How long does it take to import decorative stainless steel sheets from China?

Foshan Ferosteel is on a mission to become the most professional expert in the metal decorative materials supply chain. We are committed to creating a culture of growth and prosperity for our employees, making us the best development platform for both spiritual and material well-being. The demand for decorative stainless steel is rapidly increasing in various projects, ranging from architectural cladding to interior design accents. However, this rising popularity brings up a crucial question for international clients: what is the typical time frame for importing decorative stainless steel sheets from China? In this blog post, we will explore the import process, offering a detailed overview and a realistic timeline to help you incorporate these stunning elements into your design projects.

Ⅰ Order Confirmation Stage

1. Confirm Products Information

If you have specific product requirements, you can tell us directly. If you are not very familiar with stainless steel products, you can tell us the intended use of the products and other information, and we can recommend products that suit your needs based on this. At the same time, we will provide our company’s sample catalog for you to choose from. To further meet the personalized needs of customers, we can also provide customization services based on customer-provided drawings or samples.

2. Stainless Steel Grade

The commonly-used stainless steel grades are stainless steel grade 201, 304, and 316/316L. Grade 201 can be considered as a basic option without any additional features. It is affordable but may not perform well in tough conditions. On the other hand, Grade 304 is more suitable for handling wet environments and offers easier fabrication options such as bending, although it comes at a slightly higher cost. If you require the highest level of durability and resistance to harsh conditions, Grade 316 would be the premium choice despite its higher price tag. When selecting stainless steel, it is important to consider your specific needs. In most cases, Grade 304 provides a balanced combination of strength and cost-effectiveness.

The Metal Composition of different grades of stainless steel
GradeNickel %Chromium %Carbon %Molybdenum %
3048.0—10.518.0—20.00.08 Max
304L8.0—10.518.0—20.00.03 Max
31610.0—14.016.0—18.00.08 Max2.0—3.0
316L10.0—14.016.0—18.00.03 Max2.0—3.0
43016.0—18.01.20 Max
409≤0.510.5—11.50.08 Max
439≤0.517.0—19.00.03 Max


The standard sizes for stainless steel sheets are 1219x2438mm, 1219x3048mm, 1000x2000mm, and 1500x3000mm. Customization is available for width and length, with a maximum width limit of 1500mm.


The selection of the thickness for the stainless steel sheet should be based on the structural requirements of the application. Thicker sheets are recommended to enhance strength and rigidity, while thinner sheets may be suitable for decorative purposes without structural roles. The thickness typically ranges from 0.5 mm for light-duty applications to 3 mm for heavy-duty uses, with a consistent production time across this range.

Ⅱ Sampling

For certain projects, you may want to see and touch a physical sample of our stainless steel sheets before placing a full order. Here’s how you can request samples:

Sample Request:

If you’d like to receive a sample, especially with customized finishes, please inform us either during the initial discussion or after reviewing the quotation.

Sample Cost:

Small Sample Sizes in Stock: We have a variety of small sample sizes available in stock, measuring 100mm x 100mm for various finishes and textures, and other 200mm x 200mm and 300mm x 300mm for our popular water ripple pattern. These small samples are free of charge, and you would only need to cover the shipping cost.

Larger Sample Sizes: If you require larger sample sizes, they will need to be cut from a full sheet of standard size. In this case, a small fee will apply to cover the cost of material and processing. We will clearly outline this cost before proceeding with your custom sample request.

Sample Lead Time:

Stock Samples: If you choose samples from our existing stock, we can typically ship them out within 1-2 business days.

Custom Samples: For samples requiring custom dimensions or finishes, the lead time will be slightly longer.

Sample Approval Process: After receiving the samples, thoroughly examine them to ensure they meet your expectations. If any issues arise during testing, please inform us promptly, and we will conduct a second sampling according to your specific requirements.

Ⅲ Production Stage

From classic mirror / brushed finishes to intricate etched patterns and various color options, the level of customization you choose directly impacts production timelines. The processing time for stainless steel surface treatments varies depending on the method and complexity of the process.

