China has a strict regulatory system to ensure the quality and safety of imported food items. Every year several imported food products either get destroyed or returned due to lack of compliance or irregularity in the food quality. Import and export companies can suffer heavy losses due to this and can even have their license revoked and barred from future trading. Due to risks like these involved it is necessary for firms to ensure that their products comply to all of the food regulations.
A complete checklist on documents before exporting any sort of food products to China:
- Export and Import Registration- As an export/import firm you must register with the State Certification and Accreditation Administration (CAA), ID of the food being exported comes under the “List of food imports subject to enterprise registration”. Food products such as health foods and meat require additional registration as the safety requirements are heightened for such products (registration is valid for 4 years). Additionally, AQSIQ registration is mandatory with each shipment of food products.
- Complete documentation and pre-import licensing
Before shipping your food product, you need to complete a few documents regarding the product’s quality, origin, along with the quarantine and import control. Additionally, a detailed packaging list and description of packaging material are required. These documents are reviewed once the products are shipped to China. Consequently, it is vital that the firm ensures that their documents are error free and complete to avoid any delays in processing the shipment.
List of documentation before importing from China:
- Commercial invoice
- A detailed packaging lists
- Bill of lading
- Certificate for export from country of origin
- Hygiene / Health certificate
- Certificate of bottling date (for drinks)
- Certificate of free sale
- Sample of original label
- Sample of Chinese label
- Inspection certificate
Food products do not generally need any pre-import licenses. However, dairy and poultry products will need an import license issued by the ministry of commerce before they can enter China. Furthermore, food products subject to import tariffs require an agricultural products import tariff quotas certificate.
- Adhering to labelling requirements
Every food product must be labeled in Chinese characters to complete customs clearance which includes the labelling requirements on the layout and content of pre-packaged foods in China.In general, a label must provide following information:
- Standard name of foodstuff;
- List of ingredients as percentage;
- Name and address of manufactures, local agent, or distributor;
- Production date, best before, end date, and guidance for storage;
- Country of origin;
- Quality grade;
- Code of national standard/industry standard for the production; and
- Special contents, if any.
Labels must be approved by Chinese Inspection and Quarantine Service (CIQS).
- CIQ food sanitary inspection and customs clearance
CIQ sanitary certification is issued after the customs officials review relevant shipping documents and labelling requirements once the shipment arrives in China. If one of the shipments documents is missing you can provide a CIQ declaration to avoid further complications and delays. For that you need to complete the following documents.
- Business license
- Import license
- Quota certificate
- Safety compliance declaration
- Company description
- Product information
It is important to bear in mind that in the instance that the products are being exported for the first time the process for declaration takes longer. This process will however, become faster on subsequent shipments.