Shipping From China to USA: The Ultimate Guide

shipping from china to usa

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Table of Contents

Do you need services for shipping from China to USA?

You might be a business looking for a supplier in the country. Or you have a personal package coming from China.

Whatever the case, it’s best to review the best shipping options.

How do you ship from China to the US? How long does shipping from China take? How much does it cost?

I’ll dive into everything you need to know about shipping from China to US.

Let’s begin.

Shipping From China to USA: When You Need It

shipping from china to usa

Is China shipping to the US?

International shipping from China to USA might not be usual for the greater population, but it’s more common than most people think.

China has sold more than a quarter of its retail goods online, higher than the global average of 18.8%. With the way its e-commerce market is growing, you’ll find many good shipping options in the country.

Let’s say you’re an e-commerce business looking for products to sell on an online marketplace or your website. China could be a great place to find suppliers.

What if you need supplies and equipment for your business? Many companies also buy office equipment, parts, supplies, and other products in China.

Some people might even buy products from China for personal use in bulk or in small quantities.

Whatever the case, finding the right shipping option and company is crucial. You want to get your packages in good condition, and you also need to factor in price and speed.

Whether looking for the cheapest way to ship from China to USA or the fastest method, you must consider multiple factors. Understanding their shipping process helps a lot, too.

Important Considerations When Shipping From China to USA

When shipping from China to the US, several considerations come into play. Here are the most common ones to keep in mind.

1 – Shipment Size

Shipment Size

The size of your product shipment plays a big role. Your shipping costs depend highly on your container load’s volume, size, and weight.

A full container load, for instance, will cost more. But your per-unit shipping costs can significantly decrease if you choose a certain shipping method. As a best practice, always check the weight and dimensions of your shipment.

2 – Shipping Method

Shipping Method

You can use various shipping methods to ship from China to the USA. There are freight forwarders who travel by sea and by air.

Your choice of shipping method directly affects cost, speed, handling, and more. It’ll also help you narrow down which freight services to work with.

3 – Shipping Cost

Shipping Cost

Money is crucial to a shipping conversation, especially if you’re buying products from China for business purposes. Keeping shipping costs down will help you maximize profit and improve your business operations.

Comparing freight costs is crucial when shipping goods from China to the US. You’ll also need to consider ancillary costs like customs duties or packing materials.

4 – Shipping Time

Shipping Time

Cost is important, but time is also essential when products are shipped from China to the USA. Moving products 7,000 miles away requires heavy logistics, so there will be a significant waiting time.

Not all shipping methods deliver at the same time, though. Some will be faster than others. However, with speed will come more expenses, so you’ll have to balance those two considerations well.

5 – Special Considerations

Fragile and heavily-regulated products require special considerations. You should also consider expiry, entry regulations, special permits, and other special handling processes. These may all affect transportation costs and speed.

Shipping with Sea Freight Services

There are three major ways to ship your items from China to the United States. Let’s examine what they are and what sets them apart.

Shipping with Sea Freight Services

Ocean freight is the most common method for international shipping, transporting over 80% of goods globally. Any disruption in this industry causes huge waves in the supply chain worldwide.

When you ship cargo via sea, your products travel by large container boats from China to the USA.

Ocean cargo services load your shipment into shipping containers along with other products. You can also take an entire container and order larger quantities to maximize the shipping costs.

Sea shipping is usually the most economical shipping option. However, it’s also the slowest shipping method.

Most businesses use this method for non-perishable products. It’s the cheapest shipping method, so you can save more money if you don’t mind waiting.

How Long Does It Take To Use Ocean Freight, China to USA?

Sea freight from China to USA normally takes 15-30 days. Shipping to the West Coast will be faster, taking around 15 days or a few days more. Shipping to the East Coast will take longer, normally thirty days.

However, it also depends on several factors. The size of your shipment and which sea freight companies you use also affect the speed when shipping from China to USA by sea.

