How to Shipping from China to the US and Other Countries 2021

Mar 12, 2021 Chapter 5. Shipping

What would be the best way to Shipping from China to the US, Amazon FBA, or other countries? In this new guide, you will learn exactly how to choose the best shipping method according to your goods’ weight, budget, and shipping time. 

Shipping from China to US ways Including:


  • Regular mail post
  • Air express
  • Airfreight
  • Expedited ocean freight
  • LCL ocean freight
  • FCL ocean freight


We will talk about the following top 3 things about freight transportation to help you with the shipping from China process.


  • Which shipping method you can choose when shipping from China?
  • Which party will manage your shipping?
  • How to make a shipping quote


shipping from China steps

You can use this method to ship from China to the country your want, or Amazon FBA. Let’s get started.




Shipping from China to the US Methods


Shipping from China weight calculation.

As with most businesses, cost can’t be the only consideration but it is usually a primary and determining factor.

So let’s first start with how to calculate the shipping from China price. There are two different weight concepts here. One is the actual weight and the other one is the dimensional weight. As shown in this picture here,

shipping from China weight calculate


Actual Weight is exactly what the product weighs including packaging. Dimensional Weight takes into account the volume, including length, width & height of the package that you are shipping. …

For sea freight:

Dimensional weight = Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/6000.


while for air freight:

Dimensional weight = Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/5000.


The Billable Weight is defined as the greater of the two weights (actual vs. dimensional) and this will be used to calculate the final shipping rate. 


Because of this rule, you want to communicate with your supplier and try to package your goods in the best way that has the smallest package volume. If you are looking at ongoing shipments, discuss packaging options with your supplier. You might be able to seriously cut the freight costs.

Now, Let’s compare different shipping from China models.



China Regular Mail Post

ship from China regular post mailAs of now, the ideal shipping option is Mail. It’s perfect for small products’ shipping from China to the US.  You’ll find plenty of Mail options. However, it pays to compare all the options and choose the one that’s both quick & economical. The heavier the package gets, the higher the cost goes. Also, bear in mind that Mail will take a long wait time.

Regular post is ideal if your needs are limited to shipping small shipments only.

For beginners, regular post works brilliantly. However, when your sales start growing, you may need to revise your shipping option. The regular post-shipment method is quite easy to set up.

We don’t recommend this way at most times. Although its a very economical method, but its unsafe and its hard to find lost packages. This method usually is a good option for drop shipping.




Air Freight vs Air Express Costs Shipping from China to the US:


Air Express Shipping from China

When it comes to express shipping options, FedEx, UPS, DHL, and TNT are great options. The process is very simple and straightforward.

All the service providers have fare calculators on their sites, which you can use to determine the shipping cost. Customs clearance of shipments coming through express shipment is very easy compared to air freight & ocean freight.

If you’re considering using air or ocean freight for your large shipments, it’s worthwhile to test the courier service. Arranging a trial shipment will help you estimate the overall cost, and you can determine whether it’s profitable or not.


Air Freight shipping from China

Commonly, bigger shipments tend to create more complexity. The larger the shipment, the more complex the shipping process. Airfreight tends to be complex from start to end. The customs clearance and restrictions on certain products limit your imports.



If you ship products weighing between 150-500 KG, it costs $4~8/kg through air freight. Airfreight usually has a minimum weight requirement(100kg~). Air Express is the fastest but the price is expensive. But, Air Express shipping gives you peace of mind and less complexity. It pays to keep a regular check on the freight rates for your shipping agent because of constant change.




Sea Freight Costs and Rates from China to the US:

If your shipment is over 500 KG, sea freight is the best option. Airfreight may burn a hole in your pocket. Because ship containers can carry a tremendous amount of weight, shipments heavier than 500 KG should ideally be shipped through sea freight. Compare multiple sea freights to choose the most economical and quickest one.


There are two types of ocean shipping, FCL, and LCL, both of which have to do with the costs of shipping and the size of the container used.


FCL = Full Container Load

LCL = Less (than) Container Load


shipping from China CLC FCL

Typically, there are different size options when it comes to shipping containers. You can choose the different sizes based on your needs.

shipping from China container size


FCL and LCL Shipping from China to the US

Besides booking a full container, you can choose to ship a less-than-container load if your shipment material is not large enough for a full container. In this mode of shipment, other small packages are placed into the same container to maximize their use.

This would increase the complicacy for the forwarder because consolidated shipments are present in a single container. It can delay the delivery as well. For larger shipments, you can book a full 20-foot container to save yourself from delays and other issues. Choose an LCL container and go with FCL.


