Today, most business people are manufacturing products in China for resale in the United States. When it comes to the shipping part, they have to choose the best shipping method to avoid unnecessary delays and maximize their profits. The main shipping methods include airfreight, express shipping, and sea freight.
Regardless of the shipping method, you select, you will have to hire a freight forwarder in China to manage your shipment. A reliable freight forwarding company such as Huntersourcing will help you navigate complex logistical requirements and save money. This guide will help you choose the best shipping method when shipping from China to the United States.
What Options Are Available for You When Shipping from China to the USA
There is no possibility of importing goods from China to the United States through overland services. Therefore, you only have two options. You can only send your goods as airfreight or ocean freight. Here are the options.
1. Sea Freight from China to the USA
Sea freight from China to the United States involves more than negotiating the rates and building relationships with the locals. Port familiarity is important when shipping. There are many ports in the United States and China and they vary in locale, type, and size. Here are the ports.
Sea Ports in China
· Tianjin Port
Currently, Tianjin stands as the largest seaport in northern China. It serves 11 Northern provinces of China and Mongolia. Formerly known as the Port of Tangu, this port is the primary marine gateway to Beijing. It covers over 100 square kilometers, something that makes it China’s largest man-made seaport and one of the highly connected seaports. It serves as a link between Central, Northeast, and West Asia.
Tianjin Port is among the earliest foreign trading ports of China and its roots can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. Today, this port connects more than 160 regions and over 300 ports in the world.
· Qingdao Port
The port of Qingdao is an international transshipment. This port situated in the Yellow River basin in the eastern part of Shandong Province handled over 17.44 million TEUs in 2016. Qingdao Port has a large terminal apt that handles iron ore and the government is planning to make it the largest terminal in the world for handling iron ore. The port stands as the sixth port in the world when it comes to iron ore cargo handling and its shipping routes connect more than 700 ports.
· Shanghai Port
The Port of Shanghai handled over 40 million TEUs in 2017, something that helped it cement its spot as the busiest port in the world. Singapore ranked second but it handled 33.7 TEUs.
This port is the Yangtze River Delta gateway. Around 40 years ago, its capacity was below 8,000 TEUs and crossed the 30 million TEUs mark in 2011. Currently, it is the home to the largest automated container terminal in the world.
· Ningbo Port
Ningbo Port was the first to handle 1 billion tons of cargo in one year. That is mainly due to its ore-loading berth and crude oil terminal. It also offers a liquid chemical storage space.
The port is located in Zhejiang Province, and it has seen much advancement recently. Originally, it was offering intermodal rail services to hinterlands but it has launched new services with sea-rail transport lines that offer 11 train services to over 36 China’s cities and reach further to northern Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
It also lies at the crossroads of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Silk Road Economic Belt, meaning that it is among the busiest ports in the country. Further, it has 242 sea routes that connect to more than 600 harbors in the world.
· Xiamen Port
Situated in Jiulongjiang River in Fujian Province, Xiamen Port is the closest port to Taiwan. It was the first mainland port to start shipping cargo to Kaohsiung Port of Taiwan. Today, it is still offering cross-strait trade.
This port is spread over 12 areas and stretches around 30 kilometers along the coast. Furthermore, it has both deep-water and river facilities and it serves over 65 routes. It also connects more than 50 countries across the world.
· Shenzhen Port
The Port of Shenzhen is situated in Guangdong Province and it connects the southern hinterland of China to other parts of the globe. Also known as the gateway to Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, this port handled over 23.98 million TEUs in the year 2016. It consists of the western and eastern ports and it spreads out over 260km of Shenzhen’s coastline.
The port receives 560 ships per month and it covers 130 international container routes. Companies like Wal-Mart have established their Asian headquarters here. The city is also home to thousands of electronics manufacturers.
· Guangzhou Port
Port of Guangzhou is situated at the mouth of Pearl River in Guangdong Province. It is very close to Macau and Hong Kong and it is the main port in China’s Pearl River Delta. This port mainly handles industrial, manufactured, and agricultural goods. In 2016, the port handled over 17.56 million TEUs.
