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WAB Learns

Newbies: What to bring

A guide for teachers and their families new to WAB / Beijing

What you need to bring ...

Prohibited items

Please don't even think of bringing these items. At the least they'll be confiscated and/or you risk a fine. At worst you may jeopardize your visa.

  • Weapons, firearms, ammunition, explosives, gun powder, firearms (including air-rifles), bow, arrow and replica gun
  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Counterfeit or pirated goods
  • Pornographic materials
  • Materials found to be morally or politically offensive, or anti-communist
  • Endangered species (alive or dead)
  • Meat products
  • Plants and seeds
  • Soil, fertilizer and pesticide
  • Gambling paraphernalia (such as poker chips)
  • Certain type of food products, wine, liquor, beverages and alcoholic drinks are prohibited to be imported in certain cities in China 

Import Duties & Taxes

As a general guideline, clothing and kitchenware can be imported into China duty free.
Personal effects, furniture, electrical and electronic items, stereo equipment, office equipment, wine, liquor, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and tobacco, motor vehicles and motorcycles, are subject to import tax and duty. In general, the import tax and duty charged on furniture and personal effects is approximately 10% to 30% based on Customs assessed value. If more than one of each type of the major appliances is included in a shipment (i.e. refrigerators or televisions etc.), Customs may consider the shipment containing commercial goods thus making clearance very difficult.

Things that you should leave behind as they attract a LOT of duty (as of last year) and you can easily replace them here

  • More than 200 books
  • Sofas and chairs (including dining table chairs - each seat is counted separately for duties, so a 3 seater = 3 sofas)
  • Beds and mattresses

Also leave behind any Chinese antiques you may have, since you can probably import them, but may have a problem getting them back out when you leave. 

According to the British

  • Toaster
  • English Tea
  • Specific prescription medication
  • Birthday and thank you cards

1) stock up on paracetamol, ibuprofen and cold and flu medication
2) large jar of marmite
3) big block of cheddar cheese and a big blog of Parmesan. Cheese is expensive
4) herbal teas like mint and ginger.
5) you can find herbs and spices at places like Sanyuanli and there are WeChat groups but stock up on all the essentials you might need for making curries. Hard to find things like mustard seeds, coriander seeds, asafoetida etc.
6) suntan lotion - Chinese suntan lotion often has a whitening agent in it.
7) don't bring chocolate - New Zealand Whittaker's chocolate is in plentiful supply and in all the supermarkets like Jenny Lou's, April Gourmet etc.
8) A few packs of British bacon to tide you over - various butchers claim to make British bacon but no-one gets it quite right.
9) DON"T bring your wellies. You will never wear them!

According to the Australians

  • Gift wrap
  • Easter eggs
  • You can get things from iherb sent to WAB so you don't need to lug big things of vitamins, minerals, health foods or kids food from US/AU/UK.  Then when arrive, getting a meituan and eleme account is helpful.
  • IKEA delivers in Beijing now so there's really no need to go there anymore . hahaha
  • Clothes, shoes and underwear of larger sizes should be brought with you!
  • Decathlon sports store has a decent range of western sizes for ok prices but not XXXL or larger.
  • I still cannot find decent rolls of quality gift wrapping paper!  IKEA occasionally have it.
  • Meat, cheese and organic fruit and veg is expensive but there are wechat stores where you can buy bulk -direct from the supplier which cuts costs.  They deliver to BJ.

According to the Americans

  • Cold medication (Nyquil; dayquil)
  • Medication like Sudafed, OTC pain medication especially children's medication
  • Herbs and spices (sealed, suitcase not shipment)
  • Preferred makeup brands
  • Children and adult sunscreen

According to the Canadians

  • Toothpaste if you care about the flavour and brand - it's just not the same
  • Maple syrup (but you can find it here with Canadian label)
  • Chocolate
  • Tim Hortons (not yet in Beijing but opening in Shanghai)
  • Larger size shoes (sometimes available at Pearl Market - authenticity can be dubious)
  • Gluten free items (pasta etc) you can get the gluten-free cake and bread flour (Bob's Red Mill)
  • Canadian Cereals