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What are China Clearance Documents?

by Matt Slater November 10, 2015

What are China Clearance Documents?

China clearance documents are the standard paperwork you will need to prepare when importing products from a Chinese company.

When you order products from China you will want to make sure they arrive on time and without any unexpected delays - both at the departure port in China and at the arrival port in your country.

To do this you will need to make sure that your China clearance documents are prepared correctly and in a timely manner. Doing this will help ensure that your goods pass through customs without unnecessary delays.

This article introduces some of the most common clearance documents which you are likely to require, including invoice, bill of lading, packing list, certificate of origin etc.

Standard China Clearance Documents

Below are three most important documents required for conducting foreign trade with a Chinese company.

In the vast majority of circumstances you will need all three of these documents when importing a shipment from China.

Commercial Invoice

This document consists of  overall information about the transaction such as the delivery conditions, product description, quantity, unit price and amount.

The commercial invoice plays a fundamental role for both importing and exporting as it is the basis upon which the trade is completed in regards to bookkeeping, accounting and tariff calculation.

Template of a Commercial Invoice

Packing List

This document is similar to the commercial invoice but doesn’t include pricing. It does however include more details about the contents of a shipment, such as weight and measurement.

The packing list is used as a supporting document to the commercial invoice.

Template of a Packing List

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a document issued by a shipping company and is issued as receipt of the cargo. Depending on the terms of the contract, the Chinese company will provide the importer with a copy of this document at some stage of the shipment.

Bill of lading documents can look very different because they are issued by different shipping companies. Typically they specify the name of the shipping company and the text “Bill of Lading” at the top of the document.

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Frequently Required China Clearance Documents

Depending on the product you are importing, the country you are importing to and the relevant rules and regulations, you may need additional documentation to ensure your shipment gets clearance.

Here are some of the most commonly required China clearance documents that aren’t routinely required for each shipment.

Certificate of Origin

This document is demonstrate that the products originated from China.

In China there are two bodies that usually issue this certificate:

  • China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ)
  • China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)
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GSP Certificate of Origin Form A

Importers in approximately 40 countries will be very familiar with this form. It is the Generalized System of Preferences Certificate of Origin used by the countries which have tariff reduction agreements with China.

Currently the countries using this form include:

  • All members of the European Union (but not applicable for tariff reduction since start of 2015)
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Russia
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In addition to Form A there are many other versions of this form used for trade with other countries, including forms B, E, F, I, L, M, P, R, S and X!

Other China Clearance Documents

Depending on your circumstances and the product you are importing there are a wide range of other China clearance documents that may be required by various authorities in order for clearance to proceed. Certain industries in particular will have special requirements, for example medical products.

Here are some examples of the more frequently seen China clearance documents that are needed in special cases.

Fumigation Certificate

Officially named the “Fumigation/Disinfection Certificate”, it is issued by the Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, to certify that wooden packaging materials have been fumigated.

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Sanitary Certificate

Also issued by the Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, this certificate is often required for food-related goods.

Sanitary Certificate

Verify China Clearance Documents

China Checkup frequently verifies China certificates that are found to have been either adjusted or completely faked, including Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, GSP Certificate of Origin Form A, and Fumigation Certificate.

Matt Slater
Matt Slater


Hi there, I'm a British-Australian Engineer and Entrepreneur, based in Brisbane, Australia.

Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I founded China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.
My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China safely.

Connect with me:
info@chinacheckup.com | LinkedIn profile


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