How to Ship from China to US

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Methods of Shipping from China to the USA

Want to start your e-commerce business? Not sure about how to ship your products from your manufacturers in China to your customers in the USA? Read on to find out 4 different methods of shipping from China to the US and find the best economical solution to fit you.


Air express/courier

Express shipping is done by courier companies that provide door-to-door service. Examples include DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc. 

It may be the fastest and easiest method, taking only about 3 to 5 business days to ship from China to the US. It also has fewer chances of the delivery becoming lost or damaged, and easy for the customers to track their orders. It is the cheapest shipping method for small packages under 5kg generally.

It is best recommended for shipping packages below 5 kg in which the speed is essential.

There are however hidden costs associated as well:

  1. Weight is generally calculated by the greater of Actual Weight or Volume Weight (you can click here to read our article about what Volume Weight is)
  2. Charges for Remote Areas
  3. Fuel Surcharge which is in addition to the shipping cost
  4. Change of address costs
  5. Return or disposal costs if the package is delivered unsuccessfully
  6. DDP Handling Charges (click here to read more about DDP)


Air freight

Air freight involves transporting cargo by air. It is advantageous for fast shipping and takes about 3-6 days to ship from China to the US. It is the cheapest shipping method for goods and packages that weigh 100 kg to 500 kg. For small packages, charges are according to the dimensional weight, which depends on both the volume and weight. 

Dimensional Weight = Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/6000 

It is best recommended for fast shipping for packages between 100 kg to 500 kg, especially if your goods are in a rush and you can’t afford to put them on a ship. 


Sea freight

Sea freight involves transporting cargo by sea, over any distance that can be travelled by ship. It is advantageous for carrying large volumes at cheap costs. Once your cargo weight surpasses 500kg, sea freight may be the best option. A huge disadvantage is the shipping time. Many factors may cause delays, such as customs, weather, holidays, and it usually takes 13-30 days of transit time. The usual lead time can be between 30 to 40 days.

Roll-overs sometimes can cause headaches for shippers as your container is not guaranteed a spot on a particular sailing date. This will really depend on how effective your Freight Forwarder is and whether you are shipping in low or peak season.

There are 2 things to consider for sea freight:

  • FCL: full container load
  • LCL: Less than container load


FCL (Full Container Load) is when you use the full container by yourself for your own goods. It is typically cheaper as you are taking up an entire container. LCL (Less than Container Load) is when you share the container with other people, thus there may be different items from different companies in the same container. It is ideal if you are not importing enough items to fill up a whole container.

Full Containers come in 3 sizes generally:

  1. 20 foot container (~36 CBM)
  2. 40 foot container (~67 CBM)
  3. 40 foot high cube container (~76 CBM)

It is best recommended for large volume, sensitive goods that are more difficult to Air Freight and are time insensitive shipping.


Direct injection

Direct Injection is a supply chain model where goods going to the same country are grouped together, flown to the destination country, and then delivered directly to the end-customers by a domestic carrier after clearing customs. Generally companies like ZhenHub will design direct lines as an option that is much cheaper than Express but may only take slightly longer. 

A lot of eCommerce businesses will take advantage of this. If you want to know about this option of Direct Injection from China to your local market then contact us – hello(a)

It is advantageous as it takes both the benefits of courier and air freight, providing fast service at a much cheaper cost.

You can read more about the details of Direct Injection in this article – Everything you need to know about Direct Injection