Alibaba Shipping Costs: Best Methods to Ship from China

By Sarah
November 16, 2022

How to save Alibaba shipping costs? So, you checked the products you wish to buy on Alibaba. After making your final decision, you want to check out and arrange to ship it.

When you were about to ship the items you bought, you were shocked to see the shipping charge! Why is Alibaba shipping cost to USA too high? And the same goes for other countries!

Just as when you thought buying in Alibaba was a breeze, then comes the high fee for shipping. What can you do to get a low shipping fee?

We wrote this article to help Alibaba buyers save money. We will answer your queries and give tips on shipping your purchases while you save on shipping.


1.Shipping Goods from Alibaba

When you are shipping, prices can vary from factors such as the type of product and the location. If you send a small and cheap item, it can still incur a high shipping fee. It depends on the country’s customs and the freight charge.

Alibaba sellers can give you options to save costs when shipping. Some first-time buyers will use the online option available when they checkout the item. But if you talk and discuss it with the seller, they can suggest some ways on how you can save.

Alibaba shipping charge

1)Why is Alibaba shipping cost expensive?

Are you shipping to the USA? Or a country too far from China? Then this is one factor that makes it expensive. The shipping fee is also high if the shipping address is too far.

How much is your order? You must understand that Alibaba is more of a wholesale platform. The shipping cost from Alibaba can be higher when your order is less than their MOQ.

How heavy is your package? The heavier the parcel, the more costly it is. When shipping, the product’s weight and dimension, and packaging are part of the shipping fee.

The price per unit of the item you bought can change the shipping fee. If you buy hundreds or thousands of pieces of the product, your cost per unit and shipping charge will decrease.


2)How do I ship to Alibaba for the first time?

Shipping for the first time can be overwhelming for some buyers. If you are unfamiliar with how Alibaba works because this is your first time ordering, you must ask for help from your supplier.

Your choice of supplier is very crucial. Finding a reliable supplier will help you find the lowest cost for your package. Also, when your supplier informs you that it is free shipping, you must be mindful that there is no free shipping. They just simply added the delivery cost to the product’s price.

When you order for the first time, when the order is not too bulky, you can opt for the express couriers. For instance, if you are shipping your package to the US, you can choose FedEx, USPS, DHL, or UPS. The Alibaba shipping costs to USA depend on the type of product, its weight, and other add-on taxes.

The standard process is that seller will include the invoice in the package. The shipping cost will be based on the product HS Code and if it includes additional taxes. US customs has a rule that if the amount of the goods is below $800, the duty fees will be waived.

When it reaches the US, do you want it door-to-door delivery? Or are you shipping during peak seasons, like the Christmas holidays? These are other factors to remember that can spike the shipping cost.


2. Alibaba shipping costs: Which shipping method is cheapest on Alibaba?

There are options available to get the lowest Alibaba cost of shipping. Here are different ways you can ship at a low price:

1)Regular Post

When you ship a small package via courier services, it may cost extra.  Small package delivery from China is a reasonable option if it weighs between 1-2 kg. There are two ways to do it:


#1 Parcel via China Post

You can use this for small shipments and within the size accepted by China EMS. The dimensions are below:

Size: Maximum dimension 1.5m

Volume: Length + Height + Width = 3m maximum

Weight: 30 kg maximum

Size & Weight

#2 Express E-packet

 For international shipping, China Postal Express offers this express service. For ePacket delivery, standard customs clearances are required. You might need to pay any applicable fees and taxes when they arrive.

The E-packet package limit is displayed as follows:

The longest side of a conventional package should not be longer than 60 cm. The sum of the dimensions (l + w + h = 90) should not be greater than 90 cm.

The longest side of a rolled package should not be longer than 90 cm. Additionally, the total length times the diameter (2d + l = 104) shall not exceed 104 cm.

2)Air Express

This convenient service, also known as Express Freight, is available from reputable couriers like FedEx, DHL, UPS, or SF-Express. When mailing single packages or small batch sizes, use this service. Each courier has its measurement requirement and packaging.

