How to Import Stainless Steel from China?

November 16, 2020
In this post, you'll read:Although we usually perceive the procedure of importing as pretty complex, it is actually not that complicated. I am going to tell you some easy steps to trail on. Meanwhile, make sure to keep your eyes open.

Table of Contents

The manufacturing and construction sectors involve steel as their primary raw material. Being the industry’s backbone, it is highly substantial to fulfill your industrial needs by acquiring the material that is no less than superior. In that case, China is the best source of import.

China is the global leader in steel production, producing more than half of the world’s steel. The Chinese stainless steel industry has continued to expand rapidly over 20 years and has been identified as a market with huge potential considering the superlative nature of its product.

This is an image of stainless steel sheet.

Why should you import stainless steel from China?

Other than being the superpower producer, there are multiple benefits that we can place on the table regarding this import.

Chinese products are everywhere. You can peak in every nook and cranny around the house, and you are guaranteed to find most of them as Chinese assembled or produced products. That explains how big of a market China is.

Stainless Steel has a wide variety of 150 types, and we use 15 out of these in regular applications. China has mastered the production of every single type, which in turn lays the foundation of why you should import from china.

Some of the significant reasons are:

  • Manufacturing costs are relatively low.
  • They have easy access to materials.
  • China is adept at designing the products.
  • They are incredibly proficient in mass production.
  • China is the only country globally with all the industrial categories listed in the United Nations Industrial Classification.

More importantly, the common speculation regarding the low quality of Chinese products is arguably false. The quality is not at all compromised; instead, their stainless steel is an epitome of competence and proficiency, which explains the country being the largest exporter in the world.

How to import stainless steel from China

Importing from China has fertilized the fruit of success for many countries worldwide and continues to prove a successful business strategy.

Although we usually perceive the procedure of importing as pretty complex, it is actually not that complicated. I am going to tell you some easy steps to trail on. Meanwhile, make sure to keep your eyes open.

Recognize your import rights

After you have decided to import stainless steel from China, it’s essential to know your import rights as an individual or a business.

For example, if you are an American resident, you will need a social security number as an individual and an Internal Revenue Service Number as a business.

If you are a European, you need to register yourself as an economic operator.

If you’re a Canadian, you need a Business Number issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency.

An Australian importer has no requirements.

Calculate the cost

This might seem not very comforting, but I will provide you with all the information needed. You need to determine the tariff classification number (HS Code) for the stainless-steel that you are importing. With the Certificate of Origin, this ten-digit number will help you calculate the rate of duty you need to pay on your import.

Before you place your order, you must calculate the total landed cost. It includes the following:

  • Product price
  • Shipping charges
  • Customs clearance, duty tax, and land transport
This is an image of import duty.

It is substantial to anticipate the landed cost as it will directly impact your earnings. If the anticipated cost aligns with your budget, I recommend you to move forward with placing the order, but if it is too high, then you have the alert to stop right there.

 For more accurate estimates, you can get an idea from your previous shipments or the companies you work with. Having an assessment will also be instrumental at the time of reconciliation with actual costs.

Find your supplier

Now, you need to find a vendor, supplier, or exporter who will ship the stainless steel to your country.

I suggest that you have at least two suppliers simultaneously for the smooth running of your business. In case you face some complications with one supplier, you will already have an alternate, and none of your operations will be interrupted.

While choosing a steel supplier, make sure to contact, analyze, and compare various potential suppliers’ costs.

The supplier you choose should meet the following criteria:

  • He should have long-term experience in the export of stainless steel.
  • He must offer you a price that allows you to keep an adequate profit margin.
  • He should provide you with a warranty.
  • He needs to have all the certificates required in your country.
  • He had better already be exporting in your country, which will help you get some references; otherwise, assure his credibility from the website or enough communication.
  • He shall provide you with reasonable payment terms.

After choosing your supplier, I suggest you to check for the Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ), negotiate on the pricing for sample orders, and ask for the per-unit cost, production time, and payment terms, then ask for the Proforma invoice, which must show the weight, volume, product details and beneficiary’s bank information for the import.

This is an image of Get A Quote.

Clarification in all these matters is crucial before you make an import. In addition to this, I recommend you place your order at least three months prior to the delivery date.

Secure payment methods and shipping samples

While importing stainless steel from the Chinese supplier, you will have to pay 20% or 30% of the payment in advance.

This is an image of payment.

You can pay your supplier using the following methods:

Bank Transfer

In this method, you have to pay a certain percentage before the production commencement; the rest is paid before delivery. I only recommend this payment method if you are sure that the supplier is trustworthy.

Letter of Credit

This payment is safe for both the seller and the buyer. If the advance you’re paying is in a more considerable amount, more than 10,000 USD, you should opt for this payment method. I also propose this as a good option for paying the balance payment to the Chinese supplier. He receives the money after the needed documents are provided to your bank.


PayPal is another secure payment mode; however, suppliers do hesitate a bit due to dubious importers. I propose you use PayPal if the order quantity is lesser in number.

Western Union / Moneygram

They allow money to be transferred to another country in a matter of hours. The payer just needs to go to the local remittance service or transfer money online and a 10-digit number will be generated. The person of another country can withdraw the money with that number.

Before releasing any payment, make sure to sign a sale-purchase agreement and get it signed by the Chinese supplier or its authorized representative.

Test the samples

This is an image of sample.

You should inspect the samples thoroughly before placing the order in bulk. Check the:

  • Quality- It is the most important to make sure that the stainless steel’s quality is the exact one you need, including confirming the grade of material through spectrum test, measuring the thickness with micrometer, verifying color difference by colorimeter, and comparing surface polishing.
  • Labeling- If the sample has no label of ‘Made in China,’ address it to the supplier.
  • Instructions- If you want some instructions to be shown on the packages, communicate it to him.

After the sample proves to be satisfactory, you can now order in bulk by making the payment through one of the mentioned methods.

Arrange the delivery

The next step that follows is the shipping of stainless steel, and with that comes the shipping costs that include container fees, broker fees, and terminal handling.

 When importing bulk stainless steel from China, sea transportation is the most common mode, and air shipment is more suitable for small sample orders.

Credibility is one of the most important traits to look for in a person you’re working with, there I advise you to make sure the logistics partner you choose deals with integrity. If you don’t have a good choice, I propose doing CIF or CNF as the trade term with your supplier can prevent you from stepping into the possible traps set by mercenary shipping forwarders.

Track cargo transport and prepare documents

When you’re shipping internationally, it is vital to track the vessel while your purchase is in transit. It usually takes two days minimum to about two months by the sea to different countries.

Before you’re notified that your import has reached the destination, you need to prepare the entry documents in advance, and the supplier provides most of them.

This is an icon of documents.

These documents include:

  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial Invoice that includes the country of origin, purchase price, and H.S. Code
  • Packing list of details regarding the imported stainless steel
  • Needed certificates for Customs Clearance
  • Arrival notice provided by the freight agent

Please figure out whether the original Bill of Lading is needed for Customs Clearance or telex-released copy is good enough. Then the supplier will either send you scanned files or original documents by courier after the shipment.


China is, without doubt, the best source of importing stainless steel, and I can help you can make the entire procedure less complicated if you follow our step-by-step guide. Make sure to do your research before commencing with the import.

Hi, I am Linda, FTSSS blog writer . I have been working on stainless steel  since I graduated from university. How time flies!  13 years have slipped away from me. ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish.’ I am walking steadily on the road of seeking knowledge every day.

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