Considerations When Importing PPE From china
It is becoming clear that there will be an ongoing need for all PPE products through most of this year and maybe beyond.
Whilst there is a big push on UK production of these items, with the vast need caused by the changing of PPE multiple times per day and the run-down of the UK’s manufacturing ability, it’s clearly obvious that there will be an ongoing requirement to import these items for the foreseeable future.
In this article we aim to provide some clarity regarding the background, process and procedure to import PPE from China especially, but it is also applicable to any of the world’s main manufacturing countries.
Firstly, we will assume that you have agreed to buy your PPE from a supplier you trust, terms have been agreed and all the necessary standards and approvals are in place and have been met.
For Masks, gowns, medical equipment and similar in connection with Corona / Covid 19 virus, Chinese customs will thoroughly inspect every export from China as they search for sub-standard, fake or miss-declared items, which is why it is so important all items are approved and to standard.
Air Freight From china
If you plan to airfreight from China, it is important to note that in normal times, most cargo travels in the holds of passenger aircraft where the price is cross-subsidised, as passengers pay for most of the plane’s operating costs.
As there are hardly any passenger flights at the present time, only the world’s small fleet of cargo aircraft are available. Along with some passenger planes that are moving cargo only, there’s no cross subsidy from passenger revenue.
Add into the mix that (from China especially) there are huge volumes of PPE being booked and it will come as no surprise that rates have shot up – by about 500% since January.
Furthermore all larger PPE shipments are being treated as ‘part charters’ where a charter plane is booked especially to move a set number of larger shipments. This is an important distinction for importers who have been used to importing by air from China in normal times. Previously if your shipment didn’t make it to the airport in time for the booking we had made, it just went on the next flight with no penalties.
With a part charter, the cancellation fee is 100% of the freight charge – as the plane will just leave part empty.
Planning is clearly everything and K&L Freight can guide you so that you do not end up in this unfortunate situation.
PPE By Sea Freight
If you are booking PPE by sea freight from China, it is rather more straightforward and it is very much business as usual.
K&L Freight can offer you both full load and part load sea freight import options from all the main ports in China.
Bear in mind though, that the customs examination of all PPE exports still applies to sea freight bookings.
Also note that sea freight is suffering the opposite problem from airfreight – too many ships operating and not enough bookings.
Shipping lines are countering this by cancelling some services, so it is important that what you have purchased is booked on a priority service with a shipping line that has got ships departing when their schedule says they will.
It sounds obvious but shipping lines will accept bookings for ships that they know they are going to cancel so that they have stock loaded containers ready for the next sailing in a week or two’s time, in order they can be sure it will be fully loaded.
Again, K&L Freight will ensure you get the best possible and therefore quickest routing door to door.
Importing Sanitizer is a different proposition. You may be tempted to consider airfreight, though enquires have tailed off, as our customers (and potential customers) begin to understand what is possible and what is practical.
Sanitizer is normally around 70% alcohol and therefore treated as flammable. Many tonnes of flammable product on a plane is not normally a great idea.
Whilst in theory it is possible, by the time special packing is applied in accordance with IATA regulations and the weight of sanitizer itself means it is normally cost prohibitive.
Importing by sea is a much more straightforward proposition – though note it is still classed as dangerous goods.
To import sanitizer we will need dangerous goods information from your supplier including a data sheet known as an MSDS.
Without this information we cannot confirm the booking on a ship which is not only industry practice, but is covered by legally binding regulation.