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Shipping from China to USA: Price, Time & Ways

When you import from China, an efficient shipping solution can help to ship your cargo to the United States or worldwide smoothly. Before you start shipping from China to USA, it is crucial to explore each transportation method. Because the delivery times and shipping costs vary depending on the shipping options, the weight, and the shipment size.

In this post, we have shed light on a comprehensive guide about import options to the USA, involving their pros, transit times, cost considerations, and when to choose them.

What are the shipping options from China to the USA?

Generally speaking, three basic modes are the foundation for shipping to the USA. These include air, sea, and express shipping. Each method has its own advantages, allowing you to pick the one that best suits your international trade needs. Keep reading to get a depth thought:

Air freight from China to USA

Air freight, known for its speed, is an ideal choice for businesses that require fast delivery to meet tight deadlines. It can help you receive the goods in several days by providing direct flights between major airports in China and the USA.

Meanwhile, air shipping from China to USA is often preferred for delivering high-value cargo or perishable goods. The controlled environment and quick transit times of air logistics help preserve the freshness of the shipments, such as seafood, pharmaceuticals, and flowers. In addition, the enhanced security measures for air cargo provide added protection for high-value items.

Below are some air freight advantages and disadvantages you can check:

Pros of air shipping
  • Urgent shipping and convenience.
  • It is quicker if you ship to the east coast of America.
  • Good plan in terms of speed and cost for a medium-sized cargo.
Cons of air shipping
  • More expensive shipping costs.
  • You can not ship extremely heavy or oversize cargo because of the weight and volume restrictions for airlines.
  • Restricted Goods. Such as hazardous materials, flammable substances, certain chemicals, etc.

Sea freight from China to USA

Ocean freight is a popular and economical option for shipping a large batch of goods from China to the USA. Especially if you are on the Pacific coast of the United States. Sea shipping involves transporting cargo in containers aboard cargo vessels. It typically supports different services based on your shipment size and requirements:

Ocean FCL

FCL, called Full Container Load, refers to your cargo that can fill an entire container. If you are shipping a high volume, you can book a full container for your goods to ensure maximum space utilization and flexibility. But you should pay attention to the FCL pricing based on the flat shipping rate, no matter whether your container is completely full. 

Ocean FCL

On the other hand, LCL (Less Than Container Load) signifies your shipments can not fill a container and will be consolidated with others in a shared container. It is beneficial to bulk shipping by reducing costs while providing reliable transportation.

Check the advantages and disadvantages of sea transport in the following details:

Pros of sea freight
  • Cost-Effectiveness.
  • Versatility: FCL and LCL options.
  • Suitable for bulk and heavy Goods.
Cons of sea frieght
  • Longer transit times.
  • Potential loss or damage because of weather risks at sea.
  • Limited accessibility: Landlocked areas may face challenges when using sea freight.

Express shipping from China to USA

Express or courier services are better for smaller packages, official documents, or urgent shipments. It typically will handle below all:

  • Logistics arrangement
  • Shipping documentation
  • Customs clearance
  • Door-to-door delivery

It means that when you choose to express import from China to USA, the fee quoted includes all the above. China express shipping involves major international couriers such as UPS, DHL, or FedEx, which will cover in more detail below.


UPS provides a comprehensive international courier service, which can enable shipping from China to 220 countries across the globe. When handling customs clearance, UPS takes care of the entire process. And UPS excels in fulfilling larger cargo shipments better than FedEx and DHL.


DHL offers a good option for smaller shipments, where it tries to deliver the cargo by the next working day. When shipping from China to the USA, this typically results in a transit time of two days. However, the actual delivery times may vary, with an average range of 2-4 days.


FedEx supports low-cost FedEx Ground delivery services while packages can be up to 150 lbs. You should know that FedEx only ships on Saturdays in some parts of the US, not all. Furthermore, it does not deliver lithium-ion batteries. If you have cargo that includes batteries, you should use alternative options such as DHL or UPS for shipping these items.

Pros of express
  • Speedy cargo delivery.
  • Door-to-door pickup and delivery.
  • Advanced tracking systems.
Cons of express
  • Higher cost: Fast delivery and additional services provided come at a premium price.
  • Size and weight limitations. Large and heavy items may be subject to additional charges or restrictions.
  • Limited coverage: Some remote areas or destinations may have limited coverage or higher surcharges for express shipping.

Selecting the most appropriate transport method depends on urgency, budget, cargo size, and specific requirements for your cargo. Working with a reliable freight forwarder can assist you in the complexities of international shipping. For instance,  Airsupply, the heading of the forwarding company, is proficient in shipping from China to the USA.

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

The duration of shipping from China to USA generally takes 1-45 days. Here are the estimated transit times for different shipping methods:

Air freight

The transit time of air shipping to the USA takes around 1 – 7 days for delivery. It mainly depends on the airlines, flight availability, and specific locations in China and the United States.

Sea freight

Shipping time from China to the US by sea takes approximately 15-40 days. It will take 15+ days if you ship to the US West Coast, while East Coast needs 30+ days. Furthermore, LCL might require a longer time than FCL as it needs to wait for another shipper cargo to fill a container.

Express shipping

Generally, express shipments from China to the USA can take 1-5 business days. The specific time is according to the service level chosen and any potential customs.

Shipping times from China to US are not always consistent and immutable. The delivery timelines may vary from peak seasons, holidays, unforeseen circumstances, etc. It’s advisable to consult with the shipping provider for a more accurate arriving time based on your logistics plan.

