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Shipping to Malawi from US, UK, and China involves careful planning right away from the start. Sending goods to Malawi from China, UK or US is not easy. It requires commitment on the sender as well as the recipient. Successful sending of goods to Malawi means weighing out different options on choosing suppliers, courier services, mode of shipment, clearing agent, and nurture of goods to be shipped.

Malawi Top Imports

Malawi imported $2.34B in 2016 making it one of the world’s largest importers. It is ranked 174th out of 232 economies.  As the statistics shows importing is a large business in the country. Malawi Top imports are petroleum oils, medicine, chemical fertilizers, postage stamps and bank notes. China, US, SA and Zambia are some import partners for Malawi.

This guide attempts to highlight some of the important things to know when shipping goods to Malawi from US, UK, and China. For the purpose of this blog post we are focusing on shipping goods to Malawi from China although the same information applies when shipping to Malawi from US, UK and other oversees countries.


Why Shipping to Malawi?

Goods are shipped to Malawi for business, to family and friends or sometimes goods are also shipped for donations. Goods qualifying for shipment include items which cannot be found locally.  Since Malawi is less industrialized most of goods on the markets are imported from abroad. Many people choose to import cheap Chinese goods unlike highly priced goods from the US or UK.  The reason many people are shipping from china is because most Malawians are low-income earners hence cheap merchandise from China is affordable to most of them unlike goods from western markets.

Shipping to Malawi from US

What Goods to Ship to Malawi?

Goods are grouped into two distinct categories. The general category includes goods like shoes, handbags, clothes, toiletries, and groceries. While the electronics and miscellaneous category include fridges, mobile phones, tablets, televisions, laptops, computers, and car parts. Whatever goods you are importing depends on the need available.

When importing for business the crucial part is to import goods which will easily sale for a profit. Fast selling commodities are good for small businesses with small capital. In order to make business people import high value products. It is good advice to import goods which are hard to find locally and they are on high demand.

Finding Trusted Suppliers in China

Shipping from china is now possible without physically going there. Instead people search goods in china online. There are many websites where people search and buy goods from Chinese suppliers. Some of the websites where to find goods from China are as shown below; (this is one of the best site for wholesale buying. The prices of goods here are relatively cheaper than on other websites)


These Chinese e-commerce websites have a database of thousands of suppliers of almost everything that you may need. However, be cautioned that some suppliers are dubious. Hence, the person buying goods form the sites mentioned should be careful when identifying the supplier.

Read : How to Start Importation Business in Malawi

One way to determine a good supplier to contact is to read reviews made by other buyers. Generally, a trusted supplier will have more positive reviews about their products and service delivery. Secondly, the other way is to order a sample of the product before making bulk purchase.  Once convinced with the quality of the sample it’s when you may decide to order more from the supplier.  Thirdly, you can contact a Malawian agent who is in China to spot check the products from the supplier before buying in bulk. If the agent recommends the product quality then it would be the right supplier to transact with.


Packaging Requirements

Once goods are sourced from suppliers they are taken to the shipping port like Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Shanghai. You choose the shipping port in China where the purchased goods will be submitted to the courier company. Goods ready for shipping are packed to meet specific standards before they are loaded into the plane or containers. Goods are packed in cardboard box and are supposed to be labeled properly. For instance some required information on labels includes box number, destination name, recipient name and general description of contents.


Important Documentation for Shipping to Malawi

Sending goods to Malawi by air freight or sea freight requires one to have necessary legal documents as well as other documents for easy identification of cargo ownership. These are different documentation that helps the smooth shipping of goods from china port where goods are loaded to Malawi where cargo is loading off. Below is a list of some of the documents.

  • Bill of Landing
  • MRAform 12
  • MRAform 19
  • Advice note
  • Invoice
  • Delivery order
  • Inspection for scanner
  • Packaging list
  • Report order
  • Release order

Read:Lets Do Business in Malawi to Reduce Unemployment 


Choosing Courier Company

Choosing the best courier services is part of making the process of sending goods to Malawi successful.  There are different courier companies that ship goods on behalf of the owner of goods. Some of the known courier companies that ship to Malawi include DHL Express, FedEx Express, UPS, MSK, MSC, A1 Freight forwarding, Tudor International Freight, China post, EMS, CSCL, and TNT. Which company to choose depends on one’s preference, cost and efficiency of services they offer among others factors. Ideally you have to look for a company that offer cheap parcel delivery to Malawi to cut shipping costs.

Shipment Methods to Malawi

Whether shipping to Malawi from US or shipping to Malawi from UK, there are two possible means of transportation. Shipping can be by Air freight and by Sea freight. The kind of the method of shipping depends on several factors. Some factors that affect the choice of mode of shipment are weight of the goods to be shipped, delivery time, shipping cost as well as logistical convenience.

Air Freight to Malawi

  • Most suitable for high value light weight items
  • Fast delivery, with goods arriving within two to ten days
  • Charges relatively more costly com[pared to seaflight
  • High logistical efficiency
  • Ideal for small quintiles

Sea Freight to Malawi

  • Shipped by sea such as shipping container to Malawi
  • Most suitable for heavy cargo which requires large volume such as furniture and equipment
  • Charges are relatively cheaper than air cargo
  • Delivery time is longer
  • Suitable for large quantities


Clearing Agent and Customs

Lastly, upon arrival at the Malawi ports goods have to be cleared with at the customs office. Some people can do clearing process themselves or can contact a clearing agent to clearing the goods on their behalf. The duty of the clearing agent is to prepare a Bill of Entry (BoE). Then the agent submits the BoE to the customs office to clear the shipment. Once the customs offices clear the shipment the goods are ready for collection.


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