What is the best shipping method from China

Importing from China is the best way to start your Smallbusiness. But in addition to finding suppliers, high shipping cost and complicated shipping process is another major problem for importing from China. Many sellers stop at this point.

As a matter of fact, there are only 4 main ways of international transportation, and you can get a clear quotation from the forwarder.

What you need to do is to understand the process of each mode of transportation and how the freight is calculated.

On top of that, you’ll have to pay different freight charges under different trade terms.

How to Save Shipping Cost When Import From China?

Below SourcingArts describe the operation process of each mode of transportation and the specific freight calculation method. You will know exactly which mode of transportation you should choose and whether the forwarder or your supplier is cheating you.

International express

Which express delivery company is better?

Currently, the four largest international express delivery companies are FedEx, UPS, DHL and TNT.

FedEx and UPS are both based in the US,

DHL is based in Belgium and TNT is based in the Netherlands.

It can be said that the advantages of the four major express companies are different. The factor that decides the price has: destination country product real weight volume size and aging! Different weight segments have their own advantages, and as for some special sensitive goods, not all international express is possible, and specific types of goods also correspond to specific logistics channels.

Below we simply list their advantages and disadvantages, you can make a choice according to your own needs.


Price advantage: DHL is the first choice for small goods below 21KG in the world’s underdeveloped countries. For goods above 21KG, the price is very advantageous in developed countries such as Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Asia.

In contrast, EMS does not have a bulk price (bulk goods above 21 kg), and the timeliness are not stable. DHL often has discounts, and after discounts, they may be cheaper than EMS. In addition, DHL is also very advantageous in sending documents, the price is lower than EMS, and the speed is faster than EMS.

Advantages: The most stable international express delivery, the first choice for rapid transshipment. The normal time limit is about 3 days. The service attitude is good, and the response time to solve the problem is fast.

Disadvantages: expensive, not suitable for bulky and light-weight goods. There are restrictions on mailing items, and packages with imitation brands, liquids, powders, food, batteries, and optical discs cannot be sent.


Timeliness: Under normal circumstances, it can reach the world within 2 to 4 working days.

Advantages: The dominant regions are Central and South America and Europe. Shipping to other regions is more expensive, and the published price differs by 30-40%.

In Southeast Asia, the price of FedEx is only half that of DHL and UPS for bulk goods over 21 kg, but the transportation speed is the same. The website information is updated quickly, the network is covered, and the query response is fast.

Disadvantages: expensive, not suitable for bulky and light-weight goods. There are restrictions on mailing items, and packages with imitation brands, liquids, powders, food, batteries, and optical discs cannot be sent.


Advantages: fast timeliness. The main advantages of this express company are reflected in the United States, Western Europe, and Southeast Asia. Both large and small goods have price and time advantages. With the transshipment center established in Shenzhen, the timeliness of Southeast Asia is quite good. However, Eastern European services are not as good as DHL.

Disadvantages: expensive, not suitable for bulky and light-weight goods. There are restrictions on mailing items, and packages with imitation brands, liquids, powders, food, batteries, and optical discs cannot be sent.


TNT’s strong areas are Western European countries, which have advantages in terms of timeliness and price. In addition, those who want to express items to Middle Eastern countries should choose TNT first. It is said that TNT has a good relationship with local tribes, and the goods are generally released.

Advantages: fast timeliness and low price. Fly directly to Europe and have strong customs clearance capabilities in Western Europe. TNT has no surcharges for remote areas.

Disadvantages: There is no advantage except for other regions in Europe, and there are more restrictions on the goods shipped.


EMS can mail products containing international brands, as well as food, small amounts of liquids, powders, silver products, electronic products, printed books, medicines, etc. When you have the above types of goods, EMS is the preferred method of delivery. After arriving in the United States, the USPS will be responsible for the delivery service, which can reasonably avoid taxes, and the probability of tariffs is very small.

The EMS delivery time limit is mostly one week, or one to two weeks, but there are also cases where the package is not received for one month, which needs to be determined according to the post office customs processing time limit.