It takes 24 hours up to 15 days to get your packages delivered using couriers. To ship your packages from Alibaba, calculate shipping costs using the calculator on their respective websites.

3)Air Freight

Air shipping is faster and has a requirement when shipping: the minimum package is 45 kilos.  Most freight forwarders advise >150 kilograms and >0.5 CBM in volume. You use this when you want to transport the goods at a shorter travel time.

The cost of shipping Alibaba goods using air is expensive. You cannot use this when you are sending voluminous items. Also, when there is bad weather condition, flights are canceled and will be rescheduled.

The shipping cost from Alibaba to the USA is around $4-$8/kilogram.

The shipping cost from Alibaba to the USA is around $4-$8/kilogram.

4)Sea Freight

Also called ocean or sea shipping, this is the cheapest and most cost-efficient among all the methods to lower the shipping cost for Alibaba.

Sea freight is the best choice when you are shipping packages that cannot be accommodated by regular posts, and you cannot afford expensive courier services. You can choose from

#1 A full container load, or FCL

You can use 20-foot or 40-foot containers to ship your goods. The optimum use for this kind of container is for huge items that fill the whole thing up or for delicate objects that you don’t want to share with another item.


#2 Less Than Container Load (LCL)

If you can’t fill the entire container, share it with other customers. It is a consolidated type of shipping, so you only pay for the space your package uses.

Compared to expedited air freight, which costs over $6 per kilogram, and regular air freight, which costs about $4 per kilogram, it costs roughly 50 cents per kilogram.


5)Combined Method

When online business owners wish to restock and dispatch the shipment to their warehouses, they often use this method. It is a combined service that combines UPS delivery and air or sea freight services.

The shipping cost from Alibaba to Amazon when using this method also varies. You can choose from:

#1 Air Freight & UPS Combined ($1.5-$1.8 per kg)

#2 Sea Freight & UPS Combined ($3.8-$5.3 per kg)


3.Which shipping method should I choose on Alibaba?


In the last chapter, we discussed the five shipping methods. If you are still wondering what the best method to use is, let us first understand a few things.

When you are shipping, there are six factors you must consider:


#1 What kind of products will you send?

#2 What shipping serving will you take?

#3 What is the dimension and weight of the product?

#4 Where are the origin and the product destination?

#5 Is it only port-to-port, or is it door-to-door?

#6 What peak season or memorable holiday shall it fall?


1)Shipping process from Alibaba

It would if you know the process when buying from Alibaba. Whether you are purchasing a small quantity, it is crucial to understand what processes it must go through before it can reach you. Sometimes, there are products you think are perfect to buy because they are very cheap, but the shipping is very costly.

  • Step 1: Choosing the supplier and buying the items.

We have explained in our other topics why choosing the right supplier for your business is essential. Once you have selected your supplier, you choose the product and buy them.

  • Step 2: Checking Product Quality

The best way to do a quality check depends on how many items you purchase. You can check on the customer reviews for a few or just a sample.

When you are buying in bulk, it would be best to get an agent who will perform quality control. It will ensure that products are not damaged/broken or have poor quality before the delivery.

  • Step 3: Know the Pros and Cons of Your Shipping Method

Whatever method of shipping you select, you must weigh out every option from all possible forms. It would be best to evaluate each and see the pros and cons. This way, you can gauge which one is more suitable for your needs.

For example, ocean shipping is cheaper, but you need the products within a particular time. If the chosen sea freight provider has no option for expediting it, you must check on air freight service. It depends on the outcome or what you can benefit from if you select a cheaper vs. faster method.

  • Step 4: Pick the right Freight Forwarder

Get the one with the fastest route and fewer touchpoints to lessen the risks.

  • Step 5: Hire a Customs Brokers

Getting a customs broker will ease your worries and remove hassles when importing. You can delegate customs clearance procedures and pay fees to them.

If you are not familiar yet with importing, they can help you get your orders cleared and reach your business place quickly and smoothly. They will help you get the information you’ll need for customs clearance.

