China - Country Commercial Guide
Temporary Entry
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Participants in trade shows and exhibitions need a Type M trade visa for temporary entry to enter China and travel within the country. Notebook computers, cameras, and portable printers can be brought into China as personal belongings. Business firms seeking to bring in exhibits and items for display should see the rules below on temporary entry and consult the show organizers for regulation on the procedures and to obtain copies of appropriate forms.

Goods imported into China for display or demonstration at trade shows and exhibitions are exempt from customs duty, provided they are re-exported within six months. The time for re-export may be extended with China Customs approval. The exhibition organizer must obtain advance approval from China Customs, provide certain shipping documents and a list of items to be exhibited, and coordinate with China Customs officials. China Customs may sometimes request a guarantee in the form of a deposit or letter. Firms can rely upon an ATA Carnet “Passport for goods” and supplementary documentation in these instances. An ATA Carnet is an international customs and temporary export-import document accepted in 87 countries and simplifies the process of bringing commercial samples, professional equipment, and many goods for exhibitions into the PRC.  Carnets cannot be used for consumer goods, agricultural products, and most other non-temporary imports.  In addition to the ATA Carnet, customs officials often require other documentation related to the good to be temporarily imported. Trade show organizers and freight forwarders can assist companies in navigating these formalities.  It is recommended to send commercial samples directly to the final destination, not to an individual or hotel’s address.

Food and beverage exhibition “not-for-sale” sample-entry rules are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities. Under the current system, such samples are officially subject not only to full tariff and taxes but product and labeling registration requirements. Trade show organizers may be able to obtain exceptions; however, these are largely of a one-off nature. It may also be possible to obtain exceptions to registration and labeling regulations at a given port by working through the local ATO office. However, such arrangements require substantial lead times and cannot be guaranteed.

Some exhibits or samples imported under the temporary not-for-sale regulations may be sold after the trade event is completed, in which case the duties owed on these items are levied by Customs. Temporary importers should also consult the EAR and Commerce Control List to ensure that a BIS export license is not required for the temporary export of goods to China. Items classified under certain Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) may require a license for export even if the item is intended to be returned to the United States following the trade event.

Companies are advised that freight forwarders will help to prepare a declaration form, and Chinese Customs requests the model and serial numbers for high-value exhibits. Requirements may differ for types of products to be imported. In addition, fumigation is required for all wooden packing materials, in accordance with IPPC standards, and must bear the IPPC symbol.

For more information, contact the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China.