Advantages: The discount is low, and any volume of goods is calculated by weight. Items under 500 grams can be calculated at the document price, with strong customs clearance capabilities. There are so many items that can be shipped out of customs, and it can also deliver sensitive goods that other international express companies cannot send. Such as food, health products, cosmetics, brand-name imitation bags, boxes, clothing, shoes, and other gifts and various special products.

The price is slightly higher than the four major international express. The biggest advantage is that it does not measure the volume of the package, which is suitable for lightly discarded goods by mail. At present, China Post International EMS has opened services in more than 100 countries and regions, and Hong Kong EMS can post to more than 230 countries and regions around the world. The main advantage is that it does not count the size, no remote areas in the world, and no additional costs.

Disadvantages: unstable timeliness, as fast as one week, as slow as ten days and a half months, suitable for non-urgent items. The website information is lagging, and the processing speed is slow.


In general, if a package wants to be sent from China to the Americas, FedEx and ups have advantages, while TNT’s main business is concentrated in Europe, West Asia and the Middle East, while DHL’s main business scope is Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia.

How to deliver the international express in the cheapest way?

Those who have sent international express should know that no matter which international express company you choose, the freight is quite expensive, and the freight for a few kilograms may cost thousands of dollars.

Therefore, SourcingArts suggest that you do not send it directly through an international express company.

Generally speaking, finding a reliable international express agency is a lot more cost-effective, and you can often get half or even less of the international express quotation. International express agencies also have few restrictions on the mailing of items.

You must know that many international express officials do not accept the mailing of sensitive goods such as food, cosmetics, and medicine. Finding an international express agency can solve this problem perfectly.

The only disadvantage of cooperating with an international express agency may be that the timeliness will be slower because to find an agent, you need to send the goods to the agency’s warehouse first, and they will confirm the status of the goods, security check, repack and reinforce before sending it out. But the official channels directly pick up the package and send it away. There is about a 1-2 day time difference between this.

An agency is a service provider that specializes in arranging storage and transportation on behalf of the shipper. It usually provides a full range of services, including preparing transportation and export documents, warehousing, booking space, negotiating freight charges and cargo insurance, etc.

In short, a good agent will save you time and trouble while providing reliable and cost-effective transportation.

How to find an international express agency?

There are basically two ways to find an international express agency.

You can find someone by yourself, or you can ask the supplier to handle it for you.

Although there are thousands of international express agencies, it is not easy to choose a reliable international express agency.

You may encounter some international express agencies who attract customers at low prices but try to charge you additional costs under various excuses.

The easiest way to find an international express agency yourself is to search for it on Google. You only need to enter an “international express agency” in your country/region to get a list of freight agencies. In addition, you can ask a friend with a rich import experience to introduce an agency.

If you decide to use your own agency, remember to ask the supplier to quote EXW prices.

The following are the tips we have summarized based on experience to help you determine and choose a reliable international express agency.

  • Find an experienced freight forwarder. An experienced freight forwarder means that it has handled various situations. The easiest way to confirm whether a freight forwarder is experienced is to check the age of the company. It is a good company to survive such a long time in fierce competition.
  • Find a freight forwarder with an extensive network in your country/region. You should choose an agent with a large network in the target country. Suppose you want to import from China to the United States, then you should choose a freight forwarder with strong connections in the United States.
  • Looking for freight forwarders with good customer service. How quickly does the freight forwarder respond to your questions? Does the freight forwarding company take care of your personal needs well? If you are new to international transportation, they should be able to take you to step by step to understand what you need to know and do it patiently to ensure that everything is done smoothly.

Ask the supplier to help you find an international express agency. If you want to save yourself the trouble of finding a cargo agency, We are happy to help you, please contact us.


What are the specific costs of international express freight? How to calculate?