 1.Normal Surface

Brushed Finish: Typically takes 1-2 days. This process involves grinding the stainless steel surface to create a uniform brushed texture.

Mirror Polishing: Generally requires 2-3 days. Mirror polishing involves multiple grinding and polishing steps to achieve a high-gloss mirror effect on the stainless steel surface.

Sandblasting: Takes 1-2 days. Sandblasting removes surface impurities and oxidation layers by high-speed sand particle blasting, producing a uniform matte finish.

2.Special Surface

Electroplating/Electrophoretic Coating: Generally takes 2-4 days. This method deposits a metal or organic coating on the stainless steel surface via electrochemical processes to enhance decorative and anti-corrosive properties.

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD): Requires 3-5 days. PVD is a high-temperature vacuum coating technique that deposits a high-hardness, wear-resistant decorative film on the stainless steel surface.

Etching: Typically needs 1-3 days. Etching involves chemically or physically engraving patterns or textures on the stainless steel surface to enhance aesthetics and uniqueness.

These times are approximate estimates, and the actual time required may vary based on specific projects, process complexity, and factory production schedules. When planning a project, it is recommended to communicate with the supplier to understand the exact processing time.

Ⅳ Documents Required for Customs Clearance

The materials required for customs clearance generally vary depending on the specific requirements of each country or region. However, the following are commonly requested documents for customs clearance:

Commercial Invoice: Detailed description of the goods, including type, quantity, unit price, and total price. International commercial terms (e.g., FOB, CIF, etc.). Detailed information of the supplier and buyer.

Packing List: Description of each package, including the goods, quantity, and weight. Dimensions and total weight of the packages.

Transportation Documents: Bill of Lading (B/L) or Airway Bill (AWB), showing the origin and destination of the goods. Container Packing List (if applicable).

Certificate of Origin: Proof of the country of origin of the goods, if applicable.

Payment Proof: Copies of payment documents such as wire transfer records, letters of credit, etc.

Import License: Some countries and regions may require specific import licenses or permits for certain goods.

Other Documents: For example, health certificates (for certain food and drugs), product certificates (proof of compliance with specific technical standards), insurance policies, etc.

Ⅴ Post-Production Lead Time

After completing the surface treatment, we will proceed with packaging using wooden pallets for full container orders and iron pallets for less than container load orders. Additionally, shipping labels with packaging details will be affixed to each pallet.

After our team finishes scheduling, we will send you an order follow-up sheet so that you can have a general idea of the entire process timeline.

Ⅵ Shipment

Ocean Freight: This cost-effective option is ideal for LCL or FCL orders that are not time-sensitive. While it takes longer than air freight (ranging from 5 to 40 days depending on distance and route), ocean freight is the most economical way to transport bulky or heavy cargo, such as stainless steel sheets.

Air Freight: If speed is critical, air freight is the preferred choice. It can deliver your order within 3-7 days, albeit at a higher cost compared to ocean freight. For CIF, CNF, DDP, or DDU terms, the Ferosteel team will book the vessel based on the production completion date to ensure immediate shipment post-production. For EXW or FOB terms, we will promptly remind you to contact your shipping forwarder for the shipment.

Ⅶ Customs Clearance at the Destination Port

We highly recommend appointing a licensed customs broker in your country to handle the import clearance process. A customs broker can navigate the complexities of customs regulations, saving you time and ensuring compliance. They can also advise you on any anticipated import duties or taxes associated with your order. This process typically takes 3-10 days.

Ⅷ Total Lead Time Estimation

The total lead time for ordering decorative stainless steel sheets can vary between several business days and several weeks, depending on your specific requirements.

Standard Orders: If you need standard sizes in common grades, simple surface treatments, a moderate quantity, and no sample confirmation required, we can typically deliver within 5-7 business days after receiving the advance payment.

Customized Orders: For customized orders that require accurate sampling and complex production processing, ordering will take a few weeks.

Ⅸ Conclusion

Foshan Ferosteel provides a streamlined and efficient production process for your decorative stainless steel sheet needs. We take pride in utilizing high-quality materials and implementing meticulous quality control procedures to ensure you receive exceptional products.

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