How much does it Cost to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A.

How much does it Cost to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A. – The Ultimate Guide

Understanding the cost of shipping your goods from China to the U.S.A. is critical in planning your shipment.

While you may forget some of these costs, we have prepared this simple guide for you to understand all cost of shipping a container from China to U.S.A.

Have a look.

Types of Container to use when Shipping from China to the U.S.A.

You have different types of shipping containers available for shipping your cargo from China to the U.S.A.

The choice of which container to use depends on the type and size of your cargo.

These containers include:

· Reefer Shipping Containers

Reefer container

Reefer shipping container

These are normal containers that have a modification to include refrigerators.

This modification allows you to ship goods that require refrigeration.

These containers, mostly available in 20-foot sizes, have partitions to include cold, chill, and freezing sections.

This facilitates the shipping of your cargo safely from China to the U.S.A.

· Standard Shipping Containers

Standard shipping container

Standard shipping container

These containers are the common types that you can find in the market.

Normallyprimary material for these shipping containers is usually aluminum or steel.

The price of steel and aluminum containers differs, with aluminum having the highest payload.

This is because they are water-resistant and airtight.

Standard shipping containers have an opening at one end, which you can use to load your cargo into it.

They are mainly available in 20- and 40-foot sizes.

You can use these containers to ship most dry goods, such as barrel pallets, sacks, and boxes.

· Double Door Shipping Containers

Double door shipping container

Double door shipping container

Double door containers have two on either of its ends having the same specifications.

The dual door nature facilitates the loading and unloading of your cargo safely.

The advantage of these containers is it allows you to customize them to meet your specifications.

They are available in either 20- or 40-foot sizes.

· Open Top Shipping Container

Open top shipping container

Open top shipping container

The top part of these containers is open and has doors on its end, which you can open and close at your convenience.

These containers are useful if you are shipping large cargo such as machinery which cannot fit in a standard container.

However, you need to note that these containers’ pricing is usually expensive compared to the standard container types.

If your cargo protrudes over the container’s height, you have to pay more compared to if the cargo is not protruding.

This is because protrusion implies you cannot stack other containers on top of it.

Loading o these containers depends on the quantity of your cargo.

That is, you either can load it as full container load or less than container load.

Factors Determining Ocean Freight Rates from China to the U.S.A.

The main factors that determine the ocean freights rates for your cargo from China to the U.S.A. are:

COSCO Shipping Lane

COSCO Shipping Lane

· Season

Shipping from China to the U.S.A. has two peak shipping seasons.

The first one starts from mid-august and ends around mid-October.

The second season starts in January and ends in February.

When shipping during these times, you have to pay more since there is a higher demand for cargo space.

However, during the off-peak seasons, the shipping cost is less.

Weather is another seasonal factor that affects your shipping.

When the weather conditions are not conducive, most ships tend to dock, thereby limiting their supply.

This causes the shipping cost to increase.

· Service Charge and Fees

Service fees are chargeable at all the ports that your cargo docks on the way to your port of destination.

These charges vary from one port to another.

Therefore, you have to include all the charges before deciding on the final freight charge rate for your cargo.

· Bunker Fluctuation

Each time a ship stops to fuel, you have to pay for it.

This increases the ocean freight charge rate for your cargo.

It is essential to understand that oil prices keep fluctuating; hence, you cannot accurately determine the exact cost you are to pay.

In certain circumstances, you will receive a fuel surcharge invoice for you to pay.

· Container Capacity

This is a critical aspect if you are paying for a full container load.

You should always aim to fill your container when you are shipping anF.C.L. since you are charged for it whole regardless if it is partially empty.

If you are shipping under L.C.L., you have to pay for the space that your cargo occupies or its weight.

· Currency

Global currency around the world keeps fluctuating depending on their market performance.

Your currency may be strong when you start shipping but end up weak by your cargo arrives at your port.

This forces you to pay more for your freight charges as opposed to when the shipping started.

Calculating Cost to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A.

Several factors affect the cost of shipping your container from China to the U.S.A.

They include:

Shipping routes

Shipping routes

· Origin and Destination Port

The longer the distance from the two ports, the higher the cost of shipping your container.

However, before selecting the ports, you have to consider the distance between the ports, your final destination, and your supplier’s address.

· Size

The shipping cost for your cargo varies depending on the size.

For instance, shipping a 40ft is costly compared to shipping a 20ft container.

