Sending parcels to China - what you need to know
Sending a parcel internationally can be a daunting experience - especially if the country you're sending it to is on the other side of the world. However shipping a parcel to China need not be difficult as long as you're well-informed about the Chinese postal system.
Addressing and packaging
When posting any parcel internationally, it is important to write the country you're sending it to in capital letters as the last line of address. In China's case, this would be: 'THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA'.
China is very strict about what they it lets into the country, so expect your item to go through vigorous customs checks. In order to make sure any import charges aren't passed along to the person you're sending the parcel to, fill out the correct form and attach it to the parcel. In the case of items worth under £270, you need to fill out a CN22 customs label. This should be signed by you and attached to the top left corner of the parcel. However if you're sending items worth over £270, you'll need a customs declaration CN23 form and adhesive plastic wallet SP 126.
Aside from the obvious things you cannot send (such as animals, firearms, poisons and drugs) there are also a number of other things you must not send to China. Essentially, China doesn't want anything coming into the country that harms its moral, political, economic or cultural interests. This means you cannot send items such as cash, coins, traveller's cheques, photographs, storage media, gold, silver platinum or any precious stones. These items must not be sent under any circumstances and if you aren't sure about what you're about to send, it is best to ask your courier company first.
There are also a number of restricted items that can be sent but under certain conditions. It is best to double check the restrictions before you send any of the following items: tobacco, alcohol, radio transmitters (or any item which indicates secret communication) and batteries.
How long will it take to arrive?
Most people expect posting parcels to China to take a long time, but the postal system tends to be pretty efficient in China. One of the biggest postal companies, China Post, has over 82,000 post offices and branches and over 860,000 employees who deliver parcels and post every day around the country - so it's no surprise that delivery doesn't take too long.
However it does depend on what you're sending and how you're sending it. Sending a parcel by air takes the least amount of time and it should arrive to its destination within five to seven working days - but it can be expensive. Surface Air Lifted (SAL) transportation is a combination of surface and air transportation. This method is slightly cheaper than air travel but as a result the delivery time is longer; taking between 15 to 20 working days to arrive. Lastly, the cheapest option is surface travel - a combination of surface and sea transportation. Unfortunately it takes around 40 to 70 working days to arrive, but it is ideal if what you have to send isn't urgent and you want to keep postage costs down.
As long as you stick to the rules, sending a parcel to China is a relatively easy experience and doesn't require much work on your behalf. Just fill out the right forms and let your courier do the rest. Hopefully, it should arrive at its destination in no time.