Being the top 2 of the world’s largest economies, trade and economic cooperation between China and the United States is a win-win relationship, bringing benefits to companies and people of both countries, and by no means shall it be a zero-sum game.With or without the trade war going on, the fact is: China ranks 3rd after Canada and Mexico as the United States’ goods export market, while in terms of imports, it’s the largest trading partner of USA.
As a leading freight forwarder serving the USA, we share this guide to answer all your questions related to shipping from China to the USA, covering shipping methods, timing, costs, how to decide the best way to ship goods from China, and what to expect from a China freight forwarder for your China-USA shipment handling, etc.
For China-USA shipments, there are 2 major shipping methods, sea and air freight.
Sea Freight from China to the USASea freight is the most popular method for shipping from China to the United States, 90% of the world’s total shipments are carried out by sea freight every year.
If you are not coordinating time-sensitive shipments, choose sea freight. Moving your cargo with container ships or bulk cargo ships from China takes an average time of 1 month to arrive in the US.
If your supply chain has limited shipping budget, shipping by sea is the least expensive way. This is the main reason why sea shipping is widely chosen by exporters and importers.
If the cargo to be shipped from China is too large and heavy, choosing sea shipping would be wise. Because shipping by air won’t be feasible, or comes at an extremely high cost.
FCL (full container load): shipping a container filled with goods exclusively for one client, cost efficient.
LCL (less than container load): sharing a container with other clients who have cargo at the same time, to the same destination. Naturally due to extra work in LCL (warehousing, consolidation, de-consolidation, paperwork, etc.), the final cost on each unit is higher than shipping FCL, and the transit time is longer.
We handle sea shipments to the USA from all China main ports, including Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Qingdao, Tianjin, Dalian, etc.
Besides regular FCL(full container load) and LCL(less than container load) services, we handle large & heavy cargo shipping from China as well.
Main ports of the United StatesBelow is a brief introduction to some US ports.
The largest port in the USA, US gateway
Highest among all US ports in terms of freight traffic and trade value, in 2021 container throughput was 10.7 million TEU.
20% of all cargo enters the United States via Port of Los Angeles
Twin port of Los Angeles, the second largest port in the US
Long Beach set a throughput record of 9.38 million TEU in 2021.
Together with port of Los Angeles, handles 40% of the containerized shipments of the whole country
The busiest container port in the US Pacific Northwest
A convenient port serving business in the Northwest
Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, form the NWSA (Northwest Seaport Alliance). Together, they are the 4th largest container gateway of the USA.
New York & New Jersey
The port of New York & New Jersey is the largest and busiest port on East Coast, and ranks the 3rd in the US.
It’s the gateway to the most concentrated consumer markets in the North America.
As of 2021, the port of Savannah was the 4th busiest seaport in the United States.
The largest single-terminal container facility in Savannah
With easy access to railway to the major population centers of Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis and Orlando.
Port of Houston is one of the largest ports on Gulf Coast serving the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. It ranks 6th for container throughput among all US ports.
Houston reported handling a record of 3.5 million TEU in 2021.
Port of Charleston has 6 public terminals.
Ranks the 8th largest maritime hub (Feb 2022)
Port of Charleston Handled 2.75 million TEU at Wando Welch Terminal, North Charleston Terminal and Hugh K.
Port of Miami is the world’s leading cruise port, globally recognized as the “Cruise Capital of the World”.
Of all the southeastern US ports, it has the deepest shipping channel and the only port that is equipped to handle neo-Panamax vessels.
We provide sea freight service with overall coverage of US seaports, as well as extended reach to inland service points by intermodal transport. Wherever your destination is, we provide the easiest one-stop door to door shipping from China to the USA, while making sure your cargo from China arrives on time in perfect condition.
List of seaports of the US
List of US inland intermodal terminals
Air Freight from China to the USAIf you have a relatively high budget for shipping from China to the USA, and your supply chain requires rapid delivery, then air freight will be the right choice for your business. It’s the fastest shipping method, albeit at a higher cost than sea freight. Air shipping from China to the USA usually takes 3-7 days, depending on the chosen service and route.
Those carried out by air freight are usually time-sensitive shipments, e.g. medical supplies, urgent orders with tight deadline or perishable goods. Most of the time, cargo to be air shipped from China are high value products, and clients do not want to wait 1 month for the shipment to arrive in the United States.
Besides, compared to sea freight, air freight guarantees higher level of security. Shorter transit time by air freight also means less chance of damage or loss, faster cash flow and more turnover.
In conclusion, air freight is a fast and secure method to ship cargo from China to the US. It’s an ideal way when you wish to receive your goods in 10 days or so, and you have a robust enough shipping budget.
