Shipping from China to UK

If you’re looking for a reliable freight forwarder to help your shipping from China to UK,  you are in the right place.

Even the shipping service from China to the UK is very mature nowadays, Bansar can always endeavour to do the logistics work better, besides the best solution and good service, we also can provide competitive rates from China to UK.

Bansar will help your choose the best shipping route, competitive shipping cost and the best shipping companies to help your importing from China to UK.

Sea Freight Shipping from China to UK
Bansar has stable quantity of shipping goods from China to Felixstowe, Southampton, etc. So that we can always get the good ocean freight to UK port from many carriers,and we can ensure the container space even in peak season.
air Freight Shipping from China to UK
There are many basic international airports in UK and there are also many shipments goods from China to UK by air, Bansar can provide very competitive air freight which is lower than the market to our customer based on your demand schedule.
Door to Door Service China to UK
For door to door service, Bansar can do fast customs clearance in UK and delivery the shipping goods to our customer’s warehouse well, Besides this, if you are personal, Bansar have trade company which can be the consignee on BL and help you import the shipment goods successfully.

FCL Shippng from China to UK

Bansar have good cooperation with many carriers from China to UK by FCL, such as EMC, COSCO, OOCL, HMM, ONE, MSK, APL. We can provide the good ocean freight and stable space from any port in China to any port in UK.

LCL Shipping from China to UK

As we all know that the destination charge is very high for LCL, so the importers always complain this problem, Bansar set up the charge standard reasonably for LCL destination charge which is much lower than market standard.

More Services When Shipping from China to UK

Pickup and Delivery
Pick up your goods in any city in China.
Warehousing Distribution
We provide free warehousing services for your goods.
Cargo Insurance
Cargo insurance protects your goods all the way to the UK
Custom Clearance
We handle all paperwork and other details for you.

Your Best Freight Forwarder from China to UK

  • Provide the best ocean freight from China to UK
  • Provide the competitive air freight from China to UK
  • The professional work for customs clearance in China
  • Provide the free warehouse service and loading solution
  • The container loading supervision service
  • Pick up and delivery service in China
  • 24/7 online support

How Long When Shipping from China to UK

Port of Loading

Port of Arrive

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Shipping from China to UK: The Complete Guide

If you’re importing from China, and need to ship your goods to UK, the this is the right guide for you!


You don’t need years of experience to ship goods from China to the U.K.


Because today I am going to breakdown this process into easy and simple steps.

I will take you through the cost of shipping containers, U.K. customs regulations, importation documents, shipping routes, modes or transports, etc.

By the end of this guide, you will easily pack and ship cargo from China to U.K.

So, if you want to save both time and money when importing from China to U.K., then this is a must-read guide.

Chapter 1: BanSar your Freight Forwarder from China to U.K.

When it comes to the shipping from China to the U.K., you can count on BanSar freight forwarder.

With years of experience in the freight forwarding industry, BanSar offers an all-in-one shipping package.

BanSar has over ten offices in different cities in China, making it easy to coordinate well with the suppliers.

It has been in the freight forwarding industry for more than ten years, besides being awarded NVOCC 7.

Furthermore, BanSar works closely with various airlines and top cargo ships, making it easier to negotiate for the best deals when shipping from China to the U.K.

Can you imagine using BanSar’s warehouse for 20 to 30 days for FREE?

Or, using the BanSar’s shipping containers for free for up to 28 days!

Well, you’ll save a lot.

And, this will give you peace of mind.

You know, what?

Whether you want the door to door shipping from China to the U.K., customs clearance or insurance – BanSar handles everything for you.

Also, BanSar will evaluate your shipping needs to recommend the best mode of transport.

BanSar will help you to choose from rail freight, ocean freight or sea freight.

But, there something even more important you need to know when shipping from China to U.K.

That is the.

Chapter 2: Cost of Shipping Goods from China to UK

Before thinking about how to import from China to UK, one has to wonder how much will it cost for such a shipment.

Several factors will always determine the cost of shipping from China to U.K.

And, some of the factors may include:-

§  The Port

When one uses a port with high handling capacity, the shipping cost will be lower than a port with low handling capacity.

This difference comes as a result of economies of scale.

World’s busiest port, such as Shanghai will be cheaper owing to the large capacity of around 32 million containers a year it handles.

Port of Shanghai

Port of Shanghai

You should know the exact port where your freight forwarder will load the cargo.

As a rule of thumb, go for a port that will cost less.

