How to import furniture from China to Saudi

The furniture market in China is one of the biggest furniture industries in the world. It accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s furniture production. For this reason, China is worth looking into if in search of quality and reputable furniture.

When you buy furniture directly from China, there is a good chance to save money and have more options. That is why more people, small and large businesses, prefer to import furniture from china. This article will help you understand how to buy and ship furniture from china to Saudi.

What kind of furniture do you need?

When it comes to furniture types in China, there is really not much furniture that China doesn’t manufacture. Any type of furniture you think you will probably find it. In our experience, most people prefer buying customized furniture from china and we happy about that. And not because we are against purchasing standardized pieces of furniture but because we are really good at customizing quality furniture without Minimum Order Quality (MOQ), even a single piece.

Standardized furniture

If you don’t have the patience to wait, standard pieces of furniture are ideal for you and always up for grabs in different parts of China. We will talk about the best places to buy furniture in a jiffy. Further, standard furniture is cheaper than customized furniture, hence more convenient when on a tight budget. However, if looking for something unique, one made from your ideas, then you are better off with custom furniture

Customized furniture

As the name suggests, these pieces of furniture are made custom (in most cases from your ideas). If not sure what you really need, we are always there to give you a hand. Love to see what we have achieved for other customers? Our support team will be happy to help!

If looking to furnish your house or office with unique and eye-catching furniture and not in a hurry, we recommend you go for customized furniture. They not only compliment any space but also come in handy in helping make the right statement.

Whether importing standardized or customized furniture, one very vital thing is knowing China’s regions and what they produce. Doing this helps a great deal in ensuring you work and buy from the right furniture entities.   

Where is the best place to buy furniture in China?

The most undisputable place to buy furniture in China is Shunde. Also known as Furniture City, Shunde is about 40 km south of Guangzhou and is devoted to manufacturing wholesale and retail furniture.

Shunde is connected with Guangzhou and Hong Kong by a network of ferries, buses, trains, and subway. It can be reached by taxi from Guangzhou in one hour, even during rush hours.

What about Guangzhou and Lecong?

Not once people or businesses looking to buy furniture in china get confused on whether to visit Shunde, Guangzhou, or Lecong. Essentially Guangzhou is a city, which is next to Foshan city. Shunde is part of Foshan while Lecong locates inside Shunde. They are that close to each other!

Guangzhou has some popular furniture malls, however most of them are for domestic markets. If you want to import furniture, visiting Foshan (Shunde) is the best choice. Thousands of furniture suppliers and manufacturers locate here, including furniture customization for projects, wholesale manufacturers, and suppliers for retails. Any high-quality furniture designs you think of are all exhibited for your choices.

Notable furniture mall in Shunde:

  • Lecong International Furniture Exhibition Center, Louvre/LFC
  • Sun-link Furniture Wholesale Market
  • Tuanyi International Furniture City
  • Foshan International Furniture Expo Mall
  • Shunde Empire Furniture market introduction (Royal)

Other prominent furniture markets

Here are the other two markets worth your attention:

  • Xianghe furniture market in Hebei Province (North China)
  • Likou furniture market in Suzhou City (East China)

Wholesale market

Since China is now the largest furniture manufacturer and export country, you will find the biggest furniture exhibitions in China. These exhibitions give you a variety of options and display the latest trends in modern furniture. If planning to purchase in bulk, you should consider going straight to manufacturers instead of spending time visiting retailers.

Factory

As just mentioned, it is worth going directly to the factories if buying huge quantities. By doing so, you get an opportunity to negotiate for better terms and, importantly, make a visit and determine if the factory is up to the task to avoid future frustrations.

It will be a bit challenging to purchase small quantities of furniture and hope to buy from manufacturers directly. Honestly, most manufacturers aren’t ready for retails and don’t care too much if you place small orders. Often they will ask MOQ and present you with prices that sometimes you may not like.

Below are 10 furniture factories we enjoin you to look at.