1. Chargeable weight unit

International express delivery generally uses 0.5 kilograms as a chargeable weight unit. Such as:

Within 0.5 kilograms are charged as 0.5 kilograms; those larger than 0.5 kilograms and less than 1 kilogram are charged as 1 kilograms; those larger than 1 kilogram but less than or equal to 1.5 kilograms are charged as 1.5 kilograms, and so on.

2. First weight and continued weight

The first chargeable weight of international express delivery is 0.5 kilograms, and each additional 0.5 kilograms is additional weight. For example, for a package of 0.9 kg, the first weight is 0.5 kg, and the additional weight is 0.4 kg (if it is less than 0.5 kg, it will be charged as 0.5 kg)

The cost of the first weight (lifting) is generally higher than that of the continued weight. Such as:

The first weight is 70 CNY, and the additional weight is 50 CNY. Then the express fee of 1.5 kg is 70+(1.5*2-1)*50=170 CNY.

3. Actual weight (G.W.) and volume weight

The actual weight mentioned by the international express delivery industry is also the gross weight, that is, the actual weight including the weight of the package and the weight of the goods.

When the volume of the express item is large but the actual weight is relatively light, due to the carrying capacity of the means of transport (aircraft, etc.) and the limitation of the volume that can be loaded, it is necessary to measure the volume of the item and convert it into volume weight according to a certain standard.

Items whose volumetric weight is greater than their actual weight are often referred to as light cargo.

4. Chargeable weight (C.W.)

Comparing the actual weight with the calculated volume weight, the freight will be calculated according to whichever is greater (the principle of higher charges). The industry has adopted this method forcibly to avoid transporting very light loads.

5. Remote costs

When the parcel is sent to a remote place, an appropriate remote surcharge is required.

For example DHL remote fee:

Below 50kg (minimum): 180*(1+fuel surcharge rate)

Above 50kg: 3.6*kg* (1+ fuel surcharge rate)

6. Customs declaration fee

For example, UPS customs clearance fee:

Weight<300kg 200HKD

Weight>=300kg 200HKD+ (weight-300kg)*6.8HKD

7. Packing Charge

Generally speaking, courier companies provide free packaging for customers’ packaging materials, such as cartons and bubbles. However, for some valuable and fragile items, the express company still has to charge a certain amount of packaging costs due to the shipment itself and packaging materials. Packaging costs are not included in the discount range.

8. General freight calculation formula

① When the actual weight is greater than the volume weight, the freight calculation method is:

First weight freight + [weight (kg)*2-1]* continued weight

For example: 10 kg of goods are calculated based on the first weight of 100 CNY and the additional weight of 60 CNY, and the total freight is:

100+(10×2-1)*60=1240 CNY.

Why multiply by 2? Because the first weight and the additional weight are based on 0.5 kg as the chargeable unit, the additional weight of 60 CNY means 60 CNY/0.5 kg, not 60 CNY/kg, so be careful!

Why subtract 1? Because you want to subtract the first weight 0.5KG.

② When the actual weight is small and the volume weight is small, the freight must be calculated according to the volume weight, and then the total freight is calculated according to the above formula.

How to calculate the volume weight?

Regular items: length (cm) × width (cm) × height (cm) ÷ 6000 = volume and weight (kg).

Irregular items: the longest (cm) × the widest (cm) × the highest (cm) ÷ 6000 = volumetric weight (kg).

For example, a carton cargo with a length of 50cm, a width of 35cm, and a height of 80cm, its volume weight is:

(50*35*80)/6000 is approximately equal to 23.33 kilograms.

If the actual weight of this parcel is 20 kg, then the freight will be calculated based on the volume\ weight of 23.33 kg. If the actual weight is 30 kg, then the freight will be calculated and collected based on the actual weight of 30 kg.

In short, the actual gross weight and volume weight will be calculated according to whichever is greater.

③ International express sometimes has a separately listed fuel surcharge

If the fuel surcharge is 8%, then add (freight × 9%) to the result of the formula “first weight freight + [weight (kg)*2-1] * continued weight rate”

That is [100+(10×2-1)*60]+ [100+(10×2-1)*60]*8%=1240+99.2=1339.2 CNY

If the freight is discounted, then the fuel surcharge will generally be discounted together with the freight.