Therefore, you have to consider the shipping container that you want before using it to minimize the shipping cost.

· Condition

The condition of the shipping container affects the shipping cost.

The condition includes the cost of the container at the time of shipping.

For instance, a brand-new shipping container is likely to cost more compared to a used container.

A brand-new container has features such as waterproof and an effective locking mechanism.

· Customization

Additional features on a particular shipping container attract additional costs.

Such features include refrigerator, windows, ventilation, and insulation.

· Delivery

The further the distance your point of destination, the higher the shipping cost you have to pay.

Therefore, you have to check for the nearest port of destination and origin before deciding to ship your cargo.

· Quantity

The advantage of purchasing goods in large quantities is that you gain a bulk discount from your manufacturer.

So, it is better to purchase your goods in bulk if you save on your shipping cost.

An approximate shipping cost from different ports in China to Different ports in the U.S.A. include:


Port of origin and port of destinationContainer size Approximate cost
Shanghai port to Los Angeles port20FT Container$1000
Shenzhen port to Oakland port40FT Container$3000
Shenzhen port to port of Miami20FT Container$3000
Guangzhou port to Savanah port20FT Containerf$3000
Tianjin port to Houston Texas port20FT Container$3000
Ningbo port to port of Norfolk40FT Container$3000
Guangzhou port to Baltimore port40 ft container$4000
Port of Shenzhen to Port of New York40FT Container$4000
Port of Ningbo to Port of Norfolk VA40ft$3000
Port of Ningbo to Port of Portland40FT Container$3000


How Shipping Container Type Determine Cost to Ship Container from China to the U.S.A.

The different types of shipping containers cost differently due to their unique characteristics.

For instance, a new shipping container is expensive compared to an older container.

The size of the container also has an impact cost of shipping your cargo.

That is, it is costly to ship on a 40ft container than it is to ship on a 20ft container due to the size of your cargo.

The different types of containers affect the final cost of your cargo.

It is cheaper to ship using a 20ft standard container than to ship a 20ft reefer container.

This is due to the unique conditions that are present in such a container.

Before deciding which container to use, you must consider the volume and type of cargo.

You also have to consult your freight forwarder on the available containers before deciding which one to use.

Estimated Transit Time when Shipping from China to the U.S.A.

Estimated transit time for your goods when shipping from China to the U.S.A. depends on the mode of transport you are using.

It also depends on the distance between the port of origin and your port of destination.

Air transport is faster compared to ocean freight.

It can take between 6 and 8 days for your cargo to arrive in the U.S.A. from China when using air freight.

Other factors affecting ocean freight makes it to take longer compared to air freight.

Such factors include climatic conditions and the number of stops that the voyage makes.

How does the Cost of L.C.L. Shipping from China to the U.S.A. compare to the Cost of F.C.L. Shipping from China to the U.S.A?

The unit cost for L.C.L. shipping from China to the U.S.A. is relatively higher than that of F.C.L. shipping from China to the U.S.A.

However, for economic sense, when shipping via F.C.L., your cargo must exceed 15 cubic meters.

How do you Reduce the Cost of Shipping Containers from China to the U.S.A?

It is possible to reduce the cost of shipping your container from China to the U.S.A. by considering the following tips:

· Select the Right Shipping Forwarder

Different shipping forwarder prices their services differently.

Checking with the other forwarders before deciding which one to use is critical.

The shipping forwarder you select should be reliable and allows for price negotiation.

They should also readily provide information on the progress of shipping your cargo.

· Buy Large Quantities of your Cargo

You can reduce the cost of your shipping by purchasing large quantities of your cargo.

Large amounts reduce the overall purchasing cost due to economies of scale.

You also reduce the shipping cost since your shipping forwarder will use the weight to calculate your shipping cost.

· Choose the Right Shipping Method

There are two main shipping methods that you can use to ship your cargo from China to the U.S.A.

These shipping methods have different costs, which you have to compare before deciding which one to use.

You have to consider the nature of your cargo before deciding which shipping method to use.

· Optimize your Packaging

Packing your cargo using improper packaging material or wrong packaging increase occupied space and volume.

This tends to increase the shipping cost.

You should package your material using the recommended packaging material.

It would be best if you also packaged it appropriately to reduce the space that it covers.

You can engage your freight forwarder to assist you with the packaging of your cargo.

Trusted Shipping Companies when Importing from China to the U.S.A.