Cargoes from provinces like Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, and Guangxi also pass through this port. Furthermore, the port sits at the conflux of the Xijiang, Dongjiang, and Beijing Rivers, which are equipped with an expressway, waterway, railway, and air services. Guangzhou Port is among the busiest ports in China and it connects over 300 ports in 80 different countries.
This port was once the largest in the world but it has been reporting weaker traffic recently. Analysts believe that it might lose its position in the list of the five leading ports in the world if the trend persists. The port handled over 20 million TEUs in 2016.
Main Sea Port in the USA
– Long Beach Port
The Long Beach Port is around 30 kilometers from Los Angeles Port. This port began its operations in 1911 and today it is among the leading gateways for North America and Asia. Even more, the port was among the first ports in the United States to adopt eco-friendly policies to minimize its effects on the environment. It occupies 3200 acres and handles over 78.2 million metric revenue tons per year. It also employs over 370,000 people directly and indirectly.
– New York Port
The New York Port is the biggest on East Coast. It encompasses waterways in the New York and New Jersey Estuary and has two foreign-trade zones. It handles 7.4 million TEUs container volumes. The annual cargo tonnage stands at 74 million metric revenue tons. It connects the United States to India, China, and Germany.
– Los Angeles Port
Los Angeles Port is also known as America’s Port and it stands at the largest seaport in North America. This port lies on 7500 acres and it handles over 20 percent of the cargo incoming to the USA. In 2019, its container volume was over 9.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the year 2019. That was a 5.5 increase from the 8.8 million TEUs in 2018. The port connects the United States to Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Japan. It employs over 1.6 million individuals both directly and indirectly.
– Oakland Port
The first container ship terminals were built in this port. Situated on the Pacific Coast, the Port of Oakland is among the West Coast gateways. It handles over 99 percent of the containerized goods that pass through Northern California. It receives over 1775 vessels per year and handles 2.5 million TEUs. It connects the United States to Asia.
– Houston Port
The Port of Houston is the busiest in the United States, considering the foreign waterborne tonnage. The 50-mile-long port has more than 200 private and public terminals. Port of Houston is the largest port on Gulf Coast and handles 50 percent of the region’s project cargo. NeoPanamax expansion is among its focus areas. It receives over 8200 vessels and 247 million metric revenue tons per year. Its annual cargo stands at 1.6 million TEUs and its main petroleum and petroleum products. Further, the port employs 3.2 million people directly and indirectly.
– Tacoma Port
The Port of Tacoma is the third-largest port in terms of cargo handling in the United States. The port handled around $9.7 billion of business in the year 2017 and modernized its Terminal 5 in 2019. It handles 3.7 million TEUs per year and employs 151,400 people directly and indirectly. The port mainly handles grains, oilseeds, computers, and machinery.
– Newark Port
Port Newark has four container terminals and it handled over 6.5 million TEUs and over 600,000 automobiles in 2016. Also known as Port Elizabeth, Port Newark serves the Port of New York and New Jersey. It serves as the principal container facility for goods leaving and entering the New York Metropolitan Area. Around 80-85 percent of cargo from this port goes onto trucks.
2. Air Freight from China to the USA
Airfreight is the fastest method of shipping goods from China to the United States. Cargo airports have been expanding and developing to accelerate and facilitate transportation. Here are the main air shipping bases in both China and the USA.
Airfreight Bases in China
Also known as Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou is the primary airport in Guangzhou City. It is situated around 28 north of Guangzhou city. It is the hub for 9 Air, China Southern Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, FedEx Express, Hainan Airlines, and Shenzhen Airlines. It handled over 73 million in 2019 and over 1.8 million tons of cargo.
Shenzhen International Airport is among the largest cargo airports in Southern China. Opened in 1991, this airport handles over 1 million tons of cargo each year. The logistics center at this airport covers around 115,000 square meters of area and offers international logistics distribution, customs storage, customs services, and door-to-door deliveries. The airport serves 39 cargo routes and connects 33 destinations. The forwarding companies in this airport include China Airlines Cargo, UPS Airlines, China Cargo Airlines, and FedEx Express.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the second largest airport in China but it ranks third in the list of the largest cargo ports. The airport handles more than 3.1 tons of cargo each year. The forwarding companies to expect in the airport include FedEx Express, DHL Aviation, Lufthansa Cargo, Air China Cargo, and UPS Airlines.