FCL has three big advantages over LCL:
  • If you choose FCL, your shipment will be delivered to your destination earlier as compared to the LCL shipment. It can take extra 1-2 weeks with LCL.
  • With LCL, the forwarder faces difficulty, and the material can be lost. Often, your shipment goes to the wrong address. FCL is a much better and safer option.
  • With FCL, your material is safe, and it’s cost-effective too.


How to choose FCL vs LCL ocean freight?

Ultimately, your choice of FCL or LCL will hinge upon how much you’re shipping. You can choose FCL or LCL as you wish. But there’s a basic rule you should follow.


If your cargo size is 1cbm~8cbm, choose LCL;

If 8cbm~15cbm, choose FCL or LCL based on the practical situation;

If over 15cbm, choose FCL without any hesitation.




Cheapest International Shipping from China to US


Usually, there are 5 ways for goods shipping from China to the USA. Regular post, air express, air freight, Expedited ocean freight, LCL freight, and FCL freight. Each shipping mode has its own advantage.

Air express like DHL, UPS, FedEx, and EMS is the best choice for small packages (.0.5 to 50kg) shipping from China to the USA. It is fast and stable.

Airfreight is usually for medium goods shipping from China to the USA range from 100 to 500 kg. It is relatively cheaper than air express but faster than the ocean freight.
Sea shipping is the cheapest way shipping from China to the US for bulk goods above 500kg with big volume. It usually takes 30 to 40 days.


Compare the table below to see how each freight shipping costs from China to the US. The table shows five different shipments, each with different weights and times. The Green squares show the advantage for each shipment.


shipping from China to the us cost
the tablet is for illustrative purposes only. Ask your agent to get the newest shipping from China to US price.


So the cheapest way shipping from China to the US based on goods weight, volume, and your expected delivery time.




What is the Average Shipping Time from China to US?


Wondering how much time it takes to ship from China to the US?  Let’s understand it with the help following points.


  • When the shipment mode is regular post, it takes between 15-35 days
  • Air express takes up to 5 days
  • Airfreight takes up to 15 days
  • Expedited ocean shipment may take up to 20 days
  • Finally, the regular ocean freight can take up to 40 days


The fastest way to Shipping from China to the USA.

Several international courier services are providing shipping services. These are also called express freight. Generally, it’s reliable than Mail. The most popular International courier services include DHL and UPS.

For small items, express shipping options are ideal. Products weighing up to 100 KG are ideal for shipping through express shipping. Unregistered customers need to pay a huge amount, so be careful about this.




How to Manage Your shipment?


Now, after we have a basic understanding of all different shipping from China methods. Let’s talk about how to manage your shipment, do you prefer to manage it by yourself or by an agent?

There are four different ways that you can consider.


1. Letting the supplier manage the shipping

Letting the supplier manage the shipping is common among inexperienced importers. It’s very simple and all you need to do is to tell the supplier that you want them to ship the cargo as CIF “Port of destination” or DAP “Your facility address” and they’ll do the rest.

The downside of this way is that you’ll probably end up paying a bit more than really needed. 


2. Do it all internally, for full control

Your time is the most valuable. When you work directly with a carrier, you cannot save that time, unless there’s a specialized department with professional crews in your company.

We don’t think this is a viable option for small and medium enterprises.


3. The third option is to Work with a freight forwarder in your country, for convenience

 This is perhaps the most convenient option for some of the importers.

So what happens is this: small and medium companies try to work with a freight forwarder of the right size. But most of the forwarders don’t always have their own office in China. They usually work with local agents and add their margin on top of that agent’s fee.

Though it may be the most convenient way, but this is not a cheap option, and not so efficient.


4. You can consider is to Work with a freight forwarder based in China, for speed

More and more importers have chosen this option.

The advantage is speed. The forwarder can keep close touch with your supplier, and keep you informed of everything. When trouble happens, your local partner will solve that asap.

OK, next, after you find a freight forwarder, how to contact them to get a quote for the price?




How to Get a Quote Price of Shipping from China to US/Amazon FBA/ Other Countries.


The first thing you need to do first at this stage is that you must familiarize yourself with shipping incoterms. Incoterms are trade terms that are used internationally for determining where and when the cargo will be transferred.


11 Basic Trade Terms Alibaba Incoterms 【Incoterms Explained】


Incoterm-Alibaba Incoterm

Always be sure to tell your supplier or freight forwarder what incoterm you want when getting a shipping quote like FOB Shanghai   Otherwise you may end up paying way more than you expected. Some other commonly used incoterms are FOB, EXW, CIF, DDP and we have another video explaining all different incoterms in detail, so we won’t talk about more here today.


