Ultimate Guide To Buy and Import Furniture From China

Many people want to import furniture from China, but always lack the confidence to try because of concerns such as language barriers, complicated international trade processes, scams, or poor quality products.

There are many tutorials that teach you how to import furniture from China, charging you hundreds of dollars for tuition. However, most of them are just old-fashioned textbook guides that are not suitable for the current import business.

In this most practical guide, you can easily learn everything you need to know about the entire process of buying and importing furniture from China.

1. Why Import Furniture From China?

As we all know, China is the world’s factory; China has two major advantages in furniture manufacturing:

1.1 Low cost and wide range of products

The obvious benefits of importing furniture from China are low cost and a wide range of products. China has rich resources for furniture production, and thanks to mass manufacturing, prices are much lower than in the United States, Canada, and Europe. However, this does not equate to low quality. Many well-known brands are OEM in Chinese furniture factories.

1.2 Strong supply chain

Let’s take an example of an office desk with a plated aluminum frame. Unlike textiles, the supply chain is much more complex.

There is the manufacturing of the particleboard, and the production of the melamine veneer to cover the surface. The manufacture of all the screws and fittings, plus the metal manufacture of the aluminum frame, and the plating plant for the aluminum frame are also included.

An office desk requires complex materials and production processes. Without a strong supply chain and production capacity, it is difficult to reach mass production in a short period.

2. Pre-consideration Before Import Furniture From China

how to import furniture from China guangzhou sourcing agent

2.1 The Business Model for Import Furniture from China

Once you have decided to become an importer of furniture from China, the next step is to decide on a business model for importing. You can work with a sourcing agent, or decide to import furniture from China directly.

Import Directly

Many people believe that importing furniture from China directly is the best, because you will get rid of the middleman and get the best price.

Using this model, you can talk directly to the factory sales representative. However, this method will cost you time, and time is money. And there is no guarantee that the quality is 100% good before loading the container.

While you may theoretically get the best unit price when importing furniture from China directly, you should also realize that working with a Chinese sourcing company will help you grow the business faster.

They will enable rapid growth by helping you to deal with the issues surrounding your product.

Pros of importing furniture directly from China

  1. have complete control over the whole import process
  2. Get a reasonable price in most cases.
  3. You can visit your furniture manufacturer and work directly with them.

Cons of importing furniture directly from China

  1. Most furniture manufacturers require high MOQ. In order to have a cost advantage, factories usually produce at low margins and high quantities. You may not reach their MOQ.
  2. Most furniture factories focus on production and overlook other services. Few factories know how to satisfy customers’ requests and help them solve problems.
  3. Many furniture factories may not have export licenses or experience in export operations.
  4. You have to spend lots of time and effort to handle the whole import process and supply chain management and deal with problems that may occur.
  5. The whole import process can be very slow due to language barriers, cultural differences, communication efficiency, etc.
best China furniture sourcing agent

Sourcing Company in China

Sourcing companies are also known as sourcing agencies or sourcing services. A good sourcing company can integrate the supply chain for you more efficiently. These companies consist of different departments, such as sourcing factory, order follow-up, quality inspection, warehousing, and arranging shipment.

Therefore, most sourcing companies can handle everything from selecting the right supplier to delivering the final goods to your warehouse.

The sourcing company can supervise the mass production at the furniture factory on your behalf if necessary. Thus, it is much more convenient to have a sourcing agent in China than to inspect the product by yourself.

The sign of a good sourcing company is that they provide transparency in selecting suppliers. They can give you a good idea of whether your potential supplier will perform well or perform terribly for you.

Rix Sourcing is a company with over 12 years of experience in exporting furniture from China. The company is based in Foshan (China) and exports over $15 million per year. Click the button below to learn more about our sourcing services.

Pros of importing furniture from China by using a sourcing company

  1. You will get efficient and fast results at every step in the sourcing process.
  2. You will have complete control of your supply chains by having professionals manage the whole import process.
  3. A professional sourcing company negotiates with factories to get lower prices than you might be able to achieve.
  4. You can spend more time on company operations, marketing, etc.
  5. Value-added services include package design, website development, latest marketing information, etc.
  6. Sourcing companies are always good helpers for quality control.

