If you are shipping from China to the USA, this is the right guide for you.
It has all the information to consider when shipping from China to the USA, it will help you in choosing the best freight forwarder, the best supplier in China, and more.
LEAGUE Shipping from China to U.S.A
How to Find a Product Supplier in China
How to Get a Freight Forwarder in China When Shipping to the USA
U.S. Import Duties and Taxes – How Much to Pay when Importing from China
Sea Freight from China to the U.S.A.
Air Freight from China to the U.S.A.
Shipping with Courier Services from China to the U.S.A.
Modes of Shipping from China to the U.S.
Ultimate Checklist for Successful Shipping from China to the USA
Shipping from China to the U.S.A. FAQs
China is a thriving market and is among the top three leading trading centers in the world.
Importing goods from China can be a major boost for your business’s landscape.
However, it does come with specific challenges especially if you are a first-time importer.
Sourcing of goods, paperwork, customs clearance, inland transportation and the likes are all of the things that can complicate the shipping process.
How then do you solve this?
You must partner with a very reliable freight forwarder in China.
This way, you can be able to overcome the challenges and stresses that accompany importing from China.
And that’s why LEAGUE is here;
To provide you with a cost-effective supply chain solution.
LEAGUE is a renowned China-based professional and reliable freight forwarding and logistics company.
We attribute our success as one of the best shipping agents in China to a lot of things.
first class customer service
Fast delivery of services.
At LEAGUE, we have a solution for everything.
From pickup and delivery, warehousing and distribution, shipping to Amazon FBA to cargo insurance.
We also do customs clearances, provide loading and inspection services as well as handle courier from China to the US.
As I said, LEAGUE is your ultimate solution to supply chain management.
With us as your freight forwarding partners, importing from China to the US should be the least of your worries.
At LEAGUE we don’t give empty promises.
We only provide guarantees of quality for a wide range of services.
To prove this, we have liaised with major carriers in freight shipping.
This enables us to get great shipping discounts thus allowing you to enjoy the industry’s most competitive shipping rates.
At LEAGUE, our primary concern is to ensure that you enjoy world-class services at a pocket-friendly cost.
Therefore, all you need to do is trust to take care of all your shipping needs.
Let’s be honest here;
Nowadays, almost everything is made in China.
From electronics, electronic devices, shoes, machinery and many more.
Interestingly, most business people know that if they want their products made today, China is probably the place.
The above may be true.
However, stories of how some importers have had disappointing experiences with suppliers in China are on the rise.
Note that this disappointment is not just one way.
Some Chinese suppliers have had similar experiences with US importers too.
You know that China is the best place to source your products from, right?
However, you are worried about the quality of the supplier?
Don’t worry, in this chapter; we’ll help you learn how to find a good supplier in China.
As LEAGUE, we have seen some people do this, and we have sourced some suppliers for many of our customers.
Searching for product supplier in China
Based on this experience, we have developed this simple guideline that takes very minimal effort and cost.
It also offers the lowest risk.
So, before we start, what is your product?
To be able to find a good supplier, you first need to have a product.
In the importation business, there are three categories of products.
Existing products these are products that already exist. They are not an invention or derivation of another product.
For these products, customization may be done, but there is nothing new about them.
So if your product falls into this category, all you need to do is find an already established supplier for such.
Inventions; this is a new product targeted for a new/different market.
For this kind of product, you’ll need to find a manufacturer that can make and package the product to your specifications.
This means that you’ll need to define the parts, materials to be used and design the product should follow.
Note that inventions may need to use more than just one supplier.
You may need a manufacturer for parts, another one to do the assembly, etc.
Derivations; this is the third category. Products in this category pose similarities to already existing products.
For these, a few changes are made to customize the product according to client’s specifications.
Unlike inventions which may target a whole new market, the market for derivations is in most cases already existing.
So if you need to customize an already existing product, you’ll have to find someone who specializes in customizations.
Note that this also has to be someone that can implement new ideas and processes.
This will be helpful in producing your signature product.
Take note also; finding an already established manufacturer is suitable if you are sourcing derivations.
Already made manufacturers tend to have lots of connections to possible markets.
This without a doubt may be advantageous to you when the time for distribution comes.
So those are the three kinds of products you need to be familiar with.
Keep in mind that knowing your kind of product is essential in helping you locate a reliable supplier in China.
Let’s move further to explore this subject in details.
So now that you understand your product and know what kind of supplier you need, let’s find him;
Quite obvious isn’t it?
Well, the world today revolves around technology.
It is pretty apparent and somehow nice that the internet can help us solve almost 100% of our problems.
For you that’s looking to find a reliable supplier in China, the internet might be the place.
So start there.
Go to directory website likes;
To find the best suppliers on these sites, you’ll need to use the right keywords.
For instance; if you have an existing or derivation product, use its description as your search terms.
Searching for Chinese suppliers
For inventions, you may want to use the Manufacturing operations as your search keywords.
For this, you’ll need to use your best judging skills.
Based on the results you get from your search, begin by reviewing the profiles and website of the suppliers that you find.
Filter the results to only remain with the best candidates.
Your shortlist should only comprise of suppliers that demonstrate the ability that they can make what you want.
Well, emailing is, in this case, preferable as written English for Chinese people is easier than spoken.
Remember that contacting shortlisted supplier helps you to interact and build a relationship with them.
This way, it is easier for you to decide on who in particular you want to do business with.
Of course, after considering several factors like their product cost, distribution networks, product variations, lead times, etc.
While there is no substitute in making a factory visit, you can do a virtual review if you are at a faraway location.
Remember that you want to use the supplier with the best rating.
As such, you’ll need to review everything about them and be satisfied with your findings.
You’ll need to go over their history, mission, vision, and inventory.
I mean everything that you can.
Review their best response time, customer service, professionalism, etc.
Since distance and cost can hinder you from doing the review in person, you can always get a third party to help.
Various companies provide this kind of service in China.
LEAGUE, for example, has agents that can visit and review a supplier for you.
Comparing costs, using a third party is a whole lot cheaper than having to travel to China yourself.
Besides, we are professionals at this.
We know precisely what to look for to verify the reliability and general suitability of a supplier.
Third party agents in China do a good at job at verifying the credibility and suitability of suppliers.
Nonetheless, there are situations where you may need to visit the suppliers to verify certain things personally.
This is mainly if you are sourcing for an invention or derivation.
So if you have to make a personal visit, ensure that;
i. You reengage the third party for translation and possibly advice when making your conclusions
ii. Ask for and take samples to help give the supplier a visual idea of what you want
iii. Check if the supplier is ISO certified and meets the set quality standards
Once all this is done, you can draw your conclusion on whether or not the supplier suits your needs.
You can then begin production of your invention/derivation or buy the existing goods for shipping.
Find Supplier in China
Importing from China? (20 Importing Experts Contribute their 60 Importing Tips to Skyrocket your Business)
Finding a Chinese Manufacturer if You Didn’t Know Anyone
Finding Chinese Supplier
How to Find a Chinese Manufacturer
Top 10 Sourcing agent in China to Help Your Shipping from China
So, you’ve found a good supplier and your products are ready for shipping.
I’ll tell you.
So many things follow after this.
But first, you need to find a reliable freight forwarding agent to help you with the shipping process.
Like a products supplier, a freight forwarder can make or break your business.
As such, you need to find one that’s trustworthy, and that can handle your supply chain needs.
