8 Major Modes of Shipments from China to US

By HX Wenli
November 9, 2021

Today I’m going to show you the shipping costs for the major modes of shipments from China to the USA that gets:
Postal Parcel shipping cost and charge
Express shipping cost and charge
Air Freight shipping cost and charge
Sea Freight shipping cost and charge
Let’s get started.

Chapter 1: Shipment from China to USA basics

Shipment costs from China to the USA are made up of freight costs and landed costs.

Freight Costs

The freight costs are calculated weight or volume of the goods being shipped, the speed at which goods are dispatched, and the shipping method you used.
Currently, average freight costs can be:

  • From China to the USA, Air Express costs between $5-$9 per kilo
  • From China to the USA, Air Freight from China costs between $4-$8 per kilo
  • According to the container shipping cost calculator, Sea Freight costs between $3000-$3900 for each container from China to the USA.

Would you please continue reading the article for more detailed information?

Landed Costs from China to the USA

There is an additional landed cost for Airfreight and sea freight shipments. For example, warehouse, customs clearance, etc.

Why are Shipping costs from China to the USA important?

The biggest exporter in the whole world is China. Chinese exports amounted to around 305.74 billion U.S. dollars in September 2021. Overly 28 percent increase in exports compared to the same period of the previous year.
With high technology and more resources, Chinese industries are growing day by day.

Chapter 2: Do you want to ship from China to the USA? Learn How

shipping cost

Postal Parcel

From door-to-door postal parcel shipment from China to the USA, delivery is simple. Postal parcel enables you to send large and small shipments (even extremely urgent, if needed). The unique system of Postal Parcel provides you best services, excellent prices for shipping services from China to the United States. Postal parcel enables us to ensure the quality of services for urgent delivery from China to the United States.

The cost will be calculated based on three things; your destination, weight, and size of the parcel. You can get the price list of different parcel services on their websites.

Distance is the main factor while delivering your products. Postal parcel usually needs an average of 9 days to deliver goods between China and the United States. You can track your parcel location regularly. This makes it easier to calculate the exact date of delivery of the package to you. And if your parcel is lost, you can track it as well.

There are some limitations. Like alcohol, drugs, original art pieces, etc., can not be sent through postal parcels to the United States from China.

Parcel postal try to pack the parcel in the best possible ways. So there will be minimum chances of damage. They use rigid boxes, bubble wrap, provide adequate cushioning and attach the bill of lading in a visible place.


ParcelAbc provides the best China post shipping services. They calculate the cost based on the weight and size of the parcel and destination. They take 5-9 days to deliver from China to the USA. They pack very well. So there’s a minimum chance of damage.

China post shipping services


Express shipping like FedEx international shipping, TNT, DHL, and UPS is well-known in China based on destination. Express shipping is usually more expensive than regular freight. Prices mainly include fuel charges and insurance of 25 €. However, it provides urgent and quality service, and it is easy to track the records.

Depending on the location, they can ship your cargo in 1 to 8 business days. Express shipping like FedEx international shipping from China to the US takes about 4 to 6 days. You can choose your arrival schedule and conditions. They take care of all documentation in the shortest deadlines. Moreover, In express shipping, FedEx international shipping and DHL are top-rated among online sellers because of their fast speed. Express Shipping will be only cost-effective if your parcel is small in size. DHL shipping cost per kg is between $10 to $16, and If you have to ship large items, you should use other services, e.g., air freight or sea freight.


DHL is the most popular and cheap shipping method to China from the USA and from China to the USA. DHL’s international shipping rates are very reasonable. They provide international express mail, courier, and package delivery services. They deliver over 1.5 billion parcels per year. If your package is small, their shipment charges are reasonable. You can also track your parcel. So you will be updated, and you can calculate the exact delivery time. It may take 4 to 5 days to deliver your package.

cheap shipping method


FedEx is an American multinational company. It provides its services for business services, transportation, and e-commerce. FedEx is one of the most popular express shipping companies. They also require 4 to 6 days to deliver your parcel.