  • Step 6: Arrange Shipping from Supplier in Alibaba

Your supplier will let you know the best option you can get to deliver your goods. They will arrange it, and once you send a confirmation, they will forward it to the chosen courier or forwarder. They know how to go about the shipping arrangements from Alibaba.

  • Step 7: Sending Your Payment to the Freight Forwarder

The payment is available using payment channels. You can do it via wire transfer, PayPal, Western Union, or whatever payment channel you prefer among their options.

  • Step 8: Wait for Your Shipment

Once your packages are shipped, you can use the shipper’s tracker to monitor your package. If there are problems with the shipment, they will handle it for you or give detailed information about the cause of the delay.


2)Factors affecting the shipping costs in Alibaba

Some factors affect the shipping cost for Alibaba. For example, the Alibaba shipping costs to the US will include some bonds and tax clearances. The following are things to look at why Alibaba shipping costs are high.

Transporting to Port Fees

When you order goods in high quantities or big bulk, the direct supplier or factory must deliver it to the warehouse or the port where it will be shipped before final delivery. Since they need to transport the finished products, the buyer shoulders the expenses.

The delivery charge depends on the weight of the shipment. Usually, buyers pay anywhere from $100-$500. The transfer fee is from the supplier’s place to the port of origin where it will ship.

Getting a China Export Clearance

A list of documents must be submitted to ensure your goods are cleared before shipping. Sample of these documents are:


  • Bill of Lading
  • Packing List
  • Customs Invoice
  • Insurance
  • Customs Declaration
  • Quality certificates, etc.

The buyer or the importer is responsible for paying all the fees that come with acquiring these documents. Your supplier can help you with the process. You can also hire your Customs broker to get this done professionally.

The sellers follow the EXW guidelines. Buyers need to pay the authorization cost. The authorization fee is included in the FOB and ranges between $100 and $300.

Alibaba cost of shipping from Freight Forwarders

As mentioned, the cost of freight forwarders varies on the quantity, volume, and weight of your shipment.  The fee is composed of the delivery charge from the shipping port to where it will be delivered.

Aside from the freight cost, the local authorities impose fees. These fees are added to your total cost.

Sometimes, buyers pay low freight costs, but the local charges are high, or vice versa. It applies to all methods that will ship or deliver your shipment. It only varies on the distance where it will be delivered.


It is essential to ensure you don’t lose money if anything happens to your shipment. You must get insurance for your inventory if you make a shipment by air or sea freight. Your insurance policy should cover any instances like damage, product theft, or seizure.

Freight insurance should be in place from when your products leave your supplier until they arrive at the delivery address. Sellers like Amazon FBA add insurance to their shipping costs from Alibaba to the Amazon warehouse to lessen the risk.

Important Documents Delivery Fee

If important documents need to be shipped to the buyer or seller, this is where this miscellaneous fee comes in. It includes extra expenses incurred during shipping.

What are these documents? It could be some records, invoices, licenses, etc. It is only a minimal fee. Couriers like DHL or FEDEX send it for less than $100.

Port Fees on the Destination

To use the facilities and services the port provides, shipping companies and their clients must pay a fee. These fees are paid to port authorities, known as port charges.

Port fees can make up a sizeable portion of the ultimate cost of consumer items (up to several percent). Although there are many different port fees, some of the most prevalent ones include ship and goods dues.

For the duties, remember what you had in the agreement. The recipient pays taxes and duties if the item is DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid). The sender pays taxes and duties when the package is marked as DDP (Delivery Duty Paid).

Custom Bonds for Alibaba Shipping Cost to the US

When importing from China, you need to post a customs bond. The CBP requires this bond if the imports are valued at more than $2,500.

A customs bond is an insurance policy that reimburses the US government for the tariffs and charges incurred when importing. Even in the most unlikely situations, a customs bond ensures the payment of duties and taxes.

There are two types of Customs bonds:

(1)Single Entry- if you will just use it for one time, you will pay anywhere from $100-$200.

(2)Continuous Bond- if you use it more than once, it costs around $200-$500.


4. Best Tips on How to Save Alibaba Shipping Costs

1)Get help from an Alibaba agent.

