International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

Sea & Ocean Freight from China by Container

Container Sea Shipping in China – Procedures, Prices, Conditions and our Tips


If you want to import goods by container from China, this guide is made for you:


What is Sea Freight?

Large-scale cargo transportation through carrier ships is known as “sea freight.” After being packaged in containers, the goods are


 put onto a vessel. Since a typical cargo ship can carry up to 18,000 containers, shipping goods by sea is an economical way to move large amounts over long distances.

Transporting maritime freight can be done in a variety of ways.

  • FCL (full container load), in which you purchase one or more full containers to ship.
  • LCL, or less than container load, is when you may not have enough merchandise to fill an entire container. The contents of the container are separated once more, reaching their destination.
  • RORO (roll on, roll off), in which your goods board a cargo ship without leaving the truck they’re in. The car simply pulls up to the ship and pulls away from one end.
  • Dry bulk transportation, in which specific specialized commodities are dumped into the ship’s hold rather than transported in a container.


How does it work?

One component of the machine that makes up a supply chain network is sea freight. Some businesses decide to export their products safely and legally by using a specialized 3PL such as SINO Shipping. One of the main advantages of using these suppliers is that they are already aware of all the criteria, saving you from having to work with a shipping firm for each item.

The items will be obtained from your supplier and transported via port in one of the aforementioned formats once you have contracted with a shipping firm. It is important to keep in mind that delivery schedules should account for the time it takes to move through customs on each side of the port.

If you don’t have enough products, even with LCL as a possibility, it can be more economical for you to deliver them by air freight or courier. Both of these are used to send smaller quantities of goods, but because the trucks are smaller, they cost more.



Advantages and disadvantages


  • More affordable than alternative approaches.
  • Simple to move bulky or heavy items – Economical over long distances
  • The least-carbon-intensive option



  • Time is undoubtedly one of the biggest drawbacks of sea freight because it is the most time-consuming method of product transportation.
  • The pricing is too high for modest quantities of the product.

If you need to transfer huge amounts or if the destination country is far away, sea freight is more cost-effective and ecologically friendly than other methods of product delivery. Nevertheless, depending on the product, courier services and air freight may still be preferable alternatives to LCL.


How Much Does Shipping Cost From China?

To better meet the needs of each client, several variations of rates and services are available. In this way, you can choose between two main options as regards sea freight:


Full Container Load (FCL)

SINO Shipping provides weekly shipments to the main ports around the world. For every single shipment, SINO Shipping offers two types of full containers:

  • The 20 feet, with an internal capacity of 33 cubic meters
  • 40 feet, able to carry up to 66 cubic meters.

This solution ensures a safe and reliable shipping process, as your container will be sealed from the point of departure to the final destination address.


Less than a Container Load (LCL)

This option is more cost-effective for lower volumes, as only one part of the container will be used for the transportation of your goods.

This solution allows you to rationalize your shipping costs significantly. Your goods are loaded in the container alongside those of other customers, and you will end up paying only for the space you need.

LCL is recommended for a volume between 0-15 CBM. However, it may vary depending on the port of departure. Please contact us for more information.


SINO Shipping is proud to offer “door-to-door” services for LCL shipments as well.


Our Suggestions

You want to import or export goods to or from China, but you do not know which incoterm to opt for? 

For a reliable and hassle-free shipment, SINO Shipping advises you to go for (almost) full coverage of your shipment.

In other words, it is better for you to choose incoterms such as EXW or FOB, where (almost) all of your shipment will be handled and supervised by a team of dedicated professionals.

These two incoterms come with a pick-up from the factory or warehouse (EXW) or from the port of departure (FOB), which frees you from quite a heavy responsibility during the transportation process.

SINO Shipping‘s experience in providing logistics services for shipments between China and the entire world now enables our team to ship all kinds of goods between both countries (foodstuffs, chemicals, dangerous products, etc.).

During your shipments, no matter what type of goods are shipped, we manage all the necessary steps, including the most complex parts (customs clearance and other paperwork).


For further information regarding your transportation needs from or to China, please contact a SINO Shipping advisor. Our staff is committed to answering any questions you may have.