The main airport in Ningbo is Ningbo Lishe International Airport. The airport is around 14 km from Ningbo City center and handles both international and domestic flights. Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport is the other important airport and it is located 105km south of Ningbo.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport stands as the tenth busiest airport in China. The airport is situated around 27km from Hangzhou, China. It has three terminals and two runways. In 2015, it received 25.6 million passengers. It also received 500,000 tons of cargo and 260,000 aircraft movements in the year.
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport was launched in 1995 and it is located 26km from Wuhan City. The airport handled over 24.5 million passengers in 2018 and 320,000 tons in 2013. It has two terminals – Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport situated around 16km southwest of Chengdu City obtained international status in 1993. It offers services to over 49 international and 92 domestic destinations. The airport receives 50 million passengers and 550,000 tons of cargo per year.
Xian Airport is situated around 25 kilometers northwest of downtown Xi’an and around 13 kilometers from Xianyang city center. It is the hub for China Eastern Airlines, Air Chang’an, Okay Airways, Joy Air, Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, and Shenzhen Airlines. It received over 44 million passengers in 2018.
Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport is the main airport serving Zhengzhou City. It is located 37 kilometers southeast of Zhengzhou and it was started in 1997. According to 2018 statistics, it is the 12th busiest airport in China in terms of passenger traffic and seventh in terms of cargo traffic.
Beijing Capital Airport is one of the two international airports in Beijing. However, it is the busiest and receives over 100.98 million people per year. In 2018, the airport handled 2 million tons of cargo. The other airport in Beijing is Beijing Nanyuan Airport. This airport handles 49 aircraft and over 170 flights per day. It handles 45 million passengers per year.
The main airport in Tianjin is Tianjin Binhai International Airport. This airport, located in Dongli District, Tianjin, is among the main cargo centers in China. It received over 12 million passengers in 2016 and handled 500,000 tons of cargo. It is home to 9 Air, Aero Mongolia, Air China, Air Macau, and Chengdu Airlines.
Main Airport in the USA
– New York
The J.F Kennedy International Airport, also known as the Queens, New York is the largest of three main international airports in the New York metropolitan airport system. It is situated 16 miles from midtown Manhattan and it is the third busiest freight gateway to the US and the first to international airfreight. The airlines that have operations in airport 100 include Air China, Asia, Cargolux, Eva, Nippon, Cathay Pacific, DHL, FedEx, and UPS.
Memphis International Airport is the busiest airport in the world in terms of cargo. In 2015, it handled 4.29 million tons of cargo. It boasts road, rail, river, and runway that allows easier movement of cargo to and from this airport.
Atlanta International Airport is situated in Georgia, Atlanta USA and it is the busiest airport in the world. It is also the major southern hub of the United States. Most international and connecting flights go through this airport before leaving for the final destinations. The airport is the main gateway for international flights to and from Asian countries.
– Los Angeles
The Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving Los Angeles and California. Los Angeles Airport is a leading airport in both cargo and passenger traffic. It was the sixth airport in the list of the busiest airports in 2010 and the fourth in 2017. It is situated 18 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
Airlines serving the Chicago International Airport are China Airlines, China Southern, and China Cargo. Other airlines are Cargolux, Air China, QANTAS, Eva Air, and Yangtze River Express. The airlines offer services to both importers and exporters.
Louisville International Airport situated in Kentucky is among the busiest and most popular airports in the United States. In 2015, this airport handled over 5 billion pounds of cargo in the mail and freight. The cargo tonnage in the year stood at 2.3 million tons. Further, it is the largest fully automated cargo handling facility in the globe and features an IT customs system that facilitates faster clearing and distribution of cargo.
The Miami International Airport is among the busiest airports in the world. It handles most of the United States’ international freights from all over the world. Actually, the number of cargo carriers that operate freights between Miami airport and airports in other parts of the world are 90. They include FedEx Express, Asiana Airlines, Cargolux, and China Airlines.