That is, check whether they will use feeder vessels or not.

Remember, some ports do not have a direct link to United Kingdom i.e. Zhongshan.

When you use such ports, you will incur additional shipping costs from China to the U.K.

Also the distance between the departure and the destination port is a factor determining the cost.

Sea route from Shanghai, China to London Thamesport U.K.

Sea route from Shanghai, China to London Thamesport U.K. – Source:

The distance between the two ports is directly proportional to the shipping charges.

Obviously, longer sea routes will cost more.

The difference simply comes as a result of the logistics incurred like the fuel etc.

§  Weight or Dimensions of the Cargo

The cost will also depend on the weight / measure of the good you’re shipping.

This means that 1 cubic meter is equivalent to 1000 kg.

If anything varies from the standard measure, you’ll incur additional costs.

An example is where the shipment is 3 cubic meters and 3500 kg.

In such a case, the weight is considered bigger and hence the shipping rate for the sea depends on that.

§  Importing from Inland

When importing from a supplier far from any port, one has to incur the road transport charges to the departure port.

Shihang transporting copper nickel pipes to the port

This factor has to be considered when sourcing for a commodity to be imported.

It is important to have the supplier located near the main port to avoid such extra costs.

§  Shipping Fluctuation Rates for Full Container Loads

From time to time, the container shipping changes fluctuates.

So, it is important to factor in the fluctuations when budgeting.

A freight forwarding company such as BanSar can give the probable estimation of the fluctuation to avoid underestimation which may end up in delays.

These fluctuating rates are simply fixed by all the shipping lines so that they can stop the falling sea freight rates.

These rates are normally artificially increased using the large general rate increases (GRIs).

§  Cost of Air and Sea Freight

Before deciding on the method of shipment to the UK, the weight is an important parameter to consider.

Normally, the sea freight is 4 to 6 times cheaper than the air freight though very slow as it takes long.

Evergreen cargo ship

Evergreen cargo ship

It is cost effective to use courier to ship weights less than 100kg than other modes.

When loads more than 100kg are to be shipped, sea or air flight will be cost effective.

In the sea freight, more weight translates to high shipping cost.

Big cargo via air freight will attract high charges to a tune of 4 to 6 times.

§  Deferment

This is a cost that is normally charged when the shipping company pays VAT and UK duty on behalf of the importer before billing it.

In some cases, deferment may be charged as a percentage, which may be high and add to the final importation cost.

These are costs which the importer can easily avoid.

§  Marine Insurance

To protect your goods in transit, it can be important to get an insurance cover.

This cover takes care of the damages or losses during the transit period.

The insurance cost will cover the value of the goods, but not the weight or volume.

The cost increases with the value of the commodities.

Hence, more valuable goods will attract high insurance charges.

§  UK Duties and Taxes

The U.K. import duties and taxes will obviously affect the cost of your imports.

As a matter of fact:

Every importer has to pay all the UK Duty + VAT unless his/her goods are eligible for duty relief scheme.

Once your goods reach the UK, they will be cleared via the customs.

Charges of the invoice together with UK Duty + VAT will be paid at the port of destination.

Obviously, this is before the goods are finally released.

The shipping costs keep varying depending on the seasons.

Below is an example of the recent shipping costs from different ports in China to UK ports include;-

For Full Container Loads (FCL) rates

China Port of DepartureUK Port of Destination 




20′ GP40′ GP40′ HC


For Less Container Load (LCL) Rates

China Departure PortUK Destination portSea freight rateRatio
Hong KongSouthampton$50.00P/Cube
Hong KongFelixstowe$50.00P/Cube
Hong KongManchester$80.00P/Cube


Note: For LCL; P/Cube =100cm x100cm x 100cm.

Now, here are some resources for you:

Chapter 3: Shipping Time When Shipping from China to UK

It takes good time to ship from China to United Kingdom owing to some logistics which have to take place.

Be it a huge cargo, or a small parcel – it has to undergo some processes or procedures.

And, therefore, so many factors come into play when shipping from China to the U.K.

Apart from the shipping time, you need to factor in customs clearance, delivery, loading and offloading the cargo.

So, in this section, I will give you a rough idea on how long it takes to ship from China to the U.K.

Let’s look at three different scenarios:

a) Shipping from Southern China to U.K.

When goods are sourced from Southern China (Guangzhou/Shenzhen) for example, it takes around 23-25 days on the water.

