China adopted the practice of “quarantine inspection before customs declaration” in customs clearance following the establishment of a new clearance system for goods subject to inspection and quarantine on 1 January 2000. Import Goods Clearance Slips and Export Goods Clearance Slips stamped with the special seal of inspection and quarantine authorities are issued to goods subject to entry-exit inspection and quarantine. For import goods that have passed the inspection and quarantine (or those that have properly undergone effective treatment after failing the initial inspection and quarantine) for sale and use, they will be issued a Certificate of Inspection and Quarantine for Entry Goods. An additional health certificate will be issued to import food and food additives. For goods failing the inspection and quarantine, they will be issued a quarantine inspection report for claiming compensation by the enterprises or parties concerned. Goods that have to be returned or destroyed for the absence of effective treatment after failing the quarantine inspection will be issued a Notice of Inspection and Quarantine Treatment as the basis for the Customs authorities and the parties concerned to return or destroy the goods. For export goods that pass the inspection and quarantine, they will be issued an Export Goods Clearance Slip to be used by the Customs as the basis for the verification and release of the goods. In cases where foreign importers require inspection and quarantine certificates, such certificates will be issued upon application by the foreign trade party and satisfactory inspection and quarantine. A non-conformity notice will be issued if the goods fail the inspection.
For import and export goods (including transit goods) listed in the Catalogue of Entry-exit Goods for Inspection and Quarantine by Entry-exit Inspection and Quarantine Authorities (the Catalogue), the Customs will examine and release the goods against the Import Goods Clearance Slip or Export Goods Clearance Slip issued by the entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities at the place of customs declaration. Unless otherwise specified in AQSIQ documents, if an enterprise is required to provide inspection proofs on the quantity etc. of import and export goods not listed in the Catalogue, it may obtain such proofs from inspection organisations designated, recognised or approved by AQSIQ.
Inspection and quarantine procedures normally include six steps: application for inspection, calculation and collection of fees, sampling, inspection and quarantine, decontamination treatment (quarantine treatment), and issuance of certificate for release of goods.
Content of Entry-exit Inspection and Quarantine
(a) Import and Export Commodity Inspection
Inspection appraisal procedures
According to China’s Commodity Inspection Law, the appraisal procedures for import and export commodities include sampling, inspection and examination; appraisal, accreditation and certification; and registration, authentication and approval as appropriate.
Pre-shipment inspection for import wastes
China practises a system of pre-shipment inspection for wastes imported as raw materials. In contracts concluded between consignors and consignees on the import of wastes, it must be clearly stipulated that the wastes to be imported measure up to China’s environmental protection standards and must be inspected and approved by inspection organisations recognised by AQSIQ before shipment. The 2014 edition of the catalogue consists of 13 commodities, namely smelting slag, wood and soft wood waste, paper waste, fibre waste, ferrous scrap, nonferrous scrap, electrical and mechanical scrap, electrical wire and cable scrap, hardware and electrical apparatus scrap, vessel for breaking up, plastic waste, compressed piece of scrap automobile, and molasses.
Inspection of imported and exported hazardous chemicals and their packaging
In China, the import and export of hazardous chemicals listed in the Catalogue of Hazardous Chemicals and their packaging are subject to inspection for compliance with safety, environmental protection and fraud prevention requirements, as well as the related quality, quantity and weight specifications.
Packagings of hazardous chemicals to be imported are subject to inspection in respect of their forms, markings, categorisation, specifications, unit weight and conditions of use. Packagings of hazardous chemicals for export are subject to performance inspection and usage appraisal in accordance with the packaging requirements and standards for export of dangerous goods by sea, air, land and rail transport.
Exemption from inspection for import and export commodities
The Law of the People's Republic of China on Import and Export Commodity Inspection stipulates that import and export commodities subject to mandatory inspection may be exempt from inspection upon approval of applications from consignors or consignees by commodity inspection departments. Import and export commodities applying for such exemption should meet the following conditions:
The quality of the commodities in question should remain stable on a long-term basis and enjoy a good reputation in the international market, without any record of quality disputes, claims and returns that the manufacturer should be held responsible for, while keeping a 100% conformity rate over three consecutive years for inspection by the inspection and quarantine authorities;
The commodities under application should have their own brands that enjoy an industry leader status in terms of product grade and quality in the countries or regions concerned;
The manufacturer should have set up a quality control system that complies with the requirements of ISO9000 or other quality management system standards applicable to the specific features of the commodities in question, and is certified by the respective authoritative certification body;
The manufacturer should attain the required inspection and testing competency to meet operational needs and ensure product quality; and
The manufacturer should comply with the requirements under the Examination Conditions for Inspection Exemption of Import and Export Commodities. Import and export commodities with safety, hygiene and other special requirements may not apply for exemption from inspection. AQSIQ may conduct random checks on import and export commodities exempted from inspection; and goods found with quality problems will not be released.
(b) Animal and Plant Quarantine
Objects of quarantine
The following must undergo animal and plant quarantine: animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects for import, export or transit; containers, packagings and dunnage used for carrying animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects; means of transportation from animal and plant epidemic areas; old and disused vessels entering the country for salvage purposes; and other goods or articles subject to quarantine in accordance with the provisions of relevant laws, administrative regulations, international treaties or trade contracts.
