What to know and do before shipping from China to Laos ?
We guess that you are close to do a transfer between the two countries if you’re asking this question to yourself.
We are conscious that English data on the internet about this subject is a rare resource. Thus, after numerous hours of research on this topic, and basing ourselves on our decade of experience in Asia, we decided to put this page up, so you’re thoughts and doubts will be clarified. Without regarding your seniority on the International Trade area, you will find useful information on this page, enabling you to improve or begin your import/export process.
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Customs clearance in Laos
As a landlocked country, the foreign exchanges of Laos are very oriented on its direct neighbours, Thailand, China and Vietnam. In 2016, 62% of the imports of Laos where coming from Thailand, 19% from China and 11% from Vietnam. Concerning the exportations, 40% were sent to China, 30% to Thailand and 16% to Vietnam. Laos is an entire member of the ASEAN organisation, so its custom duties and procedures with China are ruled by the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
It’s an agreement that was implemented after negotiations between the Chinese government and the ASEAN representatives in order to ease and increase the exchanges between the two zones. The tariff barriers of 90% of the Chinese goods were reduced to zero, when they enter the ASEAN countries, Laos included. Therefore, you probably won’t have to pay any taxes when importing goods from China to Laos.
You can find below some useful pages to find out what tariff barriers are applicable on your products.
*On the official page of the ASEAN – China Free Trade Area, you can find a useful link helping you to calculate the taxes that applies on your goods.
Here is the composition of an HS Code, you can now see what an HS code is and what does it mean.
How can I be exempted of taxes for an import to Laos?
It’s always good to know if you can pay less taxes when you’re about to do an import.
Yes, it’s possible. In this aim, if he didn’t send you already, ask your supplier to provide you the well-fulfilled Form E document. We will examine it for you, before all procedure, because if it’s incorrectly completed you will have to pay taxes.
a) The Certificate of Origin (CO)
The CO is witnessing in which country and place the product was made. A notary public or a government should always be the producer of this document. Mostly, it is separated in several regional preferential certificates of origin and non-preferential certificates of origin, and also into GSP certificate of origin (Form A).
b) ASEAN-China Free Trade Certificate of Origin
The China – ASEAN Free Trade Certificate of Origin (FORM E) is valid in Laos, and more largely in all the ASEAN countries. It is true to the disposal of the item, if published by the China – ASEAN free Trade Area of preferential origin confirmation letter (FORM E), exports of products to the 10 countries of the importing country can benefit privileged tariff processes, the usual tax rate of up to 5%.
The “Trade in Goods Agreement” is detailing the sample format of the CO that has to be shown. In Protocol II “Trade in goods agreement”, you should detail what is written on the last page.
Now that you understand what to do to be the less dutiable possible, let’s discuss the freight options that you have to transfer your products from China to Laos.
Customs contact in China
Customs contact in Laos
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Prohibited & restricted items
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Even if its territory is not very large, Laos owns 4 international Airports that are well serving the country. Numerous weekly flights are linking these airports to China and wider to the world. Several Asian Airlines have branches there. All your shipments from China will be delivered there in less than one day.
Here is a quick list of the International Airports in Laos:
- Attapeu International Airport / Attopeu
- Wattay International Airport / Vientiane
- Luang Prabang International Airport / Luang Prabang
- Pakse International Airport / Pakse
AIR FREIGHT RATES
Let’s see together how air freight are calculated. The most important aspect that you have to understand is the difference between actual weight and volumetric weight. Once you get it, you can understand your air freight quotations.
*If the volumetric weight is higher than the actual weight of your box, the carrier will quote based on this weight. You can use online chargeable weight calculators to make it easier, now that you understand how it works.
After that, the cost of the shipment will naturally vary according to the service you require. If you need a DAP service (door-to-door), the shipment will be more expensive than a basic door-to-airport shipment. At SINO Shipping, we decided to quote every shipment on a case-by-case basis, to remain as transparent as possible based on our clients’ expectations.
RAIL FREIGHT FROM/TO LAOS
The Kunming-Singapore Railway is an ancient rail network project that was firstly thought when the Indochina region was still under French and British domination. The project has been abandoned during the years of war, and is now reconsidered, to create an efficient rail network through all the Indochina peninsula. In this objective, Chinese and Laos government are cooperating to create an express railway linking Kunming to Vientiane, and then Vientiane to Bangkok.
There is still a railway existing between the Chinese city and the Laos capital, but it’s not an express way. The expressway is planned to open in 2021. If your goods are produced in East and Central China, your goods will probably transit by this road in order to join Laos. The rail road is crossing the Laotian-Chinese border in the cities of Boten (Laos), and Mohanzhen (China).
You must know that the border between China and Vietnam is crossed by trains in only two points. There is a first line linking Kunming to Hanoi and crossing the border in Lao Cai (Vietnam) and Hekou (China). Then there is a second line linking Beijing to Hanoi and crossing the border at the “Friendship pass” between Pingxiang (China) and Đồng Đăng (Vietnam).
The train will cross the border between Vietnam and the south of Laos on two major points, in Dansavan (Laos) and Tt. Lao Bao (Vietnam), and at the Nam Phao International Checkpoint.
Here is a table of the usual transit times between Chinese and Laotian cities:
|Shenzhen/Guangzhou||4 days||4 days|
|Xi’an||7 days||8 days|
|Qingdao||8 days||9 days|
|Ningbo/Shanghai||7 days||8 days|
|Beijing||8 days||8 days|
|Chongqing||5 days||5 days|
|Kunming||3 days||4 days|
|Nanchang||6 days||6 days|
|Harbin||11 days||12 days|
|Changsha||5 days||5 days|
CROSS BORDER FROM/TO LAOS
There are only two places where you can pass from China to Laos by road, the Lantouy International Checkpoint and as we detailed before, the Boten Border Crossing. Roads in China or Laos are quite good, in Vietnam they are still improving.
Road freight can be better than rail freight for you because the transit time is halved and, depending on the type of goods you need to carry, it can be cheaper than rail freight. Because of its geography, Laos cultivated a road culture, so all the cities in the country are greatly linked by a good road network. Also, if you’re goods are coming from the east of China, they will transit via Vietnam first and then Laos. If they are coming from central or western China, they will cross the border between China and Laos.
We advise you to check the rates between road and rail freight, because for similar prices, it is possible to reduce drastically the transit time.
A table of the average transit time by truck:
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