However, we can give allowance of about 6 weeks to cater for the time it takes from the supplier’s factory to your delivery address (door to door).

b) Shipping from Central China to U.K.

For Central China (Shanghai/Ningbo) it takes around 28-30 days on the water, but due to door to door processes, it will take a maximum of around 7 weeks.

c) Shipping from Northern China to U.K.

Northern China (Qingdao/Tianjin/Xingang) -This is one of the furthest areas in relation to the United Kingdom location.

The shipping takes around 32-35 days on the water, although the other door to door processes will make it take around 8 weeks to reach to the final.

Of course, the shipping time will vary depending on the means of transport.

Having said that, let me take you a step further to discuss ways of shipping from China to United Kingdom.

Chapter 4: Ways of Shipping from China to United Kingdom (UK)

Several factors come into play before one decides on which mode to use when shipping from China to UK.

The goods can either be shipped via air or the sea.

It will all depend on the nature of goods.

Of course, the urgency of the commodity will determine the mode of shipping.

The perishable goods requiring very short duration can use air transportation while those that require long duration can use sea transportation.

BanSar prides herself with on time delivery of the goods both at the port and at the inland destination.

This means that BanSar will ensure that the customer receives the goods at the convenient place.

4.1. Courier from China to UK

The courier services are known to give bulk service on every process involved in the importation. They will provide door to door services.

The importer will only enter into an agreement with Courier Company and they shall ensure that the good is delivered to the importer’s door step.

Most trusted courier companies for UK to China shipment may include: DHL, FedEx, UPS and TNT.

Courier shipping from China to UK

Courier shipping from China to UK

4.2. Sea Freight Shipping from China to UK

China is about 7,775 km away from the United Kingdom but traversing this distance may take longer owing to the sea routes defined by water bodies.

Sea freight is determined by the location of ports to be used and the nature of consignment to be transported.

Very bulky consignment is normally shipped via sea.

Although it takes time to reach the final destination, it has proven to be the cheapest ever.

Before choosing this shipment method, he/she must be well acquainted with different ports both in China and United Kingdom.

Sea freight to U.K.

Sea freight to U.K.

· Sea Ports in China

China has so many sea ports.

The busiest sea ports include:

  • Zhuhai
  • Zhanjiang
  • Lianyungang
  • Tianjin
  • Shanghai
  • Guangzhou
  • Qingdao
  • Shenzhen,
  • Ningbo
  • Dalian
  • Xiamen
  • Yingkou
  • Fang Chenggang
  • Weihai
  • Qingdao
  • Rizhao
  • Zhoushan
  • Nantong
  • Nanjing
  • Shanghai
  • Taizhou (North of Wenzhou)
  • Wenzhou
  • Changle
  • Quanzhou
  • Shantou
  • Jieyang
  • Beihai
  • Sanya
  • Yingkou
  • Jinzhou
  • Taizhou (South of Wenzhou)
  • Qinhuangdao
  • Tianjin
  • Yantai Haikou
  • Basuo
  • Zhenjiang
  • Jiangyin

Note: You should ship your goods to a convenient sea port that allows you to easily ship from China to U.K.

· Sea Ports in UK

The majority of the UK ports are owned by five companies namely:

  i. Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH)

 ii. Forth Ports

iii. Associated British Ports (ABP)

iv. Peel Group

 v. PD Port

Some of the major ports include;

Main container sea ports in U.K.

Main container sea ports – Photo courtesy: Shippo

· Port of Felixstowe

It is located in Suffolk and is the Britain’s largest container ports.

It is rated as the largest in Europe.

When importing from China to UK, this port is centrally positioned for quick distribution within the land of the United Kingdom.

Its capacity is equivalent to 3.5 million twenty foot containers every year.

It runs services with 365 other ports in the world.

· Port of Southampton

This is located in the South of England and handle mostly full container loads.

In case there is a haulage cost to be incurred due to re-routing the container to Hampire based ports, Port of Southampton stands to be the best in saving such costs.

Occasionally, it can also handle the less than container loads from suppliers in Asia.

This port is rated as the UK’s second largest container terminal which can handle over 1.5 million containers in a year.

· Port of Tilbury

Situated on the banks of the River Thames in Essex.

The Port of Tilbury operates the London Container Terminal and is known as the biggest terminal for the refrigerated containers in Europe.

It has an installation of 1,400 reefer plugs on terminal with a 25,000 pallet space cold storage facility.

