Shipping is a crucial aspect of the foreign trade process. After completing significant preliminary work, the final step of transporting goods often becomes quite challenging. This article aims to provide an initial understanding of the components of cargo transportation costs and their approximate values.

In this article, I will outline the 7 primary shipping methods along with their estimated costs. By the end, you should be able to easily organize shipping, whether using your supplier’s freight forwarder or your own. This guide will be valuable for you.

We will use shipping from China to the United States as an example, but the information can serve as a general reference.

Note: All shipping rates mentioned are standard prices. However, these prices are subject to frequent changes. The latest rate you obtain might differ in just a few days, so these should only be used as a guideline. The exact shipping cost needs to be calculated at the time of shipping.

Express Shipping

Compared to sea or air freight, express shipping is the simplest and fastest transportation method.

You won’t need to worry about the customs clearance process. Regardless of whether the goods are being delivered to the eastern or western United States, the delivery fees are likely to be the same. All you need to do is find an express company that offers a reasonable quote and wait for the goods to be delivered to your address.

Approximately 95% of product samples and high-value goods in small quantities are shipped via express. Additionally, for online sellers who need to restock quickly, such as Amazon sellers, express shipping is highly suitable.

I recommend using FedEx and UPS. Generally, DHL’s customs clearance process is slower compared to FedEx and UPS, and sometimes DHL’s shipping costs are also relatively higher.

Express Shipping Costs from China to the United States

The official prices for express shipping with FedEx, UPS, or DHL are generally higher. This is because these courier companies offer varying discounts to their agents (such as your suppliers or freight forwarders) based on their annual shipment volumes, typically ranging from 20% to 50% off, which influences the final price you pay.

If your Chinese supplier does not frequently use FedEx to ship goods to the United States, they can find a discounted express agent and have them handle the shipment, resulting in lower shipping costs for you.

Apart from the different discounts offered by various agents, factors such as seasonal demand, the number of available spaces on planes, etc., also impact express delivery costs. For instance, prices can increase significantly during peak seasons (like the month before Christmas and Thanksgiving) and decrease sharply during off-peak seasons.

As a result, shipping rates are quite volatile and can change from week to week. It is essential to ask your supplier or freight forwarder to provide you with real-time pricing.

The table below shows the current approximate costs of express delivery from China to some regions, provided by our freight forwarding company, converted based on the exchange rate of 1 US dollar to 7.1 RMB.

CountryWestern Europe: Britain, France and GermanyJapanSoutheast AsiaAustraliaUSACanadaWestern Europe: Switzerland, DenmarkSouth Africa, Eastern EuropeSouth America
Document 0.5kg80.0060.0060.0080.0080.0080.0080.0070.00120.00
sample 0.5kg85.0060.0070.0090.0080.0090.0090.00110.00150.00

NOTES: The express shipping fee can fluctuate frequently, so please contact your supplier to obtain the most up-to-date price when you are ready to ship your goods.

Dimensional Weight vs. Actual Weight

When using express shipping, it’s crucial to pay attention to the charged weight. The express company will compare the dimensional weight and the actual weight, and the higher of the two will be used to calculate the shipping cost. Dimensional weight is determined by the volume, calculated as Length(cm) x Width(cm) x Height(cm) / 5000.

For example, if you are shipping a large foam package with dimensions of 100cm x 100cm x 100cm and a weight of 20kg:

Dimensional weight = 100cm x 100cm x 100cm / 5000 = 200kg. This is significantly higher than the actual weight (20kg).

Therefore, the express company will charge you for 200kg instead of 20kg, because the large size of the package occupies more space.

As for customs duties, if the value of goods is less than $800, it is duty-free by FedEx. If more than $800, the courier company will pay for you first, then you pay it to the courier when you receive the goods.

The Differences Between Air Freight and Express

Express delivery is quite simple and straightforward, whereas air freight is more complex and its import and export procedures are similar to those of traditional sea freight.

Typically, if your cargo exceeds 500kg, air freight becomes a cost-effective option. On the other hand, for shipments under 300kg, express shipping is usually the better choice. But what if your cargo falls between 300-500kg?