NoFurniture brand Established
1Quan U Furniture1986
2RedApple Furniture1981
3Markor Home Furniture1990
4KukaHome Furniture1982
5ShuangyeFurniture1995
6Qumun Furniture1997
7Land Bond Furniture1984
8Qumei Furniture1993
9ZuoYou  Furniture1986
10Cheers Sofa Furniture1992

While there are many good manufacturers in china, it is worth noting there are few masking as reputable brands. As such, you must do quality assurance. In a nutshell, this means checking the samples and signing them off once happier.

Cheap quality

Cheap is expensive! We are certain you have heard these words many times by time.  Some furniture factories in China can really frustrate, especially when it comes to quality. For that reason, you need to be certain who you are dealing with before placing any order. Proper due diligence will help you single out reputable furniture manufacturers from the rest. If using the services of a furniture agent, they will be able to guide you here. Frustrations can include bad quality, subpar material, reoccurring delays, which can really be costly, and bad rates.

Middle-class quality

Middle-class quality is slightly higher than cheap quality and ideal for you if planning to drop more riyals. Due diligence and thorough inspection during production will help you settle for the right quality. Whatever the reason, never settle for lower quality.

High quality

If you are after high-quality furniture, don’t settle for less. Even when the manufacturer lures you with some amazing offers, if they cannot meet your standard, just walk away. Most customized furniture fall here, and we are very proud of our role in furniture customization.  

Factory visiting

When visiting furniture factories in China, consider making a list of questions that can answer your needs and requirements as well as a product checklist. Does the factory specialize in your product category? How do they handle defective units? Check the furniture company factory to make sure they have good production processes.

It is also important to consider the location of the factory. You don’t want to sign a contract with a company you can’t access when in a hurry or when a need arises. While China has good roads, it is worth considering traffic situations as sometimes you can get stuck in traffic for hours, especially during rush hours.

A factory tour also allows you to confirm the type of material they use. Some furniture factories recycle old furniture and sponges with new fabric to make furniture, which looks decent from outside but inside is pitiable. If you truly care about your health, you shouldn’t entertain such manufacturers.

Showroom view

It makes sense to fly direct to China and visit the factory showroom to get a real picture of what to expect. Is it not satisfying to witness what actually happens than to make assumptions? Sure, it is! You can as well request someone you trust to visit. We encourage, if possible, to tour your prospect companies and ask questions before reaching a decision.

Workshop check

Seeing is believing! If possible, attempt to visit the manufacturer workshop and witness how they go about manufacturing. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, in case you have any during the visit. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are they specialized in your products category?
  • Are they able to manufacture what you need?
  • What kind of clients do they have?
  • How do they handle defective products?
  • How do they pack their products?

QC system check

Most furniture manufacturers in china are very clear on how they do their things, and it costs nothing to weigh whether they keep their word. Try to find out:

  • How will they design your furniture from your ideas? This is very crucial if ordering custom-made furniture. We involve you in every step till project completion.
  • Does the factory have the capacity to deliver?
  • What do they need to complete your project?

Just make sure you are satisfied you will get what you want before giving the green light.

Exporting packaging check

Every country has regulations on how to pack imports and exports. In China, for example, packaging materials need not be dangerous or poisonous. The Chinese government also encourages the use of materials that are recyclable biodegradable. So make sure to pass the right information to the supplier or manufacturer during the ordering process. That way, you will avoid rubbing customs the wrong way when exporting.

Export packaging inspection also entails labeling. Every shipment has to be labeled accurately. In this case, ensure your shipment confirms to Saudi’s requirements, such as including the country of origin.

Order details negotiations

Price

Price negotiation is very crucial and can make or break all the work you have done so far. We enjoin you to be careful.  This is because you are now negotiating with qualified factories. Remember, any entity in business is always ready for negotiation, and most wrestle to their advantage. Are you prepared?

If using a buying office or agent, by now, they certainly must have had multiple qualified suppliers quote on exactly the same specification. For that matter, there will be a range of prices to view. This approach is much better as you will be able to see quickly what seems reasonable prices and who is worth doing business with. You should also consider other factors (not just price) before delving into serious negotiation. If it is possible to have a face-to-face meeting with the factory’s salesperson, the better as it will be much easier to negotiate for a lower offer than when talking over the phone or through mails.

Bonus! If you can give Chinese factories what they want (large volumes and continuity of orders), you will undoubtedly get what you want (better price)! We know this because we have been in the industry for over 10 years.

