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Bringing Pearls Home from China

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  • Bringing Pearls Home from China

    Over the last two years I have visited China on three trips and purchased pearls from Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Zhuji. Each trip I have been able to negotiate a little better pricing and (most importantly) higher quality pearls. I have visited the markets not the farms.
    Here is my dilemma, I am trying to grow my business (Jewelry sold at trunk shows at boutiques and direct sales), but how do I get more product home? I have a customs agent in the U.S. who meets me at the airport and I pay U.S. duties on prestrung items, but I am concerned about bringing so much product out of the country without paying duty in China.
    1. Do the Chinese care that I am bringing my entire carry on bag stuffed with pearls? Could I be fined or my goods confiscated? Should I be going to the customs desk at the airport and paying duties? Will there be an issue that I am traveling on a tourist visa rather than a business visa?
    2. Are certain airports in China more lenient? I have had no problem in Shanghai, but how about if I fly to Hong Kong and come home from there?
    3. How safe is shipping? On one thread there was some wonderful advise on buying in China from Jeremy. Where does one ship from in Zhuji? Do you pay customs to the Chinese then and then alert your US of the package arriving? Is it Federal Express?
    Any advise is appreciated.

  • #2
    Hi Cindy,

    1. Do the Chinese care that I am bringing my entire carry on bag stuffed with pearls? Could I be fined or my goods confiscated? Should I be going to the customs desk at the airport and paying duties? Will there be an issue that I am traveling on a tourist visa rather than a business visa?
    Things have recently changed in China - the Chinese do now care. In the past one could carry an unlimitted amount of product out without any issues. Now, you are taking a chance.
    Last year I was catching a flight from Haikou to Hong Kong. I was returning to the US with Tahitian drops and circles that I had imported into China to have processed (drilled, matched, etc.). I had everything I needed - all documents in order. Upon reaching customs in Haikou, however, I found that they did not want me to leave the country with the pearls in tow. It was not a huge amount of value either. In the range of $75k.
    Instead of dealing with these officials that could not determine whether or not I was allowed to leave, I jumped on the next flight to Shenzhen. This is the only exit point I now trust - you just walk across the border. If you can get to the Hong Kong side you will have no issues leaving the country.

    Your visa does not really matter - whether it be tourist or business. But, when you are applying for a visa, just state on the app that you are going on business. So many people are afraid to do this and I am not sure why. I have never been questioned other than "What is your business?". The answer is simple - pearls!

    2. Are certain airports in China more lenient? I have had no problem in Shanghai, but how about if I fly to Hong Kong and come home from there?
    Shanghai could still be a little iffy. But the small airports are the most difficult (if you are leaving the country). Remember, if you fly from the Mainland to Hong Kong, you are still leaving the country. This is why I suggest walking. Most flights from anywhere in China are a lot cheaper to either Shenzhen or Guangzhou than direct to Hong Kong anyway, and the trains are very convenient.

    3. How safe is shipping? On one thread there was some wonderful advise on buying in China from Jeremy. Where does one ship from in Zhuji? Do you pay customs to the Chinese then and then alert your US of the package arriving? Is it Federal Express?
    Any advise is appreciated.
    Believe it or not, the only problems I have ever had with shipping is on the US side. Most recently 60 kilo of loose matched pearls from Zhuji (freshadama stock) made it all the way to our street - and the brilliant UPS driver just left them at a gas station a block away. The address was clearly written, and HVS stickers were all over the boxes (high value shipment). This type of thing has actually happened to us several times over the years, but ONLY when shipping with UPS. I strongly suggest DHL or FedEx if you have the option.
    Customs is not an issue if you ship the product from China. Most companies have in-house brokerage, and the fees are very low - much lower than a standard broker. FedEx is only $25 per entry. It is so much more convenient than praying that your broker has your paperwork delivered before you land every trip.

    Any factory you deal with should easily be able to assist you with your shipping. Just be careful. As I have said before, be present when your stuff is boxed up, and sign the creases!
    Jeremy Shepherd
    President and Founder
    PearlParadise.com, Inc.
    The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
    PearlParadise.com on Flickr
    PearlParadise.com on Facebook
    Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

    Comment


    • #3
      Great Feedback

      Wow Jeremy--thanks so much for all of the information! I have literally been staying up at night worrying about this. Next trip we will fly to Shenzhen and then cross over to Hong Kong and fly home from there my eight year old son always goes with me and he will enjoy Hong Kong.

      I will also try shipping some on Fed Exp. As I have only bought from markets and not factories, I will have to arrange shipping on my own. I assume there are Fed Exp offices in China that I can visit, declare the value and pay the customs.