Contact us on your next China-USA air shipment.
Main airports in the USLos Angeles
Los Angeles International Airport (IATA CODE: LAX)
The 5th busiest airport in the world in 2021
Perfect destination for air cargo from China to the west part of the United States
Most imports via Los Angeles airport come from China
Direct passenger and cargo flights are available between China and Los Angeles
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (IATA CODE: ATL)
The busiest airport of the United States and one of the busiest in the world
Main air cargo hub
Fort Worth International Airport (IATA CODE: DFW)
DFW is focused on air cargo
Record of cargo volume at Dallas Fort Worth hit 1 m tons (Apr, 2022)
O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD)
Top 3 airport for cargo in the USA
25% of the total air cargo that arrives at ORD comes from China
Over 2 m tons of cargo was handled by ORD in 2021
John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA CODE: JFK)
6th busiest airport in the US
One of the world’s leading international air cargo centers
Direct passenger and cargo flights are available between China and New York
Miami international airport, also known as MIA
Handles over 2 m tons of cargo per year
No direct flights from Chinese airports
How long does it take to ship from China to the US?Generally, shipping time from China to the United States ranges from 1 day to 45 days, depending on many factors, such as shipping method chosen, supplier address, delivery address, service and route, weather, port condition, etc.
China-USA sea freight transit timeShipping goods from China to the US by sea takes a minimum of 14 days to reach the West Coast port, Los Angeles. And to the East Coast via Panama Canal, shipping time could be 30-40 days.
Sea container shipping transit time from China ports to the USA (Los Angeles, New York, Savannah, and Charleston)
|POL (Port of Loading)||POD (Port of Discharge)||Transit time|
|Shanghai||Los Angeles||14 days|
|Shanghai||New York||30 days|
|Shenzhen||Los Angeles||14 days|
|Shenzhen||New York||30 days|
|Qingdao||Los Angeles||17 days|
|Qingdao||New York||35 days|
Data from these 3 ports is enough to demonstrate the sea shipping time from China to the USA.
The transit time by sea, port to port, depends on the specific origin and destination ports chosen, service route, sailing schedule and choice on carrier.
Above transit time is for full container load shipping, port to port, not door to door
For LCL shipping time estimate, pls add 7-10 days
Sea freight shipping from China to US East Coast ports takes more than 1 month via Panama Canal (all water route), if you are shipping containers from China to East Coast of the USA, and having a pressing deadline, then using MLB (mini land bridge) freight solution instead of all-water route via Panama Canal will definitely save you some time.
Shipping containers to East Coast by intermodal transport (sea + railway) via West Coast is 10-15 faster than all-water route.
China-USA air shipping transit timeAir shipping from China to the US takes at least 1 day, and up to 7-10 days, depends on the departure/destination airports and service route.
Generally, air cargo from a Chinese airport can reach most airports of the US in 5-7 days, some remote destinations may take longer.
However, with direct passenger and cargo flights available between several Chinese airports and Los Angeles(LAX)/New York(JFK)/Chicago(ORD), and air cargo shipping between China and the United States can be reduced to 1 day, with proper arrangements in advance, the whole door to door air freight delivery could be done in 2 days, way faster than DHL and UPS. And for that, you’ll have to count on a China freight forwarder.
Landed cost of imports from China to the USCompared to shipping cost from China to the US alone, I believe all importers are more concerned about the final price per unit with everything considered, so they can decide the selling price for resale or the contract price for a project. And here, we are introducing a new term “landed cost”.
What is landed cost?A “landed cost” is the final cost of product plus all associated shipping and logistics costs for delivering the goods to its destination, with insurance and import duty paid.
The formula can be simplified as: product cost + shipping cost + insurance + import duty
How to Calculate Total cost of imports from China to the USA
How much does it cost to ship from China to the US?Shiping from Yantian to New York used to cost $3000-4000/40ft container, and the highest record is over $20,000.
Knowing the shipping cost from China to the United States is essential to your business. Shipping cost is an indispensable, sometimes significant portion of importing from China to the US, as you can see.
However, every client is different, and has specific requirements at a specific time, plus the fast changing shipping market, making it difficult a provide a general estimated of freight cost. Sea and air freight rates fluctuate with time, affected by supply and demand relationship, as well as by carrier's strategic adjustment.
Here's an example of cost structure of shipping a 40ft container from China to the US, for illustration purpose only.
You may also be interested in how to calculate import duty on Chinese goods to the USA.
