Shipping methods from China is essential for overseas business, especially for newbies that just start to buy from China.

Choosing the correct shipping method from China is an important step to harvest a successful import business. But exactly which is the best shipping service way to send goods home, and with which party we shall work with remains a big problem.

In this article, we will talk about:

Table of Content

1) 4 major ways of shipping from China

2) Pros and Cons of each shipping methods From China

3) Shipping Management: By Yourself or by an Agent?

1) 4 Major Ways of Shipping from China


a-International Express

For ordinary products that are less than 200Kg, there is almost no better choice than international Express delivery.

International Express (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.) is suitable for high-value products or products that need to be delivered to a specific location quickly, such as fashion products including jewelry, clothing, or electronic products.

When using international express, you need to keep one thing in mind: they calculate bulky goods based on size and weight (length * width * height / 5000). If you use DHL to ship 200 cups to Canada, the weight is 200 g/cup, However, the dimensional weight will be 300 g/cup, then DHL will charge you by the costly one — dimensional weight, which is 300 g/cup. Therefore, products with large space will cost a lot of courier fees.

However, large buyers sometimes prefer international express delivery rather than air freight because it usually has a promotional price for the goods if your large goods exceed 1,000 kg. The price is not less than that of air freight, but it is more convenient than air freight.

For example, Chinese Amazon suppliers often use FedEx when using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) products, and only need to pay about US$2.8/kg to the United States for each 1,000 kg of products. And the goods are expected to arrive within 5-6 days.

b-Air Freight


Airfreight is cheaper than Express when your goods are more than 500Kg. Otherwise, international express will be better. Its dimensional weight is calculated as length*width*height/6000, which is less than international express.

One thing to note is that this mode of transportation is from airport to airport, which means that the supplier must send the goods to the airport and manage a custom export process.

When the cargo arrives at your airport, you must pick it up at the airport and perform a custom import process. If the nearest international airport is far away from you, the successive domestic freight costs will also be a lot of money.

Note: Hazardous articles transported by air

All airlines have strict regulations on the transportation of dangerous goods, including products that are easily combustible or explosive or toxic chemical products.

Due to the use of lithium batteries, the balancing scooter is one of them. Therefore, it is not possible to transport this shipment by international express, air freight, or China Post Air Parcel. The only option is sea freight.

c-Sea Shipping

When we talk about the sea shipping methods from China, there are two major ways of sea shipping to be mentioned: Less than container load sea shipping and full container load sea shipping.

1-Less than Container Load Sea Shipping(LCL)


When your cargo exceeds 2-3CBM, LCL shipping is the most economical method of all transportation methods.

Because each sea vessel has a fixed fee during the export process in China, about $100-$150, and there is also a fixed import fee when the goods arrive at the port. Therefore, shipping less than 2CBM will cost a lot of money.

Sea freight is port-to-port transportation, so don’t forget the freight from port to warehouse.

If the warehouse is far away from the port, or your country does not even have a port, it is better to find a local transportation company to ask them how to ship from China. Because they know better than Chinese suppliers or freight forwarders to deliver goods to your place.

Note: if your cargo is about 15-20 CBM, it will be cheaper and faster to use 20GP containers instead of LCL.

Tip: If you still have space in your container, you can buy some low-value goods or bulky goods, and then ship them together. Because these products can be considered free shipping. Toy importers usually buy bumpy balls to fill the free space of the container.

In some countries/regions, there are few freight forwarders specializing in LCL transportation, and you can get cheap prices from them. They will help you first handle the customs process and then pick up the goods in their warehouse. However, finding them is a bit difficult.

2-Full Container Load Sea Shipping (FCL)


As we all know, FCL (full container loading by sea) is one of the cheapest shipping methods from China, and our large customers often use this method.

Some common containers capacities are:

20GP       5 ton       26CBM

40GP       22 ton      54CBM

40HQ       22ton      68CBM

d- Railway Shipping

The Yixing-Europe railway line, which connects Yiwu, China, and Europe, was first opened in November 2014.


The route starts from Yiwu, China, passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and finally reaches Madrid, Spain. But currently, only full container loading is accepted.

