China - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation
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Normally, the Chinese importer (agent, distributor, joint-venture partner, or foreign-invested enterprise) will gather the documents necessary for importing goods and provide them to Chinese Customs agents. Necessary documents vary by product but may include standard documents such as a bill of lading, invoice, shipping list, customs declaration, insurance policy, and sales contract, as well as more specialized documents such as an import quota certificate for general commodities (where applicable), import license (where applicable), inspection certificate (where applicable), and other safety or quality licenses.

To help U.S. exporters of food, fishery, and forestry products to China, the Foreign Agricultural Service, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Agricultural Affairs Office in Beijing, prepares about 100 reports each year. These reports include new developments in commodities markets, hotel and restaurant sector changes, and announcements and analyses of new regulatory requirements. As China is a continental economy with diverse ecosystems and a wide variety of food preferences, it is also home to eight ministries regulating food safety, quality, and trade. These agencies run the gamut of food regulation, inspection, packaging, canning, storage, labeling, quality control, record keeping, and import requirements. Chinese regulators are engaged in releasing new rules that reflect the requirements and support the implementation of the 2015 Food Safety Law.

These include numerous measures issued by the Chinese ministries, including the former General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), such as registration requirements for grains and oilseeds (AQSIQ Decree 177) and live seafood (Decree 183). Similarly, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), now incorporated into the State Administration for Market Regulation, has issued registration requirements for infant formula recipes (CFDA Decree 26), health foods (CFDA Decree 22), foods for special medical purposes (CFDA Decree 24), and new requirements for on-line food trading.