Container Shipping Options

When shipping by sea from China to USA, you have many options available. These are the most common.

LCL Shipping

LCL Shipping

You can use LCL shipping when your shipment isn’t big enough to fill an entire shipping container.

With Less than Container Load shipping, you must share container space with other customers.

LCL is a great option for shipments around one to 15 cubic meters. When you choose this option, a freight forwarder will collect your cargo and consolidate your shipment with other buyers’ cargo.

With LCL, you don’t have to pay for a full container, which could be costly if you only have a small shipment. It’s a better option if you don’t mind sharing the same container with others.

However, you will have to pay more per cubic meter when compared to the next option, FCL Shipping.

FCL Shipping

FCL Shipping

FCL shipping stands for full container load shipping. It’s an option that lets you take up an entire container, so you don’t share your cargo container with other shippers.

You can save money using this option, even if you don’t fill it to capacity. As a rule of thumb, it’s better for cargo loads over 15 cubic meters to maximize its cost.

With FCL, you have more flexibility regarding how a shipping company should load your products into a container. Your chosen company will load your products onsite.

FCL shipping methods can also directly ship your parcel to your warehouse. There’s no deconsolidation involved with this option, so you’re guaranteed a little more speed and freight safety.

When you use an FCL shipping agent, China to USA, look for one with extra benefits, including:

Container Options

You have container options when you ship goods by sea to the US from China. According to ISO, an international standard container must be:

  • 8 feet wide

  • 8.5 feet high

  • 20-40 feet long

An exemption is High Cube containers, which are 9.5 feet in height.

Shipping with Air Freight Services

Shipping with Air Freight Services

The next option is air shipping from China to USA, which is faster than ocean shipping. This option is best for people who want their items in 20 days or less. Air freight packages normally weigh between 150-500 kilograms.

While this is a preferred shipping method to many, air freight costs are higher.

Air freight shipping from China to USA involves a lot of factors that add to the costs, such as the following.

  • Loading and transport arrangements from the supplier to the destination airport in China

  • Documentation for US Customs clearing

  • Duties and taxes

  • Warehousing cost upon arrival to the United States

  • Land transport from the US airport to the final destination

  • Any workforce costs related to loading and unloading

How Long Does Air Shipment Take?

Air freight is much faster than shipping by sea, taking between two to fifteen days from China to the USA.

Shipping freight via air is the fastest method for domestic and international deliveries. This doesn’t include other processes, such as customs clearance and final-mile deliveries.

For example, using standard shipping to deliver goods from the airport to your warehouse would take a while.

If you also want to expedite those processes, you’ll have to use express shipping.

Shipping with a Freight Forwarder

You can also use international freight forwarder services to handle the entire shipping process.

Freight forwarders act as intermediaries, leveraging their knowledge of the costs, routes, and requirements. They liaise with carriers to provide faster shipping solutions.

A freight forwarder company can also handle door-to-door shipments, which can streamline and speed up the process.

How Long To Ship From China to US With a Freight Forwarder?

Freight forwarders also use sea or air freight. They’re only the middlemen, so the shipping time would still depend on your chosen method.

Make sure to detail your expectations, allowing the company to choose the best shipping solution for you.

Shipping with Express Freight Services

Shipping with Express Freight Services

Express freight is the fastest shipping option to transport products from China to the US.

With air or sea freight, you can ship port-to-port or door-to-door. With express shipping, it’s always door-to-door.

While express shipping from China to USA is faster, it will also have higher shipping rates.

Your shipping fee for express deliveries includes all logistics, transport, preparation of documents, and customs clearance. This simplifies the process and removes details that could take time and resources to manage.

How Long Does It Take for Cargo To Arrive?

Express shipping services use air freight to deliver packages, so it only takes one to five days, depending on your carrier of choice, the shipping speed selected, and the final destination of your package.

Special handling and permitting requirements might affect your delivery time. Nevertheless, it still provides the fastest shipping from China to USA.