Best way to ship from China to the USA?There's no one simple answer to the "best way" to ship from China to the USA, when dealing with different shipments under different circumstances, facing the fast-changing shipping market. The best way is to find an experienced freight forwarder for their expertise and advice. We'll consider the below factors to decide what the best way is.
1. The type of goods and its value
Some goods may be rejected by airline, batteries, strong magnetic, inflammable goods, liquid, powder, etc. While some high-value equipment, clients may prefer to ship them by air.
2. How quickly you need your goods
As general rule of thumb, the quick you wish to receive the shipment, the more you’ll have to pay. With air freight, there are express air shipping service from China to the USA and regular. With sea freight, there are also different speeds at different rates.
3. The load of your goods (size, weight, quantity) or simply share the packing list
How big is the shipment?
If 2CBM,500KG, LCL is recommended;
If 65CBM, we’d suggest you send a 40ft container.
If heavy loads, 20ft container is better than 40ft.
4. Supplier address (origin seaport/airport), delivery address(destination seaport/airport)
Most clients from the USA prefer a door to door service, that’s why we asked for supplier address and delivery address. We can also help choose the departure seaport/airport, destination seaport/airport in case the ones clients know may not be the best in the situation given.
5. Goods ready time
As stated above, freight rates fluctuate with time. Another reason is, we have to know WHEN to book vessels and flight with the right schedule and guarantee space availability.
No matter what your shipment is, which shipping method you prefer, the best way to ship is with a reliable, experienced freight forwarder for your China-USA shipments.
China-USA freight forwarderShipping from China to the USA can be challenging, time and energy consuming. With the help of a freight forwarder, your shipments from China can be accelerated and made simple.
A freight forwarder is a person or a company that handles all of the shipping logistics on clients’ behalf. They have expertise in international logistics, and knowledge in preparing documents required, access to shipping networks, to carry out the shipment.
Moreover, China-USA door-to-door shipping solution is made possible through their freight forwarding services, i.e. to have the goods delivered to your named address, because airlines only ship your goods to airport, and sea carriers only deliver your container to port or train station.
Door to door shipping from China to the USAWe provide the easiest one-stop door to door shipping solution from China to the USA. No matter what your shipment is, which shipping method you prefer, whether you are importing as a company or an individual, whether you are shipping to a commercial address, private address or FBA address, we got you covered.
With our professional team, you don’t have worry about a single thing. We handle all the logistics related work from origin to destination, all the required paperwork, supervision, consolidation, loading, offloading, customs brokerage and final delivery, without burdening the client with additional work and pressure. Each link is connected to the next seamlessly and we’ll keep you informed of the status. We take into consideration of your individual needs and budget, securing a simple, hassle-free way of door-to-door cargo shipping management from China to the US. China-USA door to door shipping can be so simple.
In case you are interested in educating yourself in shipping to the United States, here's all you need to know about shippinng to the United States from China.
How to ship from China to the USAStep 1: Contact a freight forwarder; a China based one is preferred.
You may reach out to a freight forwarder either from China or in the US. While a US forwarder is most likely to rely on a Chinese local shipping agent. So China based forwarder is preferred, as the majority of complexities and uncertainties of international cargo shipping lie in origin, not in destination.
(More on “Why you should work with a local China freight forwarder”)
Step 2: Provide shipment details and get a shipping solution and quote
Step 3: Connect forwarder with supplier, forwarder does his job
Step 4: Get cargo insurance (optional)
Step 5: Arrange customs clearance
Or simply find a freight forwarder who offers one-stop door to door shipping service from China to the USA.
Why us when importing and shipping from China to the USWe are China based freight forwarder, specialized and experienced in international logistics for import and export business. We deal with hundreds of air & sea shipments from China to the US for our customers each and every month. For importers from the United States, we have the below reasons for you to choose us as your freight forwarder for your freight shipping from China.
1. Quick Response, high efficiency
3. Professionalism, agility, accuracy.
4. Our logistics expertise, local and global connections
6. Higher attention & tailored shipping solution
7. Dedicated, focused
Everybody got limited time and energy. Stay focused and bring the best out of you for the most worthwhile job. International logistics/shipping is our expertise, you too should stay focused.
More on Why us when importing and shipping from China to the USA
China is, and will continue to be the United States’ biggest trading partner. As one of the leading China based freight forwarders dedicated to China-USA cargo shipping, we have the logistics knowledge and expertise, local connections and global networks, as well as our insight into global trade to ensure the best cargo shipping experience. We have been connecting business of both countries together with our support in international freight forwarding service aiming to improve the efficiency of your supply chain.
To get to know about us, feel free to contact us, we are available on several messenger platforms.
To start working with UCS on your next shipment from China to the USA, simply get a shipping solution and quote from China.