border e-Commerce (CBEC) trade. Part D (page 15) of the AFGC China Market Industry Guide provides more information.

HOW CAN I find a reputable distribution partner?

Austrade can connect you with distributors and other contacts in China. They can also provide information on export issues, statistics, trends and regulations relevant to your product.

How do I distribute my product within China?

Exports into China are handled through a number of intermediaries including import agents and distributors, wholesalers and sub-distributors. More information is on the Austrade website.

What do I look for in a distribution partner?

It is advisable to check your distribution partner’s knowledge and understanding of the sector – their distribution and channel capabilities, contacts and relationships. You may want to contact Austrade for any referrals.

What are the risks and constraints of general trade exports?

It is important to understand risks involved in exporting food products to China. Pre-market approvals can be complex and time consuming. A comprehensive understanding is required for compliance and regulatory requirements (product, ingredients, formulation, labelling, testing methodologies, production/processing and supply chain). It’s also important to engage a reliable China import and distribution partner(s).

Can I sell to China through Australia Post?

Yes, however you should first check import and export requirements via the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’s website. Australia Post can help you export your packaged food, grocery or health product to China via China’s most-trusted e-Commerce marketplaces. Find out more from the Australia Post website.

What is a daigou?

Daigou is a form of B2C model involving a buying agent who would purchase goods on behalf of Chinese consumers and post them back to China. Please refer to page 18 of the AFGC China Market Industry Guide.

How do I export my product to China through a daigou?

Austrade maintains a list of established daigou. You may want to contact them as a first step.

What are the business protocols I need to be aware of when doing business in China?

Building good business relationships and trust are very important in China. Asialink Business has tips for developing and maintaining good business relationships in China.

LAWS & regulations

What are the key regulatory bodies in China?

The AFGC China Market Industry Guide provides an overview of the key regulatory bodies involved with food imports. Refer to page 8 of the Guide.

Where can I find information about E commerce law?

China introduced new e-commerce laws in early 2019. Find out what you need to do to comply at Austrade.

What regulations do I need to follow to export my plant based product?

As an exporter you must:

  • meet exporter requirements outlined in the Export Control Act 1982 and other subordinate legislation
  • meet the importing country’s requirements
  • provide export compliant goods for inspection

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, has prepared these step-by-step instructions to help you ensure your plants and plant products meet export requirements. This Exporter’s Guide from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources also tells you how to reduce the costs of exporting.

What is a GB, or GUO-biao standard?

China maintains national standards for food ingredients, additives, product labelling and contact materials. These are known as Guo-biao or GB standards. While most are available online in Chinese, not all the latest standards are available in English. A professional importer, distributor or regulatory compliance service provider can provide further advice. You can get more information at the Standardisation Administration of the People’s Republic of China website.

Where can I find information about china's FOOD SAFETY law?

Try contacting Austrade for the latest translated version of the China Food Safety Law. Baker McKenzie also has useful information about China’s Food Safety Law in their Asia Pacific Food Law Guide.

What are the labelling requirements?

All imported pre-packaged food must be labelled in simplified Chinese as used in mainland China. In addition to Chinese characters, English and other foreign languages may also be used. Labelling requirements may include standard name of foodstuffs, list of ingredients, food production license number etc. You should also consult your importer in China and refer to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website for the most up-to-date information. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources also maintains the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) database, which outlines the importing country requirements of Australia’s agricultural export trading partners, including China.

What are the compliances I need to have before I export to China?

China food import compliance requirements can relate to the organisations or entities involved in the supply chain, product, export shipments and/or the market requirements. Each of these areas needs to be managed to achieve a sustainable China market access solution. Please refer to page 21 of the AFGC China Market Industry Guide.

What are the entity compliance requirements?

You must ensure you have the most appropriate legal structure in place to achieve export strategy objectives. It is important to understand entity registration requirements , licenses required to operate and any tax and accounting implications. Please refer to page 20 of the AFGC China Market Industry Guide.

certificates of origin (COO)

Where can I get a Certificate of Origin (COO)?

.Australia’s authorised bodies for issuing Certificates of Origin are:
1. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AusChamber);
2. The Australian Industry Group (AiG); and,
3. The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) (for wine and wine-related products)

What information is required on a Certificate of Origin?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has a template for Certificates of Origin (COO). The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ai Group are authorised bodies for issuing COOs in Australia.