9. Total cost

In summary, the total cost of international express delivery = (freight + fuel surcharge) × discount + packaging costs + other uncertain costs (customs declaration fees | remote fees, etc.)

Note: ems is only billed according to the actual weight, no fuel surcharges and customs fees!

Ocean Freight

Sea transportation is a cheaper mode of transportation. The disadvantage is that the transportation time is longer. Another major advantage of sea transportation is that it does not need to consider the size and weight.

Now, let’s proceed with sea transportation. Sea transportation is the most complicated mode of transportation. However, you don’t need to worry, because this guide will make your process simple and straightforward. If your cargo quantity exceeds 2CBM, you should consider sea transportation. First, this guide will provide you with all the included prices so that you can compare prices and roughly calculate shipping costs.

What is LCL and FCL?

Sea cargo is transported in containers.

① LCL (Less than Container Load) refers to goods with multiple owners in a container. If your goods are small in quantity and less than 15CBM in volume, the freight forwarder will help you to transport by LCL. This means that you must share a container with other importers because your cargo load is less than one container. LCL cargo uses cubic meters as the unit for calculating freight.

② FCL (Full container load) refers to the situation where your cargo is large enough to fill one or more containers. In this case, freight is calculated based on the entire container. Usually, it will be cheaper than LCL freight.

What are the specifications of the container?

Containers are mainly divided into the following 4 specifications:


How to calculate the freight for international shipping?

The algorithm of sea freight will be different according to FCL and LCL. And the shipping price changes in real-time, which is determined by the shipping company. Especially during the epidemic, the fluctuation of freight rates is more obvious. Therefore, if you want to know the port freight, you can directly consult our pricing experts. They can help you contact the transportation company and provide you with a real-time quote. The following table will give you an idea of CBM and container shipping rates:

the US3-5m³5-10m³10m³ above20” GP40”GP
US west($)30024018037004200
US east($)370320260__

This is a method for estimating product shipping costs for your reference. It also allows you to better estimate the profit of the product. So, how do you calculate the shipping cost? This is a real example. You want to buy 2000 Bluetooth headsets from China, a total of 100 boxes, the box size is 48cm x 52cm x 44cm, you want to ship them to Boston (Eastern US).

The total CBM of 2000 PCS is:

100 x19cm x 0.48m x 0.52m x 0.44m =11CBM

Therefore, the total transportation cost is $260 * 11CBM = $2,860.

Then, the average transportation cost of a Bluetooth headset will be:

Total transportation cost / 2000 units = $2860/2000 = $1.43

Shipping cost

All prices included are just to help you calculate simple and rough shipping costs. The whole process of shipping can be divided into three steps. Below you will understand the costs associated with each step.

As we mentioned at the beginning, the composition of freight under different trade terms is also different. Let us read the composition of FOB and EXW shipping.


In trade, all freight (supplier warehouse-your warehouse) will be borne by the buyer in the end, even in CIF terms. It’s just that buyers have different obligations under different terms. For example, under FOB terms, the supplier will transport your goods from the warehouse to the port of shipment, but the costs incurred in this process will still be added to the product unit price, that is, the FOB price. In order to prevent you from paying a certain fee repeatedly, it is necessary for you to understand your obligations and expenses under each trade clause.

90% of the trade uses the two terms EXW and FOB, which are also the most acceptable trade terms for Chinese suppliers. When you purchase products on Alibaba, the supplier will usually provide you with FOB and ex-factory prices.

The ex-factory price is only the cost of the product, which means that your supplier will not help you deliver the goods to the port of shipment.

However, FOB prices include product costs and local logistics costs in China (from the Chinese factory to the port of shipment).

Now, let us compare through formulas to get a clearer overview.

