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

Jan 10, 2024 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 methods according to your goods’ weight, budget, and shipping time. 

We will talk about the following top 3 things about freight transportation to help you with the shipping from China process. You also can use this method to ship from China to the country your want, or Amazon FBA. Let’s get started.

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


shipping from China steps



What is the Cheapest Shipping from China to USA?

Sea freight is by far the cheapest option for shipping from China to USA, so if you’re looking for low costs sea freight will be the one for you!

It is definitely that the most fastest shipping method form China to US is to ship by express. When you buy from China, you can ask your suppliers on whether they have a special shipping method for you first.


Also, The cheapest shipping option from China to the USA depends on several factors, including:


  • Weight and dimensions of your package: This is a major factor. Prices are typically based on weight or dimensional weight (whichever is higher).
  • Speed of delivery: Express options are much faster but more expensive than slower methods.
  • Your location in the USA and the origin city in China: Shipping costs can vary depending on the specific route.



Here’s a Breakdown of the Cheapest Options Based on Typical Weight Ranges:

For small packages (under 100 kg):

Express shipping: This is the generally the cheapest option for small packages, costing around $5 per kilogram. However, be aware that some express couriers may charge significantly more if you’re not a registered customer. Providers include DHL, UPS, and FedEx.

For medium packages (between 100 kg and 300 kg):

Standard air freight: This is the most economical option for medium-sized shipments, costing around $3 per kilogram.

For large packages (over 300 kg and 2 cubic meters):

Sea freight (DDP – Delivered Duty Paid): This is the cheapest option for large quantities or bulky items, often around $50 per cubic meter. DDP incoterm ensures the seller handles all shipping costs and customs clearance for a fixed price.


Here are some Additional Shipping from China Things to Consider:



Average Time to Ship from China to US?

If you’ve had your order shipped via air express, then it should arrive in anywhere from 3-10 business days.

If via air freight, the shipping times will be 20-45 days. Ocean freight time from China to USA will be more like 30 to 60 days. Take the above picture as reference.

shipping from China time



Best Way to Ship Samples from China?

As a general rule, the items that weigh less than or equal to 200 lbs. should be shipped via air. For that, the average air shipping from China costs can be somewhere between $6-$15 per pound.

The items that weigh more than this can be shipped using air or sea freight. This method is cost-effective, but it can also become complicated. Read below to find out.

Here is one suggestion for save sample shipping costs.

  • If it’s a ubiquitous product you may be able to find it with cheap shipping on AliExpress(even free shipping).







Shipping from China Weight Calculation: Dimensional Weight vs Actual Weight

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 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 = package volume/6000,
  • While for air freight, dimensional weight = package volume/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. 


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





Who Can Help You Manage to Ship from China to US, by Yourself, or by an Agent?


There are four different ways that you can consider shipping from China to US.

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. Work with a Freight Forwarder in Your Country.

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, this is not a cheap option, and not so efficient.


4. Work with a Freight Forwarder Based in China

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.





Details about Common 4 Shipping Methods from China to USA Ways

Different logistics methods can make a vast difference both in transit time and freight charges. Therefore we always need to determine which method will be the most cost-effective one.

If your order is shipped by air, the shipping time should be within 3-10 working days. If by sea, the shipping time may take 30 to 45 days.

Next, I will talk about the most common 4 shipping from China to USA methods. 


1. Regular Post

ship from China regular post mailThis means a normal, regular China Post (or Hong Kong Post) which can take up to 15~35 days to arrive. If you can wait, this is the cheapest option for small shipments, like samples and parcels. You may track and trace online, but the information can not be updated in time.

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


2.  Air Express

Transportation with a courier company will be the most suitable method for most people starting out. Courier company, widely used in China is DHL, UPS, and FedEx. With courier service, you get fast delivery times and an online tracking facility. Most courier shipments take just 3~5 business days to arrive anywhere around the globe.

The advantage of choosing an express courier is that you can get seamless delivery. All you have to do is sign for the package when it arrives. In most cases, delivery is quick and reliable. When there’s a problem, there is a tracking number that can help resolve the matter. But the disadvantage is that The price is much higher than the postal service.



3.  Airfreight

If the weight of sourced products is too large for couriers, for example, 100kg, air shipment might be the best bet. With air freight, costs will be significantly lower than with courier companies.

This way is suitable for cargo with medium weight, and there are tight deadlines or tighter control on the security. Transit time varies based on the schedule of airlines, but in general, it ranges between 8~10 days, which is not bad.

It’s worthy to mention here, air freight usually has a minimum requirement of the shipping weight. The average cost for air express is about $5 to $10/kg and the shipping time is about 3 to 5 business days, while the average cost for air freight is $4 to 8/kg and the shipping time is about 5 to 10 business days.

