Importing Personal Effects into Shenzhen

Kelly Chan   |   September 2, 2021

Article By: Zachary Kever General Manager South China UniGroup Worldwide UTS

Photo By :Yanfeng Liu

As Shenzhen’s economy has grown over the last 30 years so has the amount of expatriates working and living in the city.    Many people that move to Shenzhen bring a couple of suitcases when they arrive and leave with a 20 or 40 foot container. Others bring in a container of furniture only to find out that apartments already come fully furnished. As an expatriate that has lived in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam for 10 years and having moved four times internationally and many times locally I will share some of my own personal experiences with you.

Coming to China for the first time can be an exciting experience for you and your family. Seeing a new country, learning a new language, eating new food can sound like an adventure to begin with however after a couple of months the novelty will eventually wear off. When this happens its nice to know you have a support group of people for your family as the spouse often times doesn’t work. Before you sign a contract with a prospective employer in China have a look/see trip to Shenzhen. During this trip you should contact a realtor and have them show you homes to get a better idea of what to expect in terms of size and fixtures. You should also ask the realtor to provide a city tour and introduce you to the prospective schools for your children; introduce church organizations, supermarkets, sports clubs and other social organizations of interest to you. The faster you understand your new home the sooner you’ll be able to acclimate to your new setting once you arrive. Many of your pre-move questions will be answered in your first trip to Shenzhen. Once you’ve decided that Shenzhen suits you and your family then its time to decide if you’ll need to send a shipment. Please contact our office in Shenzhen and we’ll arrange to have a partner mover from your origin location to do a physical survey so we can prepare a quotation for sending your personal effects. At the time of the survey you will be assigned a move coordinator who’ll act as your contact point for any origin related questions.

One of the major things in considering sending a shipment to China is the cost of the moving services and import duties for the items you will be sending. You should budget USD3, 000.00 and up for a minimum sea shipment of 4 cubic meters by Less than Container Load (LCL) from larger cities in Europe and North America into Shenzhen. Most Asian cities to Shenzhen will cost considerably less than this due to the proximity and lower cost of services in these countries. Moving companies charge by volume so the more things you take the higher the charges.

Import duty/tax on household effects is uniform throughout China. In general, furniture will be taxed at 10% of the customs assessed value, electrical items at 20%, and luxury items (from golf clubs to cosmetic products) at 30% to 50%. The import duty/tax amount is calculated based on the customs assessed value, solely at the discretion of the local customs bureau and quite often differs from city to city. For example, Shenzhen Customs may assess a DVD player at RMB 500.00 while Beijing Customs may assess the same item at RMB 1,500.00. Prior to deciding what to bring, you might want to send a list of your things to your moving coordinator to get an idea of the estimated import duties. Sending an old computer and paying more in import duties than its actual value doesn’t make much sense!

Once you’ve decided to move personal effects and have confirmed the quotation, your items will be professionally packed and wrapped by our origin partner. Container ships move in six directions: roll, heave, yaw, pitch, surge and sway. To combat any damage due to the transportation involved corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap, newsprint paper, tissue paper, hanging wardrobes, folding wardrobes, silica gel (to absorb moisture), dish packs, small, medium and large boxes will be used to protect your items. For things easily damaged wooden crates can be made around the packaging material for added protection. A packing inventory will serve as your receipt for the items entrusted to our care. This list will be created by the origin supervisor of your move. Your move coordinator at your origin will discuss the details and requirements of your individual move to ensure your personal effects arrive safely. Prior to packing be aware of the below items that shouldn’t be shipped to China:

o Firearms, Ammunition, Weapons & Explosives
o TV Satellite dish
o Telecommunication equipments, including cordless phones.
o Copiers and fax machines
o Unprocessed food, fresh meat, fresh vegetables, dairy products, and even baby powder milk.
o Live plants
o Poisons or illegal drugs
o Printed/recorded material deemed detrimental to the political, economic, cultural, or moral atmosphere in China (including all pornographic materials)
o Overlarge office items, such as large photocopier machine, which are not considered for personal or family usage.
o Maps (where the Chinese border is not in accordance with PRC law)
o All kinds of equipment/tool associated with gambling
o Endangered and rare animals and their products, such as ivory
o Counterfeit currencies
o Motorcycles
o Any other items that are determined by the local Customs Bureau to be of non- personal or non-family usage. These items may be seized if found in the shipment.

Transit times for a sea shipment will take around 8 weeks for Europe and North America and 5 weeks for Asia. You should factor in temporary hotel accommodation or a fully furnished home until your personal effects can arrive in China. Bringing more suitcases on the initial flight over will suffice until your other things arrive or you can consider an air shipment to get a small amount of essential items to China faster.

As a foreign passport holder you’ll need a work permit, residence permit and also other documents from your company in order to import household goods into Shenzhen. Your company must be registered in China prior to even starting the work and residence permit. The shipment should not arrive in China until these documents are available. You should also physically be in China when the shipment arrives as original documents are needed for a couple of days for customs clearance. Import customs clearance in China tends to progress quite slowly. We frequently encounter problems due to changing customs practices and the often-frequent business travel undertaken by clients which delays application for the various visa & permits. During the clearance process, patience is needed. After your personal effects have been cleared, a packing team will be arranged to deliver to your residence. An English speaking supervisor will lead a team to help unpack and set up everything in your new home.

Good planning is key to any successful move. All dates should be confirmed prior to packing in order to minimize the amount of time waiting for your things and also hotel expenses. As soon as you know you will be moving and the sooner you contact and gather more information the better. Meeting the people on the ground in China who’ll be handling your move is also a good step in making sure you will be looked after when your shipment arrives.

UniGroup Worldwide UTS is the international subsidiary of St. Louis, Missouri, USA based UniGroup, Inc. UniGroup, Inc. is the parent company of two well known names in the U.S. moving market: United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit. UniGroup Worldwide UTS has offices in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chendgu, Shanghai and Beijing. In South China our offices details can be found below:
UniGroup Worldwide UTS Shenzhen Tel: +86 755 2683 9330 Email: [email protected]
UniGroup Worldwide UTS Guangzhou Tel: +86 20 8328 4681 Email: [email protected]
Zachary Kever General Manager South China [email protected]