Before the opening, goods trade between China and Europe required at least one month for sea shipment, but now it only takes 15-20 days for rail transportation.

However, its freight is about 3-4 times higher than sea freight, but it is still cheaper than air freight, which is 8-10 times higher than sea freight.

For European merchants exporting wine and olive oil to China, the Yixin European line is indeed a better choice. Because it is relatively stable during the journey, it can sell products within a short time after arriving in China.

2) Pros and Cons of each shipping methods From China


Shipping has become a common part of the company’s service and the buyer’s business experience to differentiate from the competitors, companies are forced to devise new shipping methods and offer a well-customized mix of existing styles with different quotations and pricing.

Here above, we compared the 4 most popular shipping methods from China with a specific focus on their clear and hidden advantages and disadvantages for the buyer.

3) Shipping Management: By Yourself or by an Agent?

When it comes to the management of shipping, there are majorly 3 methods. You can work directly with shipping lines, or ask for services from shipping agents. If you are totally inexperienced importer, you can also ask the supplier to ship the goods for you.

a-Work directly with the Shipping lines

If you are a big group, you can consider this method. You can book directly with shipping lines, airlines, trucking companies and manage Customs Declarations on both sides (the exporting and the importing countries).

If you choose this option, you need to follow up on your own order, and you need to personally contact the shipping company to obtain the correct information that is important to you. If a problem occurs, you need to deal with the problem to avoid paying extra.

Your time is the most precious. When you work directly with the carrier, unless your company has a dedicated team and a professional crew, you will not be able to save time.

b- Work with Freight Forwarders

when you choose to work with shipping agents, there are also three kinds of situations: work with shipping agents from your country, agents in China, and agents on both sides.

1-Freight Forwarders from your country

So here’s what’s going on: Small and medium-sized companies try to work with freight forwarders of the right size, and they care about their business. However, most freight forwarders do not always have their own offices in China. They usually work with local agents and increase the margin on the basis of the agent’s fees.

2-Freight Forwarders in China

More and more importers choose this option.

The advantage is speed. Freight forwarders can keep in close contact with your suppliers and keep you informed of all situations. When a problem occurs, your local partner will resolve it as soon as possible.

Shipping companies based in China will not only ensure the speed, they provide you with the best rates. Besides, Some Chinese agents even manage to handle customs clearance and inland delivery in your country.

3-Work with Freight Forwarders on both sides

In this situation, you need to spend more time looking for shipping agents on both sides. For example, a Dubai importer who’s going to buy from China will contact a freight forwarder in Dubai, and a freight forwarder in China.

This may be the right choice for SMEs to transport from China. For some buyers, every dollar is worth fighting for. And it also allows a higher degree of control.

c-Let the supplier’s ship goods for you


Another option to ship your goods home is to let your suppliers ship the goods for you. Usually, Chinese suppliers who export a lot have their own network of shipping agents. They know your requirement and could find the best shipping agent so that they will arrange the shipping properly for you.

Sometimes you don’t even have to travel far distance to come to china. Just by contacting the supplier by email or a phone call, you place an order to a supplier in china, then the supplier will manage the rest on your behalf.

But people usually choose this option only when they have established a long term relationship with the supplier. After years of cooperation with the suppliers, you find a trustworthy and reliable supplier, then there is worry-free for the product quality and payment. If you do not know the supplier well, we sincerely suggest you to hire a third party to do the job.


Buying from China and sell in your country is a great business. However, Shipping from China is a complicated process that requires thorough understanding.

From incoterms to different modes of shipping, you need to dive in and have a firm grasp on all concepts before you make the right decision. While the sea shipping that costs much less takes a longer time to ship home, the air express charges extra will get your products delivered in considerably less time.

So, it all goes back to you. You will have to compare the pros and cons and decide which shipping method is most suitable for your business.

Also, it is essential to hire companies that are extremely reliable, experienced, and have strong connections to work with. If so, they will surely help you get impressive deals and offers on shipping.

If you are a beginner to buy from china, just follow our guide, you get a better understanding of shipping your good home in a cost-saving and secure way!