There are several shipping companies available for shipping your cargo from China to the U.S.A.

However, not all of them are legit, which can prove a challenge when you import from China.

The only sure way of having a legit shipping company is by engaging your freight forwarder.

Some of the shipping companies they can recommend for you include:

How do you Choose Port of Origin and Destination when Shipping from China to the U.S.A.

Important considerations when selecting the port of origin and destination for shipment of your cargo from China to the U.S.A. include:

· Location

It would help if you searched for a port near where you are purchasing your products in China.

The port you select in the U.S.A. should also be near your address.

This is vital in reducing the transportation cost to and from the ports.

It is also easier to access these ports within time, reducing the overall time it takes to have your cargo.

· Cost

The overall cost of the different ports differs hence the need to analyzes them before deciding on the use of a particular port.

This is important if the ports are close to your destination and where you are purchasing your cargo.

· Infrastructure and Equipment

Infrastructure and equipment are essential in the safe handling of your cargo at the port.

They minimize damage and ensure they arrive in the same condition they left your manufacturer

Equipment facilitates the quick and efficient handling of your product, thereby ensuring its quick arrival.

· Customs Clearance Procedure

The custom clearance procedures for different products differ from one port to another.

It may be simple to clear certain goods from one port to remove in another harbor.

Therefore, you have to check on the customs clearance of the different ports before deciding on the best one to use.

· Port Size

The size of a given port can facilitate the shipment of your cargo.

Larger ports tend to have numerous vessels calling at them.

This implies that there are vessels ready to ship your cargo.

The advantage of numerous vessels is it allows for negotiation of the shipping cost.

· Climate

Bad climatic conditions and frequent occurrence of natural disaster affects the docking capabilities of various vessels.

This affects the number of vessels available in a particular port.

In China, the available ports for shipping your cargo to the U.S.A. include:

Port of shanghai

Port of Shanghai

· Ningbo-Zhoushan Port

This port is in the Zhoushan and Ningbo region of Zhejiang province.

It is one of China’s busiest ports, which assures you of quality warehousing and faster custom clearance services.

· Hong Kong Port

Faster clearance of China’s exports is the priority of this port due to the numerous destinations.

This is advantageous since it reduces the cost of warehousing as you wait for customs clearance.

· Shanghai Port

This port’s location is in Shanghai city, which is along the edges of the Yangtze river delta.

Several manufacturing companies within this city from where you can purchase your cargo before shipping to the U.S.A.

· Shenzhen Port

Shenzhen is a part of your choice to ship your cargo from cities such as Hong Kong.

The advantage you have with this port is its ideal location, which connects it to several ports in the U.S.A.

You can check the map below for more ports in China.

Sea ports in China

Sea ports in China

You may use one of the following ports to receive your goods from China:

· Port of Virginia

The location of this port is ideal for importing machinery and general cargoes.

It enjoys large and well-equipped warehouses that allow for the shipment of your cargo from China.

· Port of Los Angels

This port is one of the busiest ports as per the container volume that it can handle.

It can handle around 4.5 million TEU annually.

This is advantageous since you have an assurance of world-class services for your cargo.

· Georgia Ports

The main ports that you find here are Brunswick and Savannah.

These ports are ideal for importing auto industry-related cargoes.

New York and New Jersey port

This is one port that allows for the shipping of consumer products from China.

It is on the eastern coastline of New York and New Jersey.

The map below shows other sea ports in China:

Sea Ports in USA

Sea Ports in USA

How does the cost of Shipping 20ft Container from China to the U.S.A. compare to the Cost of Shipping40ft Container from China to the U.S.A?

The cost of shipping a 20ft container from China to the U.S.A. is relatively higher than shipping a 40ft container due to different factors.

For instance, when shipping a 20ft container, you need specialized equipment for handling your cargo.

Such equipment is usually expensive hence an increase in the cost of shipping a 20ft container.

You pay less when you ship a 40ft container than when you ship a 20ft container

This is due to the economies of scale you enjoy because of shipping a large volume of your cargo.

How Freight Forwarder Help Reduce Cost to Ship a Container from China to the USA

A freight forwarder can help reduce the cost of shipping your container from China to the U.S.A. in the following ways:

· Warehousing Cost

Most freight forwarders either have a connection with China warehouse facility provides or own their facilities.

As such, they can negotiate for the best price for storing your cargo as you wait for customs clearance.

