Chapter 1: China to Indonesia Customs Import Regulations
Imports to Indonesia usually undergoes heavy customs scrutiny.
The Indonesian customs personnel are usually very strict in ensuring that shipments comply with import regulations.
Thus, it is your duty as a shipper to ensure that your goods will easily pass through the Indonesian customs.
That said, lets us take a look at the Indonesians customs imports structure.
Main imports from China to Indonesia
When people talk of South East Asian economies, most of them consider only China and India.
This is mostly because the two are the known leading players in the region’s economy.
But then, we needn’t forget Indonesia.
Although small, Indonesia is among the fastest growing economies of the South East Asian region.
The country offers various opportunities for profit for both exporters and importers.
You can easily grow your importation business here if you identify a niche that sells.
And, given that China is among Indonesia’s largest trade partners, there sure are opportunities for trade and profit in made in China products.
So what can you import from China to Indonesia?
- Food, e., vegetables, and meat
- Mineral fuels
- inorganic chemicals
- Food waste
- Iron and steel products
- Textiles worn clothing
- Toys and games
- Electronic equipment
These are the top products imports from China to Indonesia.
So if you’re yet to identify a product to import, you can think along the lines of what’s provided above.
Note however that not all products that fall in the above categories are allowed entry into Indonesia.
As listed in the below section, there are customs limitations as to what can and cannot be brought into the country.
Remember I’ve told you that Indonesia’s customs are quite strict.
And although the country enjoys a stable trade relationship with China, there are some restrictions on commodity imports.
China trade relations with ASEAN countries – Photo courtesy: YOSOF ISHAK INSTITUTE
These restrictions are solely for reasons of;
- National security
- Public safety
- International commitments
- protection of the local industry
The limitations on imports from China are split into three:
a) Free Imports
These are goods that are neither restricted nor prohibited.
You don’t need a permit or license to bring in these goods into Indonesia.
They include tobacco products which are limited to 50 cigars or 200cigarettes or 100 grams of tobacco.
Diplomats are exempted from this limitation.
There’s also 1 liter of liquor and a reasonable quantity of perfume.
You can also bring in personal goods up to a value of USD 250 per person or USD 1000 per family.
You won’t have to pay any duties for the above.
b) Restricted Items
These are items whose importation into Indonesia is regulated.
For these, as long as you’re willing to pay the capped duties and meet other requirements, you may still import them.
Restricted items in this regard include items such as medicines, printings, narcotics, firearm, and ammunition.
Pornography, fresh fruit, and cordless telephones are also restricted for importation.
You can only import these goods if you have a license allowing you to do so.
Other restricted items are video cameras, portable radio cassette recorders, binoculars, and sports equipment.
For these, duty must be paid by customs regulations unless you’re entering the country on a tourist visa.
To import pets, i.e., dogs or cats, you must get a permit from the Directorate General of Livestock.
You must also get good health and rabies vaccination certificate from an authorized government veterinarian in China.
It is strictly forbidden to import certain products in Indonesia.
These include books, magazines, brochures and newspapers written in Chinese, in Indonesian or a local language (except for scientific reasons).
Section of Chinese News Paper
Tactical knives, flammable items, poison, counterfeit notes, and explosives are also prohibited for import into Indonesia.
There’s is not a port in Indonesia which allows these items through.
Anything in your shipment found to violate the import regulations will be confiscated.
You could also end paying high violation fees.
So take proper care when choosing, packing and shipping your items.
You should also ensure that your shipments are accompanied with proper import documentation.
This will help you avoid problems with customs and also ease the clearance process.
Allow me to explain a bit about documentation in the next section.
Documents when shipping from China to Indonesia
Successful shipping and customs clearance of goods from China to Indonesia dramatically depends on the documentation.
If you have the proper import documentation, the process will be hassle-free.
Otherwise, you will experience delays, rejection and a lot of other problems from customs offices.
Note that these documents need to be well filed and provided at the right times and to the proper authorities.
Usually, you will need to present the paperwork first at the port of departure and then at the destination port.
