A to Z of Shipping Products from China

Often times, a lot of people would go into certain businesses with high hopes. Only to realize it didn’t quite go as planned.

The business of shipping products from one part of the world to another is no exception. People delve into it without prior knowledge of what is involved and soon become stuck in the process, from delay in transit time, to change in government regulations.

Thus, we have put this step-by-step guide together in hopes of helping businesses out there find their foot when it comes to the business of importing from China.

1. International Express – Fast and Most Convenient Way

If you’re looking to ship no more than the 200Kg worth of products, there couldn’t certainly be a better choice than the International Express option. If the fee turns out to be a problem, then buying more products and shipping together by freight will make for a better alternative. If this still isn’t feasible, then you may just have to buy from local suppliers.


FedEx Air shipment
FedEx Air shipment


International Express(FedEx, DHL, UPS etc.) has been found to be most appropriate when high-value products are considered. They are perfect for products that are time-bound, I.e., products that have to be delivered quickly, including goods such as electronics, fashion goods including jewellery, etc.

There are certain things that must be considered when using International Express. One of such is the fact that bulk cargo is calculated by dimension weight (I.e., length x width x height x 5000). Thus, if your aim is to ship 200 cups to America by DHL, the weight will be 200g/cup while the dimension weight will turn out to be 300g/cup. Therefore, you will end up being charged at the subsequent rate. In general, products with bigger spaces will eventually cost more express fee.

Notwithstanding, most importers still prefer International Express to air freight because of the cargo promotion price which tends to make it cheaper when a cargo size greater than 1,000 Kg is considered.

As an example, Chinese Amazon suppliers have consistently used FedEx for all their FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) goods. With this choice, it would only take 5 – 6 days for a 1,000Kg goods to arrive the US and goes for a meager fee of $2.8/Kg.


2. China Post Mail Package – Best for 20-200Kg cargo

If you’re considering a cargo size within the range 20 to 200Kg, then another good choice to consider is the China Post mail. This package goes for around 1/3 the price of International express and is especially fitting for regions in the African continent as most freight companies charge rather very high rates.


China Post Shipment
China Post Shipment


This service does not make calculations of weight based on dimension and is, therefore, most suited for lightweight products.

The disadvantages as associated with this option include that of the limitation placed on the weight of each parcel. This means that your cargo must, therefore, be further split into several cartons of not more than 20kg in weight. Also, this takes time. The estimated time of arrival of goods using this means of shipping usually falls within a period of 2 months.


3. Air Freight

The dimension weight for air freight is calculated as length x width x height/6000. This service is far less in cost as compared to International Express but has the requirement that all cargo be more than 500Kg.

This shipping method goes from one airport to the other. This means that a supplier sends the products to the airport and takes care of every custom export procedure, while the importer takes over and completes the remaining customs import process.


Air shipment
Air shipment


A lot of domestic forwarding charges may also come into effect if the airport is quite far away from your intended destination.

One very important point to note is that all airlines have very strict laws regarding the shipment of hazardous products. These include products that are highly inflammable, ones which may easily burn or those as seen to contain harmful or toxic chemical substances.

An example of products that cannot be shipped through air freight is the balancing scooter. This contains a lithium-based battery and is therefore considered as toxic. Thus, if you’re interested in importing a utility like this, then your best bet will be that of shipping


4. Less Than Container Load Shipping (LCL)

When dealing with a container load more than 2-3CBM, then your most economical means of getting this shipped is the LCL.

This sea freight service involves a port-to-port movement. Therefore, an extra cost may be incurred if your base if a lot farther from the seaport.


LCL sea shipment
LCL sea shipment


If you, however, do not have a seaport close to your location, then it may be a good idea to inquire from a local shipping company about your chances of shipping from China.

Another cost-saving means will involve the use of a 20GP container as against the LCL. This is however only applicable in special conditions where your gross cargo load is around 15 – 20CBM. Any empty spaces can be filled with low-value goods; these are considered free shipping.

Certain forwarding agencies exist who specialize in clearing and handling of customs processes, you only need to locate their ware hose to pick up your products.

Some of them charge $280/CBM to Nairobi, this means you only get to pay $28 for 0.1CBM.


5. Full Container Load Sea Shipping

Most traders who engage in large product shipping have consistently relied on this means of shipping to get their products across. The basis for the capacity of three commonly used containers include:

  • 20GP, 20 tons                26CBM
  • 40GP, 26.5ton               54CBM
  • 40HQ, 26.5 tons           68CBM


6. Full Container Railway Shipping – Yixin’ou Railway Shipping Line

This route which connects to many European countries was opened on November 2014. It begins at Yiwu city and passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland, Germany, through France and climaxes at Madrid, Spain.

The only major trouble with this means of shipping is that it only accepts full container loads of shipping for every run.


Yixinou Railway shipment
Yixinou Railway shipment


Prior to its commissioning, most shipping deals between China and Europe took at least a month. With this, goods can get to and fro China and Europe in only 15 – 20 days, although its cost is much higher than that of sea shipping but cheaper than air.

This line is perfect for businesses exporting commodities such as wine and olive oil to China.