The Best Shipping Companies From China to USA

Let me share various air and sea freight options when shipping from China to the US.

1 – Ocean Freight Shipping Options

Various couriers also offer ocean shipping from China to the USA. It’s a cost-effective solution when you’re not dealing with time-sensitive shipments.

Ocean freight companies typically offer both FCL and LCL shipping options.

Here are the most widely-used sea freight companies.

  • Coso

  • OOCL

  • Evergreen

2 – Air Freight Shipping Options

Air freight solutions are the best choice if you want timely deliveries. It depends on the courier’s reliability, as well.

Here are some examples of reputable air freight companies from China.

  • Air China Cargo

  • China Southern

  • Asiana Airlines

The Best Express Shipping Services From China to USA

If you want the most reliable services, I would recommend three.

1 – FedEx


FedEx is a popular expedited shipping option for international deliveries, including China to US. It offers several services, including air and ocean freight shipping.

The shipping company’s international services include a speed-oriented Priority and cost-effective Economy option.

International Priority (IP) ensures swift delivery via air freight from China to the US, averaging one to three business days.

FedEx can guarantee delivery to the clock. It includes customs clearance and door-to-door delivery.

International Economy is A more affordable alternative, which also uses air freight. This option takes about five business days.

2 – UPS


UPS is one of the best companies that offer expedited shipping from China.

Their Worldwide Expedited option ships to and from 220 countries worldwide, China and the US included.

UPS’s express shipping option takes two to five business days, including customs clearance. UPS is also generally better at fulfilling larger cargo shipments.

3 – DHL


DHL has several express shipping options from China to the US: DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express 12:00, and DHL Express 10:30.

How long does DHL Express take from China to Us?

DHL Express Worldwide is the standard express service. This delivery option is ideal for smaller shipments aiming for next-business-day delivery. Shipments from China to the USA typically take two to four days.

DHL Express 12:00 is the next option, which handles time-sensitive deliveries by the next day, before noon, when feasible. The courier expedites your package delivery once they land in the US.

DHL Express 10:30 is the best option for extremely urgent deliveries, promising next-day arrival before 10:30 AM. Such cargo gets immediate priority upon reaching DHL’s Chinese warehouses.

Shipping Rates From China to the USA

Shipping Rates From China to the USA

Learning how to ship from China to USA involves understanding the shipping costs of each option.

How much is shipping from China to US for all three options?

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect for sea, freight, and express shipping options:

  • Express Air Freight to the USA
    The shipping cost from China to USA per kg is around $7.54 to $9.54, depending on your chosen service tier. Price also goes down depending on the size of your package.

  • Air Freight to the USA
    The air freight rates are around $3.40 to $15.50 per kilogram, a cheaper shipping cost from China to the US than express.

    Normally, you save more when you fly packages between 150 and 500 kilograms via air freight. More or less than that, you’ll most likely get better prices with other shipping options.

  • Sea Freight to the USA
    You’ll pay around $1,200-$1,850 per container when you ship freight by sea. The shipping cost from China to US for LCL depends on the weight of your package.

    Normally, rates range from $25 to $140 per cubic meter, depending on where you ship your products in the United States.

China to US Shipping Delays: How To Deal With Them

China to US Shipping Delays: How To Deal With Them

There’s no way to guarantee how long it takes to ship from China to US. Many factors come into play during the shipping timeline, such as the following.

  • Holidays and Chinese Holidays

  • Weather conditions

  • Human error

  • System issues

If your shipping time from China to US goes longer than expected, the key is understanding that delays can happen. Many unforeseen circumstances can add a few days to your delivery time.

It helps to put some margin on your expected arrival time. An economical shipping option is fine if you’re not in a hurry. However, consider paying for expedited services if you need a parcel sooner.

Remember that the cheapest option will always come with some sacrifices regarding speed. Weigh the shipping fee from China to US with the urgency of your package’s arrival.

