International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

Common Challenges In Shipping From China To The US And How To Overcome Them

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The process of shipping from China to USA involves a lot of red tape. There are documentations, agreements, tariffs and all that need to be satisfied before goods can successfully be sent between them.

This article will help explain some of the challenges usually faced and how to deal with them.


Common Challenges In Shipping From China To The US And Their Solutions


1. Regulatory And Compliance Issues


You need to navigate quite a lot of restrictions and customs procedures for shipping between China and the United States. They both have strict regulations for importing and exporting goods in their country. For example, in both countries, any goods entering or leaving the country have to be declared and need to be inspected by customs officers. Sometimes, the clearance process proves to be quite problematic and makes the shipping of goods difficult.


How Can Businesses  Overcome these Potential Issues with Regulations?


Businesses should make sure that their customs declarations are entirely accurate with the aid of a good customs broker. A customs broker that is well established in the shipping business will be able to direct on all the right steps to take so as to avoid issues on customs declarations and payment of duties and taxes.

It is also important for the businesses to pay attention to any changes in policy or agreements to prepare them for any effects those changes might have on the transit of the goods across the countries.


2. Documentation Errors


Making errors in the documentation required for clearing a shipment is sure to cause issues for transporting such goods. If there are mistakes in some particular documents for a shipment, the shipping cannot take place.


Some of these errors include:


Incomplete or inaccurate commercial invoices: A commercial invoice contains important details about the shipment like the description, quantity and value of the goods. If the information on the commercial invoice is incomplete or inaccurate, it will cause problems for the shipment’s customs clearance.

Errors in the Bill of Lading (B/L):The bill of lading is a contract between the shipper and the carrier. Any errors in this document will also make it difficult for the shipment to leave the country.

Misclassification of goods in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS): The harmonised tariff schedule is used by the US to classify goods, with a numerical code. Assigning a wrong classification will obviously cause logistics issues for a shipment.


How Can Businesses Avoid Documentation Errors?


Anyone who wants to ship goods from one country to another should properly check all shipping documents to make sure that they are complete and accurate.

Businesses should ensure to train their staff on the proper procedures to document shipments.

For ease of use and well organised record keeping, businesses can use digital tools to manage and verify their documents.


3. Delays in Transit


A lot of businesses commonly experience delays in the shipping of their goods.  This can be caused by a congestion of shipments at the ports. This leads to an accumulation of unsent goods sitting there.

Delays can also be a result of weather issues. Weather-related disruptions like storms are sometimes responsible for keeping shipments from being transported at the set times for safety reasons.

Customs clearance can also be a reason for the delay in shipping goods. The clearance can be held up due to issues with regulations, payments or documents as mentioned earlier in the article.


Some of the Ways for Businesses to Solve the Issue of Delayin Transporting Their Shipments Include:


Planning their shipments well in advance to avoid getting caught up in a congestion of shipments.

Choosing reliable shipping partners with good track records to handle their shipments.

Monitoring the progress of their shipments with real-time tracking tools.



4. Cost Fluctuations


Constant changes in the cost of shipping can really hinder businesses from transporting their goods at the right time. Surges in cost that are not prepared for are usually difficult to deal as a transporter. Fluctuations in shipping cost are determined by a number of factors, including:


Fluctuating fuel prices: The price of fuel for the vessels that transport the shipments directly impact the financial cost of shipping those goods. If the prices of these fuels increase, it will lead to a rise in shipping costs, which could make shipping of goods become too expensive for some businesses to handle.

Seasonal demand variations: Some goods are demanded more in some seasons like air conditioning units in summer seasons for example. The difference in shipping activities across different seasons will also lead to cost fluctuation because the prices are bound to rise when the demand surges.

Currency exchange rates: If the exchange rates of the currency of both countries are not stable it can lead to constant price changes in the costs required at the ports for both sending and receiving the goods. And this is likely to affect the financial plans that businesses have made for the shipping process.


For Businesses to Deal With these Issues, they Have to Do the Following:


They should negotiate long-term contracts with freight owners. This will help them avoid issues of constant irregularities in prices once they have a specified cost agreement valid for a length of time.

It will also be wise for businesses to be proactive in their budgeting and plan ahead for an increase in budget cost for the shipping process.


