CE Markings and Duties for UK imports

Do e readers need to be CE marked for use in the UK ?
What will the import duty be ?

Our focus at the CSIC is on China side issues and while we have helped over 200 production classifications, I am afraid I don’t have experience with e-readers going to the UK. But I do know where you can find the answer. So let me get you pointed in the right direction.

There are three places to look for answers.

1.  Some would think it logical to start their search by contacting the relevant department of their national government. Unfortunately, answers do not always come back in a timely or clear manner.  So if you have explored that option without success, I think the next two will be more fruitful.

2.  Consider going direct to the international testing labs to get information about the CE mark. You need to get your product tested to ensure conformance anyway, so it can’t hurt to have a good relationship with a lab.  It is their job to stay up to date on the standards because if they don’t know the standard, they wouldn’t be able to test for compliance.  Fees depend on the type of testing you require and are reasonable in my experience.

3.  I would also visit with a UK based customs broker.  Here is a link to an article explaining what Customs Brokers and 3PL (3rd party logistics) can do for you: Making use of 3PL Service Providers. But basically, these are the service providers who help you import the goods into your country. Part of their services is to advise on the hoops a given product needs to jump thru in order to be imported into a specific country. They would know the exact duty as well as required marks for a given product.  Here are some tips on how to find a 3PL

  1. Pick up the phone book or do an internet search with key words such as “3PL” or “Freight Forwarder” + “name of port”. This will most likely generate a significant list.
  2. The next step is to contact them and learn if they will be a good fit for you. I like 3PL’s that have at least 5 years of experience importing product from China into the given port.
  3. And as I have mentioned a few times before, it is worth saying again, if a service provider can’t give you a list of client references they probably aren’t worth doing business with.
  4. Once you narrow it down to a hand full of option based on initial talks and references, ask for an estimate on freight. What separates the great companies from the good ones will be the format and timing of their quote. If they more than a few days to get back to you, it probably means that they don’t have well developed shipping channels and are trying to set something up just for this order. Try to avoid having your order serve as some 3PL’s first attempt at doing business with China. Pay special attention to the formal of their quote. It should be an actual form based on a template, not just a few sentences or pricing sent via email. If they don’t have a set format for estimates or quotes, that is a real bad sign about the level of their professionalism. The quote should be easy to understand and if you are unclear about a particular line item on the quote, then the 3PL should be able to explain to your satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Better to ask in advance before getting hit with surprise charges later.
  5. Shipping rates change on a day to day basis, and unless you are ready to ship immediately after receipt of the quote, most likely the quote will be an estimate. So we like 3PLs that will hold their quote valid for a certain time or at least offer to re-quote closer to the actual ship date so that the buyer knows the exact costs in advance.
  6. On countless occasions I have had shippers send me invoices after delivery which were much higher than the agreed estimate. So as you are confirming price, ask the powerful question “Does this price include everything to get the product from X to Y, even taxes, duties?”, “Is there anything that is not included?” and “Will you put in writing that the amount to be invoiced will not exceed the agreed estimate?”.
  7. It also helps to negotiate your terms with the shipper so that the goods are paid upon delivery, as opposed to paying them upfront. But actually, you don’t have a lot of leverage because the shipper has physical control of your goods and could choose not to immediately release them if there are any confrontations about pricing at the last minute. So it is very important to find a professional company upfront and negotiate the terms and pricing well in advance.

Hope that helps you. Let me know if you would like an introduction to some of the labs I use on a regular basis. Happy to make some introductions.


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 (www.ChinaSourcingInfo.org). He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” (chinasourcinginfo.org/book) and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions (www.PSSchina.com )

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