Importing from China to India: A Complete Guide

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Import to India

India is not only a rapidly developing country but also the fastest-growing market for Chinaimportal. In terms of visitors on, India is the only second to the United States. Thus, we decided it was about time to dedicate our weekly article to our Indian readers out there, and of course to everyone else with an interest in importing from China to India.

What makes importing to India different?

India is, by all means, a developing country. However, its product regulations and labeling requirements are fairly well established. Then there’s the bureaucracy, that makes confirming applicable product safety standards, labeling requirements and getting the cargo through customs rather complicated. But, that’s about as far as the differences go, as compared to other countries.

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BIS Product Certification Scheme

BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) has developed thousands of different product standards, applicable to a wide range of products. Electronics, textiles, and machinery are all covered by the BIS Product Certification Scheme.

While BIS certification is not mandatory for all products, buyers of the following products need to ensure compliance with at least one applicable standard:

  • Cement
  • Household Electrical Goods
  • Food & related products
  • Diesel Engines
  • Oil Pressure Stoves
  • Automobiles Accessories
  • Steel Cylinders, Valves and Regulators
  • Medical Equipment
  • Steel Products

Keep in mind that this list is subject to change, and may be outdated by the time you read this! Indian based importers must confirm if their product is applicable to mandatory BIS certification before ordering from a Chinese supplier.

Indian Standards (IS)

BIS certification IndiaBIS certification is not a uniform standard or directive that applies to all products. Instead, products are regulated by a specific IS (Indian Standard). That’s also what you can see in the sample table above (source:

As of today, there are 18,773 IS standards, some of which are under revision. That said, there are both mandatory and non-mandatory Indian Standards (IS). You may still decide to ensure compliance with applicable Indian Standards (IS), even if it’s not legally required.

IS standards regulate various aspects of different products, including substances, heavy metals, electrical safety, currents, voltage and metallurgy. The specific Indian Standard (IS) requirements for your product can be purchased from the BIS website.

ISI mark

Similar to the CE mark in Europe, the ISI mark is printed on products compliant with the applicable IS standard. Thus, it’s part of the scope of IS regulations and not a separate product directive.

Most IS regulated items may carry the ISI mark, but non-compliant items (even those where IS compliance is not mandatory) shall not carry the ISI mark. Thus, you need to secure IS compliance before you send your ISI logo files to your Chinese manufacturer.

How BIS regulations apply to Indian importers

BIS was initially intended to regulate products manufactured in India. Thus, many government websites tend to refer to the manufacturer as the party responsible to ensure IS compliance. However, that doesn’t apply to foreign manufacturers (e.g. Chinese).

When you, as an Indian importer, bring in items from abroad, you are responsible to ensure compliance with the applicable IS standard – not the Chinese supplier.

In order to obtain BIS certification, the importer must submit component and material samples for pre-production certification to a BIS accredited laboratory. In some cases, the sample testing is also followed up by an inspection, executed by BIS offers, in the Chinese manufacturer’s production facility. All traveling expenses shall be covered by the importer.

If your product, and the original manufacturer, pass the tests, you’ll obtain a BIS certificate. If the product testing and inspection fail, you don’t get it. But it doesn’t end here. Additional testing and factory inspections may be required if requested by BIS.

Securing compliance with Indian Standards (IS) when buying from China

Most Chinese manufacturers have never heard of BIS, Indian Standards (IS) or the ISI mark. Compliance with a certain standard requires that the supplier has access to relevant IS files, outlining the technical specifications the product must meet in order to obtain certification.

However, not all suppliers are capable, or even willing, to comply with IS technical specifications. If Indian Standard (IS) compliance is mandatory for your product, you better source suppliers that can show previous compliance. Otherwise, you might end up in an endless product development process leading nowhere. That said, Chinese manufacturer’s advertising IS compliance are few and far in between. Compliance with European and American product standards are far more common.

In case you cannot find IS compliant suppliers in your industry, you should at least look for suppliers, advertising EU or US compliance, as this group of suppliers is more likely to possess the technical skills required to ensure IS compliance. Most Chinese suppliers don’t follow any product standards or directives, domestic or foreign. Buying from this group of suppliers is a gamble, as they may not even be able to ensure compliance.

India RoHS and WEEE

Starting in 2012, India adopted regulations modeled on the European Union RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directives. RoHS regulates heavy metals in electronics, including lead and cadmium, while the WEEE directive requires manufacturers and importers of electronics to pay a yearly fee covering the collection and recycling of E-waste.

While these regulations are aimed at electronics manufacturers in India, many of which are already compliant with the European Union versions of these directives, importers are also required to ensure compliance. In 2012, electronics suppliers were given two years to comply. Thus, the directives are supposed to be fully implemented by manufacturers and importers alike, starting in May this year. Click here for a RoHS and WEEE comparison between India and Europe.