Cons of importing furniture from China by using sourcing companies

  1. They may be getting kickbacks from the factory, harming your benefits.
  2. They may have less expertise than Chinese specialty manufacturers in some product categories.
  3. It may still be challenging to find the perfect Chinese supplier.

2.2 Furniture Import License

Many people assume that companies or individuals need to get an import license before buying and importing furniture from China.

In general, this is not true. In this section, we will take a quick look at importing furniture from China into the USA, UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia and get an idea of what is required.

Import furniture from China to the USA

Import furniture from China into the USA, you do not need an import license. However, you will need a customs bond. Because without the payment of customs bond, it means no record in the U.S. Customs. Even if you have sent Importer Security Filing, you will not be able to clear customs in the USA. Such cargos will be rejected or even punished by customs.

Import furniture from China to the UK

No import license is required to import furniture from China to the UK. It is important to note that whether you are an individual or a company, you will need to have a VAT number and an EORI number before importing furniture into the country.

Import furniture from China to Germany

For EU member countries wishing to import furniture from non-EU countries, it is necessary to provide an EORI number and VAT number. This number can be applied to a company or an individual.

Import furniture from China to Australia

Import furniture from China to Australia, if the product or packaging uses wood, it must not have bark, moth-eaten, mildew, or humidity. And you need to make sure that the container is fumigated in China. No damage to the furniture will occur because the goods are fumigated at the usual temperature.

In addition, you must provide a fumigation certificate, which is a mandatory requirement of Australian Customs.

3. A Step-by-Step Guide to Buy and Import Furniture from China

3.1 Where to Find Furniture Manufacturers and Suppliers in China?

One thing that is very important before import furniture from China is to learn about the furniture production regions in China. Knowing these regions will help ensure that you can ultimately find the right furniture suppliers in China.

Although China is one country, it has different cultures and diversity in all its regions. There is no doubt that China has some of the best furniture manufacturers in the world.

Generally, the furniture production areas in China can be conveniently divided into these four regions as follows:

  1. Pearl River Delta (Southern China)
  2. Yangtze River Delta (Central coastal region of China)
  3. Northeast China
  4. Bohai Sea region (northern coastal area of China)
How to find Chinese furniture factory

Pearl River Delta (Southern China)

The Pearl River Delta includes cities such as Foshan, Dongguan, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. This region has a developed furniture supply chain. Meanwhile, it has rich experience in manufacturing and exporting furniture.

In short, the Pearl River Delta region is known for its excellent quality when it comes to importing furniture from China. Meanwhile, you can get a wide range of furniture from this area. Moreover, certain cities in the region are specialized in specific categories of furniture.

For example, Dongguan is famous for manufacturing sofas; Foshan is known for its home furniture and office furniture. Foshan has a 10 km furniture market, known as the “Furniture City,” where countless furniture factories and brands showcase their furniture.

Relate post: The top 10 furniture malls in Foshan

Yangtze River Delta (central coastal region of China)

This region includes cities such as Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang, the fastest growing furniture manufacturing area. Meanwhile, this region has a large number of excellent and well-known furniture manufacturers, and many products are exported to Europe, America, and other countries.

Similarly, there are products with regional specialties, such as office furniture from Hangzhou, outdoor furniture from Xiaoshan, and modern panel furniture from Wenzhou.

Northeast China

The northeast region mainly includes Shenyang and Dalian. Shenyang is the office furniture distribution center in northeast China; Dalian is China’s largest solid wood office furniture production base. In addition, Northeast China’s largest solid wood furniture export production base, products are mainly exported to Northeast Asia and the European market.

Bohai Sea region (northern coastal area of China)

This region of China includes cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, and Shandong. Furniture manufacturing in this region has a long history and is known for its large scale industrial production.

However, the furniture industry in northern China is mainly for domestic sales and is lacking in export experience. This means that if you are importing any upholstery products, it is impossible to find a supplier who can meet the flame retardant standards.