Kilos, Lbs, M3, CBM, feet, you have to make sure you there is no misunderstanding on the Volume and the Weight

Your Chinese suppliers and factories can communicate with you using European or US metrics. Be sure to convert the volume and weight.

Dimensions and capacity of standard containers:











Huge Price Differences According to the Quotations?

Be careful when choosing a logistics partner in China. Some companies do not adapt to specific customer needs, and this may lead to misunderstandings.

To avoid this, do not hesitate to contact several freight forwarders and try to find the one that seems most responsive, professional, and competitive.

This combination of the three factors will allow you to benefit from the best solution for your shipment from China to the country of your choice.

Also try to opt for a forwarder who will provide support and advice on the whole administrative part (customs clearance, etc.). It is a crucial aspect of the logistics chain.


For more information, visit our contact page.   


Is Sea Freight Always the Cheapest Option?

Which means of transport is appropriate, as well as the choice of the proper service often raise many questions for the customers.

Your parcel is equal to 1 cubic meter, or even less? You wonder which transport service would represent the most cost-effective option for your shipment.

In this case, it is important to note that the minimum weight / volume charged for an LCL shipment is 1 CBM or one ton.

Many people tend to think that sea freight is always cheaper than air freight. But in reality, express freight tends to offer much more competitive solutions for the smallest volumes.

In general, air freight is recommended for a billable weight of less than 100 kg, and sometimes even 200 kg for certain destinations.

For that purpose, SINO Shipping has adapted to the needs of its customers by offering highly competitive air freight services between China and countries around the world. Our long-term partnerships allow us to provide you with high-quality services at very competitive rates.

Your shipment must be protected appropriately to go through the various stages of the chain. First, your goods will be transported from the factory to the port of loading.

Then, your parcel will be loaded into a container before departure. After that, it will be transported to a warehouse at the destination for unloading before being loaded again onto a truck.

With all these handling operations, decent packaging is one of the most important aspects that has to be taken care of. The main goal is to ensure a safe shipping process from start to finish while minimizing potential additional costs in the event of damage.

To do so, SINO Shipping will ensure an excellent packing service for your goods in full compliance with international standards.

  • Cartons: 5 layers
  • Plastic packaging: yes
  • Pallets: Yes (IPPC ISPM 15 standard)
  • Freight Note: Yes (Printed on outer carton)

Here are the standard sizes of the pallets:

  • Europe: 1200 * 1000mm or 1200 * 800mm
  • Australia: 1140 * 1140mm
  • United States: 40 * 48 inches (1016 * 1219 mm)

If necessary, you can provide the shipper with explicit and clear packaging specifications according to your needs, expectations and the nature of the goods to be transported. Make things as clear as possible and provide pictures if possible to avoid misunderstanding.


How long does sea freight from China take?

Transportation of goods by water from China to the rest of the world takes the longest.

Despite this, it is the most cost-effective choice.

These tables show the transit times from China to major ports in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.


How long does sea freight from China to Europe take?

Ocean Port
Le Havre
Transit Time (Days)


How long does sea freight from China to North America take?

United States

Ocean Port

New York
Transit Time (Days)


How long does sea freight from China to South America take?

Ocean Port
Lazaro Cardenas
Puerto Quetzal
Transit Time (Days)


How long does sea freight from China to Africa take?

The Republic of South Africa
Ocean Port
Dar Es Salaam
Transit Time (Days)


How long does sea freight from China to Asia take?

Ocean Port
Cat Lai
Laem Chabang
Lat Krabang
Phnom Penh
Nhava Sheva
Transit Time (Days)


Factors Affecting Shipping Cost & Time

A Chinese, American or European festival, for instance, may have a major effect on prices and timelines due to its effect on logistics.

Freight shipments are usually fully booked days in advance due to lengthy vacation periods during important Chinese festivals.

The cost of shipping has increased as a result of the strong demand.

We’ve discovered that it’s preferable to schedule your cargo delivery as far in advance as you can during the Chinese New Year.

You’ll have to endure a protracted delivery delay if you don’t.

As a result, we provide you this knowledge to help you understand the fundamentals of this market based on our extensive experience controlling shipping time from China.