Express shipping

Door to Door Shipment Services

If we look at the door-to-door shipment services, it is a direct transfer of items from the seller to a buyer. It is also known as port to port or house to house. This service is available by sea, road or air. The freight forwarding company delivers to the  buyer’s warehouse after picking up the shipping container in door-to-door shipment services.

A simple trick for buyers to decrease the cost is working with various shipping companies instead of working with a specific one. So investigating different shipping methods is very important before choosing the right one.

Top shipping

It is one of the best logistic companies. They started their career in 2012. They are a full-service logistics company. They provide all kinds of services, including Air and Sea Freight Forwarding, Custom Clearance, Transportation, Warehousing, Insurance, and more.

Air Freight

The best, reliable and fastest way to import goods from China to the USA is Air Freight and usually used by importers for time-sensitive international shipments from China. It is reliable, safe, and delivers parcels within a few hours.

To transfer the goods through air freight, you first need to find the best air flight agents and make a reservation before 10 to 15 days. The charges for Air Freight are calculated by the volume and weight of the parcel.

The main downside of Air Freight is that it is the most expensive way. It is five times more costly than trucking and 16 times more costly than the ocean freight.

Sea Freight

Most commonly, all the exporters use Sea Freight for international Shipping. Almost 90% of the total international shipping is carried out by sea transport. High volumes of goods should be transported through sea freight. It is the cheapest and most efficient international shipping method from China to the USA. Sea freight speed is 30 times lower than air freight.

There are two types of sea freight transportation:

  • According to the container shipping cost calculator, parcels that are large enough to fill an entire container are called Full Container Load (FCL).
  • According to the container shipping cost calculator, when the cargo load is not enough to fill the entire container, the Shipment is combined with several other shipments to fill the space and called Less than Container Load (LCL). In Less than Container Load, there are usually more chances of loss or damage. This process requires a lot more time and extra work. Due to extra work, Less than Container Load is more expensive than Full Container Load.

Online shopping from groceries to clothes and shoes is the new normal. Most people choose online shopping nowadays. Many online platforms provide international deliveries like Alibaba, Made in China, Aliexpress, and many others.

Express shipping

They have a lot of shipment delivery options for you to choose from. Including Sea freight from China to the USA, air freight from China to the USA, express freight from China to the USA, etc. You can select the best option according to your requirements.

Chapter 3: The best way to ship from China to the USA?

Your Timings requirements dictate the best shipping methods for you to ship from China to the USA

As I have already mentioned, different shipping has different time requirements. So the best shipping method from China to the USA depends on time availability. For example, if you have much time, like one month or more, you should go by sea freight. But if you want your parcel to be delivered as soon as possible, you should use air freight.

Sea freight usually takes a month or so to deliver shipment from China. But air freight takes 10 to 15 days. And if you choose express shipping, it may take 4 to 5 days. Your timings requirements decide which shipping method is best for you.

But according to shipment delivery time and other factors, all methods have different rates and costs.

Chinese Holidays and their impact on Shipping from China

Chinese holidays affect the shipments from China a lot. Many importers get their shipments delayed due to the Chinese holidays. Mostly it is during Chinese New Year.

Chinese holidays during which delays are common are:

  • One day holiday for New Years Day, at the start of January.
  • Six or more holidays for Chinese New Year, from the End of January to mid-February.
  • One day holiday for Qingming Festival in April
impact on Shipping from China
  • Three days holidays for Labor Day in May
  • Three days off for the famous Dragon Boat Festival at the End of June
  • Three days holidays for Mid-Autumn Festival in October
  • Seven days holidays for Golden Week at the start of October
  •  Three days holidays for China’s National Day in October
impact on Shipping from China

Another major delay is during the Christmas Holidays. Chinese factories start taking orders in June for Christmas products. Everyone wants to get their orders before the Christmas holidays. Due to many orders and shipments from China to the USA during this season, there is a lack of space in the warehouses, which causes delays in shipment.

Chapter 4: How much time will it take to ship from China to the USA?

Time required for shipment by Air

If you think of shipping your goods from China to the USA by air with China Express shipping like FedEx international shipping, it will take between 1 to 5 days and air freight around two weeks. But it is the most expensive way of shipping.

