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How to Save Time and Money While International Shipping from China to USA

Now there are a large number of American importers purchasing products from China, and the time and money cost of international shipping is an important problem that plagues buyers. How to save time and money in international transportation from China to the United States? In this article, I will analyze the results of shipping methods, main steps of purchasing, tips for saving shipping time, and problems that need attention, hoping to help you.

current shipping method

If you are international shipping small personal items from China to USA, then you can use regular mail services. However, if you need to transport a large number of items, there are three main modes of International Shipping that are commonly used today:

  • Air Freight
  • Ocean freight
  • Express freight

If you want to save time and money While International Shipping from China to USA,the most important thingis to choose the right shipping method.

Below I will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of these three transportation methods in detail. After understanding them, you can choose the appropriate International Shipping method according to your specific needs.

1. Air Freight

Among the shipping methods from China to the United States, air shipping is the fastest International shipping method. It is commonly used by importers of time-sensitive foreign goods.

Sea freight shipments from China to the US usually take 20 to 30 days to arrive. In contrast, the biggest advantage of air freight is its speed, it only takes a few hours to reach the destination, which greatly shortens the delivery time, and air freight is safer and more reliable.

But the biggest disadvantage of air freight is the high cost. It is usually five times the cost of shipping and sixteen times the cost of ocean freight.

Air freight charges are determined by the weight and volume of the cargo. It is usually based on the two to calculate which number will be more expensive, and the carrier charges by dimensional weight or actual weight.

International Shipping from China to USA
Air Freight

2. Ocean freight

By far the most popular method of international shipping is by sea. Ocean freight accounts for about 90% of all shipping. If you’re shipping a lot of items, this should be your first choice.

Ocean freight can transport large quantities of goods at the same time, and along with other methods, this may be the most cost-effective shipping route when shipping from China to the United States. Shipping by sea is generally less restrictive than by air.

However, shipping by sea also has many disadvantages, first of all, it takes longer. Airplanes travel about 30 times faster than ships. Port congestion, customs issues and bad weather can all slow down the process, sailing is risky, sailing dates are not always accurate, and due to its sailing characteristics, ocean shipping is more likely to damage your cargo than other modes of international shipping .

Ocean freight

3. Express freight

International express is often used to ship items that must be delivered quickly. It is only cost-effective for the international shipping of small items, so for larger items, air or sea freight must be used.

Express shipping companies include companies such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

DHL Express

Main steps to follow when sourcing from China

If you want to save time and money in international shipping from China to the United States, then you should clarify the steps of purchasing from China before shipping, so as to avoid special problems during international shipping and increase shipping time and money.

Below are the steps we summarize for sourcing from China.

1. Determine your import rights

When you buy something from another country, you become an importer. If your package is small and just for personal use, or the cost isn’t too high, a courier company like DHL, UPS, or FedEx will handle everything and deliver it to your door. If this is the case, then you will save a lot of time and money.

However, before importing commercial items into your country, whether as a company or an individual, you must first determine whether you have import rights.

2. Make sure the items you import from China are allowed

The importation of certain products is prohibited. Products banned in different countries are different. Check that the items you are importing are not subject to any government licenses, bans or rules.

The importer’s (your) job is to ensure that the merchandise complies with many specific laws and regulations.

3.Sort your items and determine landed cost

For each item you are importing, look for the 10-digit tariff classification number. These numbers, along with the Certificate of Origin, will be used to calculate the tax rate you have to pay when importing goods. Then calculate the landed cost.

4. Identify your supplier in China to place the order

You must place an order with a supplier, carrier or exporter and specify shipping terms.

Request a pro forma invoice/quote for your upcoming purchase, which should include a uniform system number, description, and value for each item. Weight and package dimensions and terms of purchase must appear on your P/I.

5. Arrange your shipment

Container fees, terminal handling fees, packaging fees, and brokerage fees are just a small fraction of the cost of international shipping products from China to the United States. Each of these aspects should be considered to gain a clear understanding of shipping costs.

Arrange shipment

6. Track your shipment

International shipping items internationally takes time. For example, items shipped from China take an average of 14 days to reach the US West Coast and an average of 30 days to reach the US East Coast.

7. Get your goods

Arrange for customs brokers to clear the goods through customs upon arrival (quarantine if applicable). If all goes well, you are entitled to collect your goods.

Some tips to save time on shipping products from China

Delays at sea can be unavoidable as most small companies cannot visit their suppliers on a regular basis. However, there are a few simple things you can do to speed things up when shipping from China to the US.

1. Learn about Chinese festivals

With the Chinese holidays approaching, it can be difficult to find a company that can meet your needs. At this point, many factories will be closed and workers making and moving items will be at home. Timing is critical when shipping items out of China. Transportation costs will also slowly rise as certain holidays approach due to labor shortages in factories and on the road. Shipping costs typically increase during the following period: from mid-September to early October.

Therefore, you must plan ahead with your suppliers and place your orders well in advance of the holidays.

2. Choose some experienced companies

Every container has an expiry date by which it must be loaded on board and ready to sail, which means the product must be fully completed, packed and loaded by the specified date and arrive at the origin by that date port. Meanwhile, for sea freight, the weight of the cargo is not important, but the amount of space it takes up. Working with a reputable supplier or freight forwarder ensures your items arrive on time and saves you the most on shipping costs.

It is a good idea to find experienced companies at the exhibition.

Below is the China Toy Fair Guide for your reference.

China Toy Fairs Ultimate Guide- Union Vision (

Choose an experienced company

3. Correctly complete customs clearance documents

The most common reason for delays in international shipping times is when a shipment is suspended during customs clearance. Filling out the documents correctly to ensure your package goes through customs is essential.

complete customs clearance documents

4. Find some sort of hybrid shipping solution

Work with freight forwarders who can provide multimodal solutions. If air freight is too expensive, ocean freight may not be able to deliver your goods on time, which will provide the opportunity to combine air and ocean freight with another land freight method.

Experienced freight forwarders will usually find some way to manage this by working with their contacts. This hybrid solution will ensure your shipments are delivered on time and within budget.

hybrid shipping


There is no doubt that by sourcing from China, you can save a lot of money and get a wide variety of items of fairly good quality. You can save time and money by improving its International shipping process, through the introduction of this article, I believe it can save your time and cost in shipping from China to the United States.

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