Incoterms 2020 and sea freight

Defining the Responsibilities of the Seller and the Buyer


In China, the Organization of Maritime Transport is very picky. In general, the four common incoterms when shipping from China are: EXW, FOB, CFR, and CIF. To determine a price and the responsibilities of every party involved in an international shipment, it is essential to understand what an incoterm is.

Let’s see how responsibilities vary according to each incoterm, using these 4 incoterms as examples:

  • When shipping under EXW, the supplier is responsible for making the goods available and ready for dispatch when coming out of the factory. The carrier or the freight forwarder is responsible for the shipment from the reception of the goods outside of the factory to the final delivery location.
  • When shipping under FOB, the supplier is responsible for forwarding the goods to the port of loading, on the vessel. At this point, the responsibility is transferred to the freight forwarder, until the final delivery location.
  • When shipping under CIF, the carrier takes care of freight and transport insurance to the port of arrival.

In general, the incoterm is clearly defined in the pro forma invoice or in the quotation that is provided. Otherwise, it is essential to make it clear before considering any international shipment.

Note: When comparing various quotations, make sure that the quotations are based on the same terms.

SINO Shipping’s advantage: We can ship under DAP. In other words, we can arrange a door-to-door service, which is highly appreciated by our customers. Pros: you deal with one interlocutor until the final delivery; you get an all-inclusive quotation (to avoid surprises); and we assure a permanent operational follow-up.

When shipping under DAP or DDU (excluding customs duties and taxes), the freight forwarder takes care of the whole process. This Incoterm can be likened to a “door-to-door” service, where your shipment is fully handled from beginning to end.



Most shipments from China are shipped under the same Incoterms, which are EXW or FOB in general. FOB is especially appreciated when there is a close relationship between the supplier and local transportation companies that are willing to handle the first part of the shipping process (from the warehouse or factory to the POL).

These long-lasting relationships between suppliers and local companies enable us to get very competitive rates. As a result, this part of the transportation process is systematically handled by Chinese suppliers.

However, you can use our services for freight, customs clearance in Asia, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Europe, and some African countries, as well as final delivery.

A SINO Shipping advisor will personally take care of the rest of the shipping process until your cargo reaches the final delivery location.

Now that you have learned more about the conditions under which you can ship your goods, let’s take a closer look at the costs of the shipping process.


How long does it take to get through customs in China?

Your cargo’s clearance time in China will vary depending on a number of variables, such as port congestion problems. It can take a little longer in the summer when Chinese ports are overflowing with cargo traveling into or out of the nation. Typically, during working hours, Chinese customs officers travel to various locations within the port to process and release goods whose duties have been paid with the necessary documentation. Depending on the season, the process may take 1–2 days or longer. In addition to port congestion, the following variables could result in delays:

  • Absence of necessary shipping paperwork
  • Shipping details that are not complete
  • The cargo’s lack of a description
  • Insufficient Client Data file


Are sea freight shipping costs from China going down?

The pandemic’s extremely high logistics costs have been one factor in inflation.

Although import container volumes to the US decreased by more than 8% in September 2022 compared to August, and October volumes are anticipated to be around 10% lower than last year, ocean freight prices have started to decline during the past several months.

According to data from Freightos, the cost to ship a 40-foot container from Asia to the US West Coast has decreased by more than 80% since the end of April, while the cost to ship to the US East Coast has decreased by nearly two-thirds. A decline in consumer spending, which over the past two years has raised sales for many importers, is a major factor in declining logistical costs.


How safe is sea freight?

Sea freight can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including the same ones that cause air freight delays: inclement weather, strikes, heavy traffic in the harbor, worker strikes, and challenges with paperwork at customs clearance. Most flights run on time, however in the event of a delay, cargo may be redirected or rescheduled to a later flight, usually on the same day. Typically, delays for marine freight are measured in days. Additionally, ships frequently run late compared to planes. Therefore, switching to sea freight may not be the best option in terms of quality innovation or development.