Owned and operated by the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the Indianapolis International Airport is home to FedEx. It occupies 3116 ha of land and it is the largest airport in Indiana.
This airport lies between Fort Worth and the city of Dallas. It stands as the busiest flight terminal in Dallas and the fourth busiest airport in the world in terms of flight vehicle activities. It also boasts the largest aviation terminal in the USA.
3. Express Shipping from China to the USA
Express shipping from China to the United States involves the use of express freight, also known as a courier. This method is reliable and faster than mail. Here are the options to try after choosing the method.
– DHL Shipping from China to the USA
DHL Express is a courier service based in Bonn, Germany, and was founded in 1969. The company is ranked as the largest courier service provider in the world. It has a presence in China with the regional head office situated in Beijing. It offers international shipping and worldwide delivery services.
– FedEx Shipping from China to the USA
FedEx is another world-leading courier services provider. It is based in the United States but it has offices in all parts of the world including China. It was launched in 1971 and took less than four decades to evolve into a leading courier services provider. It has over 82 branch offices and operates over 220 cargo flights from China every week.
– UPS Shipping from China to the USA
United Parcel Service (UPS) is among the leading international courier service providers based in the USA. Started in 1907, this company is among the oldest courier services and it partnered with China Express in 2005 to offer the first non-stop delivery services to China. Its China head office is situated in Shanghai but it has two regional offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. The company arranges deliveries from the supplier to the buyer.
– China EMS Shipping from China to the USA
China Postal Express & Logistics Co. Ltd or China EMS was started as an international mail service provider in 1980 and it started offering domestic shipping services in 1984. Owned by the China Post Group Corporation, EMS is among the easily accessible courier services with over 45,000 offices and over 100,000 employees. It operates in all towns and cities of China in addition to over 200 countries. Its head offices are in Beijing.
– ePacket Shipping from China to the USA
Most merchants in Hong Kong and China prefer this shipping method. It is among the fastest delivery options for people shipping from China to the United States and allows customers to monitor their ePacket tracking numbers via China Post. Most of the packages are delivered within 30 days.
4. Container Shipping from China to the US
The cost of shipping containers from China to the US varies from one shipping company to the other. When shipping containers from China to the USA, you have to know the type of container. Here are the two types of container shipping, their benefits, and their drawbacks.
– FCL Shipping from China to the USA
FCL, or full container load, means that the goods occupy a whole container, either 20 feet or a 40 feet long container. Full container shipping from China to the USA saves money and time. Shipping companies price FCL at a flat rate, regardless of whether the container is full or not. Consider the companies offering the cheapest shipping to China from US rates.
– LCL Shipping from China to the USA
LCL, OR Less than a Container Load, means that the goods do not occupy an entire container. In other words, your goods will be shipped along with other pallets or boxes. When using this container shipping method, your goods have to be consolidated at the origin port and then consolidated at the destination port. That is the key reason this method of shipping takes longer than FCL. You will have to consider the companies offering cheap shipping to China from the US.
5. Door-to-Door Shipping from China to the USA
Door-to-door shipping from China to the USA involves the direct transfer of goods from the seller to the buyer without any interruptions. Other names for this type of shipping are door to port, house to house, or port to port. The cost of door-to-door shipping can be low when working with several shipping companies.
US Import Duties and Taxes
The amount of money paid as customs duty from China to the United States highly depends on the value of imported goods. The United States customs policy shows that goods with a value below $800 are exempt from customs duty. Tax is mandatory for goods with a value above $800. The tax amount depends on the category of goods. Visit the official USA customs website to check the tax rates of the category of goods you intend to import.
Keep in mind that the customs duty depends on the number of products you import. The customs authorities have categorized shipments into two parts – formal entry and informal entry. Formal entries refer to imports exceeding $2500. The imports have to be covered by a surety bond for the customs authority to clear them. You will receive your products even before paying the taxes, fees, and duties after submitting the customs entry bonds.
Informal entry refers to products with a value below $2,500. The goods do not require any entry bond or surety bond coverage. The customs authority will require you to confirm the terms and conditions when receiving them at the port.