Time required for shipment by Sea

Shipping by sea or ocean will take up to 20 to 30 days for shipment from China to the USA. But it is the most cost-effective method. If your shipment is large and not urgent, then it is better to use this method.

Shipment delay due to Coronavirus

Shipment delay due to Coronavirus

Due to Coronavirus, shipping can take longer than average. There are two main reasons why shipments are delayed: the minimum shipment space and more demand. Product demands increased during pandemics. Everyone wants to get their parcels as soon as possible. But there is only a limited shipping space available. Due to these factors, there are shipments delays. It is best to start planning as soon as possible to eliminate delays.

Chinese Post Tracking

Chinese Post Tracking is responsible for the delivery of postal and parcel items between China and the USA. Chinese postal trading deals with the packets of huge and famous platforms like Aliexpress and Alibaba.

All the packages are assigned a specific and unique track number when goods are registered at Chinese Post Trading.

Alibaba, Global Sources, Made in China, and many other B2B companies use Chinese Post to deliver your purchases.

Shipment delay due

A critical benefit of using Chinese Postal Tracking is that you can track your parcel and calculate the shipping date at your fingertips. You also get notified through email when your package arrives in your country.

Chapter 5: Cost to ship from China to the USA

Shipping Costs for major modes of transport from China to the USA

Shipment costs depend on location, volume, weight, and destination.

Based on my experience, Full Container Load is the cheapest international shipping method for Full Container Load (FCL). But container rates are fixed. Rates depend on the destination, distance, and cargo volumes.

For example, Full Container Load costs $2,275 to $2,515 from Shenzhen, China, to New York City, USA.

Less Container Load (LCL) rates may vary. But sometimes, Less Container Load rates are as low as $30 to $40 per cubic meter.

But with freight charges, you also have to pay local charges. Local charges may cost five times more than freight costs. Your freight forwarder may avoid informing you about local charges. This is called the “kickback rate.”

Always stay updated. Learn to use tools through which you can compare costs from different freight forwarders from China to the USA and other shipment methods.

If your shipment weight is small, always go for air freight between 100 kg – 500 kg. Airfreight will charge $3 if your shipment weight is between 150 kg – 500 kg. But if your shipment weight is more than 500 kg, go for sea freight.

If you want to consider Express air freight for your small and urgent parcel, go for DHL international shipping and FedEx international Shipping.

For example, DHL international shipping rates are much higher for up to 5 kg, but the rates decreased. DHL international shipping cost per kg up to $16 for the first 5 kg and $4 for each additional kg.

 FedEx International Shipping price depends on origin,  destination, weight, and packing. You can also use the FedEx shipping calculator to estimate FedEx international Shipping price.

But if you are ordering from a specific B2B platform like Aliexpress and Alibaba, their shipment time is slightly different. For example, Aliexpress and Alibaba’s shipping time through air freight requires 3-10 days, and sea freight requires 30-45 days. Aliexpress shipping cost is affordable and easy to pay.

china  shipping cost


There is not even a single good reason for not buying insurance. Most of the suppliers use cheap and substandard export packaging. But few smart buyers set specific quality requirements and check the packing before shipment.

If you did not get the insurance and your goods got damaged or lost, the forwarder will not compensate you in any way.

Many suppliers use PingAn for cargo insurance. They charge 0.02% of 110% of FOB price. For example, only $110 will be charged if your products are worth $50,000.

According to my experience, compensation claims are very simple. Insurance companies usually get satisfied with the photos.

Shipping costs

According to my experience, if we make a rough estimate for the shipping cost from China to the USA, it will look like this:

  1. Factory to port transportation costs between $50 to $480
  2. Export clearance in China is around $100 to $300
  3. Cost of freight depends on weight and volume of goods and departure and destination places
  4. The insurance company will charge 0.2%  value of cargo
  5. Document delivery costs between $40 to $50
  6. Port charges in the US will be around $100 to $450
  7. Customs bonds in the US charge between $100 to $200
  8. Depending on the location, domestic transportation from the US port to the final address.