When all factors are considered, air freight is typically thought to be more dependable than maritime freight. Depending on the product’s risk profile, either the sea or the air may be the best option. Air freight is by far the safer option for drugs that need to be kept at specific temperatures. With so many new, delicate, and specialized products—like biologicals or biosimilars—entering the market on a regular basis, it is difficult to achieve any sort of quality innovation or improvement simply using sea freight. Depending on the cost of the various alternatives, it might be a choice for more developed items that are less sensitive. If shipping the goods by water is worth the risk, a complete cost analysis could provide insight.


What is sea freight insurance?

You must be aware of the hazards associated in exporting products by sea and ensure that you have the appropriate insurance in place.

Shipping companies must have sea freight insurance. You should make sure to buy a commercial insurance coverage for your business if you ship goods by water. However, buying insurance isn’t always simple. In order to learn everything there is to know about marine freight insurance, read this guide.


The various types of policies

Hull and machinery (H&M) insurance and cargo insurance are the two primary types of marine freight insurance. While cargo insurance covers the items being shipped, H&M insurance insures the ship itself. You can get a combined policy that covers the ship and its cargo or you can purchase either type of coverage separately.


H&M Insurance

If you are operating a commercial vessel, you are normally required by law to carry hull and machinery insurance. Your ship is covered if it is involved in an accident like a collision or grounding. It also includes damage brought on by inclement weather or pirates.


Cargo Insurance

Cargo insurance is strongly advised if you are shipping precious or perishable items even though it is not legally required. Your items are covered under this form of coverage in the event of loss or damage while in transit.


Things to Think About

  • The worth of your ship and its cargo, the route you’ll be taking, and the kind of items you’re delivering should all be taken into account when selecting a maritime freight insurance coverage.
  • Consider whether you require extensive protection or merely basic safety.
  • While basic insurance only covers a few specific dangers, comprehensive coverage protects against all risks.


Various Services

  • Maritime insurers are specialized businesses that offer coverage for shipments and their cargoes. They typically have an excellent grasp of the hazards associated with marine freight and are able to provide comprehensive insurance at affordable rates.
  • Manufacturers, retailers, and service providers are just a few of the many types of enterprises that general liability insurers offer insurance for. Although they might not have the same degree of experience as maritime insurers, many general liability insurers also provide marine insurance.



It’s crucial to make sure your cargo is adequately insured if you’re sending items by sea. It might be challenging to decide which marine freight insurance is best for your company given the wide variety of options available.

When purchasing maritime freight insurance, be sure to carefully read the policy to ensure that you are aware of what is and is not covered.

Please feel free to clarify any issues with your insurer if necessary. And keep in mind that it’s always better to err on the side of caution and buy more coverage than you think you need if you’re ever unsure whether your goods are adequately insured. Consult the SINO Shipping Advisors to choose wisely. Always choose the path of caution.


Port of Departure – How to Choose?

Chinese ports are among the most important ports in the world. 8 of the 17 most important ports in terms of traffic are Chinese. If we include Taiwan and Hong Kong, this figure goes up to 10.

SINO Tips: You want further information shipping routes from China to worldwide? Feel free to check our dedicated page: Shipping routes from China (about Sea freight only).












Biggest Chinese ports

The top 8 Chinese ports in terms of traffic are located on the east coast of the country, from Shenzhen to Dalian in the northern part.

The only port that is located in the inland areas of the country is Guangzhou, at the confluence of three main Chinese rivers.


Port of Shanghai

Shanghai Province


Container traffic in 2019: 43.3 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2019: 514 million tons

Port of Shenzhen

Guangdong Province


Container traffic in 2018: 27.7 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 194.9 million tons

Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan

Zhejiang Province


Container traffic in 2018: 26.4 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 1.12 billion tons

Port of Guangzhou

Guangdong Province


Container traffic in 2018: 21.9 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 600 million tons

Port of Hong Kong

Hong Kong – Special Administrative Region


Container traffic in 2018: 19.6 million

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 258.5 million tons

Port of Qingdao

Shandong Province


Container traffic in 2018: 18.26 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 600 million tons

Port of Dalian

Liaodong Province


Container traffic in 2018: 9.77 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2017: 455 million tons

Port of Tianjin

Tianjin Municipality


Container traffic in 2018: 15.97 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 428.7 million tons

Port of Xiamen

Fujian Province


Container traffic in 2018: 10.7 million TEU

Cargo tonnage in 2018: 218 million tons


How Many Cartons per Pallet, How Many Pallets per Container?