Delivery time

When you order furniture from China, you should consider both the time it takes for the supplier to prepare your orders (or the manufacture to complete your project) and the transit time. If using an agent, you will probably have a rough idea of when your package will arrive. Without a clear timeline, you may stress yourself for something simple you could have worked with entities involved.

Quality control

None of the Chinese furniture companies is without quality issues during production. That is why it crucial to carry out thorough quality control, whether dealing with a small or large company. By doing this, you reduce the chances of quality issues on any batch. Note that if a quality issue is missed on any batch, especially if you are selling furniture, your furniture business will definitely feel the heat.

Remember, goods once imported cannot be returned to China. That means you will be left with a stock that will trouble you to unload. Are you ready for such an experience? We highly doubt it! For that reason, we insist furniture import must be quality checked. Here are various forms of quality control worth carrying out during production:

  • Mid production inspection – examine production midway through to ensure the right colors, designs, material, etc., are being used.
  • Pre-shipment inspection – check the batch at the end of production.
  • Container load check – to confirm the right quantity of furniture is loaded and make sure the container is loaded correctly. This is especially crucial when importing fragile furniture such as glass mirrored furniture.
  • Online inspection – is where a quality expert visits the factory often (in most cases every day) during the production process.

If working with us, we keep you in the loop on everything taking place, including sending the product photos or videos to see the status and inviting you for regular inspects. Essentially, we ensure:

  • Agreed standards of working are adhered to
  • The right level of quality control on your furniture
  • Full-time inspection and accountability over results
  • The right actions (re-working, re-inspection, or shipping) carried out.

Quality inspection companies

Here are a few companies offering furniture inspections in Mainland China you may want to contact

What next after the inspection?

After quality control is complete, you need to decide the next action. If the quality issues aren’t acceptable, you need to determine if they need to be re-worked and re-inspected. If everything is ok, then you need to organize for shipping and how soon that can happen.

After sales service

What support are you guaranteed after purchase? You may need help with installation or maintaining your furniture. What steps has the company put in place to ensure you get that support. Most furniture companies have support teams in place to assist their customers any time they need help. Others include instructions when packaging, and some have sections on their website for this purpose.

Materials confirmation

Most manufacturers don’t have their own materials; they source them from other suppliers. For that reason, it is important to confirm the materials supplied are exactly what you agreed, especially if not using standard materials.

Caveat! As you negotiate, don’t forget that every manufacturer has a price limit below which they can’t go. That means that you are likely to end on the negative side. When this happens, the manufacturer may end up using low-cost materials.

Furnishing confirmation

If you would like the factory to make other related furnishings for you, it is also important to make sure they can deliver. Ask for samples to be sure they will or even a list of past clients you can contact. Just make sure they are fit for the job!

Payment terms

When purchasing a product from China, the first important thing to get right is to ensure there is a purchase contract in place. The purchase contract should contain the following:

  • Clear payment terms
  • Furniture specification including product, packaging, instructions
  • Amounts
  • Agreed tolerances
  • Agreed quality standards
  • Payment terms
  • Late fines.

While you may have discussed these details at some point in time, it is vital that a clear purchase agreement is in place for each furniture import from China.

If you are using an agent, creating and managing the contract is a standard role that they would do for you.

Payment options

Payment options can vary under different situations and are negotiable. Generally, most companies importing furniture from China will work along the importer’s lines, pay a deposit, then clear the balance after shipping.

Place the order to the factory (Place a sample order before mass production)

Before giving any factory an order to mass-produce your furniture, it is vital that you do quality assurance! In other words, this means checking the samples and signing them off.

Quality assurance must cover all aspects of the furniture, the final product itself, how it assembles (if an assembly is required), the instructions, and the packaging (especially if you are an e-commerce furniture seller).

Addressing any mistakes or issues that surface before production starts is also very important. Otherwise, those mistakes will be mass-produced, and definitely, you will have yourself to blame at the end of the project.