In such cases, it’s difficult to definitively say which option is cheaper, as the prices for both services fluctuate in real-time. For instance, FedEx might be more economical than air freight if there is ample empty space on the FedEx plane or during periods of irregular discounts.

What Is the All-Inclusive Air Freight Cost to the US?

When you decide to ship by air, whether you consult a freight forwarder or have the supplier arrange it directly, it’s essential to inquire about the total cost of the entire transportation process, from the Chinese airport to your doorstep.

Occasionally, a freight forwarder or supplier may lure you with a quote that only covers the shipping cost from the Chinese airport to the destination airport. While this price might appear very low, it does not account for customs clearance fees and domestic road transport fees, which are additional costs you will need to cover.

Sea Freight from China to the USA

If your shipment exceeds 2 CBM (cubic meters), you should consider shipping by sea. This method is the most economical, though it is more complex and versatile.

Sea freight cargo is transported in containers, with two types available: LCL and FCL.

For small quantities of goods with a volume of less than 15 CBM, the freight forwarder will assist you in shipping by LCL. This means you will share a container with other importers, as your cargo load is smaller than the smallest container size (20 GP).

LCL uses CBM (Cubic Meter) as the unit to calculate the freight. For example, if your product is 8 CBM, then the shipping fee = the price per CBM * 8CBM.

FCL is when your cargo is enough to fill one or more containers. In this case, the freight is calculated on the quantity of the whole container. For example, if your goods can fill 2 containers, then the shipping fee = the price of a full container * 2. Generally, it will be cheaper than LCL.

Furthermore, the container model is mainly divided into three types:

Full container load20”GP40”GP40”HQ
CBM contained28CBM58CBM68CBM

SFUC—Sea Freight UPS Combined

Generally, shipping by sea takes about 30-45 days. Besides the sea transit time, local logistics in the destination country can also be quite slow. A faster and more economical option compared to traditional ocean shipping is the Ocean Shipping UPS Combo.

With this method, goods are first shipped via traditional sea freight to the port closest to the delivery address. From there, UPS handles the local logistics, ensuring that the goods are delivered to your address immediately after arriving at the port. This can save you at least 10 days.

This method is commonly used for shipping directly from China to Amazon FBA due to its fast shipping times and efficient customs clearance.

Please note that shipping charges for this method are calculated per kilogram. Unlike traditional ocean shipping, which uses trucks for transportation after arriving at the port, UPS is responsible for delivery, and express delivery rates are applied per kilogram.

AFUC—Air Freight UPS Combined

Air Freight UPS Combined involves shipping your goods via air freight first, followed by local delivery within the United States handled by UPS. This method is less expensive than express shipping but doesn’t take significantly longer. While express shipping typically takes 3-5 working days and air freight takes 4-7 days, AFUC generally takes 11-15 days.

Although AFUC is not a mainstream shipping method, it is a viable option for urgent replenishment needs for Amazon FBA or other e-commerce platforms. It offers a more cost-effective solution compared to express shipping and is faster than sea freight.

Note: The information provided above is intended to give beginners a basic understanding of different types of freight and their cost components. To determine the specific cost, you will need to consult your supplier or freight forwarding company at the time of shipping.

By sharing your opinions and questions, you can not only gain basic knowledge about shipping but also benefit from others’ experiences. Please leave your thoughts and inquiries, and let’s discuss more details about import shipping together!

The End about Mayvoci

Mayvoci is a leading 6 years pickleball paddle supplier based in China. Below is our main 5 values. If you are interested in importing pickleball paddle, feel free to CONTACT us.

1)Design:Over 100 paddle designs and photography service to assist start-up.

2)Professional:Focus on various of paddles manufacturing for 6 years

3)Quality:Strict quality management system to provide safety and satisfaction for customers

4)Amazon:Flexible comprehensive solution to make sure each Amazon seller is well cared.

5)Excellent Team:Experienced paddle experts & dynamic sales team give you 5-star service

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