These regulations are among the most sophisticated product directives implemented by a developing nation, and are certain to have a major impact on the electronics industry in the following years. That said, it’s positive that there’s at least some sort of coordination between regulators of major markets, in this case, the EU and India, which makes it easier for importers and manufacturers to ensure compliance. Conflicting product standards that serve as trade barriers, rather than maintaining a certain quality and environmental standard, is the last thing we need.

Labeling requirements

Indian importers must comply with rather stringent marking and labeling requirements. Indian importers failing to comply may have their cargo seized by customs authorities, and relabeling exporting cartons and product packages is only possible if such a request is granted. If not, you may find yourself in a world of trouble. So, let’s look into these labeling requirements. Below follows a list of items that you must include:

  • Product name and description
  • Net weight
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Your address
  • Maximum retail price (MRT), including taxes
  • Batch ID
  • Month and year the product was imported
  • Country of Origin

Keep in mind that these requirements are subject to change, and certain products, such as food, require additional information (e.g. net weight and expiry date). There are also language requirements. Labels must be written in Hindi (Devnagari script), or in English. Indian labeling requirements are not only limited the packaging. Certain types of products must be labeled with the sizes, and Country of Origin (e.g. Made in China) on the items themselves.

Customs documents

The Bill of Entry (BoE), which shall not be confused with the Bill of Lading, is the most important document when importing from China to India. The Bill of Entry specifies the type of items and their value. However, the Bill of Entry must not always be filed by the importer. Instead, a Bill of Entry can be automatically generated upon arrival – but only in ports connected to the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system. Either way, you need to prepare the following support documents before your cargo arrives:

  • Bill of Lading (Sea Freight) or Air Waybill (Air Freight)
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Proforma Invoice
  • Purchase Order or Letter of Credit
  • Industrial license (if required)
  • Import license (if required)
  • Product test reports (if regulated by any Indian Standard)
  • Insurance Policy / Note
  • Product Description / Catalog
  • GATT & DGFT Declarations
  • Health / Food Safety Certificate (only for food products)
  • Certificate of Origin (if applying for reduced duty rate)

That’s a lot of paperwork, and in some cases, additional documents may be required. But there’s help to get. Indian importers are not required to submit the documents themselves, they can do so through a licensed customs agent.

The main risk lies in lack of coordination between the supplier, their freight forwarder and the receiving customs agent in India. Most shipping companies that don’t have a presence in India, are quite likely to unaware of the spectacular amount of papers importers need to submit. Thus, I advise Indian importers to work with local shipping companies, that have extensive knowledge about local customs regulations. Visit this page, if you want to read more about customs documents in India.

Indian import duties and customs value

As in most countries, taxes and import duties are paid upon arrival in the Port of Destination.
The average duties in India are around 12%, which is almost double compared to the average import duties in the United States and European Union. However, that’s to be expected from a developing country.

The import duties, and other taxes, are calculated based on the CIF price. CIF, abbreviation for Cost, Freight and Insurance, is an international shipping incoterm. Incoterms specify the when cargoes shall be transferred from the supplier, to the importer. However, as we’ve already covered Incoterms in a previous article, I won’t go further into the topic.

CIF includes the value of the products, shipping and insurance. Thus, the import duties are calculated as a percentage of the CIF price. Considering the spectacular amount of documents the Indian customs require to support the declared value, you better make sure you get it right from the beginning.

Many Chinese manufacturers assume that only the FOB (Free on Board) price should be declared on the Commercial Invoice. But, that’s because the United States tax for importers is based on the FOB price. Before they ship the cargo, make sure that all documents are matching or you could face serious delays in the Port of Destination.

Other fees and taxes

Indian importers must also be aware of additional taxes levied on imports from China, and elsewhere. Among these are Landing charges, Countervailing duty (CVD), CESS and CVD – all ranging from 1 to 12%. However, different taxes apply to different types of products. Before you order from your Chinese supplier, make sure to confirm which taxes and rates apply to your imports. You can also read more about import duties, taxes and customs regulations on the official website of the Indian Customs Authorities.

Got questions or want to share your experience of Import from China to India? Contact us today or write in the commenting section below!

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  • 49 Responses to “Importing from China to India: A Complete Guide

    1. Mohanlal at 10:08 pm

      we want import solar panels from china for self use not for sale .can i imported to india ? Chinese supplier have not bis certificate.

    2. S Chowdhury at 1:57 pm

      I will like to import AR VR Cinema Platform with 6Seaters from China.
      Pls suggest me the steps I should follow for the same

    3. sanjay at 6:11 pm

      i would like to import commercial kitchen machines from china,pls share details as how to get started,

    4. Deepak at 7:19 pm

      I am looking for importing CHONDROITIN SULFATE. This time we are looking to do direct import from China.
      Need to know all formalities related with taxes and customs and all paper work.