Other freight forwarders allow you to store your cargo in their warehouse free of charge or at a minimal cost.

This reduces your freight cost.

· Customs Clearance

A freight forwarder can help you reduce your freight cost by handling your customs clearance for you.

This ensures that they deal with the customs authorities direct instead of having middlemen.

Intermediaries increase the cost since you have to pay them for their services, some of which don’t do anything.

· Logistics Charges

If you are to handle the cost of transporting your cargo all by yourself, you will spend more.

However, by engaging a freight forwarder, this cost reduces significantly.

They do this by consolidating your cargo with others and transporting it as a single load.

You, therefore, get to pay a fraction of the total amount.

Buying vs. Renting Shipping Container when Importing from China to the U.S.A.

Buying a shipping container when importing your cargo is expensive compared to renting one.

However, after purchasing a container, it becomes yours forever.

Which means you won’t have to pay a subsequent payment for renting one.

Buying is the best option if you are a long-term importer since it gives you a return on your investment.

It is also advisable to buy a container if you are to fill your container with your cargo.

This saves you on the shipping cost since the cost is on a full container cost.

Alternatively, you can rent the available space to other importers, which save you cash

You have an assurance for the security of your cargo.

This is because you only have to lock up your cargo and wait for it at the destination port, thereby reducing tampering with your cargo.

Renting is the best option if you are a one-time importer and you are shipping L.C.L. goods.

This saves you resources and ensures your cargo arrives safely at your port of destination.

However, renting a container can be dangerous since there is a possibility of tampering with your goods.

When shipping, there is a consolidation of goods, which can cause damage during the loading or unloading process.

Type of Cargo to Ship in Container from China to the U.S.A.

You can ship a variety of cargoes from China to the U.S.A. Common cargo includes:

  • Machinery and vehicles
  • Electronics
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Cosmetics
  • Foodstuff
  • Clothing

How do F.O.B. and C.I.F.determine the Cost to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A.?

The cost of F.O.B. is relatively cheaper compared to that of C.I.F. shipping from China to the U.S.A.

This is because your cargo’s responsibility shifts to you once they are on board, and the voyage begins.

This allows you to negotiate with your forwarder for a cheaper price for your cargo’s insurance and freight.

C.I.F. places all the burden on your supplier.

This means they are responsible for the insurance and freight charges until the goods arrive at your destination.

As they do that, they are likely to hike the price for their profitability, making it expensive to ship under C.I.F.

The Document you need to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A.

Essential documents you need to ship your container from China to the U.S.A. are:

· Bill of Landing

The importance of this is to identify your shipping company, your supplier, and your information as the importer.

Other information that it addresses includes the type and volume of your cargo and a general description of your cargo.

Your forwarder can use the bill of landing as a confirmation for the release of a letter of credit and as proof of shipment.

This is to facilitate their payment depending on the agreement you have with them.

· Commercial Invoice

The purpose of this document is to facilitate customs clearance.

You have to present this document to the customs authority who uses it to calculate your customs charges.

· Certificate of Origin

The certificate of origin indicates where the goods are coming from in China.

It can serve as an alternative to the commercial invoice in calculating your customs charges.

· Import License

An import license is a vital document when importing certain goods from China.

Such goods include foodstuff, animal and plants, medicines, and certain chemicals.

· Dangerous Goods Form

You have to include this form if you are shipping goods that the U.S. considers dangerous.

Such goods include chemicals, firearms, and ammunition.

If you are not sure of your cargo’s status, you must consult with the customs authorities or your forwarder before you import.

· A Letter of Credit

This document serves as a payment method for shipping your goods from China to the U.S.A.

You must hand this document over to your supplier upon receiving your goods.

You can obtain a letter of credit from your banking institution.

It is an undertaking from the bank that they can pay for your goods upon you receiving them should you fail to do so.

Modes of Payment when Shipping Container from China to the U.S.A.

There are two main modes of paying for your shipping container from China to the U.S.A.

That is a letter of credit and telegraphic transfer.

The choice of which mode of payment to use depends on the agreement you have with your shipping partner.

Letter of credit involves approaching your bank to act as an intermediary between you and your supplier.

The bank undertakes to pay your shipping partner once they are sure that you have received your goods.

When transacting, you submit the letter of credit to your shipping partner, who submits it to their bank.

It is the best payment option if you are new to shipping your container from China to the U.S.A.