An agent can help you reduce the shipping cost on Alibaba. A reliable company like JUSTCHINAIT partners with the top freight forwarders that can give you the best option and route for your shipment. They can help you arrange the best shipping arrangement that is cost-effective.

2)Use shipment consolidation

Shipment consolidation is a shipping method where you share with other shippers to fill up one container or load to reduce shipping fees. You only pay for the space you will consume on your package. If you have flexible dates for your package delivery, this will help you save a lot.

cargo consolidation

There are times that consolidated shipment has a quicker delivery time since all items in the container or load go to only one destination. If you have a shipment that is more than 150 kilograms, use this option.

3)Make a shipping cost comparison.

You will always find the best freight forwarder for your company if you make comparisons. It is easy to ask for a quote from a shipping company. You can find the Alibaba average shipping cost when you compare it with all the possible shipping methods you can take for your packages.

Note that Alibaba express shipping costs are always expensive, but if you get a good shipping agent or company, they can give you price comparisons so you can save. If you find that the Alibaba shipping cost calculator doesn’t favor your shipping budget, there is always an alternative. Talk with JUSTCHINAIT now.

4)Check and get the best Alibaba Freight Forwarder.

If Alibaba high shipping cost hinders you from proceeding with your order, do not lose hope! You can choose from a freight forwarder’s services to ship your products with a smooth delivery and minimal risk.

For example, when shipping to the US or finding the cheapest Alibaba dropshipping shipping cost, China freight forwarding companies can help you. They can plan a shipping strategy to cut costs and make the delivery safe and smooth using the best routes and services.



5. FAQs on Shipping from Alibaba

1)How much does shipping cost from China Alibaba?


To give you an idea, here’s a table to compare the average shipping cost Alibaba rates:

Type Shipping Time Cost Estimate
Courier or Express Freight 2-15 Days varies
Air Freight 8-15 Days $4-$8/kg
Sea Freight up to 60 Days $.50-$2/kg
Combined Services up to 15 Days $1.5-$5.3/kg
Small Parcels up to 60 Days $1-$3/kg


2)Which shipping method is the cheapest from China?

Ocean Freight and Combined Freight Services are China’s most economical and cost-effective shipping methods.

It is also a case-to-case basis when factors are considered, such as when you want to expedite the delivery or if they are perishable products.

3)What are the Alibaba shipping terms you should know?

Free on Board or FOB: The manufacturer will pay for all transportation expenses to the port in this shipping mode. Then, only the shipping fees from the port to your destination will be billed to you.

Cost, Insurance, and Freight or CIF is the most affordable term for buyers. The supplier covers sea freight costs to your target port and inland transit within his country.

Ex Works or EXW: The supplier will move the goods from their warehouse or manufacturing facility to the port so they may be shipped to the destination. It is the most expensive shipping option. You are responsible for paying shipping costs from the factory to the port and from the port to your destination.

4)Does Alibaba have free shipping?

Sad to say, Alibaba has no free shipping. However, it offers shipping cost discounts and a selection of shipping options, such as air mail and EMS. You must speak with the seller and agree on a price before receiving free delivery.

6. Conclusion

If you are wondering why Alibaba shipping cost is too high, it is due to plenty of good reasons, such as:

  • Safe and Secure Shipping
  • High Shipping Charges to Sellers
  • Marketing and ads fees
  • Customized products are more expensive than ready-made products
  • Shipping terms and fees that affect the total cost of your products

But you should not be discouraged from buying because there are plenty of ways how you can save. Can Alibaba reduce shipping costs? Certainly!  Wholesalers on offer a variety of ways to cut shipping costs for bulk stock shipment that is reasonably priced.

You can also get your agent to find credible ways to make your shipping fee more practical and cost-effective. Since the shipping business has faced some challenges since the pandemic’s start, adjustments have resulted in high shipping fees worldwide.

Finding an agency or freight forwarding company that can help you find ways to save on shipping is critical. You can start by giving us a message so we can discuss your shipping requirements and needs.

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