Other costs

If due for any reason, you have decided not to use FedEx, you need to look for an express agent. He will offer a discount and transit to the USA.

Many other factors affect the cost. But apart from the season and space in airplanes, one more aspect can change the delivery cost, discount. Different shipping methods have different rates. But according to Top Shipping, air freight rates are equal to logistics costs in China, China export cost, shipping from China to US costs, American customs clearance, and logistics costs in the USA.

Shipping from China to the US also has some other costs except the previously mentioned costs. Related to shipping quotation samples, For example:

  1.  $69.30 as CFS charges
  2. $30 fee for Origin documentation
  3. ENS fee exemption will be $30
  4. Re-weighting and VGM sending fee for Less than Container Load will be $15
  5. $23 fee for Export customs clearance
  6. Freight cost will be  $277.20
  7. Cargo insurance will charge $63.15
  8. Other charges depending upon destination will be $590.62

Most Suitable and Cheapest way to ship from China to the USA

The main portion of the costs for importing from China to the USA is freight charges. But many other factors also affect the shipping, including capacity, season, fuel costs, season, and other environmental and commercial factors. The nature of products, shipment size, and mode of transport will dictate the rates you will pay. But based on my personal experience, I can guide you with some general guidelines to compare the cost and time of different freight shipping modes.

For example, a Full Container Load is the best if your shipment is large and can fill a container. You will be charged flat rates for each container. This is the cheapest international shipping method.

But if the container is partially filled, Full Container Load is not the right option. If your shipment can not occupy the whole container, go for Less than Container Load. Then Less than Container Load (LCL) is the most cost-effective method for you.

For large shipments, shippers don’t use air freight unless they want urgent shipments. For example, 100 kg air freight costs only a little more than sea freight. So if your shipment is around 100 kg, go for air freight.

If your shipment weight is less than 35 kg, you can not find a freight forwarder. So it is better to find a suitable international courier company. They will send your products by air at affordable rates.

Air Freight versus Sea freight from China to the USA

Rates required for Air Freight from China to the US

Standard air freight is the cheapest option if your shipment weight is about 150 kg to 500 kg. Only a small shipment is charged for dimensional weight instead of actual weight. They may charge as little as $3 per kilo.

Airfreight is the fastest way for shipment. Express air freight is more expensive than air freight. Prices change regularly, so try to stay updated.

Rates required for Sea Freight from China to the US

Sea Freight is the cheapest way if your shipment weight is more than 500 kg.

Some freight forwarders from China to the USA give premium service to their clients called expedited freight. But this is a little more expensive than regular freight. Sea freight rates vary over time.

FCL and LCL are the cheapest international shipping methods.

So from my experience, it is concluded that air freight is the best shipping method for you if your shipment is less than 500 kg (100 kg to 500 kg). For 100 kg to 500 kg, air freight rates are only a few dollars higher than sea freight.

But if you have a large shipment, go for Less than Container Load (LCL). They will charge you according to dimensional weight rather than the actual weight.

But if your shipment is big enough to fill a container, go for Full Container Load (FCL). It is the most cost-effective and cheapest international shipping method of shipment.

Chapter 6: COVID-19 Impact on Shipping Costs

Sea freight costs have increased; why?

International quarantine measures affected the cost and caused delays. Due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions, high demand for products manufactured in China is reported. This causes a lack of shipping capacity shortage. Routinely canceling voyages cause an intensive shortage of space. Due to this, the sea freight costs have increased.

Air freight rates affected by COVID-19, how?

Commercial airlines are using the space in the plane’s belly to subsidize the cost of travel. Due to covid few planes are coming and going from China, and available space for air shipment is reduced. Due to supply shortages and increasing demand, air freight rates have increased.

Track freight costs

With modern techniques and tools, you can track your order from the starting point to the destination. You can track your shipment freight costs on:

When do freight costs go down?

Always keep updated and do proper research. Freight costs only get down if:

  • Container capacity gets increased
  • Vessel capacity gets Increased
  • If there is a decrease in demand
  • Government take any action to lower freight costs

The trick to balance freight costs during a pandemic

To balance freight costs, you can wait for shipping costs to come down, or you can increase your own product’s price.