However, a letter of credit works better if you are shipping a large volume of your cargo.

Telegraphic transfer is risky since it places the entire risk on you.

It works by you approaching your bank and requesting them to wire the payment to your supplier.

There is a need to ascertain your manufacturer’s credibility before engaging them to minimize risks when using a telegraphic transfer

The implication of Incoterms in Cost to Ship Container from China to the U.S.A.

The different incoterms available for shipping your cargo have other implications for both you and your supplier.

Incoterms play a critical role in defining the risks and roles of the parties involved in shipping your cargo from China to the U.S.A.

That is, they define who handles the risks on your goods when they occur.

They also describe sharing costs between you and your seller.

The different incoterms available for shipping your goods are:


Ex-work is an incoterm that lets you cover costs like sea freights, insurance, customs clearance, and transportation cost.

This incoterm frees your supplier all costs and risks related to your cargo from their premises to your doorstep.

You, therefore, have to cover all the costsassociated with your shipment.

· F.O.B.

You have to cover the following costs under this incoterm: insurance, sea freight, and clearance fee at the destination port.

Other charges you pay are terminal fees at the port of destination and transportation fees from the destination port to your location.

F.O.B. is a common incoterm that most importers use due to its cost-effectiveness.

Using this incoterm allows you to negotiate for insurance and freight charges, thus saving on your shipping cost.

· C.F.R.

This incoterm places the following responsibilities on you as an importer: insurance, port clearance, and terminal fee at your destination.

You also have to pay for transporting your goods from the destination port to your premises.

· C.I.F.

Your duties as an importer under this incoterm include terminal fee and port clearance at your destination.

You also have to cover the cost of transporting your cargo from the port to your premises.

How does Exchange Rates Affect Cost to Ship a Container from China to the U.S.A?

The strength ofa given currency depends on its performance on the international market.

A weak currency is due to its weak performance, while a strong currency gains more in international trade.

Using a weak currency to pay for your import from China implies that you have to spend more for the same quantity of goods.

This is because you have to pay an equivalent of the other currency to receive your goods.

When importing from China to the U.S.A, the advantage you have is you are allowed to use the U.D. dollar for payment.

This is because most trader prefers trading using the dollar since it is a strong currency compared to other currencies.

How do you use a Container Shipping Cost Calculator when Importing from China to the U.S.A.

Online shipping cost calculator

Online shipping calculator

When using a shipping cost calculator when shipping from China to the U.S.A., it is essential to consider several parameters.

For instance, you have to understand your cargo volume, the port of origin, and destination.

You also have to include the shipping terms, determining who between the parties involved handles your shipping element.

Understanding the custom clearance charges is also essential in getting to know the right cost for your shipping.

It is essential to check with your freight forwarder if you don’t understand the entire cost of your shipping.

Cost of Ocean Freight from China vs. Cost of Air Freight from China to the U.S.A.

The cost of ocean freight is relatively cheaper than that of air freight from China to the U.S.A.

This is due to different factors.

Airfreight is faster and secure compared to ocean freight.

They are secure in the sense that once your cargo is on board, there is less risk of it getting lost.

This contrasts with ocean freight, where containers get tossed into the ocean at times, leading to the loss of your cargo.

The cost of air freight is also expensive due to the nature of the goods they ship.

Airfreight is ideal for shipping expensive items such as jewelry and perishable cargo such as flowers.

You have to ship such goods quickly for their security and reach their destination in record time.

One of the reasons why ocean freight is less depends on the high cargo load that it can ship.

That means there is a distribution of the shipping cost among the containers and the cargoes.

This reduces the individual shipping cost for your cargo.

Cost of Insurance when Shipping Container from China to the U.S.A.

The cost of insurance for shipping your container from China to the U.S.A. varies depending on your cargo and shipment method’s size.

Other factors that affect your insurance cost is the type of insurance you are purchasing, the value of goods, and courier loss history.

Ocean freight has a higher insurance cost than air freight due to the high risk involved during the voyage.

The variables that ascertain your insurance cost are the insurance rate your insurance offers, the value of your cargo, and shipping cost.

Different insurance providers can cover your cargo when shipping from China to the U.S.A.

However, a reliable freight forwarder can guide you on the best insurance cover for your shipment.

At BanSar, we offer cost effective container shipping solution from China to USA.

Contact us today for all your shipping needs from China to USA.

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