Expats who want to bring over their personal belongings when relocating should think carefully about shipping and removals in China. When weighing up the pros and cons of shipping goods to the People’s Republic, there are key things to bear in mind.
Many apartments can be rented furnished, and there are plenty of furniture and appliance shopping options. This tends to work out as the cheaper alternative, so it may be worth leaving household belongings in storage in one's home country if planning to return.
Shipping companies in China
Expats considering shipping furniture to China should get quotes from several companies and carefully research those organisations that come recommended. Large international companies may have offices in both one's home country and China, while other companies may outsource one end of the shipping process to local companies.
Many expats receive the help of relocation firms when making the move, often provided by the employing company. These specialise in a comprehensive selection of services from getting visas to shipping logistics. We recommend consulting relocation companies as well as moving companies.
We highly recommend that expats have insurance for any belongings being shipped to China. Insurance usually comes as part of a moving package, though some expats prefer to take out insurance separately through a different company.
Shipping goods to China
Shipping times vary depending on where in the world one is shipping from, though most companies will be able to provide an accurate estimated arrival time. Use expat forums and online testimonials to confirm this estimate if feeling sceptical.
Air freight is a popular method and a much faster way to ship smaller cargo, although costs can be much higher than if shipping by sea – air freight is typically billed by weight while sea freight is billed according to the size of the container. That said, some expats prefer to spend a little more on the cost of excess baggage to have their belongings arrive immediately.
Expats should also note that China levies various taxes depending on the type of imported goods. Electrical goods are always taxed, and books, CDs and DVDs may be confiscated by customs, depending on the material.
Be meticulous about making copies and keeping the paperwork that must be completed, as these will be needed when exporting the items from China back to one's home country.
Bringing medicine into China
The shipping of medical and dental supplies and equipment into China is restricted, and expats should check the latest customs requirements and query the moving company on this. Pharmacies and healthcare centres in the country may stock the same medication, so bringing it in may not be necessary.
Even when travelling into China, expats and tourists must note restrictions on carrying medication in their luggage. Written prescriptions should be kept, and medicine should typically be limited to an amount determined as reasonable for personal use.
Shipping pets to China
Bringing pets into China generally proves expensive and requires extensive documentation and potentially quarantine.
Cats and dogs require proof of rabies vaccination and an international health certificate. Within one month of arriving, dogs must be registered with the local police.
Are you an expat living in China?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to China. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.