Transfer deposit

Most companies will require you to make a deposit before production begins. Here are a few possible payment terms you are likely to be present to you:

100% payment before production starts

We like to call this approach super high risk as you have no leverage against the manufacturer once you have paid.  You are likely to be present with this payment term if your order is minimal. Each company has its MOQ, and it is better to understand a company’s MOQ to qualify for favorable payment terms.

30% deposit then 70% before shipment

Here, you pay a deposit on the order and later clear the balance once the manufacturer finishes producing the furniture and before shipping.

30% down, 70% against bill of lading

Simply, it means that you pay a deposit and get to control the standard and quality of the goods. Once production is complete and goods shipped out of China, you pay the balance against the bill of lading when you know your furniture is in a container and on the way.

0% deposit, 100% against bill of lading

With this option, the manufacturer agrees to manufacture based on your purchase order or contract. Once done, the manufacturer ships the goods out of China, leaving you to pay only after your shipment has been shipped. Normally, these payment terms are achievable if you are using a China furniture buying office.

0% deposit 100% balance after 90 days (importing goods on credit)

These payment terms are very favorable and easily attainable by making use of a dedicated furniture buying office. Note that getting credit terms will require meeting specific criteria, such as credit checks, trading history, and contracts.

Get the product drawing before production

Before mass production, ensure the company has the necessary production drawings. If you are creative, you can create them from scratch or base them on the designs available in your manufacturer’s online catalog or showroom. Most companies have ways of making sure their clients are happy with the drawing before production starts. We send them back to clients with all the needed details for approval.

Inspection

As mentioned earlier, there is no furniture company without production issues. However, intermittent inspection during production can help minimize these issues. To minimize production issues and reduce the inspection frequency, we make one sample first to be confirmed.

Raw material inspection

Confirming the material is one way of reducing production issues. Most companies will send you a sample designed with the material you picked for confirmation. If you give the green light, mass production starts immediately. If a change is necessary, you may have to inspect the material a few more times until the manufacturer is certain you are happier. Sometimes it is Ok to provide sample material (if possible) rather than waiting for the manufacturer to do so as this shortens the production period.

Inspection during production

It is a common practice for furniture companies to engage their clients during production. We do so by sending out clients product videos and photos to see the status. Other companies may even allow you to tour the company often during production. Whether allowed to visit or sent some photos or videos, take this seriously as that is the only way to get the desired product.

Quality check for ready products

As the name suggests, this inspection happened once the order is complete. Make sure to carry out this check and recommend any change if necessary. Keep in mind, after this, packaging and shipping starts. If using an agent, make sure to scrutinize any recommendations they give at this stage. Remember, what may seem a small quality issue to your agent may be big to you.

Shipping

You have two options here — ship by sea or by airfreight. We ship to our client’s country by sea unless they opt to ship by air, which is more expensive.  See the table below of standard shipping containers and the amount of cubic meter volume they hold.

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

You can either import a Full Container Load (FCL) or a Less than a Container Load (LCL).

  • LCL shipments – ideal for you if you have a small order
  • FCL shipments – are suitable when you order a full container or pieces of furniture to fit a container perfectly.

Whether importing a single piece, a few of them, or a full container, our team makes sure they are loaded and transported to the intended destination. Our thorough container loading inspections for all furniture ensures:

  • The exact quantity is loaded.
  • That loading is done with the utmost care.
  • All containers are well labeled (you don’t have to worry about Saudi authorities bothering you because we do a thorough job)

Find a reliable shipping agent

While you can import furniture directly from China, it is always advisable to use an agent if you have little knowledge about shipping from China to Saudi. There are a lot of things that need to be done right for furniture to depart China to the intended destination. Don’t forget your good must also comply with Saudi custom clearance. Unless you are ready to handle the stress of shipping furniture from China, then consider letting a shipping agent manage everything.

Some of the areas where shipping agents play a key role include:

Container loading

Container loading starts immediately after production, where the goods are packed in standard packages or as you have requested. Your agent will then pick them from the supplier’s warehouse and head them for the seaport or airport, depending on the mode of transport you selected.

As they wait to leave for Saudi, they will be cleared by customs officials for onward shipment. Custom clearance involves checking the accuracy of the attached documents. Once levied the relevant tariffs, they are now ready for shipment.