This means that paperwork should be made ready before shipping commences.
Depending on the incoterm you are using, your seller could be the one to prepare the paperwork, i.e., in FOB.
In other cases, you will need to work on the documents by yourself.
Regardless of who does the processing, these are the documents that you need for successful importation of goods from China to Indonesia:
1. Packing List
A packing list is an international shipping document that details the contents of a shipment.
This list indicates everything there is about the contents including the packaging dimensions, weight, number of items, etc.
It may seem trivial, but don’t be mistaken as this list is very crucial in freight shipping.
Its contents are vital in helping ease the process of customs clearance both at the origin and destination ports.
You may wonder how because after all, it’s just a list.
Well, with the information in the list, it is very easy for customs officials to verify the contents of your consignment.
This way, they will spend less time verifying the shipment and allowing it entry into Indonesia.
Besides, whenever there is a need for package inspection, a packing list becomes very crucial.
As the shipper, the list is also important to you as it helps you to crosscheck the goods you ordered vs. what you’ve gotten.
This way you can easily verify the quantity and quality of items shipped.
A packing list is also in most cases used to issue a bill of lading in sea freight.
A bill of lading, note, is also a crucial shipping document in sea freight. I’ll tell you more about it later on.
2. Commercial Invoice
What do you understand by the term invoice?
Well, It is a proof of sale between the seller and buyer right and in this case, it is no different.
A commercial invoice is generally a document that acts as proof of transaction between buyer and seller.
Once you make an order and it is ready, the seller will issue you with the commercial invoice.
It is with this document that you will be able to know the amount payable for goods.
You can then make the payment and assume ownership of goods.
Note that a commercial invoice usually denotes all details of a sale transaction which is very crucial.
Customs officials at both the origin and destination ports will need that information to clear goods for shipping and entry.
I want you to understand that a commercial invoice is not a standard document.
There is no specific way to prepare it.
You need to ensure that the final document conforms to the regular shipping practices.
You also need to ensure that the details given therein are clear and accurate.
The document has followed to the terms agreed upon the sale of goods.
It also has to include the name and address of both the buyer and seller, the order number, purchase date, and payments method.
Other information that you must include is the terms of sale, transaction currency and bill of lading/airway bill number.
The package dimensions, weight, marks, and measures, as well as the origin and destination ports, must also be included.
It may sound much, but trust me, you need to include all this to ensure easy movement of your goods from one point to the other.
And like I said, it will also help smoothen the customs clearance process.
So when you get the invoice, make a copy so that you submit the original and keep the copy in case you need it.
You should ensure that the manufacturer or supplier of goods duly signs the invoice as true and correct.
The good thing about international shipping is that you have the option of shipping by air or by sea.
This will, of course, depend on the urgency to ship as well as your budget.
Either way, this document is essential.
Bill of lading
In sea freight, it is known as an ocean bill of lading whereas air freight terms it as an airway bill.
An ocean bill of lading acts as a receipt of cargo and as a shipping agreement between the shipper and the carrier.
It also acts as a proof of ownership of goods; accordingly, if in negotiable form.
This means that ownership can be bought, sold or traded while the goods are still in transit.
Of the airway bill, it serves as through bill of lading.
This covers air shipping from an airport in China to one in Indonesia.
The airway bill number which is most important in air shipping documentation will be issued to you by the carrier of goods.
Note the significance of these two documents is the same only that an airway bill is non-negotiable
This means that you cannot sell, trade or transfer it when goods are in transit.
The Indonesian Government recently imposed a new regulation on the bill of lading document.
This is that the document must also include the importer’s tax identification number and the cargo HS code.
For the code, only the first four digits are needed.
So make sure that your BOL conforms to this rule.
4. Import Permit
An import permit or license is a document that you acquire to allow you to import restricted goods into a country.
Australia import permit
In this case, you will have to get the permit from the relevant Indonesian government authorities.
So, if you plan to import any restricted items to Indonesia, make sure you get the permit from the right government body.
