To pass customs on imports to or exports out of China, a trading company equipped with a proper import and/or export license is required. These licenses differ based on the HS codes of the products that the company wished to trade. HS is short for Harmonized System which is an internationally-standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products worldwide. HS codes range between 8 to 12 digits numbers varying from country to country. China uses a 10 digit HS code system.
In China there are 2 types of import – export licenses, general license and special license. A general license is issued to trading companies trading “normal” goods whereas a special import-export license is required for the trade of “restricted” goods as these are under tight quality or quantity control.
A special license is required for the following products: food, cosmetics, medical, dairy, meat, fish, pet food, baby formula, agricultural GMOs, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, and “dangerous” goods.