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Exporting to China is not always an easy task, especially if you’re a beginner, planning to export for the first time.
One of the biggest and most costly issues exporters experience is that their products get stuck at the customs, or sent back, as they don’t comply with local CIQ regulations.
CIQ is the organ that can reject imports of your products to China, if you don’t comply with the standards required.
The most preventive way is to apply for a CIQ declaration, before you even export your products to China, as it can save you much time, money and minimize risks.
In this article, I explain all the essentials you need to know about CIQ when exporting to China.
What is CIQ?
In short words, CIQ stands for China Inspection and Quarantine and operates directly under AQSIQ, The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, one of the major quality management institutes in China.
There are 35 so called CIQ-offices localized in 31 provinces around China, all acting as extended arms of AQSIQ.
Some of CIQ tasks include: to check labels, make sure that products have CCC marking and that exporters follow the local Chinese regulations.
The offices work closely with laboratories, local offices and other entities, to secure the quality of products imported to China.
What are the duties of CIQ?
One of the major duties of CIQ is to make sure that exporters follow existing or new regulations on imports to China. That includes to control and prevent that no infectious diseases enter/leave the country.
So how do they do this? Simply, they inspect and control goods that arrive at airports and harbors.
CIQ also makes sure that persons working at the airports and harbors have suitable protection and are vaccinated against certain diseases, if an epidemic breaks out.
Other responsibilties include to inspect, control and make sure that animals and plants, leaving or entering the country, don’t bring any risks. If they do, CIQ will introduce safety measures and put these in quarantine.
AQSIQ is the authority that governs CIQ and decide its responsibilities. The list can be made longer, but I just want to give you a general knowledge over the duties that CIQ has.
Getting a CIQ declaration
One of the biggest obstacles you can come across is if the Chinese customs stop or seize your products.
In fact: the products can stand still for weeks, if not months, while you need to either:
- Prepare to provide the missing documents
- Request a third party to help you, even if this should be done before you decide exporting to China, not when issues occur (!)
You also have a third option to minimize the risks of having issues at the Chinese customs, namely to:
- Apply for a CIQ-declaration (related to bullet point above)
A third party can help you to apply for a CIQ declaration, you can use this document as an evidence towards the customs, showing why your products don’t need a CCC mark, just giving you an example.
It’s preferred to prepare a CIQ declaration upfront, even if it costs a little extra. It can save you plenty of time and money, minimizing the risks that the customs seizes your goods for a long time.
What documents do I need to provide when applying for a CIQ declaration?
Before you start preparing your documents for the CIQ declaration, be sure to confirm with your local agent what documents are needed (to get accurate and up to date information).
In general, you need to provide the following documents when applying for a CIQ declaration:
- Information about your company
- Information about the products you intend to export
- Reasons why your goods can be declared
- A safety compliance declaration, ensuring that your products conform to specific standards
- A quota certificate (if necessary)
- Bill of lading
- Customs declaration
- Sales contract
- Import license
- Inspection certificate
- Other quality licenses
The documents will be handed over from your import agent to the agents at the China customs. Working with an agent that is experienced and has personnel on site will make the process much easier for you, it’s definitely worth the extra cost.
Passing a quarantine inspection performed by CIQ is crucial, before your goods continue to the customs clearance.
If your goods don’t pass the inspection, and there’s no way you can resolve the issue on site, the goods will be sent back to where it came from, or be destroyed.
When your goods have passed the inspection, the inspectors will attach a clearance slip, showing that your goods are ready to continue to the customs and that it can be imported to China.
So what can the CIQ personnel check during the inspection of your products?
Some of the items the inspectors can check are:
c. Making a visual check that your products are the same as stated before
d. Information related to the product itself, such as: product names, brand numbers/models, where the products have been produced
After the inspectors have appproved your goods, the CIQ personnel will stamp the clearance slips.
This is crucial, as the customs will require that the clearance slips are stamped, before letting your goods passing through.
Sometimes, exporters are subject to additional random inspections done by CIQ.
If you’re chosen to do a random inspection, parts of your goods will be sent to a test lab, to verify that your goods meet the Chinese quality standards.
If parts of your products fail the test, countermeasures must be taken for that specific product/brand, after, a number of batches need to pass the test up to 5 times.
CIQ Marks and Labels
A CIQ-label must be affixed for a vast amount of products before they enter the Chinese market. The process to make and receive the labels usually takes up to 2 weeks.
The following information was needed for labels attached to a cosmetic product with a net content of 15mg/15ml (cosmetics are currently exempted from CIQ labelling since 2012:
- Name and content of the product
- Name and of the producer
- Ingredient list
- Date when produced and shelf life
- Instructions how to use it
The label requirements differ among products, for example, some of the information you need to include on food are, for example:
- The name of the product
- Ingredients listed in %
- Information about the manufacturer: the name, address, distributor and agent
- Date of production, best before date, how the food should be stored
Keep in mind that the label must be translated to Chinese and approved by CIQ.
You can visit CIQ’s website for more information or contact a third party to help you with CIQ labelling. You should also seek help from an agent that work with imports to China.
What do I need to pay to CIQ?
Generally, you need to pay the following costs when you apply to receive a CIQ certificate:
- Cost for the application
- Administrative charges and agent fee
- Sampling/testing fee
- Label filing (including translation and making design)
- Inspection fee
- (Decontamination treatment, if needed)
- Consulting fee
- Issuance of certificate to release the goods
- Customs clearance
- CIQ certificate
- When CIQ has accepted your application, you’ll get a CIQ certificate.
The CIQ certificate usually include:
- The declared value of your goods
- Name and address of exporter
- Site of CIQ inspection (in China)
- Container number and seal number
- Findings on appearance and package inspection
- Result of price verification
- Findings on testing / Complying with standards X, Y, Z
- Conformity assessment opinion (Qualified / Not qualified)
- Documents attached
- The seal of the inspection body (stamp) and a signature by the inspector
In addition to above, you also need to provide information related to the product, such as:
- Serial numbers
- Product description
- HS codes
- Place of origin
- Unit standard (sqm, liters, etc)
- Number and type of packages
- Unit price (in USD)
- Result of price evaluation
- Result of total quantity and price evaluation
Consult with a credible agent to understand how the documents are filled in, to obtain your CIQ certificate.
CIQ stands for China Inspection and Quarantine and operates directly under AQSIQ, which is one of the major quality management institutes in China.
The main responsibility of CIQ is to assure that products leaving or entering China comply with local regulations and don’t bring any potential threats to the market or the nation.
My general advice is to hire a credible when applying for a CIQ declaration, or when exporting goods in general.
The extra cost is well worth, as you’ll reduce the risk of having your goods seized at the customs later.
How can you help me take the next step?
Do you need help with CIQ, CCC or setting up your first Tmall store? We work with leading consultants and service providers – that can help you through every part of the process:
a. CIQ, CCC, labeling and laboratory testing
b. Shipping and customs
c. Selling on Tmall, JD Worldwide & other platforms
d. Finding retailers and distributors for your products
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