· Port of Grangemouth

It is located midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and is the Scotland’s largest container port in the middle of Scotland’s industrial sector.

This is the main container terminal in Scotland and handles averagely 150,000 containers every year.

The beauty of this port is that it links the national motorway network and the railway.

This is the only Port in UK that does more exportation that importation.

· London Gateway Port

This is one of the newest ports in the United Kingdom.

It is situated in London on the River Thames.

It enjoys a lot of advantages due to the fact that it is located in the major city with high business exercises.

It is known to have the largest logistics park in Europe.

Its location helps in saving on the haulage cost for those who live within the city since you can easily walk into the port and collect the consignment.

Other ports in the United Kingdom may also include port of ; Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Thame sport, Aberdeen, Bradford, Cardiff, Coventry, Dundee, Derby, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, New castle Upon Yyne, Nottingham, Northampton, Newport, Norwich, Oxford, Preston, Plymouth, Swindon, Sunderland, Stoke on trent, Sheffield, Swansea, Stockport, Telford, Watford, Worcester

· Sea Routes from China to UK

Ships leaving China to other parts of the world can only traverse three routes.

The routes include;

  • Atlantic
  • Pacific
  • Indian Ocean


Different sea routes

Different sea routes

Let’s look at these three routes:

  1. Atlantic Route from China to U.K.

When a vessel takes the Atlantic route, the ships transverse the southern direction from China, and then sail through the Indian Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope.

From here, the vessel can go United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the East Coast of the U.S., the Suez Canal, the Gulf and the Mediterranean area.

  1. Pacific Route from China to U.K.

When the Pacific route is used, the ship will follow the southern direction of the East China Sea.

Then, it goes northward via the Sea of Japan passing through Okhotsk to enter North Pacific Ocean.

Through this route, the ship reaches the following destination; the west of the U.S., west of Latin America, New Zealand, western Canada  and Australia.

  1. Indian Ocean Route from China to U.K.

The last route is the Indian Ocean, which is mostly used to ship oil.

This route enables goods from China to reach East Africa, Persian Gulf, Western Europe, United Kingdom and North America by setting sail in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope.

· Shipping Companies from China to U.K.

United Kingdom shares most shipping companies with those taking consignments to the neighboring European countries.

MSC shipping company

MSC Shipping company

Depending on the shipping rate and the shipping time, the shipping company is chosen appropriately.

When one requires medium shipping rates and medium transit time, the following companies will be recommended; COSCO and KLINE.

For low shipping rates and long transit time; MSC, CSCL, PIL, ZIM, WANHAI, MISC will do.

While for high shipping rates and less transit time, you can consider APL, CMA, HMM or MSK.

· Paper Work During Shipping from China to United Kingdom (UK)

The time taken for the consignment to reach its final destination is greatly determined by the availability of the documents for importation.

Different authorities will require different types of documents.

Once the authenticity of all the import documents is conformed, the importer gets the consignment on time without any delays.

Basically, two sets of documents are important during shipment; one set is verified at the departure port and the other set at the destination port.

In an event that the importer chooses to use an agent, the FOB will have to be bought by him to authorize the supplier to process all the necessary documentation.

Customs clearance

Customs clearance

In this case, the importer will have the obligation to handle clearance of the commodity at the destination port.

In any international importation, the key documents needed when doing shipment will include:

  • Packing list
  • Commercial invoice
  • Carrier’s bill of Lading

And, any other required documents from the authority depending on the good imported.

At times, the agents may not inform the importer when the goods arrive at the destination port.

Hence, it is important that the importer be well equipped with all the necessary documents.

Besides, the importer should have a good track of the ship movement to estimate the exact arrival date.

For any international shipping, packing list and commercial invoice are mandatory.

Let’s have a quick overview of these documents:

· Packing list

This indicates all the contents in the container.

Descriptions such as:

  • Different types of the products
  • Quantity per type of the products
  • Number of the products
  • Volume are all indicated in the packing list

This will also be helpful at the destination port.

You will use it to verify the goods you’ll receive.

· A Commercial Invoice

It indicates the actual types of the products, their order values and the consignee and is used by the customs to calculate the custom duties.

In other words, commercial invoice is a custom declaration document.

Since it is a declaration document, the following must be contained inside it;

  • Signature and names certifying the actual commodities being imported
  • Weight, pieces
  • Information regarding goods to be shipped, such as country of origin
  • Currency
  • Name and signature of the sender
  • Specification of the goods
  • Order number
  • Invoice date
  • VAT number
  • Invoice number
  • Shipper information

· Bill of Entry

This is part of a clearance document to be presented at the port of entry.