    5. Heng Smey at 1:29 am

      Dear Mr Fredrik Gronkvist

      I am from Cambodia. Will there be any information about import product from China to Cambodia.

      Would it be possible for you to have an article related to that?


      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 4:05 pm

        Hi Heng,

        Yes, we may cover imports from China to Cambodia in the future!

    6. sai babu chalavadi at 1:47 am

      Hai everyone i need some help
      i need to buy some electronic goods from china,i have contacts in china and everything is packed and ready for shipping.
      if any one can help so please contact me
      Sai Babu chalavadi

      1. sagar at 9:16 pm

        ok what you g=have contacts and what is guaranty for that

    7. Aditya Varma at 3:33 am

      Hi Fredrick,
      I must appreciate the information provided. However as mentioned post GST; a lot of changes have happened in the customs scenario.
      We have been importing healthcare devices from US & China but these have been branded products for the last 5 years and we now understand the custom clearance process well enough.
      However; we were planning to have our private label for the medical device manufactured in China.
      Could you guide us if the product label on the device as well as on the box should carry the name of the Chinese manufacturer.
      Thanks in advance.

    8. Gopal at 5:11 pm

      I want to start importing me basic abcd…

    9. Shalu Gupta at 5:18 am

      Hi,I want to import some personal care products from China…..where shd I begin with…have already shortlisted the vendors

    10. Rakesh Jadhav at 4:44 pm

      i just heard China customs has announced to execute “ORDER NO.56“ from 1st Jue,2018. am importing goods from china but my vendor ask my AEO code which i don’t have . si there any other legal way to import goods from china because earlier i use to import from china in proper way .

    11. Aziz at 3:24 pm

      Hello All,

      Imports from China to India has many applicable aspects in order to achieve a successful delivery at Destination.

      Ex Works (Warehouse) will be better because you can work with country specific importer, Forwarders, Customs Agent to take your shipment in right way which will help you be prepared even before you place a purchase order to Manufacturer or supplier.

      BIS is applicable for few products. Refer the below link.

      For India, IEC is very important.


    12. Madhusudhan at 4:49 am

      I would like to import plant based waterless car wash solution from China, for our end use.
      The seller says that, only Certificate of Origin is sufficient for importing and he would provide MSDS.
      Could you authenticate this.

      1. ChinaImportal at 12:58 pm

        I would not trust that a Chinese supplier know anything about regulations in India. Consult an Indian lawyer on this before importing anything.

    13. Max at 6:50 pm

      I want to source kids cloths(age- 01 to 12 years) can you let me know how much taxes and import duties will be applicable.

    14. Devender Singh at 7:32 am

      Hi ,
      I am retailer of cut off wheel 5″ dura Kut make (125x1x22mm) wantto import 10000 pcs from China , can you guide me what is the procedure , name , contact no. , email address in China.



    15. Pradeep at 6:47 am

      I am looking for importing led lights in good quantity as we are in wholesale business of it. This time we are looking to do direct import from China.
      Need to know all formalities related with taxes and customs and all paper work.


    16. Ekonthung odyuo at 6:34 am

      I wanted to import used cloths from China to Nagaland,India. Please suggest me steps by steps the rules and duties, document requirement for customs clearance.Thanks

    17. Satender at 3:21 am

      I want to import shoes from China to delhi

      Please help me understand how would I import shoes

      1. Anuradha Kotnala at 5:05 pm

        I want to import shoes, handbags& decorative items. I hv small business in India I don’t need much items may be 100kg or less

    18. Mayur at 5:06 pm

      Importing seems one hell of a process. Is there a business or an individual who will do it all for me ? what do you call such entity ? and how do I find it ?

    19. vishal sharma at 7:13 am

      Hello Sir,

      We deal in providing the consultancy services for BIS registration. We are in this business from the past 5 years.

      If there is any query related to BIS. Then please write to us.

      1. Sanjeev Ashok at 9:19 am

        My shipment from China stuck at Chennai without BIS certificate… pls help

        1. Baljinder Brar at 8:02 pm

          Did you got any solution?

    20. Jimmy at 11:47 am

      Hi Sir,

      We have consigned of Electronic PVC Wiring and Holder for lamp for the purpose of Export to Overseas. And shipment arrived in Nahava Shiva India but cant be released goods from Custom due to BIS Certificates Require.

      We have not BIS Certificate and Manufacture known about it and also not registered with ISI Mark.
      So please let me know. What should I do on this stage. Please help in this direction.