The figure below is a detailed comparison example of the shipping cost of air freight and air express when shipping from China to the United Kingdom.

Alibaba shipping cost


4. Sea Freight/Ocean Freight

Transport by the ocean can take a very long time but can carry a massive amount of goods, which drives down the costs. The diversity of cargo that can be shipped is also a major benefit to this model. That’s why it’s a popular and widely used mode in logistics.

Despite the lengthy delivery time, if you plan ahead, and have enough time to wait, sea freight will be your top choice. Depending on where you’re located, it will be in the vicinity of 30~60 days.

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.

shipping from China CLC FCL


FCL = Full Container Load

LCL = Less (than) Container Load


For ocean freight, there are 2 ways usually, Expedited or normal ocean shipping method. Usually, expedited shipping from china to us will be 3-10 days faster than normal one. 

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


Depending on the amount you are purchasing from your Chinese supplier, you may fill an entire shipping container or only part of one.

When you are using an entire container yourself, you are shipping FCL (full container load). See, that makes sense, right? More items equal a full container.


Typically, shipping FCL is cheaper by volumetric unit and weight unit.

But, many importers aren’t purchasing enough goods to ship FCL. You could try air freight but the cost is often too high. In this case, LCL (less than container load) is the ideal solution.

When shipping LCL, your items share containers with other people’s items. In other words, cargo from multiple buyers ends up in the same container.


What is LCL vs FCL?

It is easier to track FCL directly through the shipping company’s website. That way, you can predict its arrival with accuracy.

Under FCL, your items will be safer. FCL means that your items will not be mixed with other shipments. There will be less risk of your cargo being damaged or getting lost since fewer people will be handling it.

FCL can be processed faster because your shipment will be the only one that will be loaded into a container. Under LCL, the shipment will be consolidated with others first.

As mentioned earlier, FCL is cheaper when the cost is broken down per unit. 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 when you want to save on Alibaba shipping costs.

  • 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.





How to Choose Cheapest International Shipping from China to US?

After confirming the order, you need to prepare the goods and choose the best shipping methods for delivery. 


Shipping Options from China to USA Compare:

Usually, The ways for goods shipping from China to the USA including following methods:


Shipping Method Pros Cons Port to Port Door to Door Price


  • Fastest 
  • Safety
  • Door to door service


  • High cost
  • Limitation on product category and cbm
2-5 days $5-$15

Air Freight

  • Fast delivery
  • 20% cheaper than courier
  • Extensive global reach
  • Increased goods safety
  • High cost
  • Limitation on size and weight
  • Weather cause delays
1-5 days 4-11 days $4-$8

Sea Freight(LCL)

  • Cheap cost
  • No limit on the size and weight
  • Eco-friendly


  • Time consuming
  • Server delay during peak season


14-42 days 19-47 days $2-$2.5

Sea Freight(FCL)

14-42 days 22-50 days $3,000-5,000

Expedited ocean freight(LCL)


14-20 day 15-35 days $2.2-$2.8



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 the fastest shipping from China to USA method.

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 freight 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.



A strategy used by some importers to save shipping costs, especially start-up Amazon sellers is to have a small portion of their cargo, say 5% to 10% shipped via air freight, and the rest is shipped by sea.

That way, they can have a small volume available in their Amazon FBA stores for sale to make money even as the rest of the items are in transit.

save alibaba shipping costs





How to Ship Goods from China to USA?

Generally, You can follow the next 6 steps start to ship from China to US or worldwide.


Do Optimize Packaging

Do you notice that there is extra space on your package and you need to pay for it? If you don’t pay attention, your supply chain will bleed.

You should know that shipping costs charges based on the weight or volume of the goods. You can save money by optimizing the packaging to reduce the package volume first.


Combine Shipment Consolidation

Combine smaller quantities of goods to produce a more considerable amount by consolidating shipping, leading to lower prices. Everyone can consolidate international orders through the Supplyia China warehouse.

To send goods to our Chinese address warehousing, you can avoid receiving consignments over and over again. We can store your shipments and consolidate them, especially when you buy from different suppliers.


Find The Right Shipping Agent

Name brand global freight forwarders have the ability to secure preferential freight rates and preferential treatment from large air and ocean carriers, as well as a broader global physical footprint. This means they will attract larger customers who will naturally receive preferential treatment. 

Take the latest annual mystery shopping survey. All of the top 20 freight forwarders were asked for quotes, but only seven were willing to quote to small businesses. You should probably avoid using any of the larger freight forwarders;

If your total shipping costs around $1-$800, In contrast, smaller freight forwarders typically have more time to spend on smaller shipments and work with smaller customers, but they may have less attractive pricing.


Route Planning And Optimization

Logistics is the process of analyzing the most efficient route and mode of transportation. There may be multiple routes to transport the delivery of your goods to the final destination. As we talk above, you have to figure out the most economical shipping methods to save your money and time.