In FOB, your supplier will help you ship the goods directly to the port of shipment. After that, part of the ocean freight that you need to pay is:

Transportation cost = shipping cost from Chinese port to U.S. port + U.S. customs clearance cost + U.S. local logistics cost

Based on EXW, your supplier will not help you deliver the goods to the port of shipment. In this case, part of the ocean freight charges that you need to pay are:

Transportation cost = China local logistics cost + China export cost + shipping cost from Chinese port to U.S. port + U.S. customs clearance cost + U.S. local logistics cost

Now that you are familiar with the components of total shipping cost, let us learn more about the cost of each part.

Cost in China: It includes the cost of the supplier to transport your goods to the port of shipment and the cost of export in China.

If it is bulk cargo (the quantity of cargo is less than the container load), the price is usually about $ 10-$ 20 / CBM.

It depends on the distance from the factory to the port and the quantity of goods. Shipping will be more expensive when the volume is smaller.

China’s export costs: including booking costs, export operation costs and customs document costs. If it is a bulk cargo consolidation (bulk cargo, less than one container), the fee is $100-$200. However, if it is FCL (container fully loaded), the cost is approximately US$300. Therefore, if you have 10 cubic meters of bulk cargo, the cost in China will be:

($10-$20) x 10CBM + ($100-$200)≈$200-$400

The cost of shipping is the cost from a Chinese port to a US port. Similar to air freight, ocean freight is quoted by shipping companies and the price is not fixed. It will vary according to the season and specific ports. For example, shipping costs to different ports in the eastern part of the United States, central and western parts are different. Since there are more than 100 ports in the United States, it is difficult to give all prices. The actual cost depends on the real-time quotation of the transportation company.

Local cost in the United States: including US customs clearance, tariffs and local logistics costs in the United States. For this fee, you must consult your freight forwarder. Freight forwarders usually have branches in most parts of the world, so they will know more about the local policies of the United States.

How long does ocean shipping take?

FCL (Full Container Load)

Shipping time will vary based on order details. The following are estimates for door-to-door ocean FCL shipping from China to the US:

Pick-up from supplier: three business days

Warehouse handling: seven days

Sea freight: 18 days to the West Coast; 32 days to the East Coast

Last mile delivery in the US: five to ten days

Total: 30-35 days to the West Coast; 45-50 days to the East Coast

LCL (Less than Container Load):

Shipping time will vary based on order detail. The following are estimates for LCL shipping from China to the US:

Pick-up from supplier: five business days (including origin port storage)

Origin port to destination port/ramp: 18 days to the West Coast; 32 days to the East Coast; around 25-40 days to inland ramps;

Last mile delivery in the US: three to six days (including port/ramp storage)

Air transportation

Air freight is a fast and reliable way to transport goods from China to the United States. This is the ideal method when you need goods within 20 days or less and the transport volume is between 150 and 500 kg.

Air freight is fast and safe. The on-time ultra-high efficiency has won a considerable market and greatly shortened the delivery time. Perishable goods, such as food, flowers and certain medicines, are also transported by air in a short time. Another advantage of air transportation is that the overall cargo handling volume is less, so there is less possibility of damage or theft when using air transportation. Due to the requirements for speed and fuel used, air freight is the most expensive mode of transportation. In addition, air transportation also has the size and weight indicators, which are not suitable for weirdly shaped or very large items.

In essence, both air transport and express delivery use airplanes as a means of transportation. Want to know what is the difference between the two, when to choose express and when to choose air? Don’t worry, you will know the answer soon.

Undeniably, express delivery is very simple and straightforward. But what about air freight?

Transportation by air is a bit complicated, and its import and export procedures are similar to traditional sea transportation.

It includes the following three steps:

  1. China’s local logistics and export process.
  2. Air freight from a Chinese airport to an American airport.
  3. Local logistics and import processes in the United States.

Generally, if your cargo exceeds 500 kg, it is cost-effective to choose air freight. If the quantity of your goods is less than 300kg, you cannot directly choose air freight, because express may be a better choice, and you need to choose according to the specific freight.

