Import a car to China

Conditions and paper work

Import a car to China

Importing a car in China is possible only if you meet certain criteria.

To decide whether you should import your car you should see if you meet certain criteria for example, Chinese residence status. Only legal residents are allowed to import cars. So for holders of a business visa or a ("F") tourist visa ("L") visa, importing a car is not an option. Only holders of "Z" visas - permanent residence cards, can import a vehicle.

In addition not everyone who qualifies as resident can bring in a vehicle either, only those who have "foreign expert status" which is provided by the PSB (Public Security Bureau) and the visa departments.

Importing a car for personal use in China is only possible if all the requirements are met and only under certain circumstances.

Returning Chinese citizens are allowed to import their vehicle only if they are returning diplomats or can get an import permit.

Foreigners importing a car to China

Foreigners are allowed to import one new car per person and only if the Customs Office has approved the import permit (2010). In order to ship in a car of a common brand you only need to prove that it is less than a year old and in good condition, since Chinese customs do not allow old cars to be imported. In the case of rare models which are probably not authorized for sale on the Chinese market, you may have to pay additional and rather expensive testing fees.

To get a car shipped into the country you will need to pay all import duties, VAT and sales taxes. The amount of these payments depends on the type and size of your car. You should be aware that personal vehicles are considered a luxury in China, so the import duties can be as high as 200% of the value of the car.

Holders of Red Diplomatic passports and Red People’s Republic of China residence cards can import their vehicles duty free. Diplomats are also allowed to import motorcycles.

The age and value of your vehicle should be supported by the proper and valid documentation. You need to have written an application to the Customs Office, Import Cargo Declaration and have an invoice for your vehicle which proves its value. In addition, foreigners should present an original business license, original customs certificate, their original passport, an original Chinese residence card and an original work permit.

In order to have the car imported, each destination city's Environmental Bureau has to check if local environmental standards are met. All incoming cars should pass a Euro 3 emissions standards test.

Even if the above requirements are met, there are still some cases in which your vehicle will not be allowed to enter the country. For example, diesel motor cars and motorcycles are prohibited in China.

Types of vehicles that can be imported to China

Also, only left hand drive vehicles are allowed. Even though in some cases right hand drive vehicles are imported, it is impossible to register and use them on the roads.

If you don't meet these requirements you won't be allowed a permit to import your car, it is possible to get somebody with the relevant documents to undertake the process for you but it's worth remembering that the vehicle will need to remain registered to them for a minimum of 6 months after arriving in the country before you can legally take possession of it.

Another problem with shipping a car to China is that only a few ports allow vehicle imports. You should check if a port near your destination does so.

Further reading

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