Here are tips to help you find the best freight forwarder that you can trust in China.
The size of the company does not determine how well your shipment will be taken care of.
So when looking for a freight forwarder, find one that’s capable of accommodating all of your supply chain requirements.
These are the two most essential elements of a reliable freight forwarder.
It is very critical for you to ensure that the forwarder you use has at least five years of experience in the shipping industry.
This will guarantee you of the company’s reliability and capability to handle your shipment with excellence.
Go for a company that has the relevant expertise, resources, and capacity to move and manages your products.
The company should be able to do this with utmost efficiency.
When shipping from China to the US good communication is not enough. It has to be excellent.
The shipping process, terms involved and the requirements tend to be very complicated at times.
As such, you need a company that can elaborate all this with utmost clarity.
Like I said, excellent communication is critical in succeeding in this industry.
Therefore, ensure that both you and your freight forwarder read from the same page.
You want to use a freight forwarder that’s knowledgeable about the type of product you are shipping.
This is particularly important if you are shipping products that have special shipping requirements.
Your supplier in China can help you identify the best forwarder for this.
If you are looking for a reliable freight forwarding company in China when shipping to the USA, then consider LEAGUE.
We will handle and manage your shipments in the best possible way and at a price that you will be happy with.
Goods shipped from China to the United States incur certain duties and taxes.
Of course, you know this.
But do you know what these duties and taxes are?
Or how much you’ll have to pay to import from China to the US?
Before we even look at the monetary aspect of shipping from China, you need first to understand a few things.
One, it is both yours and your supplier’s responsibility to ensure that your shipment complies with the standard shipping practices.
You need to ensure that your consignment meets all of US’ regulations and safety standards.
Besides, proper documentation is very critical in this process.
You need to ensure that you all of your importation paperwork is in order.
Properly filed paperwork will help with the smooth clearing of goods through the Chinese and US customs.
It will also assist in evaluating the dutiable charges, taxes, and tariffs on your consignment.
Now, we know that all this can be nerve-wracking especially the filing of paperwork, customs clearance and all.
This is why you need to partner with the right freight forwarder.
The right agent can help you with this as you master the process of importing from China to the US.
Back to duties and taxes.
There are two types of import provisions that you must be familiar with when shipping from China.
There is the Incoterms and the harmonized tariff schedule (from the US)
Incoterms are a set of logistical terms used in international shipping.
The harmonized tariff schedule is a global classification system that applies specific codes for every import.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) administers this codes for goods entering the United States.
It is essential to know the tariff rates for importing certain products into the US before buying them.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
To get the total amount owed to customs, several steps have to be followed.
To determine a shipments import duty information, you first need to identify its product classification number.
This is the harmonized system code for the product (6-10 digit number).
Note that goods can’t be shipped without this number indicated on vital shipping documents.
Finding the HS code for products will help you move to the next step which is to determine the duties and taxes.
For this, customs officials in the US use the declared value of the shipment alongside the good’s description.
Most Chinese suppliers deal with FOB terms.
Due to this, the customs value for imports to the US is calculated based on the FOB value.
It is therefore imperative to ensure that the customs value given is accurate.
To verify this figure, check to ensure that it corresponds to the value indicated on the commercial invoice.
There is the merchandise processing fee (MPF) which is a minimal charge that sometimes goes unnoticed by most importers.
It is however applicable to all goods brought into the United States.
MPF fees are calculated based on the order value.
In this case, goods with a value under $200 are charged $2, $6, or $9 per shipment.
Products with an order value of over $200 attract a charge of 0.3464% of the goods value.
Please note: CBP requires that the maximum amount of MPF fees not exceed $485 or be below $425.
As I said, merchandise processing fee is trifling.
The harbor maintenance fees is another cost that you’ll have to incur to liquidate your goods in the US.
This may sound funny but oh well!
The CBP expects you to share in the cost of maintaining container terminals in the US if you import by sea.
So if you ship by sea to the US, you’ll have to include an HMF fee to whatever you’ll pay to customs.
Harbor maintenance fees are only a standard 0.125% of the total cargo value.
Note that goods shipped by sea are both subject to HMF and MPF.
Additional taxes may factor into the total import duty payable for your shipment.
VAT is however not part of these taxes.
Estimating Import Duties – Source: Simply Duties
The tax that you may pay is the federal excise tax which is only charged on specific items like fuel, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products.
If you are importing consumer products, don’t worry about this.
The federal excise tax does not apply to consumer imports from China.
All these steps help customs officials to determine the total import duty payable for your goods.
Once the valuation is over, you can proceed to pay the tariff amount using whatever means is applicable.
This could be by cheque, wire transfer, credit card, etc.
With a payment receipt, you can clear with customs and officially take possession of your consignment.
To learn more, you can follow this link: Determining Duty Rates (U.S.)
Sea freight is known to be the most cost-effective shipping method from China to the United States.
It tends to offer a lot of flexibility when shipping various types of products.
This is especially true for buyers shipping vast amounts of goods.
Shippers of bulk cargo like heavy machinery and coal to also tend to prefer sea freight.
Despite the fact that sea freight is slow, it remains to be the most popular shipping method for US importers.
Here are the basics for shipping to the US from China by sea.
Like everything else, sea freight has its cycle of boom and recess.
There are times when it flows smoothly, and there are times when sea freight is just adverse.
Just like any business, several factors contribute to changes in this cycle.
Below given are these factors
Changes in fuel prices is a significant factor that has adverse effects on the sea freight industry.
An increase in fuel prices tends to increase the operating costs of companies in this business.
Fluctuation in oil prices – Source IIAPS
Shipping companies in this case never fail also to increase their freight rates.
The same applies to when there is a reduction in prices.
Operation costs reduce thus leading to a decrease in sea freight costs.
One of the major factors affecting sea freight operations is adverse weather conditions.
Unfortunately, weather conditions are unpredictable.
Bad weather conditions in ocean freight – Source: Port Technology
Strong winds and tides tend to make it impossible for ships to sail through the water.
Ships could sink when sailing in such conditions.
It is bad enough that ships have to pause operations until the weather calms.
This is yet another thing that has had and continues having a negative impact on sea freight shipping to the US.
Cargo ships are continually being hijacked, and pirates demand ransoms before the releases of these ships.
Piracy threats – Source: Business Insider
The rising piracy reports have led to increasing losses in the sea freight industry.
This has also driven fear into most US importers.
Most of these importers fear to incur losses that may drive them out of business.
Customs regulations and taxes is an essential aspect of sea freight shipping from China to wherever.
Note that every country has its regulations.
The United States, in this case, has its own set of rules and regulations governing imports from China.
Some of these rules prohibit/restrict the importation of certain goods, i.e., alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, etc.
The set custom duties and taxes also affect the sea freight cost from China to the US.
It also tends to affect insurance fees for the same.
Generally, duties and taxes are very crucial in determining the suitability of importing from China by sea.
U.S. Customs and Taxes – Source Quora
Importers have to calculate the landed cost of their shipment before they begin the shipping process.
Freight rates are often an outcome of the interaction between demand and supply.
When supply is high costs reduce, when supply is low, freight costs increase.
When demand is high especially when leading up to Chinese holidays, prices increase; when demand is low prices reduce.
Politics affects so many things.
In the sea freight shipping, political tensions tend to affect the flow of goods, their demand and ultimately the sea freight rates.
Video courtesy: NBC News
Wars, trade agreements, sanctions, and revolutions are some of the events that impact sea freight rates from China to the US.
Holidays in the Asian community are very sentimental.
They are taken with great seriousness and tend to last quite long.
The Chinese New Year, for instance, is a holiday that often disrupts the sea freight business in totality.
Factories close for weeks during this period.
Workers go home early and report back late.
The Chinese New Year Holiday
Congestion at the seaports increases as importers tries to get their goods out of the country before the holidays begin.
I mean, it’s often chaos during the pre and post-Chinese New Year period.
Fluctuations in global trade and economies tend to affect the sea freight industry in various ways.
Economic downtimes usually lead to a reduction in sea freight trade activities.
These periods are often a low season for sea freight companies.
During an economic crunch, the level of trade reduces significantly across national borders.
This means that very little freight can be moved from China to the US.
It gets even worse when the dollar weakens.
this happens, the industry has to receive less regarding payment advanced to them by importers.
There is more to shipping from China apart from knowing how to negotiate rates and build relationships with the locals.
Port knowledge and familiarity is essential when shipping from China to the US via any water bound vessel.
Understand that there are several seaports in the US and China.
The ports all vary in type, size, and locale.
With that said, here are the;
With an estimated 40 million TEUs handled in 2017 alone, Shanghai is currently the world’s largest and busiest seaports.
Port of Shanghai
The port is strategically located in Zhejiang, and Jiangsu-lots of factories are found here.
You would also want to know that the port of Shanghai houses one of the largest automated container terminals.
It also utilizes some of the best modern cargo handling equipment and machinery.
Shenzhen seaport closely follows Shanghai in the ranks of busiest and largest seaports in China and the world.
Port of Shenzhen
This port that’s located in Guangdong provide of China is said to connect China’s hither land to the rest of the world.
Located in the yellow river basin in Shandong, Qingdao port holds the record of China’s largest transshipment center.
Most reefer shipments from China to the world is handled here.
This is all thanks to the port’s reefer handling infrastructural capability.
Before, Hong Kong seaport used to be world largest and busiest seaport.
However, the position was later taken by Shanghai after China’s decision to improve on its mainland ports.
Port of Hong Kong
This, however, doesn’t mean that the port of Hong Kong is on the down low.
The port still ranks among the world’s top 10 busiest container shipping ports.
It handled an estimated 20 million TEUs in 2016.
The port of Guangzhou is located at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta which is near Macau and Hong Kong.
It is the main seaport of the Pearl River delta.
I must say that this port is strategically located.
It sits at the confluence of the rivers Dongxiang, Xinjiang, and Beijing.
All of these regions are equipped with railway, waterway, air and expressway services.
Because of this, goods coming in and out of the neighboring provinces, i.e., Yunnan, Jiangxi, and Guangxi have to go through this port.
Other major ports in China that you should know include;
Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan in Zhejiang
Port of Tianjin located on the western shores of the Bohai Bay
Port of Dalian in Liaoning
Port of Xiamen in Fujian
Port of Yingkou in Yingkou, Liaoning province
Like China, the United States also has many seaports.
They are so many that we can’t mention even a quarter of them here.
Due to this, we will only mention a few of the main seaports receiving cargo from China in the US.
The port of Long Beach is located in the state of California USA.
It is among the largest and busiest container shipping ports in the United States.
It is also the major trade gateway for the US-Asian trade.
Port of Long Beach
The port occupies a surface area of about 3200 acres.
The Newark seaport is the main loading and offloading facility for cargo ships coming in and out of Asia.
The port is located at the Newark Bay in New Jersey.
It is often confused with Port Elizabeth and port of New Jersey.
Port of Newark
Well, these are all different seaports.
Note that Port Elizabeth and Port Newark sit side by side in the Elizabeth and New Jersey.
The port of Tacoma is a seaport in the northern parts of USA.
It ranks among the region’s top 10 largest seaports regarding cargo throughput.
Here is something that may interest you:
Tacoma seaport’s largest trading partner is China with agricultural produce being the main products of trade.
Port of Tacoma
Also in 2015, the port of Tacoma was merged with Seattle seaport to form what is now known as northwest seaport alliance.
The ports annual cargo handling capacity is estimated to be between 9 to 13 million tons.
Houston seaport is situated in the 4th largest city in the United States, Houston, Texas.
The port handles an average of 33.8 million tons of cargo annually.
Port of Houston
In 2017 alone, the Houston seaport handled an estimated 2.14 million TEUs.
The port’s main cargo handling terminals include Barbours cut and Bayport.
The port of Savannah, to begin with, is North America’s largest single container facility.
Located in Savannah, Georgia, this is not a coastal port.
It is a port located along the Savannah River, 20 miles upstream of the Atlantic Ocean.
The port’s location is just perfect as it provides for the more coastal area to load and offload cargo.
Port of Savannah
Plus, the waters upstream are often calmer compared to those of the open sea.
You should know that the port of Savannah specializes in RORO, break bulk, heavy and project cargo.
Regarding cargo handling capacity:
The port moved about 33.4 million tons of cargo and 3.8 million TEUs in 2017.
The port of New York is located along the shorelines of New York and New Jersey.
This seaport is the largest in container shipping on the east coast and the 3rd largest in the US.
New York Sea Port
It is also considered one of the largest natural harbors in the world.
In 2016 alone, the New York seaport handled over 3.6 million TEUs.
The port of Oakland is a deepwater seaport located in Oakland, northern California.
It is the 7th busiest container seaport in the US and 4th major port on the Pacific.
77% of Oakland’s seaport trade is with Asia.
So, if you are shipping from China to northern California, the port of Oakland would be your best destination.
Note however that this port does not handle or store coal and coke.
Commonly known as America’s port, the LA seaport is ranked among the top 10 largest seaports in the US.
This is based on total trade operations.
Note that the port is located in the San Pedro Bay in San Pedro, Los Angeles.
The port has 27 cargo terminals.
In addition to this, it has about 86 container cranes and 8 container terminals.
It also has about 113 miles of on-dock rail.
The seaport handles mainly electronics, automobile parts, furniture, plastics, and footwear.
Its main trading partner is China with goods coming in from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Several routes are used to ship goods from China to the United States.
Here is a table showing some of the routes used from ports in China to the USA, their lead times and average shipping distance.
Several shipping companies operate routes from China to the US.
This variety tends to make it difficult for importers to choose a particular company to move their goods from China to the US.
Here is one thing though;
The wrong choice of carrier for your shipment can be nerve-wracking.
You may have to deal with shipping delays, damaged goods on arrival, high freight rates, longer routes, etc.
It is, therefore, necessary that due diligence is done when choosing any particular carrier for your imports from China.
Of the many things that you should factor in when selecting a shipping company, the following matter most;
cost of shipping
shipping lead times
You need to prioritize these items to be able to find a carrier that can meet your shipping needs.
When shipping from China to the United States, here are some carriers that you may consider;
PIL is an abbreviation of Pacific International lines.
It is a Singapore-based company founded in the late 1960s.
Currently, PIL stands as one of the largest ship owners in the Asian region.
It operates more than 150 vessels with a handling capacity of over 447,000 TEUS.
PIL operates container liner services from the Far East to the whole of Africa, Europe, and Canada, and Asia.
For the USA, PIL calls ports that are in the western coats.
These include the ports of long beach, Oakland, Seattle and Los Angeles.
The good thing about PIL is that it offers some of the best shipping rates.
Plus, you won’t have to wait too long for your goods to be delivered in the United States.
EMC which stands for Evergreen Marine Corporation is a Taiwanese container shipping company.
Founded in 1969, EMC acts as a major carrier for importers shipping from the Far East to different destinations across the globe.
This company like PIL is known to offer very affordable shipping rates and reasonable transit times.
The headquarters of the company is based in Luzhu, Taoyuan City, Taiwan.
It, however, offers its carrier services to clients from all over the world including that shipping from China to the United States.
Do you know that COSCO is the 4th largest ocean shipping company regarding TEU capacity?
Well, it is.
The company whose full name is China ocean shipping company currently one of the largest fleets of ships.
It has over 1000 ships with a capacity of 1.58million TEUS.
The company call over 1000 ports in the world.
COSCO’s headquarters are located in Beijing China.
MAERSK is a world leader in ocean shipping.
The company’s freight revenues by 2017 stood at $35 billion.
It is based in Copenhagen, Denmark but has subsidiary offices in more than 130 countries across the globe.
Hapag Lloyd follows closely in the footsteps of MAERSK in delivering quality and impeccable container shipping services.
The German company was founded in 1970 as a merger that has today proven to be one of the most successful in the shipping industry.
Today, HPL ranks 5th in TEU capacity among the largest container transportation companies.
The American president line is a subsidiary of CMA CGM shipping group.
Together with its parent company, APL is the world’s 3rd leader in container transportation and shipping.
The company currently has 150 vessels operating at terminals in ten strategic points around the world, including China.
ZIM integrated shipping company is the largest shipping company in Israel and among the top 20 carriers in the world.
The company is headquartered in Haifa, Israel but has a regional office in Virginia, US.
ZIM is a private company that is owned and by operated by Ofer brothers group.
The Swiss company MSC Mediterranean shipping company is the world’s 2nd largest shipping company regarding TEUs.
Their 2,435,000 TEUs of ocean freight in 2014 brought in $28.19 million in revenues.
MSC has its headquarters in Geneva and has operations in all major ports in the world.
NCL is a subsidiary of the Norwegian cruise line holdings.
The company was founded in 1966.
It currently has its headquarters in Miami, Florida.
Norwegian cruise line’s (NCL) acquisition of the France 1969 boasted its growth in the shipping industry.
The acquisition and conversion cost the company more than $100,000
YML among others.
As you make your carrier choice today, remember that needs change with every shipment.
Your supply chain needs today won’t be similar to tomorrows.
Tomorrow you may be dealing with a different budget, may need a shorter transit time, etc.
This means that your considerations on the best carrier will also change to one that suits your current shipping needs.
The thing with freight cost in this article is that we’ve mentioned it a couple of times in this article.
So, we’ll get straight to the point.
First of all, shipping costs are mainly based on the types of goods shipped, weight and volume of the goods.
Transit time also comes into play.
And usually, people consider sea freight because they believe that it is cheaper compared to other forms of transportation- which is true.
As such, the cheapest way to ship bulky goods from China to the USA is no doubt by sea.
You may be worried that sea freight is slower.
Well yes, it is a lot slower by the way.
But then, it comes with the benefit of cost efficiency and convenience.
You can ship anything by sea whether general or sensitive goods, large or small, heavy or light.
All can go by sea as it has different ways of transporting goods that require different conditions.
Now, about freight cost, which is the main ‘agenda’ of discussion in this section.
What is it?
Freight cost is the cost of shipping goods from a loading port in China to an unloading port in the USA.
It doesn’t account for costs such inland transportation and the likes.
It just involves the local charges you incur at both the origin and destination ports.
Note that in sea shipping there are two major types of loads; FCL and LCL.
Shipping companies charge in two ways.
One is where you pay very high shipping cost but low port fees upon arrival of goods.
Another is when you pay meager shipping costs but very high port fees.
For FCL shipments, the freight cost mostly depends on the destination and is often set according to the first set of terms.
Factors like the distance and cargo volumes in this case also matter a lot when calculating FCL freight costs.
When shipping a standard 20’’ FCL shipment from the port of Shenzhen to Los Angeles, you’ll incur about $2,230 to $2460 in freight costs.
From the same port to the New York seaport you incur about $2,275 to $2515.
LCL shipping works a little bit differently.
The rates for shipping less than a container load are often quite low compared to those of FCL.
They can sometimes go as low as $30 per cubic meter of shipment.
The problem is that while you may think that you are paying very little to ship an LCL load from China, you are not.
This is because what you are going to pay at your port in the US will be very high.
It may even go as far high as three times your shipping costs.
Low shipping cost, high port fees, remember?
Keep in mind that there is nothing you can do when you are faced with the just mentioned situation.
Shipping companies tend to do this because not many of you ask for proper shipping quotations.
When you fail to ask for a proper quote, it is inevitable to incur very high costs of shipping.
Luckily, today, you can easily estimate your freight cost without even consulting with any freight shipping company.
This is made possible by the freight rates calculators.
Read below to find out more.
Yes, there are sea freight rates calculators.
If you want to avoid the shock of realizing just how much you’ve spent to ship from China to the US, well then this is it.
With a sea freight rates calculator, you can easily estimate your freight cost even before the actual shipping commences.
This way, you’ll know what is in for you if and when you decide to ship your goods from China to the US by sea.
Online sea freight calculator – Source: Freightos
Also, with estimate rates in mind, you can easily try to find ways to reduce the cost you may incur.
For instance, you can;
Use a more cost-efficient freight forwarding agent to work with.
Choose a more direct shipping route (they tend to be cheaper and faster).
You’ll also find more cost-efficient ways to package the goods as this reduce the cost of shipping significantly.
That said, how do you go about estimating freight costs using this calculator?
Well, I can say that with all confidence that it is simple.
All you need to do is to locate a freight rates calculator online. (Search on your favorite search engine)
Make sure that you have the specifications of your shipment and name of origin and destination port.
The above elements are very important as they are what is used to generate the estimate freight rates.
With this, all you have to do then is feed the data in the respective sections and then ask the calculator for a quote.
Note that this is just an estimate cost.
It helps you compare quotes from various shipping companies.
Again, this takes us back to FCL and LCL terms – remember them?
I bet by now you understand that sea shipping largely depends on the container load.
The more you can ship the less you pay.
Unfortunately, the less you ship, the more you pay.
That’s just ocean shipping for you.
FCL as severally mentioned is a full container load.
If you can fill a standard 20” or 40” shipping container, then your shipment is an FCL.
Different types of shipping containers – Source: China Woven Bag
If you are shipping a smaller quantity that needs consolidation with other shipments to fill a container – then you are shipping an LCL.
Now, FCL rates as I said earlier usually depend on the shipping destination, and weight of the shipment.
Taking our earlier example;
Shipping from Shenzhen to New York will cost you about $2275 to 2215
From Shenzhen to Los Angeles will cost you about $2230 to $2450?
Note that these are FCL freight costs.
LCL shipments, on the other hand, depend on both the origin and destination port.
They also rely on the volume and weight of the shipments.
See, LCL shipments are often billed per cubic meter or ton.
Most often, the rates range between $30 to 40$ per cubic meter from China to the US.
Note that this is not all.
In fact, it is just a fraction of the total freight cost as more charges apply to your shipment once it gets your destination port.
But why is LCL shipping expensive than FCL?
Shipping containers cannot leave loading ports half empty unless the shipper has paid for space.
If not, they have to be filled with cargo from other shippers.
My bottom line here is that containers leave the loading port as FCL.
To get this FCL, LCL shipments have to be loaded into it before the ship can leave.
On arrival, the shipments have to be unloaded and consolidated first before customs can clear each.
As you can imagine, consolidation is a ton of work.
It takes a lot of time, effort and lots of shipping processes.
That is why you find that the unit price for LCL shipments tends to be higher than that of FCL shipments.
That said; here are the estimated costs of shipping from China to the US for different container sizes.
Ningbo to Los Angeles
20” $1000 to $1200
40 “$1300 to $1600
Shanghai to Los Angeles
20” $1000 to $1200
40” $1300 to $1400
Generally, the price of shipping a 20GP container from China to the United States starts at $1000
A 40” GP and Container starts at $1300
You can get estimates from the international sea freight calculators online.
Actual quotes can only be given by the freight forwarding company you request from.
Those considering air shipping from China to the US, this information is for you.
Those of you who are not sure what transport mode to use, this section might also be useful.
So be keen on the details.
China has several airports that are strategically located in areas with high industrial activity.
So, depending on the location of your cargo, you can efficiently use the nearest airport to ship your cargo.
China air cargo
Some of these airports include;
The Beijing capital international airport in Beijing
Guangzhou international airport in Guangdong, Guangzhou
Chengdu shuangilu international airport in Sichuan, Chengdu
Shanghai Pudong international airport located in Shanghai
Shenzhen Baoan international airport in Guangdong, Shenzhen
Kunming Changshui international airport in Yunnan
Shanghai Hongqiao international airport in Shanghai
Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in Shaanxi, Xi’an
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in Chongqing
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou, Zhejiang
Nanjing Lukou International Airport Jiangsu, Nanjing
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport in Fujian, Xiamen
Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport Henan, Zhengzhou
Changsha Huanghua International Airport in Hunan, Changsha
Qingdao Liuting International Airport in Shandong, Qingdao
So, when shipping from China to the US, these are the ports that you may load your cargo from.
Your freight forwarder should be able to advise you on the best airport to use.
Just in case you want to learn more about these airports, I have an article here for you: Air Freight from China.
There are several airports in the USA that receive cargo from China.
In this article, we will only cover 10 of the largest and busiest of these airports.
Please note; these airports rank high up regarding cargo facilities, infrastructures and handling capabilities.
Generally, they are airports that will ensure excellent care for your imports.
Memphis International Airport is and has been for a long time the busiest airport in the world regarding cargo throughput.
In fact, in 2015 alone, Memphis international airport handled a total of 4.29 million tons of cargo.
Memphis International Airport
Note that the airport boasts of a rail, road, runaway, and river that allow for easy movement of cargo to and from the airport.
Anchorage airport is located in Alaska.
It is the one airport that handles most cargo shipped via the Pacific to the US.
You should know that this airport has very limited road networks.
Ted Stevens Airport
In fact, most of the communities within the state of Alaska are located far from the road network.
As such, any imports to the US via anchorage airport have to be shipped by smaller aircraft to communities in Alaska.
Louisville International Airport, Kentucky is one of the world’s popular airports and one of largest and busiest in the US.
The airport as at 2015 had handled over 5 billion pounds of cargo both in freight and mail.
Cargo tonnage in 2015 alone stood at 2.3 million tons.
Louisville International Airport
In term of facilities and infrastructures, Louisville airport is the world’s largest fully automated cargo handling facility.
The airport features an IT customs systems that allows for cargo to be cleared and distributed much quickly.
The Los Angeles International Airport is often referred to as LAX according to IATA codes.
It is the main airport serving Los Angeles and the surrounding area of California, USA.
Note that LAX is a bustling airport both in passenger and cargo traffic.
Los Angeles International Airport
It was named the 6th busiest airport in the world in 2010 and the 4th busiest in 2017.
The airport is located southwest of Westchester city which is about 18 miles from downtown LA.
The Miami International Airport is considered one of the busiest airports in the world.
The airport is under the management of Miami’s aviation department.
The same body also operates it.
Miami International Airport
According to reports, this airport handles most of US international freight from regions all over the globe.
Over 90 major cargo carriers operate daily flights between the Miami airport and other airports in the world.
These include; Asiana airlines, Cargolux, FedEx express, China airlines among many others.
Currently, the airlines that serve the Chicago International Airport are China Southern, China Airlines, and China cargo.
Other airlines serving the airport are Air China, Cargolux, Eva air, QANTAS, and Yangtze River Express.
Chicago International Airport
All of these airlines have full service for importers/exporters to and from China.
The Chicago airport is also known as the O’Hare international airport, so don’t be confused when you come across this.
The J.F Kennedy International Airport as it is commonly known is located in the county of Queens, New York.
It is the largest of the three major international airports that comprise the New York metropolitan airport system.
This airport, note, is located about 16 miles from midtown Manhattan.
The JFK airport is the 3rd busiest freight gateway to the United States and the 1st in international air freight.
Nearly 100 different airlines have operations out of JFK International.
These include; Asian, Air China, Eva, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, Nippon, Emirates, FedEx, DHL, UPS and many more.
Indianapolis International Airport is a public airport owned and operated by the Indiana polis airport authority.
The airport is home to FedEx second largest hub after the one located at the Memphis international airport.
Indianapolis International Airport
Occupying 3116 ha of dry land, the Indiana polis airport is by far the largest airport in the state of Indiana.
Atlanta International Airport is located in Georgia, Atlanta USA.
It is the by measurement the business airport facility in the entire world.
Atlanta International Airport
The airport is the major southern US hub for the rest of the country.
Most connecting and international flight go through ATL before leaving for their final destinations.
It serves as a major gateway for international flights to and from Asia and other regions across the globe.
This airport is located in between the city of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.
The airport is considered to be the busiest flight terminal in the entire state of Dallas.
Dallas International Airport
It is also the fourth busiest airport in worlds considering flight vehicle activity.
Regarding size, DFW boasts of the second biggest aviation terminal in the United States (right behind Denver International).
We won’t deny that the most important factor to consider when shipping from China to the US is cost.
Cost is very critical in the air shipping process.
With that said, I know you are itching to find out the cheapest air freight from China to the US.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t exactly a ‘cheap air freight.’
The freight rates vary based on so many factors, i.e., your type of shipment, shipping distance among other things.
Nonetheless, here is some good news;
Air shipping works in two ways.
There is standard air shipping which takes a maximum of 8 days to deliver to the US.
Then there is the express where deliveries to the US take at most three days.
Considering shipping costs, standard shipping is cheaper than express shipping – only when shipping weighty cargo.
Express shipping, on the other hand, is costly when shipping weighty or a large volume of goods.
For smaller shipments, those weighing 150 kgs and below, shipping via express is cheaper.
Most courier services won’t charge you more than $5 per kg shipped.
The only problem with express shipping is that service providers (courier companies) tend to charge non-account holders exorbitantly.
Registration with companies like FedEx, DHL and UPS is necessary if you want to enjoy discounted prices, or should I say reasonable?
Let’s get back to standard shipping;
Here, cargo weighing between 150 kg to 500 kg is cheaper to ship via this means.
In most cases, you’ll only spend $3 per kg shipped.
If your shipments exceed 500kg in weight, I’ll recommend you consider shipping by sea; it’ll be cheaper.
Lighter shipments less than 150 kg will be charged on dimensional weight rather than their actual weight – obviously making the freight cost expensive.
Note however that air freight rates vary significantly between shipping companies and changes occur regularly.
As such the best thing to do is to first compare quotes from different companies before you settle on any particular one.
Below are some of the most common airlines you can consider in any air freight from China to U.S.A.
i. Federal Express
ii. United parcel service
iii. Cathay Pacific
iv. Singapore Airlines
v. Polar air
viii. Eva Air
ix. China Eastern
x. Asiana cargo
xi. JAL cargo
xii. United Airlines
xiii. American Airlines
xiv. Air Canada
An international air freight calculator is a beneficial tool.
It helps you (importers) to predict price ranges for air freight shipping.
The good thing is that these calculators are available in plenty online.
Just go to any shipping company’s website, and you’ll get one that can help you estimate your air freight costs.
Air freight calculator – Source: World Freight Rates
Afraid that you may not know how to go about it?
Well, don’t worry.
Here is a brief guide on how to the use an international air freight calculator.
First, you’ll need to locate a calculator online by searching the terms freight calculator on your search engine.
Most of these calculators come as a general tool for freight rates calculation. That means you’ll have to specify that you are calculating for air freight before you proceed.
So then, on the calculator, begin by choosing your mode of shipping-which is air freight
Proceed to select your shipping origin. That should be where you are importing from which in this case is China. You may want to be specific with the airport you’ll be shipping from, i.e., Shenzhen, Guangzhou
Next, provide your shipping destination airport
After that, provide your freight’s approximate weight in kgs or lbs., whichever is needed.
Next, provide the approximate volume of your weight in cubic meters
If there are other requirements, i.e., accessorial charges, shipment value, etc. please provide these
Once all sections are filled correctly, press the ‘get a quote,’ ‘get rate’ tabs to receive your air freight rate estimate.
See, it’s simple.
All you need is an internet enabled device and your shipments specifications to use an international freight calculator.
Shipping cargo from China to the USA by air is faster than other known forms of shipping.
It is however quite expensive and is subject to several other pressures including time delays.
Take for instance; air freight can take averagely 8-10 days to ship to the USA.
You may wonder why not 3 or even 2 days?
I mean its transport by air, the fastest in the world!
Well, here is something you may not know:
In air freight, there is standard freight and express freight.
The transit time for standard freight is what is given above.
Express freight on the other hand only takes 2-3 days to deliver.
This does not mean that planes can get slower.
It is only that shipping processes in standard freight are quite arduous than those involved in express freight.
Apart from time delays, there is, of course, the rise and fall in jet fuel costs which also affects air freight from China to the US.
Remember that these are not the only factors affecting air freight.
There are others that mostly affect the freight rates but are out of the air freight’s industry control.
As you would expect,
Being able to move more goods in one plane results in economies of scale as the fixed costs are spread over more customers.
This is where a new generation of supercargo planes like the Boeing 747 dream lifter have to lower shipping costs on the long run – in as much as there aren’t so many airports that can accommodate them.
Both the ports of origin and destination affect individual air freights.
You may ask how?
Well, port fees are inevitable.
And the good or bad thing is that they are not standardized – each port’s respective authorities set them.
For instance, the terminal charges due at both ports of loading and the unloading port vary considerably.
What you’ll pay at Shanghai airport is not the same as what you will pay at the Los Angeles airport.
Varying considerations are made in determining the terminal charges due for individual freight the various ports.
The prevailing exchange rates, for instance, will significantly impact on the final charge given to importers.
Bad weather also affects the smooth operations and delivery of service in the air freight industry.
We know that delays tend to be inevitable when the weather is unsafe for flying.
Storms, dense clouds, fog, etc. significantly affect air freight schedules – which also tend to have a direct impact on the freight rates.
Other factors that tend to affect air freight from China to the US include;
Trade policies and agreements
Events like wars, strikes, revolutions, etc.
Holidays particularly the Chinese holidays
Market demand and supply which affects the air freight shipping cycle
Trends in the industry. For instance, if an airline drops their rates and starts to enjoy customer influx other lines follow suit.
Global economy; an increase or decrease in the worldwide output directly affects the worlds import/export. This, in turn, leads to fluctuations in the freight rates that can sometimes go low or higher.
Competition from other transport modes like sea freight
Stern security requirements are also causing companies and individual to reexamine their use of air freight.
With all that, let’s move a step further to discuss:
Courier services comprise the delivery messages, packages and mail from one destination to the other
The service although a little expensive provides a lot of benefits to importers.
These include; speed, security, tracking services and specialization.
If importing from China to the US, courier shipping is best only if you have smaller shipments and value fast shipping.
Note that there are already established standard shipping services in China.
These include China post and ePacket which offer security, tracking service, and affordability.
ePacket takes at least 7 business days for packages sent from China to arrive in the US.
China post, on the other hand, takes 10-20 days to deliver.
Compared to express courier shipping, this is a little slower.
Express shipping companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHL offer speedier shipping.
Their average shipping time is only 5-8 days.
Besides, you don’t need any formal quotation with courier shipping.
Their rates are plastered all over the internet, on the respective company websites.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the three global players in courier shipping from China to the US.
If you continuously move cargo/packages across various destinations, then you probably know FedEx.
It is a US-based courier service that has quickly evolved to become the leading courier shipping service in the world.
FedEx has its headquarters in the United States.
It also has regional offices in other parts of the world including China.
The company’s operations in China began in 1984 in Shanghai.
Today, FedEx has more than 80 branches in China employing almost 10,000 workers.
Please note that FedEx is among few non-Chinese based courier companies with a domestic shipping license.
So, if you need to move urgently need to move a package within China, FedEx would be a great option.
DHL is a worldwide known and respected courier company.
It offers very well-tailored and around the clock shipping services simultaneously with online quotes.
DHL was founded in 1969 in Germany.
It has its headquarters in Bonn, Germany and regional headquarters in several other countries including China.
I must say that DHL has established its market in China pretty well.
It beats thousands of other companies working in the same niche of delivering goods from China to the US.
DHL’s core competencies include international and domestic pick up services and door to door delivery among others.
UPS which is an abbreviation of united parcel service was founded in 1907 in Seattle Washington.
It is by history the oldest courier services in the world.
Currently, UPS’s headquarter offices are in sandy springs Georgia.
It has its regional branches in several countries around the world including, China, Canada, Germany and many more.
You may be interested to know that UPS started its operations in China first as a collaboration with China express.
That was in 2001. It only began solo operations in and out of China in 2005.
Today, the company has established its regional office in Shanghai.
It also has two other offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Like, FedEx, UPS also has a license for domestic Shipping in China.
So if FedEx doesn’t work for you, you can opt for UPS to move packages in and around China.
Here is something you probably already know;
Freight rates are often calculated based on volume and weight.
Air freight costs which is what courier services use are based on volume.
This means that the more you ship, the less you spend regarding costs per Kg/lbs.
Note, however, that between these three, there isn’t much of a difference regarding shipping costs.
The best you can do is find ways to cut on your shipping expenses.
One of these ways is to use the standard courier service instead of the overnight express service. The latter is usually very costly.
You can also try to locate a freight forwarding company that offers discounted packages.
Well, most freight forwarders sign contracts with big courier companies like FedEx, DHL, and UPS among others.
These freight forwarders bring forth thousands of customers to the courier services which helps them get huge discounts.
