The costs and logistics of shipping from China to the UK can be intimidating for inexperienced importers who don’t know what to expect. The wide variety of shipping rates just adds to the confusion - it’s very difficult to tell what ‘reasonable’ costs actually are.
The first thing any new importer needs to do is make some inquiries. Don’t forget to shop around for shipping rates before selecting a wholesaler.
I also recommend finding out the following details when you are arranging shipping:
My tips to NZ and Australian importers apply here as well: make an effort to bargain with the wholesaler over shipping costs. If they seem unwilling, tell them that you are shopping around to find the best deal!
After you have been trading with the wholesaler and/or shipper successfully for some time, inquire about lower rates for frequent customers. Most won’t offer if you don’t ask.
And another thing: everything imported into the UK from outside the EU is subject to VAT of 17.5%. This applies to everyone, not just VAT registered companies.
If you aren’t VAT registered, you will have to get a PSEUDO TURN number. Your goods won't get clearance without one.
I think that the most useful site for finding information on this topic is HM Revenue and Customs http://www.hmrc.gov.uk. Download the PDF’s ‘Introduction to Import and Export’ and ‘Guide to Importing and Exporting: Breaking down the Barriers’, these should cover most of what you need to know.
Let us know if you have any questions at all!