Shipping from China to USA: Costs, times & top tips

Panna Kemenes

Shipping from China can be a costly, time-consuming affair. It’s best to familiarize yourself with standard shipping costs and time estimates to avoid disappointment.

China is home to many worldwide suppliers, yet shipping from China to the US isn’t always straightforward.

In this article, you’ll learn what the most common shipment methods from China are, how long shipping can take, and general pricing information.

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Shipping from China to USA: What methods can you use?

There are various methods you can rely on for shipments from China to the USA. Here are the most common:

Air cargo from China

There are two types of air cargo: general and special.

  • General Cargo - general cargo is made up of physical products, including everything from electronics to pharmaceuticals
  • Special Cargo - special cargo refers to anything that requires special attention or care, including live animals, potentially dangerous chemicals, and anything that requires refrigeration or freezing to maintain freshness

To have cargo shipped by air, you need to have an air waybill (AWB). The AWB is a written contract that outlines the conditions of the sale between the seller and buyer. The AWB will include a tracking number you can use to check the progress of the shipment.

Using air freight from China to the USA ensures fast transit time, albeit at a higher cost than sea freight. You can even select express air freight for faster delivery.

  • Fast delivery
  • Can cost more than slower shipment methods
  • Limits according to size and weight

Sea freight from China to USA

Sea freight shipping is another option for importing from China, and one of the most common methods of international shipment.

To calculate the cost of your sea freight delivery, you’ll need the following:

  • Certificate of origin
  • 10-digit tariff classification number
  • Incoterms (International commercial terms)

Once you’re comfortable with the initial price, you’ll need to request a freight quote from a shipping logistics company. This quote will determine the shipping cost from China.

You then provide the freight company with your supplier’s contact information, and they’ll handle the shipping container’s journey from China to the USA.

For many, sea freight is the cheapest shipping method from China to USA.

  • You can ship large and heavy items
  • Low cost
  • Slow shipment method

Freight forwarder from China to USA

The third most popular option for shipping from China to the US is to use a freight forwarder. A freight forwarder is an intermediary that will handle all of the shipping logistics on your behalf.

Freight forwarders will use sea or air freight, and have expertise in preparing the necessary documents to carry out the shipment. They may also have access to shipping networks, and knowledge of the best shipping routes from China to the USA. This can speed up the process and make it convenient for small businesses to receive shipments from China.

Plus, door-to-door shipping from China to the USA is possible through freight services, meaning you can have the goods delivered to your address.

  • Less administration
  • Extra costs

Freight forwarding China to USA

How long does shipping from China take?

The number one question most business owners have when considering shipment from China is: how long does it take to get a package from China?

Average shipping time from China to us

As you might expect, the time a shipment from China takes is dependent on the shipment method you choose.

While some express delivery services promise to have the goods at your door within a single business day, most deliveries take a lot longer to arrive.¹ It can take up to 40 days with some shipping methods such as ocean freight.²

As a general rule of thumb, the quicker you need the shipment, the more you’ll have to pay.

What is the fastest shipping from China to USA?

The fastest shipping method from China to the USA depends on the type, quantity, and dimensional weight of the goods you wish to receive.

For example, for goods under 100kg, you can opt for express air freight delivery and receive the goods in a matter of days. For goods over 100kg, your best bet is to go with air freight for speedy delivery.

Generally speaking, sea freight tends to be the slowest shipping method. It may prove more cost-effective than the other methods, though, so you’ll have to decide what’s more important for your business.

ePacket is an option for fast delivery, too. It’s a United States Postal Service (USPS) service that aims to streamline delivery from Hong Kong and China. The service, since coming online in 2011, has opened up to other countries and offers business owners an affordable international shipping option.

Express delivery China to USA

Cost of shipping from China to USA

The cost of shipping from China to the USA will depend on several factors, such as weight and shipping method. You may also need to consider cargo insurance costs for valuable goods.

For example, when you use FedEx, shipping 25 packages that weigh 1700kg in total from Shenzhen to New York would cost:

Shipping methodEstimated shipping costs³
FedEx International First®CN¥611,480.80
FedEx International Priority® ExpressCN¥322,429.80
FedEx International Priority®CN¥313,683.30

It’s important to note that these rates may differ from the actual charges. This is just an estimated quote to provide you with an idea of the cost.

The costs are shown by FedEx in CNY as this is what the shipping supplier will charge.

You can check the currency conversion using the Wise calculator.

💡 Having a multicurrency business account to pay Chinese suppliers can save you money and hassle. The Wise Business account lets you do just that. With Wise Business you can pay and get paid like a local, all from one easy-to-manage account.

Import duty and tax costs from China

Besides shipping, it’s important to know there are also import duties and taxes that will apply. You can read the guide on US import duty and taxes from China to find out more.

Pay shipping suppliers in CNY with Wise

The real cost of shipping from China to USA will also depend on currency conversion rates and exchange fees.

To avoid paying hefty fees for the shipping process, you can use Wise Business to pay CNY suppliers at the mid-market rate. Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks.

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Getting started is easy & we’re here to support you on the way.

You can also send money instantly with Wise to any Chinese citizen with an Alipay ID. All you need are your recipient’s name and Alipay ID. The money will arrive in their bank account linked up with Alipay.


  1. Shipping To China from US: FedEx Delivery Options & Tips
  2. How long does it take to ship via China Post? Estimated Delivery
  3. FedEx | Tracking, Shipping, and Locations

All sources checked March 8, 2022.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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