      As for buying from factories, how do you find pearl factories in China? Do you need an appointment? Have you used Man Sang? They look enormous.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, if you have been to Zhuji, you should have seen a lot of factories. Nearly every building within a few miles of the market house at least one factory. You needn't make an appointment, just tour the area (without preselecting a guide).
        One thing that I think it important, however, if you are not buying a large quantity, just use the factory reps in the market. Those are the dealers in the rooms lining the market - not the dealers in booths.

        I do know Man Sang and have dealt with them - but not for freshwater pearls. Their prices are a little too high for me.
        Jeremy Shepherd
        President and Founder
        PearlParadise.com, Inc.
        The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
        PearlParadise.com on Flickr
        PearlParadise.com on Facebook
        Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Jeremy!

          Is there a limit on the value of goods that may be brought into the country on your person?

          Thanks, Karen

          Comment


          • #6
            No limit on the goods, and no limit on the money. One of the most common, amateurish move is to under-declare. Don't do it or the rest of your life will be a nightmare in every airport. There are guidelines, however!

            If you are traveling out of the country with more than $10k you must declare it at your port of departure (from the USA). This can be done by just visiting the custom's booth (as the ticket counter). You fill out a little form and that is it. Unless you are taking in excess of a million dollars, they really will not even look at the money (that is my experience).
            If you enter China with more than $5k, you must declare it on the way in.

            When returning, you can carry up to $400 in product and pay no duty. You can carry up to $2000 in product and pay the 5% after the $400 without a broker. After $2000 you must have a broker, and you must set this up before you leave for Asia. Then you just fax your receipts to the broker before you leave and you are good to go.

            Btw, your wording on all custom docs is very important. You MUST say that the pearls are loose, or unstrung, or unworked before shipping them if they are. If it just says pearls, most custom agents will charge you a natural pearl tariff. If it says pearl necklaces or pearl earrings, you will be charged an even higher, finished goods duty.
            Jeremy Shepherd
            President and Founder
            PearlParadise.com, Inc.
            The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
            PearlParadise.com on Flickr
            PearlParadise.com on Facebook
            Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

            Comment


            • #7
              Quote: After $2000 you must have a broker, and you must set this up before you leave for Asia. Then you just fax your receipts to the broker before you leave and you are good to go.

              Btw, your wording on all custom docs is very important. You MUST say that the pearls are loose, or unstrung, or unworked before shipping them if they are. If it just says pearls, most custom agents will charge you a natural pearl tariff. If it says pearl necklaces or pearl earrings, you will be charged an even higher, finished goods duty.[/QUOTE]


              Very interesting information jeremy, just out of curiositiy - how to You get a broker? I am not planning buying pearls in China but it seems there are a lot of things a buyer has to know about - where did You get all this information to be able to steer clear from all types of obstacles with custom, forms and so on?

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Jeremy and thanks for the info.

                You said,"Last year I was catching a flight from Haikou to Hong Kong. I was returning to the US with Tahitian drops and circles that I had imported into China to have processed (drilled, matched, etc.). I had everything I needed - all documents in order. Upon reaching customs in Haikou, however, I found that they did not want me to leave the country with the pearls in tow. It was not a huge amount of value either. In the range of $75k.

                I have heard of this happening upon the return of tourists from Lombok into Bali or Jakarta.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jerin
                  Very interesting information jeremy, just out of curiositiy - how to You get a broker? I am not planning buying pearls in China but it seems there are a lot of things a buyer has to know about - where did You get all this information to be able to steer clear from all types of obstacles with custom, forms and so on?
                  There are brokers with offices near every international airport. They mainly clear large shipments of merchandise (think shippnig containers), so it can be difficult finding one that will deal with hand-carried goods. I learned of this when I worked as a flight attendant - I saw a lot of my coworkers getting into trouble for bringing in valuables.

                  As for the wording on the shipping labels, this I learned by making the mistake myself. I was charged nearly $10k on a shipment that should have carried no duty. I went through the process to get it reversed, and after all the extra fees, the photographs of the product, and the full year they had to make their decision, they did not rule in my favor.
                  Jeremy Shepherd
                  President and Founder
                  PearlParadise.com, Inc.
                  The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
                  PearlParadise.com on Flickr
                  PearlParadise.com on Facebook
                  Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As for the wording on the shipping labels, this I learned by making the mistake myself. I was charged nearly $10k on a shipment that should have carried no duty. I went through the process to get it reversed, and after all the extra fees, the photographs of the product, and the full year they had to make their decision, they did not rule in my favor.

                    Comment

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