The best-executed global IT deployments can be tripped up by running afoul of customs officials. This can happen going into any country, but China — as one of the world’s largest economies — has some unique rules and regulations to keep in mind.
A complex international IT deployment involving imports and clearing customs is a lot more involved than simply packing a suitcase and dealing with TSA at the airport. In international trade, customs take on a whole new meaning, especially when it comes to China.
Learn Your CCCs
If you’ve done the most rudimentary research on Chinese customs as it relates to IT and electronic equipment, you’ve probably run across the CCC.
Here’s a summary:
“China Compulsory Certification (CCC) marking is a conformity assessment system required for the importation and sale of goods in China. It is implemented by China National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) for the purpose of protecting national security, human health or safety, animal and plant life or health, and the environment and prevention of deceptive practices. Products not meeting the requirements may be held at the border by Chinese customs and subject to other penalties.”
You don’t want your routers or cameras stuck in some border warehouse. Time is money.
Know the Latest Implementation Rules
So, how do you attain this coveted – and mandatory – CCC mark? First, you have to make sure you have the latest implementation rules. This is especially important now, with geopolitical forces causing import/export changes quite frequently. You can find out the most recent implementation rules by visiting the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Authority.
This is not a fast process, and you need to have a team in place working concurrently on CCC while other teams do the deployment work. One Chinese company describes the CCC process as “complicated” and “robust.”
With that in mind, we strongly advise any company planning a deployment in China to work with a global field services company that can provide you with the “boots on the ground” to navigate China’s complex CCC mandates.
There are customs to clear, documents to be signed and exchanged, payment arrangements to be made, and Chinese labs to work with, and trying to do this all in-house entails a lot of time and expense.
If you do insist on “going it alone” in China, here are a few other tips:
Appoint a Company-Wide “China Czar”
There are many moving parts to pass inspection and earn the CCC, from factory inspections to audits to compliance. You need to have a streamlined process, and that means having one person in charge who can delegate various tasks to persons and teams. China is one deployment where you don’t want several teams working concurrently without communicating.
Communicate with Customs Ahead of Time
Develop contacts within Chinese customs, tapping into the age-old tradition of guanxi, and go from there. The more rapport you have with a customs contact, the more questions you have answered ahead of time, and the smoother your final deployment will be.
Get Your Factory Inspected
You’ll have to have your factory inspected by a CCC compliance officer to make sure all parts and processes are in keeping with Chinese trade rules and regulations.
There are cases where you might save yourself a lot of hoop jumping and qualify for an exemption — for instance, if your pre-deployment includes attending trade fairs or you are importing spare parts. You can see a full list of exemption options here.
The barriers for entry into the Chinese market are constantly changing, and they can be onerous. But if you follow the rules, you may just find your IT deployment well on the way to success.