How much does import from China to UK cost?

The cost of importing items from China to the United Kingdom varies depending on the source and destination ports. Aside from that, the type of freight used determines how much the entire process will cost. Air freight, for example, is significantly more expensive than sea freight.

Consider the following scenarios to gain a better understanding of the situation.

An FCL shipment from Shanghai to Felixstowe costs around $14,250, while a shipment from Shanghai to London costs around $16,500. Similarly, LCL from Shanghai to Birmingham costs around $1260, while LCL from Shanghai to London costs around $1300.

Air freight rates vary according to weight, so expect to pay around $98 for the 0 to the 45-kilogramme range and around $45 for the 45-100 kg cargo.

How Much Does Import from China to Canada Cost
How Long Does Import from China to Canada Take

How Long Does Import from China to UK Take

The amount of time it takes to send items from China to the US also depends upon the source and the port destinations. Besides this, port-to-port consignments require less time as compared to door-to-door deliveries.

FCL from China to the UK takes around 40 to 55 days from port to port whereas it requires around 45 to 60 days for door-to-door deliveries.

LCL from China to the UK also takes 40 to 55 days for reaching from one port to another however it needs anywhere between 45 to 70 days for door-to-door consignments.

Air freight requires a maximum of 4 to 5 days from one airport to another whereas, for door-to-door deliveries, it will take up to 10 days.

Consider also various customs and port delays when scheduling deliveries.

Steps for Importing Goods from China to the UK

Several steps must be followed in the correct order when exporting goods from China and then importing them into the UK.

Missing even one of the steps can have serious implications. So, in this section, we will shed some light on the critical steps that you must take if you intend to import goods from China to the United Kingdom.

How to Import Goods from China to Canada
Shipping Routes

Shipping Routes

The top air shipping routes from China to the UK are:

  • Shanghai to Manchester
  • Shanghai to Birmingham
  • Beijing to Manchester
  • Shenzhen to London

When it comes to sea shipping, the best shipping routes are:

  • Shekou to Felixstowe
  • Qingdao to Felixstowe
  • Tianjin to Southhampton

Importing Goods from China to the UK

It is critical to understand the process of importing goods from China to the United Kingdom, primarily because it involves minute details. Importing encompasses steps like registering your company, finding a supplier, creating and testing your products, shipping your cargo, and clearing customs. Here, we will discuss each aspect in detail to help you become a successful entrepreneur.

Customs Clearance in Canada
Customs Taxes for Import in Canada

Business Models of Import to the UK

The main business models of import to the UK from China include direct import, using a sourcing company, and hiring a Chinese sourcing agent. The direct model means that you talk to the factory directly, which is time-consuming, but you will have good prices and full control of the process.

Working with a sourcing company will result in quick turnaround, professional negotiations, and value-added services. However, they may take large commissions and be less educated in your specific product category. Finally, hiring an individual sourcing agent can be risky, since it is easier for them to take advantage of you. At the same time, you may get a more personal approach.

Selection of Items

The first and most important step is to choose products that can be exported from China, imported to the UK, and then profitably sold. But don’t just choose what is popular—choose what you find an interest in as well.

Aside from that, it is critical only to select items that are permitted to be exported from China and imported into the UK. Thus, before finalizing your product, you must be certain of what you choose and whether it is legal to do so. Be aware of any restrictions, such as those for toxic batteries or agricultural items.

Shipping from China to Canada
Multimodal and Intermodal Shipping from China to Canada

Selection of the Best Supplier

After you’ve decided on an item, the next step is to find a supplier that can provide it in large quantities at the best price. This is important because if the supplier is unable to provide enough quantity, you will be unable to meet your orders, tarnishing your brand’s image.

Also choose the supplier that has sufficient experience, certifications, customization capabilities, quality guarantees, and anything else that you require. After that, you’ll encounter:

  • Sampling
  • Negotiation
  • Calculating landed cost and value
  • Purchasing

Processing the Required Documents

You may be aware that UK has unique requirements in terms of documentation, such as quality certificates, import licenses, etc. These must be completed before importing goods. You must meet the paperwork requirements of both the Chinese authorities and the UK government when exporting goods from China and importing them into the UK.

This is an important step because missing important documents can result in heavy fines. Aside from that, your shipment may face additional delays during processing. Some initial documents include an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland, or that starts with XI if you are importing to Northern Ireland. Additionally, consider any special labelling, marking, and marketing rules, such as CE and UKCA labels.

Tax & Duties When Importing from China to UK

VAT (value-added tax) is the main duty charged on goods arriving from abroad. Unless your goods are excise goods, you will pay VAT on both the value of your goods and on packaging and insurance. The import VAT is usually charged at the rate of VAT that would have applied to the goods if they had been purchased in the UK.

Additionally, you should look into UK duties that also differ based on the type of product. Overall, VAT is applied to the sum of your goods’ value, UK duty, and shipping cost and insurance. The UK HMRC will send you a C79 form as proof of VAT payment.

To specify and assign a duty rating to each product being imported, customs tariff classification codes—also known as HS codes, commodity codes, or TARIC codes—are utilized.

FCL Shipping to Canada

FCL is an abbreviation for Full Container Load. When you book a full container to ship your goods to the UK, you are using the FCL shipping method. This shipping method is quite costly because a full container is reserved for it. The method is usually used by corporations because full containers contain large quantities of items.

LCL Shipping to Canada

LCL is the shipping method used by small businesses. This is an abbreviation for Less Than Container Load, and you use the LCL shipping method whenever you book a section of a container. This is an efficient method of monitoring shipping rates because the cost of booking the entire container is shared by multiple parties, requiring each party to pay a portion of the total cost.

Common Import Destinations in Canada

The common import destinations in the UK include but are not limited to:

  • Manchester
  • London
  • Birmingham
  • Southampton
Common Export Locations in China

The common export locations in China include:

  • Shanghai
  • Chiwan
  • Yantian
  • Qingdao
  • Tianjin
  • Shekou
  • Ningbo

Additional Services for Importing from China to Canada

Pickup and Delivery

As the name implies, air freight involves air transportation to UK. This is the quickest method of sending items, but it is also the most expensive, so it is only used in emergencies or for items with a short lifespan. The weight of the shipment determines the cost of air freight. When the weight of the consignment is small, the air freight rate is the highest. However, as the weight increases, the price begins to fall.


Sea freight is the most common and widely used method of sending goods to UK. This is because this mode of transportation provides the most flexibility. The rates are also the lowest, but you must make do with the relatively slow shipping speed. This mode of shipping is used for sending the largest consignments because it is the most cost-effective for such shipments. Sea freight is especially useful to import to the British Isles.

Customs Clearance

Rail freight is the transportation of goods via rail. Rail freight is also relatively inexpensive, and the advantage of this method over road freight is that much larger quantities of goods can be shipped at once. When importing to the UK from China, rail freight is fully possible through the Eurotunnel.

Provide Container Loading Supervision

These days, door-to-door freight is the most popular mode of transportation. People prefer it because they avoid having to deal with the procedures that occur between handing over the goods to the freight forwarder and receiving them. For delivering goods from the source to the destination address, door-to-door freight can use various modes of freight such as air, sea, rail, or road.

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