What is the shipping cost from China to USA?

Air freight cost from China to USA

Air freight is generally more expensive than other shipping methods due to its faster delivery time. The freight cost is typically calculated based on the chargeable weight of the shipment. The chargeable weight is determined by comparing the gross and volumetric weight and pricing with the higher value.

Currently(June 2023), the air freight costs from China to the USA range between $5-$9 per kilo. In addition to the base rate, there may be additional charges for the following services:

  • Fuel surcharges
  • Security fees
  • Handling charges
  • Value-added services

Standard air freight is a more cost-effective option for shipments weighing between 150kg and 500kg. You should notice that the air shipping rates vary widely among carriers and change regularly. For this result, you can consult with expert logistics providers to obtain accurate and latest air freight costs. They can offer you customized quotes based on your shipment details.

Sea freight from China to USA cost

Sea shipping is more suited once you deliver larger shipments, for example, that exceed around 1,000kg. It is calculated by the cargo volume (in cubic meters) or the weight (in metric tons). Ocean freight offers enormous economies of scale as some cargo ships can carry 20,000 20ft containers.

Sea freight costs from Cina to the USA normally depend on the routes and shipping terms. The average shipping rate (port to port) for FCL and LCL from the Shenzhen port at the time of the present (June 2023) are:

Ocean FCL shipping price
Departure PortDestination Port20’ Container40’ Container
ShenzhenNew York$2000$2800

Note: The price is only for reference.

Ocean LCL shipping price
Departure PortDestination PortUSD/CBM
ShenzhenNew York$18/cbm

Note: The price is only for reference.

Opting for a full-container load is often a more efficient choice, considering both time and expenses. When you have enough cargo to fill a container, utilizing the entire space can result in lower shipping costs and faster transit times.

In contrast, if your start LCL shipping, you may incur additional charges when unloading the goods at the port. Therefore, you should assess cargo volume and select the most suitable option to optimize your supply chain.

Other factors that influence the shipping cost include the type of container used (standard, high cube, refrigerated, etc.). And any additional services required, such as insurance fees. Before you ship from China to the USA by sea, you can check the latest quotes from a shipping agent like Airsupply. They can help you book directly from the ship owner at competitive prices.

Express freight cost from China to the USA

Express shipping services offer fast and reliable door-to-door delivery but at a higher cost than other methods. It generally determined by factors such as the weight and dimensions of the package, the service level is chosen (like express or economy), etc.

Below are the current rates (June 2023) for express shipping from China to the USA.

Express carrier10kg 100kg200kg 300kg
DHL$8.6/kg $6.3/kg$2,700$6.23/kg

The chart is the average cost, and for the latest price, you can contact a reputable shipping agent to check.

What is the cheapest shipping from China to USA?

For small parcels of less than 400 pounds, it is a good option for you to use express shipping to the United States. In this weight, it’s not worth buying a full container for ocean freight or hiring a customs broker for air freight. If speed is your primary criterion, express mail is almost the fastest method for door-to-door shipping to USA.

When your shipments are between 400 lbs and 1200 lbs, air shipping is the most economical method with fast delivery times. Furthermore, some airlines offer economy or cargo consolidated services, which can be more budget-friendly.

Sea freight can be the best choice if your shipments are over 1,200 lbs. However, sea freight is slow but cost-saving, especially for large shipments that are not time-sensitive.

How to calculate import duty from China to USA?

What is customs duty?

Before calculating the duty when importing goods from China to the USA, you should families its meaning. The customs duty is levied on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. It can vary to the type of goods and the country of origin.

You can refer to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to determine the customs duty for a specific product. It contains detailed information about the customs duty rates applicable to different goods.

Way to calculate it

When mailing and shipping goods to the USA, goods up to $800 will be duty-free. Any additional amount will be dutiable at a flat rate launched by U.S. customs policies.

Let’s say you need to import a batch of waterproof footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber. First, you should check the HTS code for the footwear, then apply the import duty rate for the commodity – 4.6%.

The tax will be charged on the amount declared of cargo without shipping cost, which in this example is $36,000. So the import duty for the goods will be 36000x 4.6% = 1656. 

united states map with flag

What is the limit for US customs?

The limit for U.S. customs refers to the value threshold above which imported goods are subject to duties and taxes. It is also known as the de minimis value. For shipments entering the United States, the de minimis value is $800.

However, certain goods like alcohol, tobacco products, etc., have different de minimis thresholds. As they are restricted items, they may be subject to specific regulations regardless of their value. If your item is such specialist cargo, you can contact a customs broker or freight forwarder for their eligibility under the de minimis rule.

How can ASL help your international shipping?

Airsupply, an international logistics company, has specialized in shipping from China to USA for over ten years. They integrated with thousands of reliable carriers to provide expert forwarding services covering air, sea, rail, and road shipping. With 200+ charter flights, Airsupply can guarantee enough cargo space for you even during the peak season.

Moreover, Airsupply handles 50+ DG cargo per week and has insights into the policies and rules that differ by country. They can help you deliver various types of cargo to the USA seamlessly, including auto cars, batteries, vape products, and more.

Airsupply matches your freight needs to the best options available, involving:

  • One-stop DDP and DDU freight
  • Worldwide Amazon FBA shipping
  • Security warehousing arrangement
  • Beneficial logistics insurance project
  • Advanced tracking systems
  • Dedicated inspection team

You can get in touch with ASL to obtain more detailed services to meet your specific requirement. Their 24/7 online support team will customize solutions and quote for you promptly.

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