The next thing you need to know is What do you need to get a shipping quotation? Freight forwarders require the following information before they can provide a quotation.


  • Shipping method: Air or ocean
  • Total Cargo Volume (cbm)/Total Weight (kgs)
  • Each Carton of weight and Dim
  • Freight Term: EXW Factory or FOB
  • Pick address: factory address or port name
  • Delivery address  
  • Insurance (Yes / No)
  • Freight Quote normally does not include: Duty & Tax



So be sure to have this information prepared when you ask for a shipping quote. As such, the final freight cost can only be ‘confirmed’ once the products are manufactured and packed. But you can still get an estimate by providing this information.


Why Hire The Services Of A Freight Forwarder?

A freight forwarder is a professional with complete knowledge of how shipment works. He can help you identify the best solutions. You get hassle-free custom clearance.

A freight forwarder helps you stay focused on your business and sales, while he takes care of your shipments coming into the country or going outside the country. You can save your precious time with the help of a freight forwarder. He makes all the necessary arrangements for you, offers the logistics, and supply chain expertise.

It’s not the job of an individual. A freight forwarder is typically a firm with professional people specializing in shipment, logistics, and customs clearance.

Freight forwarder provides a wide range of services, which includes;


  • Documents preparation depending on whether you’re importing or exporting
  • Transport tracking
  • Booking spaced in containers, express shipping, or freights
  • Shipment storage & warehousing
  • Helping your find the best option
  • Insurance
  • Document preparation for filing insurance claims
  • Customs clearance



Customs Clearance in China and the US

When shipping from China to the US or exporting something, custom clearance is a complex process. You can’t avoid it. However, you can take certain steps to minimize the interruption in your workflow.

Customs, Tariffs, and duty buy wholesale from china

Typically, you ask your forwarder to get the customs clearance. The carried doesn’t take any responsibility. You need to pay a fee to your forwarder for the clearance. However, you need to provide the correct information to avoid any issues.


Following documents are may required:

  • Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Payment terms
  • Bill of shipment
  • POA


Among these, I want to talk a little bit more about the bill of lading and airway bill. Let’s say you successfully contacted your freight forwarder and they completed all the process needed for air or sea freight and get your shipments on board, you will get a bill of lading for the carrier or airway bill.

The bill of lading is issued by an ocean carrier to acknowledge the receipt of cargo for shipment and the airway bill is the receipt issued by the airline. I want to mention this here is because if you haven’t made a full payment to your supplier, they could hold this bill of lading until you paid in full, in this case, you can not clear your goods since your freight forwarder needs this bill of lading to do the clearance.


An overall suggestion here is, when you are shipping from China, one of the things you should always spend time doing is to conduct a comprehensive consultation with a China freight forwarder. They are logistics experts, and their expertise can help you avoid pitfalls.

Shipping consultants can provide you with the most important advice that guides you through the steps to complete all shipping processes and help you reduce shipping costs.




Shipping from China to US/Amazon FBA/ Other Countries Insurance

The last section I will talk about is shipping insurance. You want to decide whether you need insurance and if so, how to calculate the insurance fee?

The purchase of appropriate insurance when importing goods from China is strongly recommended to all importers. Cargo insurance is one of the most popular. 

Shipping insurance is cheap, and a typical cost is around US$50 to US$100. Normally, shipping insurance only covers the value of the cargo, in case of transportation damage. It will not cover lost sales or product development costs.

Usually, you can ask your freight forwarder for the insurance option, but here is a rough equation that you can use to estimate the insurance cost by yourself.


Shipping insurance fee ≈ value of goods * 1.1* 0.1% – 0.3%.  


This is not the exact equation used by every forwarder, it’s just something for a quick reference. Ask your freight forwarder for the final price. The rate for such insurance is usually calculated from the value of the goods, the kind of cargo, and from the transport route. Again, talk to your freight forwarder to confirm all the details.

If you are going to import shipments frequently, then it pays to discuss with your supplier. Make sure to insure your shipment.



Is China Still Shipping To The US?

Is your mind stuck between whether shipping from China to the US is happening or not? The whole world is suffering from the Pandemic COVID19, so it’s important to update its impact on shipping from China to the US.

COVID19 has affected the manufacturing industry greatly. For this very reason, the shipping industry is suffering too.

China has gone back to its normal routine, but the US is still enduring the most from coronavirus.




One of the best ways is to shipping from China to the US is choosing to work with a China sourcing agent or freight forwarder. The same principle applies to other destinations. You may get a lot of insights by asking them ahead.

At last, If you had other questions in mind, put them in the comments, and I will endeavor to respond. 


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