Other activities that take place before cargo leave the port include:

  • Cargo supervision – this is mandatory and done by port authorities against misuse, damage, mishandling, and theft.
  • Cargo insurance – done to protect the goods from unseen calamities.

Once everything is done and port authorities are satisfied, your goods are then loaded on a vessel or cargo plane for their final destination.

 Documents preparation

Importing from China requires licenses, some paperwork, and some documentation. You can do that on your own if you have the pertinent documentation and knowledge. However, it is recommendable to engage a customs broker to undertake the documentation for you.

The procedure for applying for an import from china license is as follows;

Note that you will also have to clear with Saudi authorities at the entry point for your furniture to be allowed entry.

Custom/ VAT levied on imported good from China

Only two kinds of tariffs levied on every import to Saudi: customs duty and value-added tax, which are charged on every import. The standard tariffs for goods being imported to Saudi Arabia is 5%. See the chart below for an overview of the tax rate:

Type Custom duty Value-added tax
Tax Rate Range0% to 100%5%
Custom ValueCost Insurance FreightCost Insurance Freight
Average Tax Rate4.85%5%
Tax collector KSA Customs AuthorityKSA Customs Authority
Customs threshold **NoneNone
Tax payer ImportersEvery member of the supply chain

**From which tariffs are required

We have some good links where you can learn more about this:

Certificate

When importing from China:

  • Country of origin certificate
  • Test certificate to prove that your product has been tested

When importing to Saudi

  • Certificate of origin, which must be authenticated by a local chamber of commerce and translated into the Arabic language
  • SASO (Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation) Certificate of Conformity, issued by an authorized certification body in the country of origin;

For the latest updates, visit the official website of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Wooden furniture, there is fumigation regulation

When importing furniture, should wood be used in either the product or the packaging, then you need to ensure that the container and furniture are fumigated in China. You must have a fumigation certificate to prove this.

Custom documents

Here are documentation that you may need when importing from China to Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia Standards Organization Certificate of Conformity (SASOCC).
  • Commercial invoice
  • Import/export declaration
  • Airway bill
  • For shipment, you must have the original insurance document. Translation to Arabic is also mandatory.
  • 3 copies of a custom invoice.
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading
  • Proforma invoice
  • A proof of origin of the product and must be translated into Arabic and authenticated at the Saudi Arabian chamber of commerce.
  • Country of origin certificate

Get ready to import furniture from china

When importing furniture from China, you can let your supplier handle the shipping. This is common for most first-time importers because it is the simplest process. The issue with this option is that you may end up paying more. However, other shipping methods can help you save money and time.

Handle shipping yourself

Entails booking cargo space directly with the shipping company and managing Customs. This method is time-consuming as you will need to monitor the carrier of the cargo yourself. We don’t recommend this method for small and medium importers. It works well for large companies because they have more workforce.

Here are some shipping companies in Saudi Arabia you may want to consider:

Use a local freight forwarder

This method is convenient because you will be dealing with local agents in your country. Most small and medium scale importers often use this option. The issue with this method is that most forwarders in your country may not have an office in China. They will work with China agents and will add a mark-up to what the local agents will charge.

Use a freight forwarder in China

This the fastest way to receive your shipment and most importers prefer this option. The forwarder is in close contact with your supplier and informs them of the status of your shipment. This method also gives the best rates.

Use a freight forwarder in your country and in China

With this option, you are on top of everything. You are in direct contact with both forwarders — the one sending the shipment and also the one receiving the shipment.

After sales service

Depending on the pieces of furniture you purchase, you may need help with the installation. This is common with furniture that requires dissembling before packaging and shipping. You may also need assistance to maintain your furniture in good condition. While most furniture companies provide support after purchase, it is prudent to ensure the manufacturer guarantees this service before signing the contract. Otherwise, you will have a hard time trying to figure out how to assemble your furniture.

Summary

Importing furniture from China continues to be on the rise, and if preferring to ship from this country, it is worth knowing every step on the way for a smooth experience. We compiled this guide to walk you through the entire process of shipping furniture from China to Saudi Arabia, so you be able to import from China like an expert. At this point, we hope you are now confident than before to import furniture from China.

All the best, and don’t hesitate to reach us if you have a question!  

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