3.2 Types of furniture from China

Before buying furniture from China, you need to know the types of furniture made in China, there is almost nothing that China can’t manufacture! Please see the following list of the different types of furniture made in China:

Italian style furniture and the United States style furniture in china

Office Furniture
• Partition Workstation
• Office Desks
• Office Chairs
• Executive Desks
• Conference Tables
• Office Sofas
• Office File Cabinet

Living Room Furniture
• Leather Sofa
• Fabric Sofa
• Recliner Sofas
• Arm Chairs
• Coffee Tables

Dining Room Furniture
• Dining Tables
• Dining Chairs
• Bar Stools
• Wine Cabinet

Bed Room Furniture
• Adult Metal Beds
• Adult Upholstered Beds
• Adult Wooden Beds
• Children’s Bunk Beds
• Mattress

Outdoor Furniture
• Outdoor Rattan Furniture
• Outdoor Metal Furniture
• Outdoor Umbrella
• Outdoor Gazebo
• Outdoor Swings

3.3 Find the Right Furniture Manufacturers/Suppliers in China

Therefore, the first step you need to do is to find a furniture manufacturer. You must remember that finding the right furniture manufacturer is the most important! If you find the right furniture factory, you can get a reasonable price, excellent quality, the fastest delivery, good communication, and ultimately good results!

However, if you find the wrong furniture factory, you may experience high defect rates, poor quality, and repeated delays, although you may get super low prices. Honestly, it will cost you time and money.

how to find the chinese furniture suppliers alibaba globalsources

Usually, the first stop for most importers is Alibaba. Because there are thousands of furniture suppliers on Alibaba, this is definitely a perfect starting place for any furniture importer. However, it contains both good and bad furniture suppliers, and part of them is even one-man company. So finding the right one among so many suppliers will be time-consuming. Meanwhile, this is also a job that requires rich experience in the import business.

As a result, many furniture importers work with sourcing agents, benefit from their experience, and finally select the right furniture supplier in China.

Dealing with China sourcing agents can invite quotes from any furniture factory, and some factories maybe not be in Alibaba. These factories may also attend furniture fairs in China, which is the only place you can find them. For example, this year, they may attend CIFF (China International Furniture Fair), and next year they may exhibit at Dongguan 3F (a large furniture fair held in Dongguan, China). Therefore, if you simply search online, only some Chinese suppliers are available, and many good quality suppliers are not on sites like Alibaba or Global Sources.

After selecting several furniture factories, the next step is to audit them. Auditing these factories will help you discover who they are, what capabilities they have, the whole truth about them, their equipment and processes, what ethical and sustainability standards they follow, and more.
For this same reason, many furniture importers work with sourcing agents, as factory audits are critical for your import business. This task is usually best left to the “local team in China.”

Once a certain number of qualified suppliers have been identified, the next step is to issue a formal request for a quotation. When dealing with professional furniture manufacturers, you must act as an experienced furniture buyer. Once again, this is another part of the import process that the sourcing agents can handle for you.

In case you didn’t do like this, the furniture manufacturers may not consider you as a potential customer and may casually make a simple quote without any specifications and terms. However, some furniture factories may not even quote at all. This will make supply chain management troublesome and finally lead to choosing the wrong supplier.

3.4 Calculate Costs of Import Furniture From China

cost of importing furniture from China

When you import furniture from China, you should know the “China factory cost” of your furniture and the cost of the whole process of delivering the furniture to your warehouse.

Therefore, the first step is to make sure that all furniture suppliers from China quote for you following Incoterms. Among them, “EXW,” “FOB,” and “CIF” are the standard quotations.

EXW price

Under these terms, the supplier quotes the original product price to you. They are not responsible for any shipping costs. This means that the buyer arranges to pick up the goods from the supplier’s warehouse. Therefore, this is not recommended if you do not have your freight forwarder or if you are a newbie.

FOB price

In addition to the product price, FOB includes the freight costs for transporting the goods from the supplier’s warehouse to the seaport. After that, the supplier is relieved of all risk for the goods.

FOB price = original product cost + transportation cost from supplier’s warehouse to agreed port in China + export processing fee.