The importer will authenticate this document by filing and appending signature on it.

It is usually filled and signed within the first thirty days when the goods arrive at the customs location.

A custom official can only give a ‘pass out order’ document after doing an assessment and ensuring the bill of entry is fully filled and signed.

Upon receipt of the ‘pass out order’ from the customs official, the consignment is free to be taken to the final destination.

· Insurance Certificate

When the goods arrive at the destination port insurance certificate will be required as part clearance procedure.

It assists the customs official in differentiating whether the imported good selling price is part of the insurance or not.

This is vital in coming up with the import duty – you’ll use it to assess value of goods.

· Technical Write Up

This is used mostly in machine importation.

During value assessment, the customs official uses this document to come up with the recent market value of the machinery.

This document will explain in literature form the use of such equipment and the literature must be attached alongside other clearance documents.

It implies that, this document type is only needed for specific goods.

· Test Report

Due to standards of different countries, some goods will require the test results showing the conformity of the imported product to the country’s standard.

At the port of entry, customs official usually takes a specific commodity and gives to an authorized government laboratory to test if its quality conforms to the set standards.

If the test results indicate that the quality is acceptable, the goods can be cleared otherwise it will be rejected.

· Airway bill /Bill of Lading

This is critically important right from the port of departure.

It shows the services being offered by the freight forwarder to the shipper.

With this document, the carrier and the driver can get accurate information to be used to process the invoice and the freight shipment.

Normally, bill of lading is given at the point of the collection to the carrier and its copy attached to the package.

In case of any damage or loss, bill of lading will be very helpful as it will act as a proof of ownership anytime claims of compensation are made.

It contains:

  • Special reference numbers or purchase orders
  • Names and addresses
  • Description of items and packaging type
  • Department of transportation hazardous material designation
  • Special instructions
  • Date

4.3. Air Freight from China to UK

The fastest way to ensure the cargo reaches the United Kingdom from China is via air freight.

Although it is the fastest, it is also restricted by a number of factors.

Some huge consignments cannot be carried via air and hence has to undergo sea transportation.

One may wonder why many prefer air freight to sea freight.

The reasons are so many, but the most common one is the shortest delivery time.

Also, the air freight agencies use shortest routes to the destination airport.

It depends on the urgency of the cargo.

A factor of cost effectiveness also comes into play due to the minimal point of contact.

That is, one freight broker easily handles all the logistics which saves time and money.

Also, the consignment is insured for risk reduction and tracking and hence its safety is highly guaranteed.

To use air freight from China to UK, you need to know the location of various airports.

And, that’s what you’re going to learn next.

· Main Airports in China

China being an industrialized country has several airports situated in different towns to ensure easy movement of goods to the nearest airport.

Air China cargo

Air China Cargo

The busiest main airports in China include:

  • Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport
  • Taiyuan Wusu International Airport
  • Kunming Changshui International Airport
  • Beijing Capital International Airport
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Xian Xianyang International Airport
  • Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport
  • Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
  • Changsha Huanghua International Airport
  • Qingdao Liuting International Airport
  • Wuhan Tianhe International Airport
  • Haikou Meilan International Airport
  • ÜrümqiDiwopu International Airport
  • Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport
  • Tianjin Binhai International Airport
  • Phoenix International Airport
  • Harbin Taiping International Airport
  • Guiyang Longdongbao International Airport
  • Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport
  • Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport
  • XishuangbannaGasa Airport

Apart from this, you should know the main airport where you’ll deliver the cargo.

Now, let’s shift to the United Kingdom.

· Main airports in United Kingdom

United Kingdom has the greatest connection to the whole world.

Lots of business activities take place via her airports.

Here, the United Kingdom encompasses Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Main Airports in UK

Main airports in UK

On reaching the United Kingdom, the cargo plane can use any of the following airports depending on where the consignment on board is to be delivered.

UK therefore have got high standard airport for effective operations which may include;-

  • London Heathrow
  • London Gatwick
  • Manchester Airport
  • London Stansted
  • London Luton
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Birmingham Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • Bristol Airport
  • Newcastle Airport
  • East Midlands Airport
  • Belfast Airport
  • London Airport
  • Liverpool Airport
  • Aberdeen Airport
  • Leeds Bradford Airport
  • Belfast Airport
  • Southampton Airport
  • Jersey Airport
  • Cardiff
  • London Airport
  • Guernsey Airport
  • Doncaster Sheffield Airport
  • Exeter Airport
  • Isle of Man Airport
  • Bournemouth Airport
  • Inverness Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • Norwich Airport
  • Derry Airport
  • Sumburgh Airport
  • Newquay Airport
  • Humberside Airport
  • Durham Airport

But, how will your cargo move from an airport in China to the United Kingdom?

