How to Import Goods from China to Sri Lanka?

Jan 01, 2024 Chapter 1. Sourcing

How to import goods from China to Sri Lanka? What are import procedures needed to transport goods in Sri Lanka? Suppose you have an import license and are registered as an importer (with a tax number) operating a business in Sri Lanka. In that case, you can do it yourself by contacting the shipping company and clearing customs through a clearing agent after the goods arrive at Colombo Customs.




Tax Identification

A tax identification number should be obtained to start importing into Sri Lanka. (TIN number/VAT number) and is required to register as a registered importer with Sri Lanka Customs.

Sri Lanka Customs is under the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media and is responsible for promoting legitimate trade, facilitating international trade, collecting revenue, collecting import and export data, etc. In Sri Lanka, the goods declaration form is called CUSDEC, which is the customs declaration of goods.



Direct Trade Import (DTI)

Importers need to declare imported goods through DTI.

Processing automation is now fully implemented through “Asycuda World” to facilitate importers process CUSDEC without delay.

Any delayed filing or lack of documentation can delay the customs clearance process, and therefore, the importer should incur demurrage charges on imported goods. The efficiency of the customs clearance process depends on the availability of valid documents, the accuracy of the information provided in the documents, and the timeliness of submitting the documents and submitting the necessary customs clearance applications.

In most cases, imports from all countries go through three stages. One-time registration, handling import license, import documents and import customs clearance procedures. Point-by-point data for these three import stages has been independently specified on this website.





How to Register as an Sri Lanka Importer or Exporter?

Importing and exporting goods in Sri Lanka requires registration with the Sri Lanka Customs department. The process is relatively straightforward and can be completed in five simple steps:

Step 1: Obtain the application form

The first step is to obtain the importer or exporter registration application form from the Sri Lanka Customs website or the nearest Customs office. This form provides detailed instructions on the required documents and procedures.

Step 2: Enroll in the ASYCUDA system

ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) is a computerized customs management system used by Sri Lanka Customs. To register as an importer or exporter, you will need to create an account in the ASYCUDA system. The system provides a user-friendly interface for submitting customs declarations and managing trade transactions.

Step 3: Collect all required documents

The application form requires a variety of documents to be submitted, including:

  • A copy of the company’s registration certificate
  • A copy of the company’s tax identification number (TIN) or value-added tax (VAT) number
  • A copy of the company’s power of attorney (if applicable)
  • A copy of the company’s board resolution authorizing the registration


Step 4: Take a few copies

It is advisable to take a few copies of the completed application form and all required documents. This will ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork for the registration process and any potential follow-up inquiries.

Step 5: Submit your application

Once you have gathered all the required documents, submit the completed application form along with the copies to the Sri Lanka Customs office in your area. The Customs officer will review your application and issue a registration certificate if your application is approved.





How to Import from China to Sri Lanka?

Importing goods from China to Sri Lanka involves a series of steps, from identifying suppliers and negotiating prices to arranging shipping and customs clearance. Here’s a general overview of the process:


  • Check the Certificates.

For example, the European Union requires electronic products to obtain CE and RoHs certification, battery products require MSDS, and the Indian government requires products such as chargers to obtain BIS certification.

What is the role of HS codes?

Understanding the role of HS Codes is a crucial part of becoming an importer or an exporter. HS (Harmonized System) codes are unique, internationally recognized 8-digit codes maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO). You will come across HS codes often, especially during international trade processes, such as making declarations, paying customs duties and tariffs, and following import and export license requirements.

The main use of HS Codes is to provide a standardized way for customs agencies to quickly identify various products being imported and exported.

To find the HS code for the types of goods you want to import or export, you can use the Sri Lanka HS Code Finder created by Sri Lanka Customs.



  • Find a Supplier.

Conduct thorough research to find reliable and reputable suppliers in China who specialize in the products you want to import. Check their credentials, reviews, and track record to ensure they can meet your quality and delivery requirements.


What are the goods you can import from China to Sri Lanka?

Once you register as an importer with Sri Lanka Customs, you’ll be able to import many items without any additional requirements. However, there are certain goods for which you will require an import license or will only be able to import temporarily.

To check if the items you want to import requires an import license or are importable only under temporary conditions, enter the item’s HS code into the Commodity Search page on the Sri Lanka trade information website.



  • Negotiate Prices and Terms:

Once you’ve identified potential suppliers, start negotiating prices and terms of the agreement. This includes factors like unit prices, minimum order quantities (MOQs), payment terms, shipping costs, and delivery timelines.

Inconsistent pricing: The pricing of goods from China can be volatile and unpredictable, due to factors such as currency fluctuations, production costs, and supplier competition. Importers should carefully negotiate prices with suppliers and factor in potential price fluctuations when budgeting for their imports.


  • Obtain Import License (Sri Lanka):

If required by Sri Lanka’s import regulations, obtain the necessary import license. The specific requirements and procedures may vary depending on the type of goods you’re importing.


  • Secure INCOTERMS:

Agree on the INCOTERMS (International Commercial Terms), which define the responsibilities of the buyer and seller in terms of shipping, insurance, and delivery. Common INCOTERMS for import from China include FOB (Free on Board) and CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight).


  • Prepare Shipping Documents:

Gather all necessary shipping documents, such as the commercial invoice, packing list, Bill of Lading (BL), and any other required certifications or permits. Ensure the documents are accurate and in compliance with Sri Lankan customs regulations.


  • Arrange Shipping:

Choose a reliable freight forwarder to handle the shipping process from China to Sri Lanka. They will manage customs clearance, port and terminal handling, trucking, and other logistics.

Logistics challenges: Shipping goods from China to Sri Lanka can be complex and involve multiple modes of transportation, such as sea freight, air freight, and trucking. Importers need to carefully plan the logistics of their shipments, considering factors such as lead times, transit costs, and potential delays.


  • Clear Customs in Sri Lanka:

Once your shipment arrives in Sri Lanka, it will undergo customs clearance procedures. The importer or their representative will need to present the required documents and pay any applicable duties and taxes.

Customs clearance delays: Customs clearance can be a lengthy and complex process, especially for goods that require specific permits or certifications. Importers may experience delays due to incomplete or inaccurate documentation, insufficient information about the goods, or backlogs at customs.


  • Inspect and Receive Goods:

Upon clearance, inspect the goods to ensure they meet the agreed-upon specifications and quality standards. If any discrepancies are found, address them with the supplier.

Quality control issues: Importers should carefully inspect imported goods upon arrival to ensure they meet the agreed-upon quality standards. However, it is not uncommon to encounter discrepancies between the samples provided by the supplier and the actual goods received. This can lead to disputes, return shipments, and financial losses.


  • Organize Distribution and Sales:

Once the goods are in your possession, arrange for distribution or sales to your target market in Sri Lanka. This may involve establishing your own distribution network or partnering with local retailers or distributors.





Import from China to Sri Lanka Agent.

If you do not have an import license and are not familiar with the import goods from China to Sri Lanka process, then we can help you import from China to Sri Lanka in our name (mainly through Shanghai/Ningbo Port), clear the goods on our behalf, and let you pick up the goods after the container arrives at our yard.

Everything is done in our name. You don’t have to worry about anything. As a sourcing company, we already have a handful of other customers who are not in the import business and import through us.




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1 year ago

Is that mean you will collect payment from the purchaser in Sri Lanka and then pay it to the seller in China in USD/RMB? The only thing i concern is the payment.

7 months ago

Hello.. I want to import some items to Sri Lanka