On December 26, 2017, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) released GAC Order (Decree)  236 – The Interim Administrative Procedure for Customs Advance Rulings, which comes into effect on February 1, 2018. The new provisions permit importers and exporters to request advance rulings from China Customs in advance of the actual import or export of the goods involved in the ruling request.
Rulings may be requested from the subsidiary office of Customs where the importer of record (IOR) or the exporter of record (EOR) are registered. It does not appear that other parties may apply for a ruling. Ruling requests may be requested for tariff classification, customs valuation issues, origin and other areas prescribed by GAC, but only one issue per application.
Rulings must be applied for on a specified form accompanied by other relevant documentation (with Chinese translations, if in another language), in most cases three months prior to the planned importation or exportation. Customs will decide whether to accept the application within 10 days of receipt, and if accepted, will issue a “preliminary” ruling within 60 days that is valid for three years unless revoked or withdrawn by Customs before then, or if the law or regulations change (in which case, there is an automatic revocation). If testing or expert opinions are needed, the time for those operations is not included within the 60 day period. Importers or exporters must follow the rulings.
Customs may cancel a ruling if the materials submitted by the applicant are untrue, inaccurate or incomplete; the decision of the preliminary decision is wrong; there is another need to cancel the ruling. If canceled, the cancelation relates back to the issuance. GAC should be issuing implementation regulations or guidance shortly.