Cargo Planes from China to UK

Since there is a business relationship between China and UK, there are several cargo planes making this possible.

Some of the cargo planes using this network include; China Southern, Air China, DHL.

4.3. China to U.K. Door to Door Shipping

Door to door transit may take a junk of time, but it is important to know what it is.

It is also an effective way of importing from China to U.K.

In fact, in door to door shipping from China to U.K., the freight forwarder will handle everything for you.

The process involves the following main stages:

· Step 1: Source Goods from Supplier

Once the supplier has finished production of the goods, they will be in the warehouse waiting to be collected depending on the agreement.

The supplier may transport the good to the port.

Or, if one operates on the EXW shipping terms, then he/she will take the full responsibility of organizing the transportation to the port.

Packing Shihang copper nickel pipes

Packing Shihang copper nickel pipes

In such cases, the supplier will always leave the finished commodity in the factory for collection.

All these transit times between the suppliers to the departure port takes time.

A lot is involved, especially where the road transport is involved before the port.

· Step 2: Goods Arrive at Port of Origin

From the factory, the cargo/goods go to the port of origin in China/

They then undergo different processes before loading ready for shipping

The processes within 7 days may include; custom clearance, loading into the container, moving the container to the quay and finally loading onto the ship.

· Step 3: Shipping from China to the U.K.

Depending on the nature of goods, you can use air freight or sea freight.

For air freight, the cargo will only take a few days.

However, for ocean freight, it will take a number of days.

I hope you remember what I had indicated earlier.

· Step 4: Arrival at Port of Destination in the United Kingdom

Once the cargo/goods arrive in the U.K., it will undergo through various procedures.

It will include custom clearance, inspection, offloading and a bit of paperwork.

After this, the cargo/goods will be ready for the next procedures.

That is, the freight forwarder will arrange for transportation of the goods/cargo to your door step.

Door to door shipping

Door to door shipping

But, I know you could be asking yourself this question:

How long does door to door shipping from China to UK take?

From all the processes, important to note that the total time to ship a commodity from China to United Kingdom i.e. Wales, England or Scotland will be approximately 6 weeks.

However, for ocean freight, it will obviously take more days.

As a general rule, you should add about 7 days from the time the consignment leaves the manufacturer’s premises.

However, at BanSar, we can reduce this time frame.

Talk to us today, and we will handle all your door to door shipping from China to UK.

Chapter 5: Modes of Shipping from China to U.K.

Whenever you’re importing from China to the United Kingdom, you can choose many modes of shipping.

The mode of shipping will depend on:

  i. Cost of shipping

 ii. Type and nature of goods

iii. Space available, i.e. volumetric shape is key in ocean freight

iv. Whether you’re going for ocean freight or air freight

So, which options should you consider?

We have:

  • Roll-on/ Roll-off shipping
  • Reefer Container Shipping
  • Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping
  • Less than Container Load (LCL) Shipping
  • Out of Gauge (OOG) Shipping.

Now, let’s discuss each mode of shipping from China to U.K.

· A Reefer Container Shipping from China to U.K.

This is simply a refrigerated container suitable for transportation of commodities requiring controlled temperatures and perishable goods.

Some of the temperature sensitive goods likely to be transported in these containers are: dairy products, fruits, meat, fish, flowers, pharmaceutical products among others across long distances.

This type of the container can maintain temperature within the range needed throughout the transit time.

Reefer containers are designed with bottom air delivery units which distributes chilled air from its floor via the T-designed deck.

This air then moves consistency throughout the container.

Reefer container

Reefer container

Regardless of the room temperatures, the reefer containers have warm ups which are able to elevate the temperatures to about 30 degrees Celsius if need be.

And please note:

Reefer is designed to maintain the pre-cooled cargo temperature to its destination, but not to reduce the temperature.

When chilled cargo is to be transported, heat and gases have to be removed by ensuring constant air flow and this is made possible by providing the cartons with ventilations.

