Shipping from China to the USA

Transport cost and time remains one of the main determinants for businesses and wholesalers to decide their sourcing locations. At first it seems that there are many different costs, procedures and variables to think about when deciding whether to source from China; so in this blog we hope to share some advice based on our experience with sourcing from China. 

Shipping from China to the USA

Shipping from China to the USA

Because the Chinese government subsidizes shipping costs in order to support its huge manufacturing industry, the cost of shipping items from China to the USA is significantly cheaper than shipping items from the USA to China. This protectionism of the Chinese manufacturing industry benefits both sides of the equation; the factories can ship products cheaply to still stay desirable to the customer and the customer benefits from lower transport cost.

When asking for a quote, the supplier will provide you with a FOB (free on board) price. This is the price per unit (including packaging if requested) for them to transport the product to the agreed port and load it into the container, the supplier will also pay the charges and fees at the Chinese port. Once your product leaves the Chinese port you are responsible for the remaining shipping costs. Import duties, taxes and charges are not included in the item price and are not included in the shipping charges. These charges are also the buyer’s responsibility and the importer will always be expected to pay these. Therefore it is important to know the customs code of your items as charges differ.

The average method of shipping from China to the USA would be freight shipping container loads. The containers come in both 20ft and 40ft but smaller amounts can be shipped in LCL loads. Please see the following blogs for detailed information on container shipping and managing costs:

From our experience at CPG with multiple factories and suppliers, freight shipping from China to the east coast of the USA should take roughly 25-30 days; to the west coast this is closer to 20 days. These are only rough guides and do not account for delays, the transit duration will also be dependent on the ships used.[separator top=”40″ style=”shadow”]

Getting your prototype to China

An important step to remember is sending the product blueprints/drawings and/or prototype from the USA to China. If you have a prototype that you need to get to the factory, the best method of transportation will depends on the size of the product. The best method for drawings and blueprints is to send by email, this way the message is instant. Remember the 12 hour time difference between China and the USA is important, a good sourcing company or factory will check their emails at 9am every morning and respond promptly.

If the prototype has already been developed it would be best to send the prototype by air mail in the standard way. There are many companies that provide this service, so you can choose which fits your needs best by time requirements and costing. However the ideal situation would be to visit China yourself (or send a representative) to visit and inspect the factories and if the prototype is small to simply bring in their luggage; however for smaller companies the cost of this may be too high and the time commitment and language barriers can also pose a problem. It is good to inspect the factory moulds and the tools and materials that will be used to make your product. This can be a lengthy process to create the good relations and contacts so working with a sourcing company can prove an indispensable tool. They will already have a network of existing trusted factories, regular visits, quality checks and translation services.The best way to get efficient responses is to be efficient yourself, remember the difference and to have all emails sent before 9pm to make sure you have a response waiting in your inbox by the time you wake up.

Larger product prototypes may require freight shipping. It is important to package these correctly between pallets to avoid them from being damaged in transit.


We hope that this has cleared up any questions about sourcing and shipping goods from China to the USA and we are always glad to answer any questions that you may have.

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