How To Track Packages from China

How To Track Packages from China

It’s best practice to watch your packages when shipping products from China to the US. To do that, check if your provider has an internal shipment system.

Expedited services like FedEx, DHL, and UPS have shipping tracking systems. You can also reach out to their support channels if you want to get a more detailed update.

For other options, you can use these tracking websites:

Have your tracking number ready and store it in a safe and accessible place. This way, you can simply enter the code and see where your package might be.

Note: not all tracking will be 100% accurate.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I Have To Pay Tax for Cargo Shipped From China to the US?

Whether you use air or ocean freight companies, you must pay an import tax when shipping products from China to USA. There are some exemptions, and you don’t have to pay customs duty for goods below $800. Some shipping services include customs clearance, so you won’t have to worry about it.

What’s the Average Shipping Time From China to the US?

It depends on the shipping method you choose. If you choose express freight or air cargo, you should get your parcel in one to 15 business days, depending on your chosen service.

What's the Average Shipping Time From China to the US?

For sea freight options, the average shipping time will be around 15 to 30 days. Destinations east of the US will receive shipments later than those in the west.

What Is the Best Way To Ship Samples From China?

The shipping method you choose when shipping the same from China to the US should depend on the urgency level. If you want to launch a product you’re sampling as soon as possible, then getting an express shipment is better.

Getting shipments via non-expedited air cargo should also be a good option if you’re willing to wait a little longer. Expedited options usually cost nearly twice as a regular air freight shipment.

Since samples often come in small sizes, shipping via sea might not be the best option. You can choose that option if you order in larger quantities and have ample lead time.

Is Shipping From China Expensive?

That depends on what your comparison point is. Understandably, shipping from China to the US will be more expensive than domestic shipping as more fuel and logistics go into the process.

Is Shipping From China Expensive?

There are also customs clearance fees, documentation, and other certifications (if applicable) to pay for.

However, compared to shipping from other countries, China shipments seem highly competitive. The high volume of shipments from China to the US helps lower per-unit costs.

What Do I Do If My Package Is Stuck in China?

Contact your shipping provider first. Contact a representative for more information on what’s holding your package.

Sometimes, shipment delays could be because of a lack of paperwork or clearance. In this case, comply with all requirements. Your shipment should continue en route once you do.

What Do I Do If My Package Is Stuck in China?

Before you contact your provider, have the tracking number ready and give it to your assigned representative when they ask for it.

Is Two-Week Transit Time Normal for Shipping From China?

That depends on the mode of shipment you choose. Two weeks should be a good timeline if you choose sea freight. You can consider it fast by this shipping option’s usual timeframe.

However, two weeks for air or express shipping from China to the US could be long. Contact your shipping provider to see what could be causing the hold-up. If they ask for more documentation, be ready to provide it.

Why Does Ship and Air Freight Timing From China to the US Vary?

Shipment times will vary depending on your final destination in the US. This could depend on the distance between airports and the land travel distance from the airport of arrival in the US and the door destination.

Why Does Ship and Air Freight Timing From China to the US Vary?

How Long Does It Take To Ship From China to California via Sea?

West Coast deliveries are normally faster for sea shipments as passing through the Pacific Ocean is the fastest water route. Normally, this would take fifteen days.

The delivery time could double or more for shipments to the East Coast.

How Long Does USPS Take To Ship from China?

How Long Does USPS Take To Ship from China?

USPS is another popular shipping courier for people in the United States. The delivery time depends on what service you choose and where your parcel’s destination in the US is.

USPS and China Post have an arrangement that could have your package delivered in nine to 12 days with the ePacket shipping option. Otherwise, you might have to wait up to 90 days.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this guide helps you learn how to ship China to USA parcel routes.

The three choices— sea, air, and express— all have their own pros and cons. Weigh them accordingly and choose which option serves you best. Which option are you planning to go for?

Whether for personal or business purposes, consider when you want to get your parcel and how much you can spend on shipping. That way, you can easily get your money’s worth and get products from China.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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