In this example, let’s take the example of industrial pallets: 100 x 120 cm

  • As a reminder, the weight of a pallet is 30 kilograms
  • the maximum load per pallet is 1.5 tons

You will be able to load:

  • 9 pallets in a 20 feet container
  • 22 pallets in a 40 feet container

Once you know the size of your cartons, pallets, the container (dimensions), as well as the weight, then you are able to decide what is the most suitable option between FCL and LCL.

SINO Tips : Now that you know the size of your cartons, the height of the container (an industrial pallet is 16cm high), and the weight of your cartons, you can finally calculate the volume and therefore forecast how many containers or CBM you need.


Which goods are best transported by sea?

Roll on/roll off, break bulk, dry bulk, liquid bulk, and container cargo are the main types of cargo that are transported by sea.


Container cargo

Items like computers, meat, clothing, televisions, and toys are shipped in containers. Typically, goods are transported in metal-walled containers to shield them from harsh weather, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. Containers for marine freight can also be loaded into trucks, barges, and train cars.


Liquid Bulk

Fuel oil, gasoline, and crude oil are examples of hazardous items that fall under the category of liquid bulk. They are transported to refineries and other facilities on large tankers. Petroleum products are shipped via barge-towed trains and tankers, whereas chemical and food industry items are frequently delivered by chemical tankers. To make sure the vessels adhere to safety standards, they are regularly monitored and vetted. Liquid bulk logistics service providers have expertise in supply management, quality assurance, labeling, and packaging. IFA members collaborate with freight ship companies, are experts in quick and multimodal transit, and have access to storage facilities that adhere to industrial, fire safety, firefighting, and environmental regulations.


Dry Bulk

Dry bulk freight comprises items like grain, sand, salt, sugar, cement, iron ore, and coal. Major and minor bulk products are two subcategories of dry bulk that can be separated. Fertilizers, minerals, and cement are included in the first category, whereas iron ore and coal are included in the second. Bulk carriers also handle some risky items, which necessitate specific handling during loading, carriage, and disposal. Liquid cargo is a safety risk because it could cause the ship to capsize and sink. Examples of this kind of dry bulk cargo include coal, nickel ore, and zinc and nickel concentrate. During transportation, special precautions must be taken, such as visual and moisture content monitoring.


Break Bulk

Cargo that needs to be loaded individually is referred to as individual or break bulk cargo and includes items like artwork, furniture, farm equipment, and automobile parts. Break bulk cargo is transported by general cargo ships, and the cargo is loaded into barrels, drums, crates, and boxes. Break bulk cargo is also transported using corrugated fiberboard that is weather-resistant and military-grade.


Roll on/roll off

Rolling stock in this category includes project freight, large machinery, machines, and vehicles. Ports that deal with roll-on/roll-off cargo provide a variety of specialized services, including air conditioning maintenance and installation, second stage manufacture, spraying, dewaxing, and washing. Vehicle processing centers also carry out pre-delivery checks. Stock management, financial representation, cargo distribution, and storage are further services.


Refrigerated Shipping

SINO shipping is proud to offer temperature-controlled shipments from all major Chinese ports. We are one of the biggest service providers in China for perishable goods, frozen goods, drinks, or other goods requiring strict temperature control.


Transportation of Dangerous Goods and Sea Freight

How And Under What Conditions Can You Ship Dangerous Goods From China by Sea?

A small introduction to the transportation of dangerous goods – What is a dangerous product?

Some goods that are classified as “dangerous” might surprise you, such as aerosols, perfumes, or anything that contains lithium batteries, such as phones or laptops.

There are nine categories of hazardous products.


Can I check the hazardousness of a product through labelling?

1 = Product Identifier

2 = Signal Words

3 = Hazard Statement

4 = Precautionary Statement

5 = Supplier Information

6 = GHS Pictograms (Diamond-Shaped Symbols)

SINO Tips: If you see any of these logos, please contact us before considering any shipment. CONTACT US


Where can I find further details?

SINO Tips: If you are not sure, ask the suppliers to provide you with the MSDS (material safety data sheet). They have to provide it.