The cost of air freight in China will vary, depending on the total quantity and whether the rate is “all-inclusive”. For example, when you use a freight forwarder, air freight is almost always cheaper than express. If you wish to receive the goods at the airport, this will not include the cost of local logistics in the United States. Due to the continuing impact of the coronavirus on Chinese shipping, the current average rate is between US$4 and US$9 per kilogram.

What is all-inclusive American Airlines freight?

As mentioned above, if the quantity of goods exceeds 500kg, it can be transported by air. But what about the cost of air freight? Whether you plan to consult a freight forwarder or deal with Alibaba suppliers, asking for a price during the entire transportation process is crucial. The all-inclusive price is likely to include the following:

  1. Chinese logistics: from the factory to the airport
  2. Customs clearance
  3. From China airport to destination airport
  4. American logistics: from the airport to the final destination

As mentioned earlier, the air transportation process includes 4 main steps.

It is important to determine in advance whether you want to ship the goods to a port in your country or directly to your home. Sometimes, some freight forwarders or suppliers only provide you with the transportation price from the Chinese airport to the destination airport to attract you. Obviously, such prices seem to be very low at first, but there are hidden charges. It does not include some customs clearance costs and domestic land costs. Of course, air freight is the same as express, and its price will also change in real time.

Here, SourcingArts will provide you with an all-inclusive price range for air freight.

More than 500 kilograms, and the all-inclusive air freight price is about 5.5 US dollars/kg.

Please note that this price does not include local logistics costs in China (from the Chinese factory to the Chinese airport).

Air freight cost detail

If you are a novice, you can ask your Chinese supplier or freight forwarder for help when shipping goods. Just remember the shipping costs mentioned in this article and you can start.

Similar to express, air freight is also calculated based on chargeable recalculation.

Actual weight

The actual weight calculation method is the same as that of air express. Actual weight, also called gross weight, is the total weight of the cargo.

Volume weight

The dimensional formula of air freight is slightly different from express delivery:

Volume weight = Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/6000

For example, if the dimensions of all sides of an export carton shipped by air freight are 90 cm, then we multiply 90 * 90 * 90 and then divide the sum by 6,000. This will bring our total air freight weight to 121.5kg.

Remember that airlines will always choose a higher weight, actual weight or volume weight.

If you transport the goods yourself, you should know the cost of each part of the air freight, because this is not just an all-inclusive price. Usually, when purchasing products from Alibaba.com, most suppliers will quote FOB prices for you.

This means that your Chinese supplier should be responsible for the transportation from the Chinese factory to the Chinese airport. In this case, air transportation for is divided into two steps:

The cost from a Chinese airport to an American airport.

The cost from the US airport to your home.

In addition, there are other costs, including Chinese export costs and US customs clearance costs.

Through the FOB price,

Transportation cost (FOB)=Air freight cost from Chinese airport to U.S. airport + U.S. customs clearance cost + U.S. local logistics cost

However, to get the accurate cost of U.S. customs clearance and local logistics in the U.S., you must ask your local freight forwarder.

In addition, the cost of air transportation from a Chinese airport to an American airport depends on the type of cargo and the destination airport, so the cost varies greatly.

How long does it take for air freight from China to the United States?

Air transportation time = booking class time + flight time + local delivery time in the United States. It usually takes 5-15 days in total. Of course, sometimes you will find that the actual time is longer than this. Because China’s freight forwarders always hope to collect a large amount of goods and then ship them, because they can apply for larger discounts from the airlines when there is a lot of goods. This will boost their profits. Therefore, in most cases, they will not arrange transportation immediately after receiving your goods. But they won’t tell you the truth, they always use the excuse that it’s difficult to book a seat when the space is full recently

Advantages of using China’s air freight

When emergencies or safety issues are the primary consideration, air freight from China is by far the most advantageous mode of transportation. The reason is that according to the unique requirements of each freight, freight forwarders can provide a large number of customized services.

Unlike air express, air cargo can flexibly provide logistics options that focus on speed, cost or safety. The shipper can arrange to transport the goods to any place in a way that cannot be provided by air express, merge, split and transship.