5.  Damage And Loss Of Goods


To ship goods and services from China to the US is not always an easy process. Damage or loss can happen as a result of various factors. Some common causes include


Poor Packaging And Handling Of Goods


The lack of adequate and proper loading or unloading techniques can cause loss and damage of goods. Ship attendants that are not properly trained will drop or toss packages and fail to follow special handling instructions. Also, unprofessional packaging of goods will subsequently lead to loss of goods.

To prevent this from happening, you must employ the services of proven shipping companies in China with a good track-record of delivery. And if you are one of the shipping companies, you should ensure to employ handlers that are trained on the use of proper techniques, use appropriate equipment such as forklifts and pallet jacks and clearly label handling instructions around the ship and the goods.

Additionally, you should make sure you have strong and well-sized boxes, adequately provide cushioning with the use of bubble wraps, foam inserts, etc., and ensure adequate closure of the packages.


Theft During Transit


Armed robbery and piracy also contribute to the loss and damage of goods from China to the US. Inadequate security systems and weak protection give room for theft during transit. Sailor thieves are an epidemic that hits hard on shipping companies in China when and if proper care and protocol is not taken during shipping.

To overcome this challenge, you need to have good insurance coverage that covers theft, loss, and damage.

Also, make compact security checks and take security measures that secure packaging and documentation.


Accidents Caused Due to Adverse Weather Conditions


Shipping goods and services from China to the US and even anywhere in the world is at the mercy of weather conditions and natural disasters. Thus, if proper measures and monitoring is not observed, adverse weather conditions on the sea will lead to goods being damaged and lost.

Although the occurrence of natural disasters is unpredictable, it can still be avoided by using tracking and monitoring services, so as to know when to set course or not, and choosing reputable carriers with strong security measures.


Custom Clearance Issues


Most times, new shippers fall short and compromise their shipments due to common challenges and issues faced in custom regulations and clearance. Minor mistakes in your customs documentation and compliance can lead to shipment seizures, and eventually loss of goods.

To avoid and solve this, consider working with a logistics company that is trusted and duly knowledgeable about the role of customs in international trade.



6. Challenges in Communication


Proper and seamless communication fosters the success of any business, but when there are language differences and communication barriers, the success of shipping goods and services from China to the US is slowed or sabotaged. Challenges in communication can include:

Misinterpretations and Language differences: This communication barrier causes protocols, rules, schedules, and instructions to be misinterpreted and misunderstood, which in turn result in the failure or delay in shipping.

To prevent this occurrence, staff or interpreters that are bilingual or even multilingual should be employed. This will prevent miscommunication and will break any language barrier that poses a threat to the success of the shipping.

Moreover, the use of standardised communication tools that give clear and concise instructions should be used.

Differences In Time Zones: This affects proper real-time conversation and causes fast and timely communication. This challenge can lead to aborting shipping and delay in delivery.

To counter this, regular meetings and updates must be scheduled or fixed after considering time zone differences.


7. Logistics And Supply Chain Management


To ensure safe and successful delivery of goods and services, logistics and supply coordination is an important box to tick. But when there is complexity in coordination, as a result of having many multiple logistics providers to manage, successfully shipping goods and services from China to the US faces setbacks.

Additionally, ensuring timely coordination between suppliers, deliverers, and customers is another factor that can mar the success of the delivery. The large workload to oversee all branches of logistics and supply chain is not easy-peasy.


How Can These Be Avoided?


Implementing a Compact Supply Chain Management System: For successful and problem free shipping, a robust supply link management system should be employed. A well-managed team that is capable of overseeing the supply of ordered goods and services should be appointed to avoid this issue.

Establishing Clear Roles Among all Parties: A team that knows their responsibilities and roles will effectively oversee the success of shipping deliveries and will prevent any mix-up or setback that may arise.

Employing Integrated Logistics Platforms: Using the services of tested and trusted logistics platforms can ease the workload of logistics and supply management and coordination.




The global business world is one where challenges and restrictions cannot be evaded, shipping from China to the US inclusive. Shipping companies in China face different challenges stretching from regulation and compliance issues, documentation errors, different delays in transit, cost fluctuations, down to political, health, and economical risks.

But by utilising the aforementioned proactive measures and constantly improving shipping strategies, successful delivery of goods and services can be accomplished, despite any difficulty encountered.