Animals and plants prohibited from import
The following are prohibited from entering China: pathogenic micro-organisms (including seed cultures of bacteria and viruses) of animals and plants, pests and other harmful organisms; animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects from countries or regions with outbreak of animal or plant epidemic; animal carcasses; and soil.
China adopts an entry quarantine licensing system whereby the consignor or agent is required to make an application in advance for the import of animals, animal products, seeds, seedlings and other propagating materials, cereal food, fruits and tobacco, and complete the quarantine approval application formalities before concluding the trade contract. Application should be submitted by the consignor or agent to the local inspection and quarantine authorities at the port of entry prior to or upon arrival of the goods. Goods that fail to pass quarantine or require further quarantine measures will be decontaminated, returned or destroyed by the inspection and quarantine authorities as appropriate.
Animals and plants, animal and plant products or other quarantine objects for export are subject to quarantine supervision in their production, processing and storage process. The consignor or agent should apply to the inspection and quarantine authorities at the port of exit for quarantine prior to the export of goods. Objects passing the quarantine or properly completing the decontamination treatment will be allowed to leave the country while those failing to pass the quarantine and without undergoing effective decontamination treatment will not.
For the transit of animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects (including transshipment), the shipper or supercargo should submit an application to the port-of-entry inspection and quarantine authorities for quarantine with the support of related documents. For the transit of animals, it is necessary to obtain an Animal Transit Licence in advance.
Quarantine of objects carried by passengers or by post
Animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects carried or posted into China will be returned or destroyed if they are included in the List of Animals and Plants, Animal and Plant Products and Other Quarantine Objects Prohibited from Being Carried or Posted into China. Those not covered by the list will be released after quarantine.
Quarantine of means of transportation
The inspection and quarantine authorities will carry out on-the-spot quarantine and preventive disinfection for means of transportation from epidemic areas. Vehicles carrying animals out of the country must be disinfected under the supervision of the inspection and quarantine authorities before loading. Vehicles carrying animals and plants, animal and plant products and other quarantine objects (including animal vaccines, blood serum, fluid for diagnosis, and animal and plant wastes) must conform to the relevant epidemic prevention and quarantine regulations. For empty vehicles returning after carrying animal supplies to Hong Kong and Macau, the inspection and quarantine authorities require the entire vehicle to be disinfected for epidemic prevention.
(c) Sanitary Quarantine Measures
Content of sanitary quarantine
Inspection and quarantine authorities are responsible for conducting quarantine and monitoring of infectious diseases and sanitary supervision at all harbours, airports, and all ports of land borders and river borders for international transit in China. All persons, means of transportation, transport equipment, as well as luggage, goods and postal parcels which may spread infectious diseases under quarantine entering or leaving China are subject to quarantine inspection, and only upon quarantine approval will they be allowed to enter or exit the country.
Quarantine of means of transportation and persons
Means of transportation and persons entering the country are subject to quarantine at their first port of arrival, and those leaving the country at the last port of departure. Inspection and quarantine authorities will issue an entry or exit quarantine certificate to persons not found with infectious diseases or to vehicles that have already undergone sanitation treatment.
Infectious disease monitoring of entry-exit persons
Inspection and quarantine authorities may require persons on arrival or departure to complete health declaration card and present vaccination/ inoculation certificate for certain infectious disease, health certificate or other relevant documents. They may also isolate persons on entry or exit found to have contracted plague, cholera, yellow fever and other infectious diseases, detain for examination persons suspected to have contracted infectious diseases, and deny entry to foreigners with serious mental illnesses, or tuberculosis infection or other infectious diseases that may cause serious harm to public health. Persons found to have contracted any of the infectious diseases under surveillance, or foreigners coming from regions with the outbreak of such diseases or persons in close contact with such patients may be issued medical treatment cards, detained for examination or applied other preventive or control measures by the inspection and quarantine authorities as appropriate.
Sanitation supervision of frontier ports
The sanitary conditions of frontier ports and means of transportation staying at these ports for entry to or exit from the country are subject to sanitation supervision by inspection and quarantine authorities in accordance with the sanitation standards required by the state. The authorities are responsible for supervising and giving instructions on the prevention and extermination of rodents and germ-carrying insects; inspecting and examining food, drinking water and facilities for their storage, supply and transportation; monitoring the health conditions of employees engaged in the supply of food and drinking water and checking their health certificates; monitoring and checking the disposal of garbage, waste matter, sewage, excrement and ballast water; and taking the necessary measures for sanitation treatment where sanitary conditions are poor or factors exist that may cause the spread of infectious diseases.
Inspection and quarantine authorities should conduct sanitary inspection and sanitation treatment such as sterilisation and extermination of rats and insects on vehicles, containers, luggage, cargo and postal parcels entering from areas with epidemics, contaminated by infectious diseases, likely to become infectious disease media, or found to have rodents or germ-carrying insects that may affect human health.