Think first: import duties, taxes and costs of shipping

I have asked for a quotation from a wind turbine factory which they sent to me, but the postage was for delivery to a warehouse in “Boalders Yard”. I do not have a contact for them and do not know what the cost will be from there to South Africa. How does postage from China to South Africa work and how does one calculate the postage and import duties?


You are wise to be thinking about import duties, taxes and costs of shipping before you make a purchase.  Too many new-to-China buyers focus only on product price and then get an ugly surprise when they learn there are applicable taxes are substantial shipping costs which they didn’t plan for in the budget.  Another mistake is to ask the supplier in China to confirm the shipping, taxes and duties in the destination market.  Suppliers may not be knowledgeable about how your government would classify the given product and what taxes apply, let alone current cost of transport.

So I find it best to ask an expert because the cost of moving goods from China to Africa changes on a daily basis and is highly dependent upon the weight and size of your shipment. You would be wise to develop a working relationship with a freight forwarder or customs broker based at your local port, who has experience dealing with China imports. They also go by the name “3PL” for 3rd party logistics service providers. These companies are the experts in this area and they make a living arranging shipments. A big part of their job is to stay current on the import taxes and duties and shipping rates.  Not only can they quote on the costs of moving your goods, but they can also confirm if there are any import taxes or duties.

Read the article at to learn how to find a quality a 3PL.

Off the top of my head, I know of some freight forwarders in S. Africa that I met at the Global Sources trade show there a few years back. I will make an introduction via separate email.

I would also like to introduce my co-worker Whit Kelly at in case you need other sourcing support.

Wishing you successful China sourcing!

Question answered by Mike Bellamy, host of “Ask the Experts” at the China Sourcing Information Center.

Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center ( He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” ( and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions ( )

Leave a Comment