5. Certificate of Origin
A c/o as it is often denoted is a document that indicates the country of origin of a product import.
This could be the country of manufacture, production or processing of the product.
Certificate of origin
I like to think of it as a certificate of birth of a product.
For importation into Indonesia, you need this document to declare the type of goods you’re importing.
You also need to provide it to customs as they use it to calculate applicable duties and tariffs on imports.
This way, it becomes easier to clear the goods and allow them entry into Indonesia.
6. Insurance Certificate
This is generally a document that shows proof of insurance for goods.
It shows the type and limit of coverage as well as the insurers details, policy number and policies’ effective periods.
Together with a pro-forma invoice, these are the primary documents you will need to be able to ship from China to Indonesia.
So make sure that you file them right and on time to avoid customs clearance issues.
Import Duty and Taxes in Indonesia
Well, in the process of international shipping, determination, and payment of duties and taxes tend to be the most challenging.
Unfortunately, this must be done if you intend to go through with the customs clearance process smoothly.
And also to get your goods to the final destination on time.
I must confess that this process can be quite a hassle.
This is more so if you don’t have your paperwork in order and don’t have a reliable customs broker by your side.
Keeping this mind, if you’re a newbie, it is best to find a reliable and trustworthy customs broker.
The broker will help guide you through the customs clearance process.
He/she will also help you with paperwork filing and even help you calculate and pay the duties and taxes applicable.
With that in mind, what are the import duties and taxes for Indonesia?
Import duties – Photo courtesy: PICPEDIA
Before we delve into this, you should understand that all imports into Indonesia are subject to duties and taxes.
Except for free import goods (the ones I told you about earlier in this chapter).
And please, this is not an Indonesian practice only, it is the same in most countries across the world.
Before you can bring a dutiable good into a country, you have to pay importation duty and taxes.
The value of the tariffs may vary from one country to the other, but at least that charge is there.
In Indonesia, import tariff is based on the harmonized commodity description and coding system for commodity imports.
This means that tariff is charged based on the goods classification as per the harmonized system codes.
Note however those goods from ASEAN member states for which both Indonesia and China are members, preferential duty rates are applicable.
So generally, the import tariff in Indonesia ranges from 0 to 170 percent depending on the type of goods.
Most products, however, tend to attract a duty rate of 0 to 15 percent.
Now apart from the standard import tariff, Indonesia also charges an additional sales tax to all goods at the point of entry.
The sales tax is charged at rates within the range of 5 to 30 percent.
Goods that the government considers essential are however exempt from this tax.
Given that China is an ASEAN member state, imports from China to Indonesia only attract a duty charge of about 0 to 5 percent.
This excludes goods that are specified in the exclusion lists.
Note that Indonesia is known to change its import tariffs now and then.
So don’t be surprised if you find the rates have changed from when you last imported.
Just make sure that each time you’re importing, you check with the Customs office on the current duty rates.
This will help you plan yourself well and avoid last minute surprises.
Quality Standards and Regulations in Indonesia
When talking about the quality standards and regulations in Indonesia, we are talking majorly of packaging and safety.
The country imposes these regulations mainly to protect its citizens and economy in general.
So on this, Indonesia’s customs authority require that all import goods identify the importing agents.
It also requires that the information shown on product labels be distinctly written or printed or displayed.
This is so that consumers can easily see and understand them.
It is also required that product labels be written or printed in the Indonesian language, Arabic numbers, and Latin letters.
Other languages, numbers, and letters can only be used when there are no equal terms to what is intended.
The Indonesian authorities also require labeling not to contain any of the following;
- Claims on the effect of the product on health. This is irrespective of whether the claim is preventative and curative
- Incorrect or misleading information
- Comparison with other products
- Promotion of certain similar products
- And any additional information that is yet to be approved
That’s it about the imports rules and regulations of Indonesia.
So make sure that you carefully examine and implement them for your imported items.
It will help you enjoy a hassle-free and worry-free shipping and importation from China to Indonesia.