In the case of the frozen cargo, gaps between the cargo and the walls and the cargo itself cargo is avoided by ensuring air flows around the cargo (block stowed).

For better stowing, a checklist is necessary which will ensure;

 i. There is no stuffing of the cargo beyond the T-floor end

ii. Cargo stuffing should not exceed the red load line

iii. Cargo should not shift during the passage by ensuring they are made stable on the floor

iv. Carrying temperature should be well set and monitored

 v. Dehumidification controls must be constantly monitored

vi. Only the cargo has to be pre-cooled, but not the container in cases where pre-cooling is necessary. It is with an exception only if the container is placed in a cold storage tunnel with air lock.

vii. Ventilation’s should be free from any obstacle since this system needs a free flow of air

· Less than Container Load (LCL) Shipping from China to U.K.

This type of container consignment carries different types of goods of different origin and importers.

The goods are normally cleared and handled independently.

The container is put into the vessel once it is full.

This means that all the goods packed in the same container will be consolidated up to the point when the container is cost effective for shipping.

Important to note is that all the consolidated goods must be heading to the same port of destination.

To come up with the shipping cost, the individual space (cubic meters) taken by every good will determine how much one will pay.

This is the cheapest sea/ocean shipping mode when one is considering importing small quantities of commodities.

LCL Shipping

LCL Shipping

Even though this mode shipping is cheap, it always takes longer time due to prolonged consolidation and handling time.

Consolidation is done both at the departure and destination port plus independent clearance of every package.

Due to availability of different packages in one container, one has to ensure he does good packaging to avoid the damages during transit.

Goods which are chemical in nature have to be declared before transit for precaution to be made to avoid any further damages.

Every package is marked for easy identification at the destination port.

· Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping from China to U.K.

This is used where one has too much goods which is almost or full of a container.

The container is treated as a single entity and all handling and clearance is done singly.

This saves a lot of time compared to the LCL and also it is safe as it can be easily tracked.

During tracking after the ship departs, the booking number or the shipping container is used to track the duration shipment can take in the sea/ocean.

Charges on the FCL are flat rate compared to those of LCL where the charges are levied on each and every individual package.

FCL Shipping

FCL Shipping

There are three commonly used container types during shipping:

  • 20 feet
  • 40 feet
  • 40 feet high cube container

Each container should hold a load of 28 tones.

There is always the difference on how LCL and FLC are handled both at the port of departure and at the port of destination. It is due to the ownership inside the containers.

§  Handing LCL vs. FCL

The following are what makes LCL and FCL vary in the way they are being handled;

Handling of the FCL takes minimal time compared to the LCL.

It is because the supplier takes the responsibility of loading, sealing and transporting to the port of departure.

There is always no need of opening the consignment at the departure port till it reaches the destination port where the importer clears and collects it.

For the sake of LCL, a lot of time is utilized during handling since every package has to be treated independently.

This is during consolidation at the port of departure and at the port of destination during segregation for individual packages for clearance.

The Freight forwarder issues bill of lading directly in the case of FCL while in LCL, the bill of lading is given by the official shipping line.

FCL charges less than LCL owing to its low handling activities.

The difference in charges come as a result of handling the LCL both at the destination and departure ports during consolidation and segregation.

Many LCLs in one single container attracts high workloads which automatically pushes the cost high.

During unloading of the LCLs at the port of destination, segregation will be time consuming.

While for FLC, the consignment will just be unloaded from the vessel and sent to the owner.

FCL has one single container number which can easily be tracked.

On the other hand, in LCL, every package has independent shipping mark to help differentiate it from other packages.

When putting marks on the individual LCL packages, care has to be taken to ensure that the marks are visible with bold black color and are waterproof to resist being erased easily.

Basically the writings are supposed to be in English and possibly in the language of the destination port.

For cargos containing dangerous chemicals/substances, orange or red colors are used to mark them.

§  Roll-on/Roll-off Shipping from China to U.K.

Shipping of wheeled machines or automobiles take a different mode of packaging.

In such cases, Roll-on/ Roll-off method of shipping (Ro Ro) is advisable.

Ro – Ro are vessel containers that can safety carry wheeled cargo such as forklifts, tractors, trailers, vehicles among others.

The conditions for such machines to be transported is that they must be in good working condition.


In order for them to be easily driven on their wheels into the container at the port of departure and driven out of the container at the port of destination.

Roll-on/Roll-off is the cheapest method when shipping the wheeled machines/automobiles, although other container types can as well be used.