Who is responsible for declaring the dangerous goods?

The sender is responsible for the proper declaration, packing, and labeling of the hazardous products, ensuring a full compliance with all the paperwork required by the country of origin, the shipping company and the country of destination


How can I ship my dangerous goods?

There is no standard procedures for hazardous shipments. It depends on what you are shipping. Get in touch with our advisors now, we will provide you all the information as regards the steps you must follow.

For more information visit the IMO (International Maritime Organization) website.


SINO Shipping – Sea Freight Forwarder China

Who we are

SINO Shipping by FS International has become one of the most trusted names in global logistics and transportation in its region and the world.


When we start

SINO Shipping by FS International was established in Hong Kong in September 1989.


What we do

SINO Shipping provides a full range of logistics and transportation services with particular emphasis on efficiency and reliability at a competitive rate and, of course, the assurance of personal service. Our tactical services include import/export freight-forwarding, ocean and air transportation, overland transportation, custom brokerage and regulatory compliance, project cargo services, warehousing and distribution, supply chain management and information management.


Where we are

Headquartered in Hong Kong , the company has branch offices in major cities in the Far East. Together with our agents in over 50 countries worldwide, we are able to extend our logistics, know-how and experience in serving our clients.


How we do it

Through recognition of consolidated strengths to benefit our global client SINO Shipping by FS International founded together with its long years business partners an international network namely EAA back in 2007. Over the years EAA has grown to a medium sized freight forwarding network with remarkable success due to its binding rule “exclusivity” which is the key to make ourselves distinctive from the other networks.


Why we do it

SINO Shipping’s business philosophy focuses on the principles of honesty, integrity and complete dedication to our clients. Our operations and management staff adhere to these principles with much enthusiasm and professionalism. In addition to providing superb customer services to our clients, we commit ourselves to know what matters most to our clients, by listening, by learning, by comprehending and by delivering tailored solutions. Cross-functional teams of professionals from every unit in our organization work with every one of our clients closely, continuously seeking opportunities for process improvement and savings. Ready to deliver attention to every detail, on every shipment, every time is our promise.

Our intense customer focus is well complimented by a strong, mature global network of agents that enable us to meet our clients’ most complicated shipping challenges, delivering even greater bottom-line value to their supply chain.

At SINO Shipping, we’ve been helping customers grow for years by never losing sight of two basic values: We care. And we keep our promises.



Frequently asked questions

At what Volume is Sea Freight Financially Attractive?

Above 2 CBM, you have to consider sea shipping. If your volume is less than 2 CBM, air freight may be cheaper.

Should I Prefer Consolidation or Full Container?

If your cargo volume is less than 15 CBM, LCL consolidation is better and cheaper. Above 15 CBM, the full container is the best option.

How to Choose the Port of Departure?

Depending on 2 criteria: The address of the supplier, prefer a port of departure close to the supplier's factory or warehouse. In addition, you should choose the port according to the price. The larger the port, the lower the price.

What are the Main Shipping Companies Departing from Chinese Ports?

As China is the world's largest exporter, all shipping companies are present, for example the main ones we like to work with: CHINA SHIPPING, MAERSK, CMA-CGM, MSC, ONE.

How is Ocean Freight Charged?

If you opt for groupage, you are charged per CBM. For example, a China-US groupage costs $30/CBM, for 1 month of transit, while a China-India groupage costs $20/CBM for 15 days of transit.

How to Choose a Reliable Sea Freight Forwarder?

Check if it really exists, and if it has offices in China, ideally in the main Chinese ports. If you want the best, SINO Shipping is at your service.

How to Avoid Freight Forwarding Scams?

Don’t be naive. Prices that are too low or offers that are too tempting usually hide unpleasant surprises. SINO Shipping is your best option for transporting your products by sea.



Acerca de SINO

SINO Shipping es una empresa transitaria internacional de confianza con más de 35 años de experiencia, que ofrece una gama completa de servicios de logística y transporte. Con una fuerte presencia en China y un compromiso con la eficiencia, la fiabilidad y la satisfacción del cliente, SINO Shipping garantiza soluciones logísticas rentables y sin estrés para empresas de todo el mundo.

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