    21. Vijay at 5:05 pm

      Dear sir I want to Import galvanised and Ms pipe(iron pipe) these pipes r used under roof it is light weight example– warehouse, is bis certification nessary ?

    22. rahul at 7:46 pm

      Is bIS certificate require for importing industrial steam iron with water tank 3.5lt 220v but used for garment industry can not be used for household purpose

      1. RAJESH KANNAN at 3:00 pm

        I want import wireless camera .In my seller have rohs ,FCC and CE certification.
        Can i imported to india?
        India customs will ask WPC certification for wireless.
        Do i get WPC licence for wireless camera?
        Please advice for importing wireless camera .

        1. ChinaImportal at 3:36 am

          FCC and CE are US and EU regulations. Thus not valid in India.

    23. Sanjay at 8:12 pm

      what if I don’t have bis certificate and my products are stuck with customs/bis?

    24. Ashis at 9:04 am

      I am Ashis from India. I want to import paintings from China for commercial purpose.
      I have idetentified Alibaba and Aliexpress where I will buy from. Now what all are prerequisites
      before I import them. Total cost would be around Rs. 200000 initially. How should I go about it
      like documents and custom clearances, how to appoint import agent etc.

      pls revert


    25. Susan at 11:41 am

      This susan From India
      I want to purchase clothes for my wholesale/retail shop through online shop.I need below queries :
      1.How I will get my Purchase order if I purchase from alibaba or through buying agents?
      2. How I will get my Letter of credit if I use paypal or other online payment mode?
      3. If I give the Maximum retail price (MRT) will the custom calculate price based on this rate or the cost price I bought the goods?
      4.who will Provide the Commercial Invoice and Proforma Invoice seller or importer?
      5. Which one is costly express shipping or air shipping(Including forwarder service and custom clearance service)

    26. jyo at 12:28 pm

      hello Sir,i had read somewhere that shipping cost from china to india is 10-20$ for 1 ton,is it true,kindly reply.

      1. ChinaImportal at 5:39 am


        Sea freight costs are based on a per volume basis, not the weight of the cargo. Air freight costs are based on weight. However, the cost is normally around $5 per kg, not $10 per ton.

    27. Pravin Rajput at 11:34 am

      This is Pravin from India ??.
      Thank you very much for your valuable inputs.
      This is for me to import some items from Chaina & input from you will be added advantage to bear with situation.

    28. sanjay roy at 10:41 am

      i want to buy some material fm china for business purpose please help me . My phone no is 9479263046

    29. Pratik at 5:02 am







    30. iman at 10:14 am

      hi Fredrik Grönkvist how are you? hope al iz wel wit u?

      can u assist me what are the basic documents need to check while purchasing the machine from china, manufacturers telling first we have to pay 50% amt through W.U or paypal and remaing 50% before shipping, on what basis i cn trust them?
      waiting for positive replay

    31. Prerna at 3:38 pm

      what if I don’t have bis certificate and my products are stuck with customs/bis?

    32. D Rai at 2:34 pm

      I want to purchase color coated steel roofing sheet from china. I just want to know the import procedure and custom taxes for India.

    33. krishan at 11:20 am

      Hi fredrick,

      I am importing 1000 pieces of a plastic toy from china .

      Total cost of toy will be 340 USD .(excluding shipping ,shipping cost 170 USD)

      Can you help me out in advising that what all leagal procedures i have to follow or documents i hAve to get ready and how much extra cost i will have to bear his is first time purchase from china.


    34. Anand at 7:33 am

      I am Anand from Lorom India corporation Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) We are manufacturer of automotive wire and Cable .
      Our firm have one query regarding imported cable, as we are Importing cable i.e PVC and Rubber cable from china regarding some products and after doing assembly of this cable, we do exporting of product to other country, we are not sale in India , So we want to know that either there is need of BIS Certification or need to submit some related documents for this. Kindly request to you please give your valuable suggestion.

    35. Clark at 7:08 am

      Can you provide me you E-mail ID ?Thanks

    36. Prajakta at 8:27 am

      Hi Fredrick,
      This is Prajakta. I am starting up with my retail, looking up for artificial flowers and bonsai plant supplier in china. I was referring to alibaba, but quite not sure about the safety. I am very new to importing thing from china to India. Please see if you could help me out in finding a correct way or any contacts you have.
      Thanks for sharing this information.


      1. Fredrik Grönkvist at 3:01 am

        Hello Prajakta,

        We will get in touch with you by email and see if there’s some way we can help.

    37. Vasant at 6:04 pm

      I want to source kids cloths(age- 01 to 12 years) in small quantities for my retail shop,can you please let me know how a d what is the process,contacts i should approach

    38. Ravi at 7:57 am

      Thankyou for sharing very valuable information.

    Comments are closed.

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