Shipping From China To USA — Air & Sea | Top Tips[2022]


Written by the team at JIKEship, this guide is here to answer all your questions about shipping from China to USA. It covers everything from common methods, time and cost.

Shipping to USA: What shipping methods are available to you?

Importers who manufacture products in China and sell them in the U.S. have a variety of shipping options, including air, ocean and express.

Importers who manufacture products in China for sale in the U.S. have a variety of shipping options, including air, ocean and express shipping. But there is no universal "best shipping method". You should carefully consider the following variables.

  • Product and load - what kind of cargo is being shipped and how big is it?
  • Destination - Is it a port or a warehouse?
  • Time requirements - do you need the shipment urgently, or can it wait? This is a critical consideration, especially during the holidays in China.

Products and loading

Some cargo, such as aerosol cans and strong magnets, are difficult to transport by air. Other products such as lithium-ion batteries can be shipped by air, but the required documentation is often difficult to provide by suppliers and can only be shipped by dedicated aircraft. Therefore, it is often easier to ship batteries via sea freight from China.

Some products may be too heavy or too large to be shipped by air and can only be shipped by sea or rail.

In some cases, it is better to ship products by air. For example products less than 1 cubic meter in size are usually ideal for airfreight. High value cargo is sometimes safer to ship by air and is sometimes required by China Cargo Insurance Company.


Most reputable Chinese 3PLs offer end-to-end transportation services that can deliver goods to warehouses, small commercial buildings and residential areas. However, it may sometimes be difficult to deliver containers to locations that are not available for unloading. Therefore, the final destination and how the cargo will be unloaded should be considered to determine the most ideal shipping plan.

In some cases, buyers may find it easier to ship smaller size shipments via China Air, while others may benefit from unloading services once the shipment arrives at a U.S. port.

Time requirements

If cargo needs to be shipped urgently, air freight is the best option.

For some container shipments by sea, shipping time can be reduced by shipping to the West Coast. Once the cargo arrives in the U.S., it can then be transported by truck or rail.

If time is not a priority, it may be the cheapest option to ship ocean freight to a popular port close to the final destination and then ship by truck.

The impact of Chinese holidays on Chinese shipping

Many importers find themselves in a situation where delays are caused by Chinese holidays.

Shipping delays are a common occurrence, especially during the Lunar New Year. All major ports in China are open year round, but not all local carriers operate during major holidays.

The following is a list of major annual holidays in China, during which delays are not uncommon.

  • New Year's Day - January 1
  • Chinese New Year - End of January to mid-February (usually longer)
  • Qingming Festival - Early April
  • Labor Day - Early May
  • Dragon Boat Festival - End of June
  • Mid-Autumn Festival - Early October
  • Golden Week - Early October
  • China's National Day - Early October

Another delay worth considering is the Christmas/winter holiday rush.

We often witness businesses in disarray each holiday season due to buyers placing orders with suppliers too late in the season. Our best advice is to plan as far in advance as possible

How long does it take to ship from China to USA?

Typically, shipping from China to USA takes 1-35 days, depending on the shipping method chosen and the final destination of the cargo within the United States. Express shipping is the fastest option, taking 1-5 days. Air freight takes 2-15 days and ocean freight takes 15-25+ days.

As a general rule of thumb, here are the number of days it takes to ship a shipment from China to the U.S. via various shipping methods

  • 1-5 days - via China Air Express
  • 2-15 days - via China Air Freight
  • 15+ days - via China Ocean Freight to the West Coast
  • 25+ days - via China Ocean Freight to the East Coast

Note: Coronavirus may cause delays in shipping.

The best way to find out if your shipment is at risk of delays is to get a quote for your shipment, so you can start planning as early as possible. Our team will respond within 24 hours (even on weekends) and, most importantly, we offer the best prices and the best service guarantee.

How much does it cost to ship from China to the USA?

The cost of shipping from China to USA is usually composed of freight and CIF costs.

Freight charges can usually be calculated depending on the mode of transport used, by looking at the weight and/or volume of the goods shipped, and the speed at which the goods are shipped.

Volumetric weight VS actual weight

The volumetric weight is compared with the actual weight, and the greater of the two is selected as the chargeable weight to calculate the shipping cost. Dimensional weight is calculated by volume, i.e. length (cm) x width (cm) x height (cm) / 5000.

For example, if you are shipping a huge foam with dimensions of 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm and weighing 20 kg.

Volume weight = 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm / 5000 = 200 kg. It is much bigger than the actual weight (20 kg).

Therefore, you will be charged for 200kg instead of 20kg, because the size of the package is huge and will take up a lot of space.

Also, what you should need to know is:

Shipping cost (FOB) = Cost for air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport + American customs clearance cost+ Local logistics cost in the USA

Shipping cost(EXW) = Local logistics cost in China + China export cost + Cost for air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport + American customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the USA

CIF cost from China to the USA

Air and ocean freight includes additional "CIF costs", such as shipping from the factory to the shipping agent, warehousing or customs clearance.

Major USA Ports & Airports

Main Airports in USA

  • Memphis

  • Anchorage

Main ports in the USA

  • Los Angeles

  • Long Beach

U.S. Customs Clearance

When importing into the United States, it is essential to understand the U.S. customs clearance process. U.S. customs clearance is overseen by its primary border control organization, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Necessary Documents

Before importing into the United States, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with CBP policies and procedures. One of the basic requirements is to provide customs clearance documentation.

  • Bill of Lading

Filled by your freight forwarder or carrier, a bill of lading is not required for mail transportation.

According to the terms of payment agreed between the supplier and the buyer, the bill of lading can serve as a document:

1)Confirm the release of a letter of credit (L / C)

2)Serves as proof of shipping, which requires the buyer to transfer payment of the balance.

  • Commercial Invoice

  • Packing list

  • ISF (International Security Filing)

  • Other Documents

Depending on the nature of the cargo, shipments may also need to be accompanied by other documents such as permits or licenses (if they are controlled goods).

Prohibited & Restricted Items

shipping from china to usa

JIKEship:If you have one of these items, you should check directly with JIKEship. Some of these items are restricted or even completely prohibited and it is important to prevent such shipments to avoid any problems.

How to Get Shipping Quote from China to USA?

To get a correct quotation price, some detailed information from Chinese supplier is needed:

  • Name and volume of commodity and HS code
  • Estimation of shipping time
  • Delivery location
  • Weight, volume
  • Trade mode
  • Way of delivery: to port or to door
China freight forwarder
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