CNF price

The supplier is responsible for delivering the goods to the port in your country/region, and then you need to arrange for the delivery of the goods from the port to your address.

CNF price = original product cost + transportation cost from supplier’s warehouse to your country’s port + export processing fee.

Next, you will need to know what you will be charged for shipping and local fees. This includes sea freight to your country, local port charges, handling fees, and delivery charges from the port to your warehouse. Please note that sea freight rates are changing monthly.

As an importer, you should collect these fees from your China buying office or your appointed freight forwarder. Generally, an excellent buying office will negotiate prices with shipping companies in advance, utilizing their total exports volume to negotiate, and offer the best prices to their furniture importers.

3.5 Negotiations Wih Furniture Suppliers In China

China sourcing agent helps negotiate price

Chinese furniture suppliers are very skillful at negotiating. So make sure you are well prepared before attending the conference; otherwise, you may overpay for your product.

When importing furniture from China, follow these seven steps to get the best results from negotiating with Chinese suppliers.

Tip 1. Do good research on your products. You must determine the list of materials and specifications of your product; You need to know where the furniture factories are in China and what they look like; You must get quotes from several different factories to make comparisons; You must understand how your product is will be produced.

If you do not have this information, you will not be able to negotiate effectively, and you will lose the trust of your Chinese suppliers.

Tip 2. Only negotiate with suppliers on your shortlist. It is a waste of time to negotiate with a supplier who cannot meet your requirements on quality.

Tip 3. You must know your Chinese manufacturer well. Does it provide you with good quality products, better delivery times, and pricing? On the other hand, is it a requirement for a high MOQ (minimum order quantity)?

Tip 4. Define a negotiation strategy based on the level of quality, delivery time and price you are looking for. For example, is price a major concern? Or, is it important that your plant uses components and materials that meet standards? Would you pay a higher unit price if the factory offered a shorter production lead time?

Tip 5. Show the factory the size and backstory of your company. Regardless of the size of your purchase order, every Chinese factory wants to know if you are their target customer. If you are their target customer, they will be more willing to negotiate with you and will be happy to help you in importing furniture from China.

Tip 6. Negotiate with the right people. For small and medium-sized factories, it is best to negotiate directly with the owner, who has the final decision on the price of your order.

Tip 7. Stand firm. If you negotiate with a Chinese supplier, don’t be convinced by emotional triggers and expensive lunches.

Tip 8. Don’t overlook payment terms when negotiating with your furniture suppliers. In general, payment terms are a 30% deposit and another 70% after your goods are produced by the factory and successfully pass pre-shipment inspection.

3.6 Purchasing contracts

When importing furniture from China, there’s a right way and a wrong way! First, make sure you have signed a purchasing contract. The purchasing contract must contain the following elements:

  • Furniture specifications, including products, packaging, instructions
  • Amount
  • Delivery time, late penalty
  • Clear payment terms
  • Seller’s bank account
  • Agreed quality standards (most Chinese furniture importers follow AQL standards)

Any furniture imported from China must have a clear purchasing contract. These purchasing contracts will be the most helpful negotiation material if any problems occur during the procurement process.

If you are using a buying office, then creating and managing purchasing contracts is their professional job.

G) Confirm payment terms before placing an order

You should be concerned about many important details before reaching an agreement with your supplier.

  • Proforma Invoice
  • Confidentiality agreements
  • Solutions for defective products
  • Payment terms and methods

One of the most important is payment terms. The right payment terms can help you maintain a continuous cash flow. Let’s take a look at international payments and terms.

4 common payment methods

  • Wire Transfer
  • Western Union
  • PayPal
  • Letter of Credit (L/C)

4 common payment terms

  • 30% deposit, 70% balance before shipment
  • 30% deposit, 70% balance against bill of lading
  • No deposit, 100% payment against bill of lading
  • O/A Payment

Chinese furniture suppliers usually use payment terms like this: 30% deposit before manufacturing and 70% balance before shipping from China. However, it varies by provider and industry.