The only difference is that, in the container ship, the machines may not be in good working condition.

Only wheeled goods, accessories, i.e. spares are allowed in Ro/Ro, no personal belongings are allowed alongside the shipment.

This shipping type has the guarantee of the consignment’s departure and arrival dates which makes it better than the container shipping.

Out of Gauge (OOG) Shipping from China to U.K.

It is for loads which have dimensions exceeding those of the container.

Normally, the shipping company will charge an out of gauge surcharge on the “lost slots.”

This is because when the goods protrude; more containers can never be loaded.

Normally, there is no set limit for an out of gauge cargo.

The capacity of the container to be used is not dependent on the height, width or the weight to be used.

OOG shipping

OOG Shipping

In case any client has an out of gauge cargo for shipment, he/she must provide:

  • Weight of the cargo
  • Total dimensions of the cargo
  • Pictures of the cargo, alongside and other specifications

All these requirements are vital since they help the ship’s planning officers to check if the cargo is suitable to be loaded in a particular ship or not.

At this point, the process may take a bit long, but the suitability of whether to accept such a shipment is always communicated to the client.

Chapter 6: FAQs about Shipping from China to UK

I know probably, you may have some questions about shipping from China to U.K.

Here, I’m going to cover common questions importers from the U.K. ask whenever they want to ship from China.

You can go through these seven questions, and in case you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to ask.

China to U.K.

China to U.K.

Question 1: Which port should I use to ship from China to U.K.?

Answer: There are so many ports in China and I have highlighted most of them in this guide.

However, as a rule of thumb, use one that is closer to your supplier.

You need to discuss this with your freight forwarder.

Because you need a port that can link you directly to the U.K.

This way, you will save both time and money.

Question 2: What is the total time taken to ship from China to UK?

Answer: Normally, the transit time will vary greatly owing to a number of factors.

You can determine the timeframe depending on the transit period and other logistics procedures.

For instance:

  • Paperwork and handling consignment may take two weeks
  • Shipping may vary between a few hours to several days depending on the mode of shipping
  • Sourcing product from the supplier may take a few days or months

In short, you can factor in all these to get all approximate time it will take to ship from China to U.K.

Question 3: What do we mean by “Beat My Freight Quote” when importing?

AnswerBeat My Freight Quote is when you deal directly with professional freight forwarder with good knowledge in your area.

All inquiries will be dealt with by the local agent who will make a search of the best deal on your behalf.

So, all the deals will be between the agent and yourself.

In Beat My Freight Quote, no commission is taken for any transaction made and you can save a lot.

In order to be a licensed Beat My Freight Quote Freight, the freight forwarder must either be a member of a national freight forwarding company association.

Also, the freight forwarder must portray a high level of professionalism.

In most cases, they are approved by members of FIATA or IATA cargo agents.

Question 4: How do I make payment to a freight forwarding company based in China?

Answer: One can use money transfer systems to pay to that company’s bank account in China.

Most of these freight forwarding companies will have accounts with leading banks such as HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation).

The freight forwarder can conveniently and swiftly receive any payment.

Question 5: I don’t have a Bill of Lading (B/L), what should I do?

Answer: You can declare the cargo booking reference number in place of the “Bill of Lading (B/L) number” in your permit application.

That is, if you haven’t been given the Bill of Lading.

You can update the information once you get the Bill of Lading by simply submitting the amended application.

Question 6:  How do I guarantee the safety of my imports from China?

Answer: Hiring a professional and experienced freight forwarder is the only solution here.


They will handle all procedures, be it loading, labeling, transportation or clearance.

Such freight forwarders know the rules and regulations governing importing from China into the U.K.

In fact, hiring a professional freight forwarder will save you both money and time.

Question 7: How can I track his shipping order?

Answer: The moment your order leaves the warehouse, the freight forwarder will send you the dispatch notification having the tracking information from the carrier.

This will include the carrier website link which one can always use to know the distance status of the consignment.

Anyway, that’s all I had for you in this section.

Do you have any question on shipping from China to U.K., well, leave a quick comment below.


Clearly, importing from China to U.K. is simple and straight forward.

All you should do is to understand everything I have highlighted in this guide.

From evaluating costs, knowing rules and regulations, choosing modes of transport, etc.

And more importantly, hire a professional freight forwarder.

I hope this helps.

Feel free to share this article with your friends.

Also, I’d wish to hear from you – which freight forwarder in China have you worked with before?

What was your experience?

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