If it is necessary to transport goods from China to two cities that are not close to each other, air transport provides more options than sea transport. This is especially true when the volume is less than 500 kg or the cargo must arrive sooner than 30 days.

Disadvantages of using Chinese air freight

The biggest disadvantage of air transport is that they are not perfect in either extreme case. This means that when urgency is critical, air express will almost always be faster, and when price is the primary consideration, it will almost always be more expensive than ocean freight.

How do I know whether to use air or sea freight?

The two main factors to consider when deciding whether to ship by air or by sea are shipping time and price:

Transportation time: Air freight is much faster than sea freight. If the goods are time sensitive, the buyer should transport them by air. However, please note that the air freight price will be higher for heavier/larger cargo.

Price: There are three key factors that determine whether air freight is the best mode of transportation based on price:

  1. Shipments.
  2. Shipping weight.
  3. Shipment value.

The best cargo for air transportation = high value + small size + light weight.

Reward factor: reliability.

Air freight provides better air freight tracking through the use of air freight data movement.

Rail transport

International railway transportation is an international logistics method that uses railways as a means of transportation to deliver goods to foreign countries through railway freight. In other words, international railway transportation, like international air transportation and international sea transportation, is one of the international logistics methods.

However, due to the different means of railway transportation, there is a significant difference from air, sea and other logistics methods, which are specifically reflected in the five aspects of timeliness, price, carrying capacity, mail scope, and safety. In addition, rail transport is less affected by the natural environment in the process of transporting goods, and can deliver goods to the destination more smoothly and stably.

At present, rail transport logistics basically uses the first-railway + end delivery model to achieve cross-border door-to-door transportation services, such as the PostNL(Post Netherlands) Railway small parcel, the first-way rail transport to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and then the PostNL(Post Netherlands) delivery to European countries after customs clearance. Therefore, rail transportation is also one of the most competitive logistics methods.

Characteristics of International Railway Transport

Let’s take a look at the specific characteristics of railway transportation and the difference from air transportation and sea transportation to help you make more accurate judgments when using logistics.

1. Slow aging and good stability

One of the characteristics of international railway transportation: slow timeliness and good stability. In terms of logistics timeliness, rail transport is much slower than air transport. Taking China-Europe trains as an example, the overall signing time is about 20-40 days, while air transport is generally about 7-20 days, and commercial express air transport can achieve about 3-7 days. , The overall timeliness is much higher than that of railway transportation.

However, compared with sea transportation, the overall timeliness of railway transportation is faster, and the timeliness of European shipping is 30-50 days. However, in terms of stability, due to the continuity of the transportation mode and the mature transportation network, the railway transportation has high punctuality and stable timeliness. The poor timeliness of railway transportation is basically caused by the end delivery.

2. Low transportation cost

The cost of infrastructure construction for railway transportation is high, but the transportation cost is low, and combined with the large carrying capacity, the average freight price per KG is relatively low. The following compares the current air freight and rail freight quotations to learn more about the characteristics of rail freight.

To Germany: Rail transport can achieve the price of 40 CNY/kg, while the air transport price is around 70 CNY/kg (postal type). If it is a commercial express, such as DHL express, the freight for 1kg is between 130-140 CNY.

To the Netherlands: The price of rail freight is around 42 CNY/kg, while the price of air freight is around 72 CNY/kg (postal). If it is a commercial express delivery, the shipping cost of 1k is about 137 CNY.

3. Large carrying capacity and wide range of items to be shipped

International rail transport has a wide range of weights and types of items. In terms of weight, items weighing less than 2kg can be accepted, and goods weighing more than 500kg can also be accepted. In terms of item types, it can send built-in electricity, matching electricity, liquid items, paste items, cosmetics, kitchen knives, pure battery items, etc. However, most of air and sea transportation can only accept general cargo, and a few can take built-in electricity and supporting electrical items.

