World trade and the importation of goods have become routine as the volumes of goods moving around the world increase steadily.

China is a major source of products for the South African market, and the import of finished products, raw materials, and components is growing.

While importing goods is easier than ever, there are still some pitfalls importers need to look out for.

Here are seven steps to consider when importing from China to South Africa:

1. Register with SARS

The first thing every importer must do is to register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as an importer. There are forms to be completed and documentation to be provided. If you are a new importer, chat with one of our customs specialists who can help you with the process.

2. Make sure that your imports are legal

China has a wide variety of products for import, from motor vehicles to industrial machinery, apparel, footwear and accessories, electronic goods, appliances and toys. In short, just about anything, an importer might want.

There are however restrictions on certain goods, special permissions needed and in some cases an outright ban on bringing some items into South Africa.

As the importer, it is your responsibility to ensure that the goods you are importing are allowed into the country.

3. Proper labelling and packaging

It is essential that the goods being imported are correctly labelled and identified on the accompanying documentation. It is also essential to ensure that the manufacturer or supplier packs the goods properly. Some classes of goods require special packaging and handling.

4. Get your paperwork in order

You will need to work with an experienced freight forwarder and clearing agent. There are many documents, on both the export and the import side of the process, which are required for every shipment. Incomplete or incorrect documentation can lead to delays in the shipment which will cost you money.

5. Work with people who have a good track record.

The clearing agent you choose must be fully accredited and licenced in the region in which they operate. As a result of the large volumes of paperwork, Electronic Document Interfaces or EDI capabilities have become standard practice.

6. Know what you are in for

There are several service providers, Port Authorities, and customs revenue services that have to be paid. As an importer, you do not want any unexpected invoices and extra costs. It is important to know what you need to pay and how much it will cost.

Our staff are well versed in the intricacies of the logistics chain and will give you an accurate estimate of costs.

7. Get proper cargo insurance

Everyone in the logistics chain needs cargo insurance, especially the importer who owns the freight. Speak to our insurance specialists who will make sure you have the cover you need.