3.7 Quality Control

China sourcing agent helps funriture quality control

When you import furniture from China, a quality inspection should be carried out on every order. No matter what the size of a Chinese furniture manufacturer, it is wise to set a quality standard. Because the factory may have some quality issues, these might vary from factory to factory.

As an importer, whether you are importing a single container loading or a large quantity, the impact on your business can be very serious if any of the batches you received have quality issues.

Once your furniture has been imported from China to your country, it cannot be returned. As a result, the importer will either have to sell this stock as a defective product or fix the quality problem, but by doing so, your costs will increase a lot.

To avoid this situation, quality control should be exercised on every batch! The following are the different types of quality control.

In-line inspection: Quality inspectors visit the factory every day during the production process and conduct random product inspections.

Pre-shipment inspection: This is a product inspection after production is complete.

Container loading monitoring: It ensures that containers are loaded correctly and with the correct quantity. This is especially important for fragile items such as glass.

The simple rule of thumb is that the more quality controls you make, the lower the risk! That means you must find a balance between the number of quality controls and the cost of quality controls.

Working with a buying office such as Rix Sourcing, they will provide you with a professional quality control team. They will evaluate every product and every manufacturer and develop the right quality control plan for you.

In addition, the quality control team will help you create, control and execute your plan. For example, if you are doing business with a new Chinese furniture supplier, the first order will require a higher level inspection.

3.8 Choose the best shipping solution

China sourcing agent helps arrange shipment of furniture

When importing furniture from China, the ideal shipping method is shipping by sea. Because with air freight shipping, the cost of importing furniture will be very high and commercially unfeasible.

Shipping by sea requires loading with containers. Please check the table below for standard shipping containers:

Container SizeCubic Meter VolumeDimensions
20ft28 CBM5898mm (L) x 2352mm (W) x 2393mm (H) 20’GP
40ft (standard)58 CBM12032mm (L) x 2352mm (W) x 2393mm (H) 40’GP
40ft HQ68 CBM12032mm (L) x 2352mm (W) x 2698mm (H) 40’HC

The best container size for importing furniture from China

In general, no matter which country you are located, you should always use standard size containers, 20ft, 40ft, 40ft HQ.

The advantage of a larger container is a lower cost per cubic meter, which means that if you use a 40ft container, the final cost of your imported product will be the cheapest. The reason for the lower cost is that most ports around the world charge the same or a very similar amount to handle a 20ft or 40ft container.

Therefore, 40ft containers are usually chosen for importing furniture from China.


LCL (less than one container load)
If you have a small order or even a sample order, LCL shipping may be the only option. However, your goods must be shipped from the Chinese furniture manufacturer to the port and loaded into a “shared container”. When the container arrives in your country, it needs to be unpacked at the port so that your goods can be delivered to you. In fact, this means your furniture is handled by many people who may not always take great care with your goods.

As a result, LCL shipments are notorious for arriving damaged. Therefore, if you are going to ship your furniture in this way, it is very important to make sure that your furniture manufacturer has packed your furniture very well.

FCL (Full Container Load)
When you order a full container from a furniture manufacturer, the container is delivered from the terminal to the factory, and then the factory loads the furniture into the container.

Once the container is fully loaded and the door is closed, a seal will be placed on the container. The container doors will not be opened until the container arrives at the destination port. Thus, your furniture will be delivered safely to your door.

3.9 Customs clearance and delivered to your door

The last important step is customs clearance. You should know what documents or certificates are required for this process.

In the customs clearance process, the following documents are required for all types of furniture:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of Lading
  • Certificate of Origin

Of course, depending on the different customs regulatory requirements for furniture, additional certificates are required. But you don’t have to worry too much about the import process. Normally, your supplier or buying office will prepare these documents for you.

In addition to the certificate, you will need to pay customs duties. However, the rates vary from country to country or product to product. You can ask your freight forwarder or your customs broker for the required documents and product duty rates.

I hope you will benefit a lot from my guide. I will keep it updated. We are Rix sourcing, the leading furniture sourcing company in China, which can help you to better buy and import furniture from China. If you have any questions about how to buy and import furniture from China, please feel free to contact us, we are always here.

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