Payment Methods & Counterfeit Products from China II
Here is how we answered a question about importing diving knives from China, but the answer is applicable to a wide range of products that are highly regulated as they are dangerous if not used safely, so I decided to blog about the Q&A.
Dear sirs, please advise if from Switzerland the import in USA is feasible, according to following details: Diving knife, 24 cm total long- steel fixed blade 14,5 cm total long-handle in G10 material - sheath in rubber - total gross weight g 585- hs code 82119200. the origin of the knife is China but it would be exported from Switzerland. Please let us know if any particular permit is required or if this knife could be imported in USA with the usual shipping docs. The product would be sold to private people for hobby purpose.
There are two key items to consider when it comes to importing a product like yours into a destination market:
- How to avoid disputes in China: Who is the importer of record?
For example, if you are importing a made-in-China product into your home market. Then you are responsible for ensuring the product is compliant with all local laws for safety, packaging, language, environmental compliance and such. If that product was found to be non-compliant, or God forbid somebody got hurt with your product, the importer of record would be legally responsible. A lot of importers make the false assumption that the Chinese manufacturer would be at risk. But that is not that case as local lawyers back home representing your government or the consumers are going to come knocking on your door rather than trying to take a Chinese factory to court in China.
Another good measure to not only protect you, but to make sure you and the supplier are on the same page about compliance, would be to have a solid contract. This contract should not only detail the standards of the expected quality, so you don’t run into problems clearing customs, but it should also have a pre-agreed plan in place that determines how to deal with non-confirming goods should they happen. It’s very hard to resolve a dispute if you have no contract or the contract is missing key terms.
Related content: how to set up a supplier contract in China
In your case, you are importing a potentially dangerous product that has lots of compliance issues into a 3rd country where you may or may not have a legal presence. For example, if you have an office in USA, and you are the importer of record, then you have lots of exposure. If you are working with a US partner at arm’s length to import the product into USA, then they have the exposure and they should be the ones taking point on answering questions about local laws and import restrictions.
- What are the customs duties and regulations in the destination market for the given product?
The HS code will be very helpful as you research the issues. Glad you already know it. But keep in mind that duties, rules & regulations can change on short notice. And as the team at the help desk are specialists on China-side issues, rather than experts on US/Italy/Swiss laws as they relate to knives, we are not in a position to answer this part of your question with authority. But we can give you some suggestions on how to get it answered.
- If you are working with a partner in US to import these products and they aren’t giving your feedback on this issue, then you may want to consider finding a new partner because their lack of knowledge could easy end up having your order confiscated and your both lose a bunch of money.
- Regardless of who is the importer of record, you would be wise to do some small test orders first, just to make sure your process if smooth with no surprises before you start importing at scale.
- Here is where I would look to get a reliable answer on your import and compliance issues in USA for knives.
- Talk to the freight forwarder/logistics partner that is physically moving the product thru the border. They ship products every day in and out of the destination country and in hopes of getting your logistics business, they should be willing to help answer this question.
- Compliance is very complex in EU and US. There are specialty consultants and lawyers working in this field. You would be wise to pay a bit of money to get formal opinion.
- If you are on a tight budget, you could try to navigate the rules and regulations on your own by directly contacting the customs bureau/ government office. Don’t expect great service. But maybe you will get lucky.
- You could also do a bit of research in the destination market to find current importers of similar products. If their products are not in direct competition with yours, perhaps they would be willing to help you for a small fee. For example, maybe an importer of a very similar hunting knife would know the details for importing your diving knife.
- Finally, if the above solution doesn’t work and/or if you seek another opinion, you may consider to reach out to industry associations dealing in this product in the target market. I’m sure there is an association of knife sellers in USA that may be able to help you find an answer to your question. But don’t bother contacting the National Association of Manufacturers for the given product as they most likely have the mandate to promote locally made products rather than imported items and won’t be very proactive in answering your questions about importing foreign-made items in the USA.
Based on your question, I think you would be an ideal candidate to benefit from taking 15 minutes to watch this tutorial I put together:
If you are interested, reach out to me via https://www.asiabridgelaw.com/resources/ and I’ll hook you up w the free access codes to watch this tutorial.
Glad to help!
ABL Blog: Sr. Editor and Primary Content Creator: Michael J. Bellamy
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike moved to Asia in 1993 and is a China business advisor to both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. Recognized as an expert on doing business in China, he has been interviewed by WSJ, CNBC, FT & Bloomberg.
A featured presenter on China issues at seminars, trade shows and corporate events across the globe.
Learn more about Mike and AsiaBridge Law at