There is not a specific time for freight costs to come down. We can not estimate a specific time. It may take a few months or many months or a year or so.

This is the main reason most businesses are increasing the rates of their products. Because due to the high freight rate, it is difficult to get profit with the same costs. So by increasing their prices, they try to balance freight costs.

Chapter 7: Some other ways to save Money and Time

Right Logistic Partner

Experienced international trade professionals or experts provide many resources.

The most important thing is to search and choose experienced companies. Goods should be packed, loaded, and delivered on time. So the logistic partner you are choosing should be an expert in all these tasks. Starting from selecting the products to having your logistics partner or supplier handle the main tasks.

Mostly working with experienced companies gives you the best result.

Complete Documents

One of the main reasons for shipment from China to the USA delays is the clearance process. You must organize all the required documents and paperwork.

Required documents include International Security Filing, Landing Bill, Commercial Invoice, Packing List, and Certificate of Origins.

Again, choosing the right companies and suppliers reduces the errors in paperwork as they are responsible for all paperwork.

Timing is everything

Complete your notes on the Chinese holidays. Importing from China during certain times of the year is much more expensive. During holidays seasons, production is low due to a lack of employees, and shipments are costly.

Efficient Packing

Your suppliers mostly handle packaging. So this is one more reason to choose experienced suppliers and logistics partners. Efficient packing saves you space and money by reducing the chances of damage.

Go to your supplier and inquire if packing efficiency can be improved. Space is the most important factor for sea freight. Efficient packing saves space.

Go for FCL (Full Container Load) where Possible

Full container load is quite beneficial. It is safe with minimum damage and loss of goods. It is the cheapest international shipping method.

Choose experienced Freight Forwarder

Freight Forwarder is an experienced and qualified person. He can find efficient and most effective solutions for transporting goods from China to the USA.     

A freight forwarder can use his links to lock the best deals for you. He can find you the best alternate shipping routes. With the help of a freight forwarder, you can save a lot of your precious time and money.

Paperwork is the main part of the shipping process. A freight forwarder is the one who is responsible for organizing and providing all the paperwork. It is one of the main reasons to select an experienced and qualified freight forwarder for your shipment. With their experience and links, they can save you a lot of time and money.

Experience is the best teacher

It is said that “experience makes a man perfect.” Your previous experience helps in every step from choosing a supplier to shipment delivery. You should have a measured approach for international shipping.

Chapter 8: Customs Clearance in China and USA

China Custom Clearance

The freight forwarder always handles paperwork. This is the main reason to choose experienced and expert suppliers and logistic experts. With experience, you will learn a lot of things. But research is a must. Do your homework properly before practical work. There will be so many issues and problems and late shipping if proper paperwork is not done.

“Hai Guan,” the Chinese Customs Authorities, charge 10% off outboard shipments. For inbound charges may be high. You can also have a fine for thousands of RMB if you try to export products without proper paperwork and documentation.

But some buyers still try to save some dollars by ordering through Ex Works (EXW) terms. They don’t include export clearance documentation and inland transportation. These buyers may purchase the export clearance documents from a licensed freight forwarder or export agent at a cost ranging between US$100 to US$200. It is more time and cost-effective.

China Export Clearance: $100 to $300 (Included in FOB)

USA Customer clearance

Export and import customs clearance can seem complicated to all importers and exporters.

Carrier will not take any kind of responsibility with custom clearance or paperwork. However, if you have hired a freight forwarder, he will take care of all the paperwork.

You should have the following documents for exporting goods from China to the USA, as customs authorities will need them in both countries China and USA:

  1. Commercial Invoice for exporting from China to the USA
  2. Packing List of your goods
  3. Certificate of Origin, China in case of  shipping from China to the USA
  4. Depending on the kind of contract between seller and buyer Letter of credit is required.
  5. Your Freight forwarder will provide you with a bill. If it’s sea freight, it will be the lading bill, and for air freight, it will be the airway bill.

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