The Shipping Routes from China to the United States
When shipping your products from China to the United States, you will have to consider one of the three shipping routes:
Shanghai to New York: this route has a distance of 13861nm and the shipping time is 57.8 days
Shenzhen to New York: it has a distance of 13020nm and the shipping takes 54.3 days
Shanghai to Savannah: the route has a distance of 18018nm and the shipping time stands at 75.1 days
Shanghai to Long Beach: the distance stands at 19270nm and the shipping takes 80.3 days
Shenzhen to Long Beach: the shipping route has a distance of 18407nm and the shipping takes 75.1 days
Hong Kong to Los Angeles: the shipping route has a distance of 18407nm and the shipping takes 76.7 days
Hong Kong to Long Beach: the route has a distance of 18407nm and the shipping takes 76.7 days
Qingdao to Houston: the shipping route has a distance of 16257nm and the shipping takes 67.7 days
Qingdao to New York: this shipping route has a distance of 14210nm and the shipping takes 59.2 days
Qingdao to Long Beach: this shipping route has a distance of 19621nm and the shipping takes 81.8 days
Ningbo to Long Beach: this shipping route has a distance of 19212nm and the shipping takes 80 days.
Shipping Incoterms from China to the USA
Before you agree to deal with a supplier, you have to understand the common incoterms. Some importers sign on incoterms before understanding the risks that they are taking on. While they get away with it at times, the shipment can turn into a nightmare easily and wipe out your profit margin. Here are the incoterms you should know.
– EXW (Ex Works)
If you choose this shipping incoterm, the delivery will be complete after you pick up the goods from the seller at the agreed place (storage, warehouse, or factory). The seller will not clear the customs for export. As the buyer, you have to designate a freight forwarder to arrange the pickup of the shipment from the agreed place and undertake the booking, inspection, customs declaration, and delivery to your place. The expenses will be at your cost.
– FOB (Free on Board)
The seller will have to deliver the goods after the goods cross the ship’s rail. The buyer will have to control the freight routing. FOB terms require the seller to clear the goods for export. As the buyer, you will have to designate a freight forwarder to arrange the transportation after the goods are loaded on a ship. The freight forwarder should also organize the inspection, customs clearance, booking, and delivery of goods to the final destination.
– CFR (Cost and Freight)
The delivery will be complete after the goods cross the ship’s rail at the destination port. That means that the seller has to pay for the delivery of goods to the destination port and handle the customs for an export declaration. The seller designates a freight forwarder to arrange for transportation and undertake the customs declaration, booking, inspection, and delivery of the goods to the destination.
– CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight)
This term is similar to CFR Incoterms but the seller purchases marine insurance to cover the goods in transit.
How Long Does Shipping from China to the US Take?
The average shipping time from China to the US is between 1 and 35 days, depending on the mode of transport you choose and the final destination of your goods. Express shipping is the fastest and takes 1-5 days. Air transit time from China to the US is between 2 and 15 days and sea freight takes the longest time, which is 15-25 days. Below are the typical number of days it will take to ship goods from China to the United from various places and through different forms of transportation.
Ocean shipping from China to the US – sea shipping from China to the US time ranges between 15 and 25 days
Transit time from China to the US – 8 to 10 days
Shipping from Shenzhen China to the USA – 35 days
Shanghai to USA shipping – 35 days
Shipping from Ningbo China to USA – 35 days
Airfreight transit time from China to the US – 2-15 days
Courier Freight from China to the US time – 3-5 days
The Cost of Shipping from China to the US
The costs of shipping from China to the United States generally consist of landed costs and freight costs. The shipping company you choose bases the calculation of freight costs on the volume and weight of the goods. The landed costs relate to the costs of transporting goods from the factory to the shipping agent, warehousing, and customs clearance. Here is what to expect with each method of shipping you choose.
– Ocean Freight China to the USA
Ocean freight is the least expensive but the slowest method of transporting goods from China to the United States. The transportation cost depends on the volume of goods you are transporting will dictate the cost. You can choose a less-than-container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL). Further, Sea Freight from China to the USA cost will depend on the type of container you choose. Here are the two options.