HOw can i find the HS (Harmonised System) code for my product?

It is best to check the HS code on the Department of Foreign Affairs’s FTA portal or with the importing country’s customs. You can seek an advance ruling from China customs authority. Advance rulings are binding and will provide you with certainty when you export or import. Your customs broker or importer may be able to help you with getting an advance ruling.

Is there another option other than Certificates of Origin (COO)?

An exporter or producer may choose to complete a Declaration of Origin (DOO) instead of COO. A DOO may be accepted in place of a COO, for goods covered by an advance ruling on ChAFTA origin. Refer to the ChAFTA page on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. See section Article 4.9 of ChAFTA. DOO is completed by the exporter of a good and must comply with the template set out in Annex 3-B of ChAFTA.

What records do I need to hold to support a COO or DOO in case I am audited?

Under ChAFTA, exporters or producers must keep all records necessary to demonstrate goods’ origin. More information is on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Where can I get information on the Rules of Origin ?

Information about the Rules of Origin (ROO) is on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

How can I get advance ruling on my goods?

Your importer into China or your customs broker may be able to help you with the process to seek advance ruling from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

Does ChAFTA cover Hong kong , Macau and Taiwan?

No ChAFTA does not cover these countries.

NON COMPLIANCE

What steps do I need to take if I end up on the GACC blacklist due to an import shipment failure?

You should immediately discuss with your import partner the reasons for the non compliance. You should also ensure corrective actions are taken to address the root cause of the shipment failure.

Who should I forward my product recall process to?

You should discuss and confirm your product recall procedure with your China importer and distributors to ensure alignment. The product recall procedure needs to be submitted to the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) by your China importer.

How do I find out what testing is required for my export product?

China product testing requirements are specified in the relevant China Guo-biao (GB) Standards. Note that testing methods are also prescribed in the standards. Different testing methods can produce different test results. GB Standards can be found on the Standardisation Administration of the Peoples Republic of China website. 

Do I have a right to appeal any penalties imposed on me for import non compliance?

Yes. The China Food Safety Law has a section that addresses right of appeal for shipment testing and other non compliance decisions taken by General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC). Talk to your legal representative and importer about the appeals process.

registrations

Do I need to register my business to export to China?

Some producers and exporters of Australian agriculture commodities may need to be registered with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. For further information on which commodities are subject to production registration, please refer to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Manual of Importing Country Requirements. All foreign food distributors and producers who import food products into China are required to register with the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

is my product eligible for import into china?

All food and beverage products imported into China are subject to approval before export and/or inspection at the border by China. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources maintains a helpful database of the China import market requirements. You may also want to check if the ingredients in your product need to be registered. Check these standards via the Standardisation Administration of the People’s Republic of China website.

Do I need to register ingredients?

Yes, ingredients may need to be registered. The product ingredients compliance requirements are detailed in the Guo-biao (GB) Standards and supporting appendices. GB Standards are national standards for food ingredients, additives, product labelling and contact materials. There are many GB Standards, some for general food items and others for specific foods. Best to contact your importer, distributor or a regulatory compliance service provider. You can also contact Austrade for assistance with GB Standard translations.

How do I know if my brand is already registered in China by someone else?

It’s important to protect your brand by registering a trade mark in China. China’s first-to-file trade marks system means that registering as early as possible is the most reliable way to protect your intellectual property (IP) and prevent other people from registering your trade mark, a common problem in China. Find out more on the IP Australia website.

Does my facility need to be registered?

Manufacturers of many products such as dairy products, meat, seafood and horticulture are required to be approved for export. It is best you check the requirements on the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) website.

Who provides approvals for facilities in china?

Is there an approved list of facilties registered for export?

Yes. The current list approved by China is on the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) website (English tranaslation required). For further information on which commodities are subject to production registration, please refer to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) database.

financial assistance

Can I get financial assistance/support to export my products to china?

Australian exporters can contact Export Finance Insurance Corporation (EFIC) for solutions through loans, guarantees and bonds. Contact Austrade for information on their Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) For other grants, funding or assistance options please use the Australian Government’s Free Grants and Assistance tool.

IMPORTING INTO AUSTRALIA

Which bodies in China can authorise export to Australia?

For importers to Australia, China’s authorised bodies are:
The General Administration of Customs of China
The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade