Importing from China: Introduction of Shipping Methods

shipping method

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Shipping Methods of Importing from China

Transport of goods is a very important part of the trade process. So, what kind of way that Chinese suppliers usually choose to ship goods to foreign customers? This article will give you a full picture.

The first step to transport the goods is to decide the type and volume of a product. If the goods are in small quantities, such as product samples, documents, and so on, the Chinese suppliers tend to choose the following ways to ship goods.

1. Post


The most economical way to ship goods is by mailing. For example, EMS can mail some sensitive goods, such as food and cosmetics. And EMS international express, usually charges fees according to the actual weight, only according to the actual weight instead of the volume seize. Therefore, Chinese suppliers tend to choose EMS to ship goods with large volumes to save logistics costs. Also, there are no remote surcharges and fuel surcharges. However, EMS are all state-owned enterprises, which are slower in logistics timeliness and less stable than commercial express. And it usually takes 5-12 days, but in special cases, it may take a month to receive goods.

2. Express courier

Cainiao Logistics


A logistics service provider affiliated to Alibaba, which is more popular among e-commerce companies. It can integrate e-commerce dedicated line logistics enterprises with a certain degree of professionalism and size. And the company can get exclusive prices from upstream enterprises such as airlines at a lower price. Therefore, it has advantages in price and timeliness can also be guaranteed. The company claims that it takes as short as three days to deliver goods all over the world.

Apart from Cainiao logistics, the most popular logistics companies in China are the four major international logistics companies.



It has advantages in shipping small cargo less than 21 kg such as documents with a strong clearance ability. And it can transport goods with the shortest time and high safety. It can carry sensitive goods such as cosmetics and food. In most countries and regions, the shipping time is 3-5 days. However, the overall price is relatively high.



When shipping goods ranging from 21kg to 99kg, this way has advantages. For this weight segment, FedEx has a comparative advantage in price. In most countries and regions the delivery time is 3 to 7 days.



It is more economical to choose UPS while the goods weigh over 100kg. orders with extra length and overweight are more favorable than DHL. They cost 40* U/piece, and the extra-large ones cost 420* U/piece. Also, it has two kinds of orders: blue and red. For red orders, it will take 3-5 days to arrive, while for blue orders, it will take 5-8 days to arrive. However, there will be additional charges for non-carton, irregular packing, and goods with a solid weight over 31kg.



It has superiority in transporting bulk goods of more than 100KG, and the price will be lower than that of UPS. It is suitable for overlong, overweight, and oversized pieces, and the surcharge is relatively cheap, generally about 100 yuan per ticket. But it takes a longer time than UPS, usually about a week.

Of course, different countries and regions need to be taken into account when choosing the right express company. Examples:

Express to South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa, FedEx suggested.

Express to Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, DHL suggested.

Express to Canada, the United States and other American countries, FedEx, UPS, DHL all suggested.

Express to Netherlands and Belgium, TNT suggested.

Shipping methods mentioned above are suitable for goods in small quantities, but what about goods with large quantities and much limitation?

In this case, the Chinese suppliers usually look for a freight forwarder to transport the goods by sea, air or land. At present, the famous domestic freight forwarders include ZTO Ocean Logistics Group Co., LTD., Cosco International Freight Co., LTD., Sinotrans Long Shipping Co., LTD., etc.

If you want to find a freight forwarder by yourself, you can search on Fubu Forum, Alibaba and etc. The price will be lower than that of large freight forwarding companies. And when you find a prospective forwarder, don’t rush to place an order. Do a thorough background check on the company to see if it is credible and this is where we can help.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of shipping goods by air, by sea or by land.

Air Freight



1. high safety.

2. Timeliness is strong and is suitable for the urgent use of products. Example: it only takes only 3-6 days to ship goods from China (Guangzhou) to the UK by air: double clearance from door to door (including the process of picking up, transportation, customs clearance, dispatch, and delivery).


It charges fees according to weight and the price is much higher than that of sea freight.

Sea Freight

sea ship


1. The price is cheap and is suitable for shipping goods in large quantities.

2. There are few limitations. For example, a large volume of goods cannot be transported by express or air, while sea transportation does not have so strict requirements on goods.


Poor timeliness. It usually takes two or even three months for packages to arrive in the United States, which is very slow. If the demand for goods is not very urgent, choosing to transport goods by sea is a cost-effective method.

Land Freight



1. Land transport has fewer restrictions on goods, and almost all kinds of goods can be transported.

2. Simple operation.


1. The speed is slower than that of air transportation.

2. The cost is higher than that of sea transportation.

After choosing the right mode of transportation, how the goods can be delivered to the buyers?

Take air transportation as an example. Generally, international logistics includes the following steps.

1. Goods will be loaded to the airport after being weighted, classified, and measured.

2. After distinguishing the cargo general or special, it will be sent to the corresponding airport for tally, weighing, invoicing, commodity inspection, and warehousing. If the goods fail to enter the warehouse after a security check, they will be returned. If pass, it means the goods can be shipped.

3. Declaration: the customer can choose a customs broker or a freight forwarder for customs clearance. In general, the freight company will also help customers to deal with this process. If the customer has the customs clearance ability, he can handle it by himself.

4. After the arrival of goods, local customs will review the documents, do a spot check, and tax the goods before releasing them.

Document review: the customs will review the goods and documents according to the declaration documents.

Spot check: the customs will conduct spot checks on goods (to avoid the entry of contraband).

Taxation: according to the category of goods, the customs shall collect the taxes in accordance with the provisions of national laws.

1. After the audit or inspection mentioned above, the goods will be released to the corresponding clearance company or customs broker. Then the goods will be sent to the delivery agent.

2. Delivery.

It may take a long time to finish the whole process, and all you need to do is to be patient.

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