20-foot container shipping cost from China to the USA: the cost of shipping a 20 ft. container from China to the USA is around $4800.
40-foot container shipping cost from China to the US: the cost of shipping a 40 ft. container from China to the USA is around $6500.
– Air Freight Rates from China to the USA
If your shipments weigh between 50kg and 100kg, then airfreight might be a good choice. The shipping costs for airfreight can be high as compared to those of ocean freight but not as expensive as what you expect with express shipping. Further, you will enjoy the benefit of short transit times. International air cargo rates range from $2.50 to $5.00 per kilogram, depending on the type of cargo shipped.
– Courier Shipping Rates from China to the USA
Courier shipping is ideal when shipping goods from China to the USA in small quantities. While it is the simplest method of shipping, it can be expensive. Still, it makes customs clearance straightforward. If your shipment is worth less than $800, you will not incur any customs duties. The charges are between $5 and $10 per kilogram.
– Amazon Shipping from China to the US
Generally, you should be ready to pay around $4 per kilogram when shipping from China to Amazon FBA USA through airfreight shipping. You also need to account for the customs duties and clearance fees. The transit is around 10 to 12 business days.
– Drop Shipping from China to the USA
Goods weighing between 0/5 kg and 10kg are in a general category and the drop shipping cost from China to the USA is between $20 and $100. For goods weighing between 10kg and 20kg, the shipping fee is between $100 and $200. The shipping cost of goods weighing between 21kg and $100kg is between $200 and $500.
Customs Clearance Documents
After your shipment arrives in the United States, you will have to submit the relative clearance documents to US Customs and Border Protection. The authority requires you to clear the cargo in less than 15 calendar days and they may transfer your goods to a warehouse and pay extra charges for the storage if you fail to clear them within 15 days. Still, you will have six months to clear the dues to avoid auctioning your goods. You will need the following documents to clear your goods.
– Bill of Lading
This is the most important document when importing goods from China to the United States. It proves that the importer has received the goods and paid the exporter. The carrier issues it as a receipt of cargo for shipment.
– Commercial Invoice
A commercial invoice provides the details of the shipment and all mentioned products. Customs and Border Protection base the custom charges calculations on this document. It provides the product description, quantity, country of origin, destination, tariff classification, name, and address of the exporter, and the value of goods.
– Packing List
This document provides information relating to the packaging details and invoice. The customs authority uses it to verify the shipment.
– Arrival Notice
The cargo carrier issues this document to inform the importer that the shipment has arrived.
– Surety Bond
Ensure that all payments including taxes, duties, and import fees are clear. You can buy the surety bond from a surety company in the United States or hire a customs broker. The bonds are of two types. They include the annual bond and single-entry bond. An annual bond is usable for one year and it will cost you between $400 and $450. The single-entry bond is used only one time and it is a good choice for people who rarely import goods from China. It will cost you 5 percent of your shipment value.
Shipping from China to US Tracking
China Post delivers postal items and parcels in China and beyond. The postal operator also carries out shipments of goods from most eCommerce platforms like AliExpress.
When registering a package at China Post, you will get a unique tracking number consisting of 13 symbols. Sellers from marketplaces like AliExpress, GearBest, FastTech, BangGood, and eBay use the number to track their products. You can also use it to track y our shipment from China to the USA.
What Companies Ship from China to the US
Regardless of the shipping method you choose, you have to choose the best Freight Forwarder from China to the USA if your goal is to benefit from the cheapest shipping.
Finding a reliable shipping company can be a challenge but there are many companies to try. Huntersourcing is among the best companies to try when shipping goods from China to the United States. The freight forwarding company in China will help you compare the services of many shipment companies and get a good cargo space and price.
Further, China to USA freight Forwarder will help you source products in China and ship them to your country. They offer a one-stop supply chain management service, meaning that they are the cheapest China shipping agent.
When shipping from China to the United States, keep in mind that Express airfreight and FCL sea freight are the most expensive and least expensive methods. Sea freight companies base the cost calculation on the volume of cargo while airfreight companies base the calculation on the weight and volume of the goods. Ensure that you have all the documents needed for customs clearance.