Sea freight from China to USA ? The power of the ocean

sea freight

Sea freight from China to the USA is the preferred method for American traders. More than 95% of its imports are done through sea freight. But for this method to be a wonderful and painless experience, you have to enter it with awareness and knowledge. In addition, the operation will be very efficient when all the steps of the process are done professionally and by skilled people.

Sea freight – China to USA

China is a global consumer goods manufacturer. Sea freight connects it to different parts of the world. The U.S. businessmen are also taking advantage of this opportunity to move their supply chain to China. So that they can take advantage of it and increase their profit margin. Skilled and cheap labor and abundant resources are the two main reasons for the superiority of this Asian country over other places.

But Americans have long tended to reduce this dependence and increase domestic production. But the history of this business goes far beyond that.

As long as you do not face any deadline and time is not your priority, sea freight is the best option from china to USA. Therefore, you can not easily save on your sourcing and shipping costs. Fortunately, China and the United States have the best port infrastructure and can provide excellent services.

Ports guide

Ports are the gateways to international trade for any country. China and the United States have the most equipped ports in the world.

  • Shanghai. It is used for container shipping. This international port has also very modern services and its annual container volume is 40 ml TEUs.
  • Dalian. Its annual container volume is 9 ml TEUs.
  • Ningbo-Zhoushan. This international port has five terminals and its annual container volume is 26 ml TEUs.
  • Los Angeles. One-fifth of all US imports go through this port. It is the largest port in USA with 9 ml TEUs annual container volume.
  • Long Beach. It is a critical gateway for trade from china and the rest of Asia. It can also process 8 million TEUs containers annually.
  • Savannah. This port is a popular port of unloading for imports from China with 4 ml TEUs annual container volume.

Pros of sea freight

Sea freight is the most cost-effective and popular method of international shipping.

Save money. If your priority is money, sea freight is the cheapest for goods heavier than 500 kg. Because weight does not play a role in determining costs. On the other hand, the fuel consumption of ships is very low. Therefore, the cost of fuel does not increase.

Large capacity. Ocean ships can move any kind of goods for you in any size. You can easily move the furniture of a 4 bedroom house by using containers.

Eco-friendly.  The carbon footprint of sea freight is much lower than aircraft and truck. Because the fuel consumption of ships is low.

No restriction. Import and export laws are not strict on maritime cargo. For example, dangerous goods that are not allowed to fly from China to the USA can be easily transported by ship.

Cons of sea freight from China to USA

Speed. Sea freight is not a good option for importers whose time is a priority or who have goods that are sensitive to temperature and time. Because ships move much slower than aircraft. Therefore, your shipping time is more than a week.

Delays. Shipping delays are unexpected and high. Most people who deal with it are accustomed to these delays. On the other hand, the customs clearance process is long. These delays will be added if the documents are incomplete or the ports are crowded.

FCL services

You should use FCL when your product is large and easily fills the space of a container. This is calculated based on a fixed container rate and is more cost-effective for most ocean cargoes. Its transit time and the possibility of damaging the goods is less than LCL. Because when your goods are loaded in the factory, they will not be unloaded until the destination. Also not placed next to other goods. So if you have any doubt between LCL and FCL, be sure to choose FCL and fill the empty space with packaging materials. Because it has more benefits than LCL.

In this way, the maritime industry provides you with containers of different sizes and equipment. Three famous and widely used sizes are:

  • 20 ft. 8’6″ standard size. 21,640 kg cargo capacity. 32,8 cu.m inside cubic capacity.
  • 40 ft. 8’6″ standard size. 26,500 kg cargo capacity. 67,2 cu.m inside cubic capacity.
  • 40 ft high cube. 9’6″ super hi-cube size. 26,330 kg cargo capacity. 75,9 cu.m inside cubic capacity.

LCL services

When your goods are small and a full container is too big for you, you use LCL. In this case, you share a container with other customers. Only if your loads are two or three pallets, LCL will be cost-effective for sea freight from China to USA. Because they calculate its shipping rate via using the dimensional weight formula. The risk of damage to the goods and transit time is high. They can also suffer from:

  • Dangerous goods with sharp edges
  • Customs problems of other goods
  • Danger of leakage

Sea freight from China to USA cost

Shipping costs are very variable. Because they depend on different factors. Be sure to ship under Incoterms rules to determine who is responsible for the goods and costs. The best ones for sea freight are FOB, EXW and DAP. EXW is suitable for samples, small goods and shipping to Amazon FBA warehouse. In other cases, FOB is more cost-effective.

Transportation from factory to the port

When production is over, the goods are loaded into a container and shipped to port. This step requires equipment and skilled people.

China export clearance

Before being loaded on the ship, the goods must be licensed for export by customs. Always try to have the right documents. If you export without proper ones, you will be fined heavily. It also costs you $100-$300.

Sea freight rate from China to USA

It is determined based on distance and your container, FCL or LCL. For example:

  • Shenzhen ? Los Angeles: $2,230 ? $2,460
  • Shenzhen ? New York: $2,275 ? $2,515

If your product does not have standard dimensions or needs special features, there are additional costs.


In sea freight, cargo insurance is essential. Try to use the best type of insurance. Because the distance from China to the USA is long and they are on the ship for a long time. There is also the possibility of robbery and hostage-taking by pirates. Therefore, it is necessary to protect its capital and compensate for its losses.


Packaging materials for sea cargoes vary depending on the type of product. They must be protected from excessive moisture. If you are going to use LCL, be sure to pack the product well so that it is not damaged.

The USA customs bond

This process is much more complicated in sea freight than in other methods. Remember that customs are very strict and you need to be careful in preparing your documents. Also each country has its own import and export laws. So it is better to work with a customs broker to make this process faster.

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing list
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Letter of Credit or other payment terms
  • Bill of Lading

Therefore, after inspection and payment of taxes and duties, the goods are released.

Transportation from the U.S. port to the destination

The goods are loaded and transported from the port of destination to the final address. Some other factors are:

  • Fuel surcharges
  • Local charges
  • Port fees
  • Cargo inspection
  • Shipping company
  • Freight forwarder


Warehousing has about 25% of your shipping costs. In this method, due to many delays, long clearance process and congestion, the need for storage is more than air freight. Your expenses are based on utilities, space rent, security, temperature control, etc..

How much time do you need for sea freight from China to USA?

Guangzhou to Los Angeles ? 26 days via LCL

Guangzhou to Miami – 38 days via LCL

Hong Kong to Los Angeles – 20 days

Ningbo to Chicago – 29 days via FCL

Ningbo to New York – 23 days via LCL

Hong Kong to New York – 32 days

Shanghai to Chicago – 28 days via LCL

Ningbo to Chicago – 22 days via LCL

Hong Kong to West coast – 13-15 days

Hong Kong to East coast – 23-25 days

China and the USA are both vast countries. Therefore, the distance between all ports is not the same. Try to choose the nearest US port to China.

Submit your documents to customs on time and without defects so that you do not face delays. Also do not ship on busy days to avoid congestion.

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