So, if you work with such a freight forwarder, whatever discount they get on your shipment partly passes on to you.
The percentage enjoyed by each freight forwarder varies greatly depending on their number of customers.
The discount given to you is only a part of what is offered to the freight forwarder. I mean they also have to share in, they are in business.
So, be advised that while you can go directly to FedEx, UPS or DHL, you won’t get a discount.
Unless of course, you are shipping in large volumes.
So which company should you choose?
To be honest, I can’t tell you which one in particular since all these companies provide quality services.
Just don’t beat your head trying to find the best company.
Instead, find the right freight forwarder, and you won’t have anything to worry about.
Majorly, there are four modes of shipping from China to the US.
Your choice mode will depend on several factors which include cost, transit time and safety.
In this chapter, we’ll cover the four modes of shipping, so you know which one to choose at what times and why.
So, read on.
Door to door shipping is a complete, one-stop solution for importing goods from China to the US.
In this case, the service is exactly what it sounds like:
A shipping agent picks up goods from the supplier and ensures their delivery to the importers chosen a destination.
The best part?
You don’t have to do anything. Well, except for identifying the goods to import and hiring the freight forwarder.
Door to door shipping- Source: FedEx
From herein, the forwarder becomes responsible for everything involving the shipment up to when it arrives at your final destination.
From herein, the freight company you hired will request for details of your shipment.
They will then assess all your supply chain needs.
They’ll then provide you with a quote of how much the door to door shipping will cost.
Note that the cost will vary depending on the cargo size, type among other factors.
Once you’ve agreed to the shipping terms, the shipping service will pick your goods from the supplier’s yard.
They’ll transport the goods to a warehouse where they will be packed in the safest and most efficient possible way.
The packaging is to ensure that the items remain safe in transit.
This is also where the goods are inspected for insurance against loss or damage during transit.
Once the packaging is done, the forwarding company will then move the cargo to the shipping port.
Here the cargo will be loaded into a container then into a ship that will transport it to the destination.
It doesn’t end here?
Door to door shipping is quite comprehensive.
So, when your goods get to the destination port, your shipping agent will facilitate their clearance.
After this, they will arrange for transportation of the cargo from the destination port to a final destination that you provide.
Take note that door to door offers many benefits.
One is that it saves you time and money.
Two, it allows you to track your shipments very easily.
Last but not least, it helps the importer void the use of intermediaries that can sometimes complicate things.
FCL refers merely to full container load (I bet you know that).
This is a form of shipping where a particular shipment can fill up a standard 20 ft. Or 40 ft. Container.
FCL shipping is most common in ocean freight.
This is where container shipping can only be done using 20 ft. and 40 ft. Containers.
The advantage using FCL shipping is that it takes very minimal time to deliver goods to the US.
It is also safe to ship by FCL mode.
This is because only your goods are shipped in a single container.
This helps to reduce chances of damage, loss or even misplacements of goods.
Most importantly, FCL shipping is a tad cheaper than LCL shipping which we will discuss right after this.
Here is the thing;
The freight cost for an average shipment is often almost double that of an FCL charge.
This is when it is broken down by per cubic meter.
LCL, as you may guess, is the opposite of FCL.
You can consider LCL shipping when your cargo is not enough to fill up a standard shipping container.
How does it work?
Well, it’s obvious a half-filled container cannot be shipped unless you choose to buy out the remaining space.
If not, space is sold out to other shippers.
Here, your shipment is consolidated with those of other shippers into one container for shipping.
This means that you’ll have to find a consolidator who’ll then find other shippers whom you can ship together.
What is the advantage of this?
You get to ship your goods regardless of the fact that they can’t fill up a container.
More work for your shipping agent as they’ll have to consolidate the goods before shipping.
Once the products arrive in your port in the US, the shipment will be broken down so that each goes to their rightful owner.
Another disadvantage of LCL shipping is that it not guarantee the safety of your goods.
Also, tracking an LCL shipment is pretty hard since it only a part of many shipments in one container.
Besides, consolidation means that several workers pack goods into one container.
If one shipper’s items are not availed for loading on time, then delays in delivery become inevitable.
Also if someone else’s shipment arrives with problems, i.e., damaged or lost, it may cause your shipment to delay.
So you’ve been contracted to ship to Amazon FBA?
Sourcing goods from China?
The better, this means more profits and more business opportunities.
If you are at a point where you can fill up an FCL and are shipping to Amazon, then this service may be the best.
In this service, your goods are shipped directly from your supplier in China to an Amazon FBA warehouse.
It is an excellent service since you save on costs that could otherwise be spent on intermediaries.
Also, your goods don’t have to pass through many hands which would make them susceptible to damage, loss, etc.
Shipping directly to Amazon FBA also offers you with quicker shipping time.
Shipping from China to an intermediary who then ships to Amazon FBA takes a lot of time.
The disadvantage of this mode of shipping is that it is based on blind trust.
You don’t get the chance to inspect the goods before they head over to Amazon FBA.
So even if there is a problem with quality, packaging labeling, etc. you won’t know until the goods get to Amazon.
Do you want to learn how to import from China to the United States?
Yes – I know you do.
Well, in this chapter, I will try to provide you tips that are essential to first-time shippers from China to the US.
Shipping from China to USA – Source: CN Source Link
But before that,
I want you to understand that importing from China is a great deal.
This is something that can help you not just to locate new business opportunities, but to also improve your profit margins.
We mentioned somewhere in this article that goods from China are very affordable.
Well, that’s true.
It is the reason why most wholesalers, retailers, and distributors from all over the world are attracted to import from China.
A smart business person will always identify their target market first before everything else.
Before you start importing from China, ask yourself to whom am I going to sell this product to?
Will it sell?
You need to ensure that your market presents an opportunity for growth and development.
In reality, this is what will lead to the products you’ll be importing.
It is very important for you to understand what your market wants and needs.
Do not just focus on supplying the market with products you are not sure to meet the market’s expectations.
Find out what is lacking in existing products and provide solutions for these in your product.
Doing this will also help to give your suppliers in China an idea of what it is you want.
Well, it is what it is.
You have to know if the product you are planning on importing is allowed in the US or if there any restrictions.
ITA (international trade association) has all the information you need regarding this.
You can visit or try to contact to get a list of prohibited/restricted import items in the US.
If you’ve been reading our previous posts, you may think that this is now cliché.
But then, here is the truth;
Your freight forwarding agent is everything, particularly if you are a first-time importer.
He/she will help you solve your supply chain problems with minimal effort and in a less costly manner.
As such, you must find a partner.
Find an agent that you can collaborate with – one that can deliver your goods from China to the USA according to your preferences.
Before you start moving your goods from China to the US, you need to estimate your landing cost.
This should be the total you would incur to import from China to the US.
Find out US customs duty.
How much will you incur in duties and taxes?
Please note that your customs duty can affect the ultimate cost of your ‘made in China’ products.
Also, the chargeable duties and taxes depend on the kind of products you are importing.
Just try to familiarize yourself with all these things.
The knowledge will come in very handy when you finally decide to import from China.
I assume that at this point, you’ve been able to locate potential suppliers.
I also assume that you’ve settled on whose quotation goes in line with your budgetary needs.
I expect that you’ve made sure the quotation given to you clearly defines the order details.
These should include the product you’ve ordered, their quantity and worth.
With everything in check, you can go ahead and finalize your order.
Once you settle on whom to source your products from, you need to now agree to the terms of payment.
The payments terms, take note, must also be defined very precisely.
Also, you should choose only the safest payment method to reduce the chances of fraud.
In this case, it is best to let your local shipping agent see out the finalization of the order.
Isn’t everything in order?
It’s time to ship.
Together with your freight forwarding agent, locate a reliable and affordable carrier to move the goods to the US.
Remember that shipping rates from China to the US vary on so many angles.
Therefore, ensure that you window shop a while and choose the carrier whose prices are more in line with your budget.
Other things that you may want to keep in mind when importing from China is;
Be patient. The process of importation needs time rushing it is not the best thing to do, regardless.
Embrace and nurture the spirit of ‘guanxi.’ Relationships which is what the term means are very important in the Chinese culture.
As such, learn to build lasting relationships that are based on trust and validation. This is the best way to build stronger and more secure business relationships in China.
In this regard, the right guanxi is what’ll determine whether your business relationships will prosper or not. It’ll also break or make your importation business.
So, try to be honest, courteous, and non-patronizing.
Have local contacts. You know that language barrier is a major challenge for non-Chinese speaking importers.
As such, it could be great that you keep contacts of locals in China. You should have a freight forwarding agent, customs broker, consolidator, etc. a call away.
Be careful with contracts. Like I said, importing from China can be profitable just as much as it is risky.
So be careful when making monetary negotiations and when signing contracts.
You see, it is a simple process – just give it a try and you won’t regret.
I know several questions are running through your mind right now.
Unfortunately, I can’t single out each one of them.
Worry not though as I have here a few of the frequently asked questions on shipping from China to the US.
Shipping from China to USA
I hope you find your answers.
Let’s be honest here; China makes almost all the great things in the global market.
Besides, Chinese manufacturers are not just good but are also very cost effective.
This is why most established importers spend so little to get so much from China.
What’s more is that the lower costs also contribute to the ideality of purchasing goods for import purposes to the US.
So, if you are still new this, then look the China way.
You won’t be disappointed.
Yes, they will- as long as they meet the required US quality standards.
Due to the US customs regulations, there are a few important things to keep in mind when shipping from China.
For instance, there is a restriction for hazardous goods.
Special packaging is also required for certain goods.
In the US, all products imported from China must have a “made in China” label.
Pay attention to this.
Your shipping agent should be able to guide you regarding this.
So make sure you ask them for details before you ship any products into the US.
You may not want to hear this, but yes there are risks.
From scamming to damaging goods, theft when shipping, etc.
This is why it is essential to use a reputable local shipping agent to help you with the shipping process.
There is no guarantee that you’ll be safe from risks.
You need to be wary of the signs.
For instance, never send money to a supplier without proper verification of their authenticity and reliability.
Also, never agree to terms that you don’t understand.
Another thing is to ensure that goods are insured before they leave China.
This will help you avoid any liability when goods arrive damaged.
Most importantly, use a shipping agent.
This is critical when it comes to negotiating deals and rates. They’ll also help you evade scams and the likes.
Several things determine the best method to ship from China.
Distance, type of goods, and type of goods all come into play when deciding the suitable method for shipping.
Air best ships perishable goods for instance.
Sea best ships bulk cargo and large volumes of products.
You can pay via whatever means is acceptable by the US customs, and that’s convenient for you.
A customs broker is a licensed agent that helps importers/exporters with customs clearances.
So, say you are importing from chia to the US.
A customs broker, in this case, will provide release instructions to the US customs and other involved departments to allow for the flow of imported goods.
The brokers will classify your goods according to the current tariff rates that will be used to apply duties and taxes.
Yes and no.
Yes if you are unfamiliar with China custom regulations.
No, if you have an importation license and knows the ins and outs of importing from China.
For a first time importer or one who is not well versed in the intricacies of Chinese export business, you don’t need one.
I advise that you hire a licensed customs broker and freight forwarder.
These two can help you with customs clearances as well as delivery of your consignment to your ultimate destination.
I wouldn’t say difficult.
If you work with the right freight forwarding partner and customs broker, shipping from China is a breeze.
You won’t have to worry about anything.
Whether it is finding a supplier, sourcing the goods, inland transportation, loading and offloading, customs clearance, etc. they’ll do it all for you.
The CBP website https://www.cbp.gov/has a lot of information regarding US customs and duty.
To find your products import tariff amount, you’ll need first to locate its HS code.
Your customs broker can help you with this.
You’ll then use this code on the provided tariffs database to identify what amount has been applied to your products.
If you are shipping on CIF terms, you won’t have to pay for the insurance.
This is because CIF covers the insurance bit of shipping.
That’s why it is called ‘cost insurance freight.’
In as much as CIF include goods insurance, the terms of this insurance vary with different shipping companies.
So, if for instance, you let your supplier handle the shipping, you lose control of what shipping method they opt for.
They may decide to choose the cheapest method, which again, you have no control over.
To be on the safe side, it is best if you contact your freight forwarder in China to know what the insurance covers.
You don’t need to pay any taxes in China.
The expense that you’ll incur is the transport costs to the loading port in China.
Also, you’ll have to cater for the documentation costs in China.
Note that all these charges are included in every incoterm issued in China.
From FOB to everything else. So you won’t even have to bother about them.
Unless of course, you source your goods on EXW terms.
Well, freight from China to most destination across the United States takes about 2 to 35 days depending on the shipping mode used.
Sea freight as you may guess takes the most time which is a little over a month.
With this, you may even have to wait a few more days up to a week for goods to be cleared at the US customs.
Therefore if you have a specific timeframe within which goods need to be in the US market, start preparations early enough?
Well, there are two ways.
You can either pick the goods yourself or let your shipping agent deliver the cargo to you via trucks.
The good thing about imports is that once your goods arrive at the destination port, you are notified by your shipping agent.
In this case, you can choose to book transportation to final destination through the agent.
Or, you can organize your transport and pick the goods yourself.
Yes, you can.
The best part is you don’t even need to be physically present in China for this to happen
Just contact your shipping agent with details of your shipment.
This will include the goods you want, mode of shipping, etc.
The agent will facilitate the sourcing, shipping, and clearing of your goods for delivery to the provided Amazon FBA address.
Yes, you can.
This is even great since it helps all of you to save on the shipping costs.
Well, LCL and FCL refer to less than container load and full container load respectively.
These terms are used to refer to whether your goods occupy a full container or not.
For importers of large volume goods, FCL is often considered more efficient and less costly compared to LCL shipping.
In China, New Year is an extraordinary time of the year.
There is never business as usual during New Year.
During this time, factories tend to close for almost a month.
Freight costs go through the roof and as issues with product quality increase.
I mean it’s just bizarre during this time of the year in China.
To avoid any inconveniences, plan early and get your shipment out of China before the last days leading to New Year.
Importing goods from China to the USA can be very lucrative for your business.
You need to do your research well and use a reputable freight forwarding agent.
Note that flexibility is critical when sourcing products from China.
Relying on just one supplier or two can be tricky.
This is because sometimes these suppliers do succeed in providing the best product quality and sometimes they don’t.
It is, therefore, best if you look a little into several other sources for your goods.
So, as you embark on this business, focus more on working with companies/persons that are already established.
Companies and people that are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the Chinese/US import and export business.
With that said, I hope this guide has proven helpful in helping you get started and taking action towards shipping from China.
Feel free to share it with your friends or business partners.