A Chinese worker loads steel onto a truck at a logistics center

How to import steel from China?

How to import steel from China?

In order to avoid the business risk, you must remember these 10 standard steps to import steel from China.

  1. Apply for the import qualification from the local government

Some countries request that the company who wants to import steel goods abroad should get import qualification. Otherwise, the import behavior will break local law and will be punished by the government. Getting the import qualification in some countries is very easy, while for other countries is very hard. If you actually don’t want to cost the money and time to do it due to some reasons, you can ask some import agents to help import steel from China for you. You just need to pay them a little fee to enjoy their best service.

  1. Learn the government policy toward import steel from China.

In the last month article, we illustrated that China steel production capacity topped 1 in the world. So some countries impose anti-dumping tax on Chinese steel products to protect their local steel industry. If you want to import steel form China, you need to check if your local government has this kind of policy or not. If no tax, Chinese steel must be the most competitive and you just need to go ahead the process. If there is tax, you need to compare the price including tax to your local steel price and make the decision. And you’d better investigate the downstream products price to check if there is possibility can help you avoid the tax by import semi-products or finished products.

  1. Find 3-5 potential suppliers

Due to the global E-commerce development, now it is very easy to find suppliers on the Internet. You can find plenty of potential suppliers though the ways like B2B marketplace, social media, search engine, exhibitions as even practical visit to China. During the market investigation, you’d better surf the suppliers’ website, learn their products specification and know about their relevant qualification and choose 3-5 suppliers to enter the next step and regard others as alternative.

Tip: Since 2020, a large number of fraudulent suppliers have appeared on B2B platforms and online websites, and many customers have fallen into fraud. Please be sure to do supplier verification report.

  1. Send enquiry to the suppliers

Arrange your enquiry about the steel products you want to import from China and send it to the potential suppliers asking them quote the price by email. Then you need to watch their response speed and quotation terms. If you think 3-5 suppliers are not enough, you can send to more suppliers to compare. One advice for you is that you’d better introduce yourself briefly in the email and you’d better use the company email address if you have. So you can give the suppliers impression that you are a real buyer not a joker. And the other advice for you is that you should better know the difference between FOB and CIF and other trade terms, so the price could be compared on same basis.

  1. Learn the package and freight

If you adopt the FOB trade term to import steel from China, you will need to find the freight forwarder by youself, to ask them quote the freight price and to choose the best one. You also need to know different kinds of package such as 20 feet container, 40 feet container, bulk transportation, pallets, box etc. The package not only influences the freight price, but also influences the safety of the goods. So you’d better ask the supplier to offer the safest package method and ask the forwarder to offer the best price for that method.

  1. Discuss payment and delivery terms

After you get price from the suppliers, you can discuss the payment term and delivery time further. Being buyer, you can strive for better payment term for yourself. The normal payment methods are as below:

30% prepayment by T/T, 70% balance payment before the goods be delivered from factory

30% prepayment by T/T, 70% balance payment against the copy of B/L

100% by L/C


You can think of many kinds of payment terms. But considering the steel industry convention and the suppliers’ financial acceptability, it is hard for them to accept bad payment terms and it is certainly that you both parties will have a long time negotiation.

Besides the payment, different suppliers have different delivery time according to their production capacity and production plan. You also need to ask them relevant details before you actually decide to import steel from China.

  1. Sign the contract and make the prepayment

After you compare the price, payment and delivery time as well as other aspects from several suppliers, you can choose the best one you think of and ask them to send contract and (PI) Proform Invoice to you. The contract and PI should include every details you have discussed. And you will make the prepayment according to the files instruction. Don’t expect you can get best deal from every perspective. Normally, if you get the best price, the payment and delivery time will not be good, while you get a good payment, the price will not be as you want. So you need to balance them and make the most reasonable decision for yourself.

  1. Wait for the production be finished and make the balance payment.

The production time and delivery time vary according to different suppliers. During this time, you’d better to ask the supplier to report you the progress to avoid any case that influence the delivery time. After the supplier notices the goods ready, then you need to make the balance payment and ask the supplier to deliver the goods. If you use other payment term, you can change accordingly. If you impose great importance to the quality inspection during the production, you’d better appoint a third-party-inspection company to help you inspect the goods quality during the production and delivery.

  1. Wait for the goods and make custom clearance.

After the goods be delivered in the ship, what you need to do now is to wait for the goods get to your country port. And during this period, you also need to appointed a custom clearance agent to do relevant issues including importing tax for you. Or you will have to do them by yourself.

  1. Receiving your goods

After the agent finish the custom clearance and help you pay the tax and you pay for their service, they will deliver the goods to you shop or warehouse. After you receive the goods, don’t forget to inspect the goods including the type, quantity, quality and package again. If everything is ok, then the order is perfectly finished. But if you find something goes wrong, you must take photo at the first time as evidence and contact with your supplier to make claim. The supplier will do relevant after-sales service for you.

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