Use The Online Shipping Calculator

Typically, it is easy for you to find a shipping calculator online. Depending on your needs and shipment requirements, these tools can evaluate your shipping costs. Or, you can get a freight shipping quote from us.


Compare Shipping Costs

Making decisions based on price alone can be a flawed strategy, especially if you are trying to save $200 on a shipment worth $200,000. For example, some freight forwarders discount the first shipment to win the sale, but give it back in subsequent shipments.

In addition, some freight forwarders hide fees in their terms and conditions to make their offers seem more attractive than those from more honest competitors. Price leading freight forwarders almost certainly do so at the expense of service. This may not be a problem, for example, if those services you don’t need. So, if one offer is much cheaper than the others, be very careful and see if you can figure out why.


Otherwise, you will face this kind of issue from a bad shipping agent from China to US:

  • They overestimate volume or weight
  • Follow-up service that drives you crazy
  • Can’t give you better compensation in the event of a shipping problem
  • Hard to refund





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.


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 the 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 provide to get an Alibaba 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 an Alibaba 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.



Shipping From China to the US Documents You May Need?

After you get the quotation and you make a decision on a freight forwarder that you want to work with,  now what you have to do will be only focused on preparing all the shipping documents needed at your country’s border. These may include:

  • Commercial Invoice,
  • Packing List,
  • certification
  • and other optional documents for the Customs(POA…)
  • Bill of Lading for the carrier/ Airway bill


What is the Bill of Lading vs Airway Bill?

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 processes 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.



How Much is Duty Tax from China to 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 Import Duty & Custom Duty Calculator to minimize the interruption in your workflow.

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


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 from China to US/Amazon FBA/ Other Countries Insurance


Yes, Buy it!

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 ≅ 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.


supplyia shipping service



Final Checklist for Shipping from China

Freight is complicated. Before you shipping from China, you can check the lists to avoid some missing.


Make sure goods are tightly and carefully packed. This saves on cost and prevents cargo getting destroyed along the way. Smaller packaging also means lower freight costs.


They regulate where you assume shipping responsibility from the seller, as per the sales contract. For example, FOB means you take control after loading on the ship or plane while EXW means you coordinate shipping directly from their warehouse.

Cargo Insurance

Insist on comprehensive cargo insurance. Most carrier liability only covers a small percent of your cargo’s value … and ship does happen.


Have you supplier send you a copy of the Commercial Invoice and Packing List. These documents contain some of the information you will need when requesting quotes.


Come prepared with the origin, destination, import mode, size of goods, value, and other core details to both make requesting the quote easier, and confine communications.


Decide which forwarders to request quotes from, based on referrals or past experience


Request quotes (or use Alibaba Freight to instantly compare quotes).


Make sure they got it right on the quote. For example, some forwarders have a tendency to forget trucking on either side, or might forget customs.


Accepting a quote is almost as simple as it sounds but don’t choose solely on price!


Congratulations. Time to send documentation (SLI, etc) to your new forwarder.

Next Steps

Your shipment is now booked … but your shipment is just starting.






Shipping from China to US FAQ:

How to Shipping Goods from China to US for the First Time?

How to shipping goods from China to USA for the first time(less than 100kg)? The best way to place a first-time order from Alibaba or China is to ask the supplier to arrange for the shipping and add the invoice cost.

Goods that are shipped via air come with no surprises. All you need to do is inform your supplier about your address.

The supplier will likely use methods such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL to ship your products. If your goods’ cost is below $800 and they are being shipped to America, no duty will be charged. That is the Minims rules in America. 

Why is Shipping from China So Expensive? 

The reason why shipping from China so expensive is below 2 reason:

  1. The Long Distance. The heavier your goods, the more Alibaba will charge for shipping.
  2. Few Quantity. If use intercontinental air shipping, and it’s a very low order quantity to shipping per unit is very high. is a large quantity dealer so if you do order around 500-1000 units the shipping per unit isn’t that expensive.

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.




Shipping from China Conclusion

Shipping from China to the US sounds like a simple thing, but there are a lot of details involved in this process. If it is not handled properly, it will fall into the full set of fraudulent shipping companies. Even though we’ve been in the industry for so long, we’ve come across new forms of shipping scams from time to time, and it’s hard to guard against them.


It is a good way to shipping from China to the US is choosing to work with a reliable China sourcing agent or freight forwarder. You may get a lot of insights by asking them ahead. 

A good early indicator of a good freight forwarder’s level of customer service is how long it takes them to respond to your request for a quote. If it takes a week or more, then regular and transparent communication during the shipment process doesn’t bode well.

At last, If you had other questions in mind or do you need a product sourcing services in China, submit a ticket, and I will endeavor to respond. 

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