4. Small mailing range

The scope of international railway transportation is relatively small. According to the current intercontinental railway transportation line, the scope of mail is mainly through European countries, such as Germany, France, Britain, Italy, etc., and the scope of mail is relatively small. In contrast, air freight logistics has a wide range of postal services, basically allowing postal services to more than 220 countries and regions around the world.

5. Few transfers and high safety

There are few transfers in railway transportation, and transfers are basically needed until they reach the destination and hand them over to the terminal logistics service provider. There are few transfers, the goods do not need to be scanned, warehousing, and sorted multiple times, the loss rate and breakage rate are relatively low. In addition, the railway transport has a strong ability to resist natural disaster risks and is less affected. Moreover, railway transportation is almost unaffected by the climate, and can operate regularly and accurately throughout the year, day and night. So in general, the security is higher.

How to calculate the price of international railway transportation?

The price of international railway transportation is different from the calculation methods of international air transportation and international sea transportation. So how to calculate the price of international railway transportation?

The types of railway cargo transportation are divided into complete vehicles, less-than-carload, and containers. For LTL shipments, the minimum volume of one piece shall not be less than 0.02 cubic meters (except for pieces weighing more than 10 kg), and each batch shall not exceed 300 pieces. Railway containers are divided into 1 ton container, 5 ton container, 6 ton container, 10 ton container, 20-foot container, and 40-foot container according to the container type.

For ordinary buyers, these numbers are not always reachable, and the process of handling railway transportation by themselves is also very complicated. So buyers need to cooperate with forwarders . The forwarders can meet the requirements of rail transportation and reduce the freight by combining the goods of many buyers. And the forwarders will also provide door-to-door, door-to-station, station-to-door, and station-to-station services according to customer requirements. The following structure of railway transportation costs is for your reference:

Door-to-door fee: freight + container rental fee + customs declaration fee + station fee + domestic delivery fee + foreign delivery fee

Door-to-station fee: freight + container rental fee + customs declaration fee + station fee + domestic delivery fee

Station-to-station COC fee: freight + container rental fee + station fee + customs declaration fee

Station-to-station SOC fee: freight + station fee + customs declaration fee

The COC and SOC involved here to distinguish the types of containers. When the container is owned, operated or leased by the carrier, it is called the Carrier’s Own Container (COC); when the container is owned by the shipper (shipper), it is called the Shipper’s Own Container (SOC for short). Compared with the two, COC fee will be more expensive than SOC fee.

Usually railway freight forwarders will open dedicated railway lines. Accepts private addresses, can be delivered to the door, and can be delivered to the Amazon address; and will provide two-way customs clearance between China and the destination country, including the customs duties of the destination country, including the delivery to the door, and the Amazon warehouse service. Customers only need to provide cargo information. The only disadvantage is that during railway transportation, customers cannot inquire detailed logistics information until the goods arrive at the destination site.

The timeliness of railway transportation is similar to that of sea transportation, and some may even be shipped faster, but the overall cost is lower than that of sea transportation. So when your cargo exceeds 2CBM and you have no special requirements for transportation time, rail transportation is also an option that can be considered. You can obtain quotations and timeliness for sea, air and rail transportation at the same time from the freight forwarder, so as to choose the most affordable and most suitable transportation method for your needs.

What is the cheapest way to ship from China to the US?

There is no cheapest mode of transportation.

As shown above, each mode of transport has its own conditions under which it is most applicable. For example, when your shipment is more than 2CBM, you’d better choose to ship by sea, and when your shipment is less than 150KGS, express delivery is the cheapest mode of transportation. At that time, you should negotiate with your forwarder about the specific mode of transportation, because the price is always changing regardless of the mode of transportation. Especially if you’re struggling to decide between express and air.

I hope you can benefit a lot from my guide. I will keep it updated. I am Link, the founder of SourcingArts, a leading procurement and artificial intelligence company in China.

If you want to find a China sourcing agent, you can contact us, With SourcingArts, You Don’t Have to Be an Sourcing Pro to Price Better And Genuine Manufacturer From China

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