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Ultimate Guide- Import toys from China

Ultimate Guide- Import toys from China

Thinking of importing toys from China? Look no further! We put together a complete guide with everything you need to know, from sourcing to shipping in 3 easy steps!

8min, 18 August 2021
Bookairfreight’s Key Takeaways:

• Toys are officially classified with the HS Code 9503.00.00.

• Certified compliance with ASTM rules is required for toys and children’s products.

• Air freight is cheaper and quicker for goods under 150kg. Ocean freight is cheaper for goods weighing over 150kg.

Toys are defined as products designed for use by children aged 12 or younger.

In 2020, U.S. retail sales of toys in the United States amounted to 25.14 billion U.S. dollars. The toys and games market consists of total revenues generated through the sale of action figures, dolls, games and puzzles, plush toys, vehicles, and other toys. The total toy industry in the U.S. was valued at 32.61 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

Whether you have an interest or have no idea where to start, in this blog, you will learn how to import toys from China, and how to find suppliers accordingly in China.

Toy sales in the US:

Step 1. Sourcing

Use trusted platforms like Alibaba to search for Chinese suppliers since this site has lots of toy suppliers. Look at their location. Suppliers who come from the region with fewer suppliers could be brokers.

Keep in mind that most of the suppliers online are toy trading companies since toy factories in China are not that big. Also, most of the orders they receive are from trading companies.

Here are some of the most popular (and secure) platforms for connecting US-based importers with Chinese toy manufacturers:

Alibaba: Alibaba has a large number of manufacturers available on their platform with products ranging from heavy machinery to accessories and toys.

DHgate: DHgate is similar to Alibaba and you will find most toy manufacturers in both places. We recommend DHgate as a second platform to try if you can't find any on Alibaba, as they do tend to have slightly more variety in their offering.

Made-In-China: Made-In-China is similar to Alibaba and DHgate, with the key difference that 80% of their traffic comes from the Western market (US and EU buyers), while the other two get 80% traffic domestically (Chinese buyers).

Step 2. Regulations

Customs documents vary depending on what toys you’re shipping. Shipments from China require these documents:

Commercial invoice

Bill of Landing

Air Wayill (if shipping by air freight)

Packing list

Pro forma invoice

Certificate of Origin

For reference, toys are officially classified with the HS Code 9503.00.00, under the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule. They are generally duty free, though the Merchandise Processing Fee and Harbor Maintenance Fee will still apply.

Labeling Test

All toys imported from China must have a certified tracking label on the product or on the product’s packaging. This label must supply certain product information, including:

The manufacturer's name

The location and date of the toy's production

Specific information about the manufacturing process, including a batch or run number, and additional identifying characteristics

Any other information about the specific source of the product

Testing Regulations

According to the CPSC, third-party testing is required for toys designed for use by children under age 12. Testing must occur at a laboratory approved by the CPSC. After testing, approved products will receive a Children’s Product Certificate.

Tests applicable to most toys include:

Accessible edges

Accessible points

Heavy elements, including paint and similar surface coating materials

Heavy elements in substrate materials

Small objects

A list of CPSC-accepted labs can be found here

Toys designed for children ages 14 and over do not need to comply with toy safety standards. If a toy is designed for 13-year-old children, ASTM F963 safety standards apply, but laboratory testing is not required.

American Society for Testing and Materials

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets international standards for product safety. This toy safety directive mandates that all children’s toys are tested and certified.

The ASTM F963 is the process followed to meet safety standards. Certified compliance with ASTM rules is required for toys and children’s products.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission oversees the CPSIA. The CPSIA oversees both imported and U.S.- manufactured children’s products and toys.

A few specific materials are prohibited from use in toys. Lead and phthalates are potentially harmful materials that are very strictly limited for use in toys and children’s products.

The CPSIA defines the term “children’s product” and generally requires that children’s products to:

Comply with all applicable children's product safety rules

Be tested for compliance by a CPSC-accepted accredited lab, unless subject to an exception

Have a written Children's Product Certificate that provides evidence of the product's compliance

Have permanent tracking info affixed to the product and it's packaging

Licensed Toys

Factories that print famous animation characters on their products must get the animation company’s authorization.

If they don’t, then their product will infringe on the company’s design. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can be very strict when it comes to importing items featuring trademarked or licensed characters.

Make sure you have some proof of trademark compliance in writing from the seller with your import documents. If your toy supplier purchased the items from a third-party vendor without obtaining the proper paperwork, the trademark or license might be violated.

Step 3. Shipping

Choose Your Shipping Method

Air freight and ocean freight are the two main methods of shipping merchandise internationally. When shipping toys from China, you want the best option for transporting your goods.

Air Freight

Within air freight, you have two options: express courier and traditional air freight.

•Express courier is faster (4-7 days delivery time), and it is 10-20% more expensive than traditional air freight

Traditional air freight on the other hand is cheaper but has slightly slower delivery times (13-15 days)

Get an instant air freight quote.

Ocean Freight

Within ocean freight, you also have two options: FCL and LCL.

FCL (Full-Container-Load) means that you ‘rent’ an entire container just for yourself. This is recommended only if you have enough merchandise to fill an entire container (upwards of 20 tons)

LCL (Less-Than-Container-Load) means that you share a container with multiple importers. This is the preferred option for most businesses because it makes ocean freight very cheap and accessible.

Air Freight Shipping Freight
To ship small volumes of merchandise, because contrary to popular belief, air freight is actually cheaper than ocean freight for shipments under 150kg If fast delivery times are not a priority
To cover an urgent demand, because of the faster delivery times compared to ocean freight For shipment volumes upwards of 150kg, because ocean freight starts being incrementally cheaper than air freight as volume increases
To ship high value products, because air freight presents a lower risk for goods to be lost or damaged during transit compared to ocean freight. Delivery times are the same for both LCL and FCL options: 20-30 days

Read our full guide on choosing between Air Freight vs Ocean Freight

Find The Right Freight Forwarder

The final step is to find a freight forwarder who can get your products from your factory to your warehouse quickly, cheaply and safely.

Should You Use Your Factory’s Freight Forwarder?

We propose it is not, for multiple reasons:

1. They will have higher rates than freight forwarders

2.They won't have any value-added services, such as helping you with shipping documentation, customs clearance and taxes & duties, or offering free insurance.

But there is hope! Some freight forwarders are modernizing the industry and implementing a customer-centric approach where customers benefit from many value-added services.

Don’t settle for less! A freight forwarder is ultimately a long-term business partner, and it is worth spending the time to find the right one.

If you have further questions about importing toys from China or anything else, feel free to shoot us a message.

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Mikhyle Moos

Local Digital Marketing manager and content creator at Bookairfreight. I am someone who loves literature, but here to simplify interesting topics within the logistics industry that are easy to digest.

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