International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

Complete Guide of Shipping from China to Laos (2024 Version)

Table of Contents

Laos has established itself as an important trade partner and destination for goods exported from China in Southeast Asia. With its growing economy and improving infrastructure, the demand for quality products from China is on the rise.

If you are a business looking to export goods from China to Laos, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of the various shipping options, costs, transit times, documents needed, and important considerations.

China to Laos by Air freight

Air freight is the fastest way to ship cargo from China to Laos but also the most expensive. Cargo planes fly between major cities in the two countries on a regular basis.

Nanning to Vientiane

The quickest air route is between Nanning Wuxu International Airport (NNG) in China to Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane, Laos. Flights on this route take approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes and depart 2-4 times per week. China Eastern Airlines operates Boeing 737 aircraft on this direct route.

Chongqing to Vientiane

Another major air route is between Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG) and Vientiane. Flights take around 2 hours and 45 minutes but have more frequency, with departures from Chongqing 2-4 times daily. Sichuan Airlines flies an Airbus A330 freighter as well as Airbus A320 passenger jets on this route.

China to Laos by Ocean Shipping

Container ships traveling between major Chinese ports and Laos take around 1-2 weeks but offer significant cost savings over air freight.

Shekou to Da Nang

Departing from Shekou port in Shenzhen, it takes roughly 1 day and 11 hours for container ships to reach Da Nang port in neighboring Vietnam by sea. Interasia operates on this route with departures every 1-2 weeks.

Shekou to Laem Chabang

Sailing further south, ships traveling from Shekou to Laem Chabang port in Thailand take about 4 days. Major carriers like OOCL and Wan Hai Service this route with departures as frequently as every 1-2 days. Containers are then trucked overland from Laem Chabang through Thailand and into Laos.

How Long Does it Take to Ship From China to Laos?

The transit time depends on whether cargo is transported via air, sea or land. Some key factors affecting transit times include:

●Air Freight – Routes, aircraft type, and number of stops determine flight duration from 1-3 days.
●Ocean Shipping – Vessel speed and route length influence sea transit from 10-15 days on average.
●Overland – Distance, route conditions, and border clearance impact land transit of 5-7 days.

Air Transit Times

Origin Airport Destination Airport Flight Duration
Nanning, China Vientiane, Laos 1 hour 50 mins
Chongqing, China Vientiane, Laos 2 hours 45 mins

Sea Transit Times

Port of Lading Port of Discharge Transit Duration
Shekou, China Da Nang, Vietnam 1 day 11 hours
Shekou, China Laem Chabang, Thailand 4 days 1 hour

Factoring in logistics handling times, the total transit time from China to Laos by different modes is usually 5-10 days by sea/land and 1-3 days by air. Express carriers can deliver certain cargo within 1-2 days.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship From China to Laos?

Freight costs are influenced by various rate factors and charges for air, sea and overland shipments.

Air Freight Rates

Air cargo rates are dependent on various factors:
●Route – Rates from major airports like Guangzhou and Shanghai are lower at USD 3-4/kg compared to remote cities at USD 5-6/kg.
●Weight – Shipments below 500kg qualify for minimum charges, above 1000kg get volume discounts of 5-10%.
●Size – Dimensions and volumetric weight determine chargeable weight.
●Season – Peak season Nov-Feb rates are 5-10% higher versus lean season May-Aug.
●Service type – Express delivery within 24-48hrs costs USD 10-15/kg, standard within 72hrs is USD 3-6/kg.
●Additional fees – USD 50-150 fuel/security surcharges plus USD 100-300 terminal handling charges.

Here is a table to summarize sample air freight costs from major Chinese cities to Laos (USD/kg):

Origin Shanghai Guangzhou Chengdu Hong Kong
Standard Service 3-4 3-5 4-6 4-5
Express Service 8-12 10-15 12-15 10-13

Sea Freight Costs

Ocean freight is quoted per FCL (Full Container Load) or LCL (Less than Container Load) and affected by:
●For a 20′ standard container, expect rates in the range of USD 1800-2500.
●40′ container rates are approximately USD 2000-3000.
●45′ high-cube container rates start from USD 2500.
●Heavy machinery/project cargo incurs 20-30% higher rates than general dry cargo.
●Cost per TEU decreases with increasing weight as weight-based charges get amortized.
●Peak season from June-August sees 15-20% premium over off-season months.
●Chinese New Year in January-February also has slightly higher rates.
●BAF of USD 150-300 is typically charged depending on fuel prices.
●Fuel surcharges are revised every 15 days based on price of IFO 380.
●Container terminal handling charges of USD 150-250 at China ports.
●In Laos Da Nang port, THC of USD 100-150 plus storage fees if any.
●Anchorage charges may apply if vessel has to wait for berthing slots.

Here are estimates of sea freight costs from some top Chinese ports to Chabang, Vientiane and Da Nang (USD per 20’/40′ Containe)r:

Route Shekou to Laem Chabang Ningbo to Vientiane Guangzhou to Da Nang
20′ FCL 1800-2500 2000-2800 2200-3000
40′ FCL 2200-3000 2400-3200 2600-3400
Additional charges like bunker adjustment surcharges of USD 150-300, port costs, customs brokerage also apply depending on destination port and haulage distance.

What is the best way to ship goods from China to Laos ?

When selecting the best shipping method from China to Laos, factors like cargo type, shipment size, costs and required delivery times should be evaluated.

When sea freight is best:

●Shipping large volumes or full container loads (FCL)
●Heavy bulk items like raw materials or machinery
●Low-value goods where cost is a priority over speed
●Flexible delivery times

When air freight is best:

●Urgent shipments needed under a week
●Small volumes not reaching container-load
●High value or critical goods like electronics
●Shipments that require speed and reliability

For consolidated shipments between these extremes, multimodal transport like rail or road may offer a good balance of cost and transit time.

Working with an experienced freight forwarder can help you select the most suitable transport modes and routes to align with your cargo profile, budgets and delivery requirements.

Prohibited and Restricted Items in Laos

Certain goods face import restrictions depending on their nature and intended use:

●Narcotics – All illegal and controlled drugs are banned.
●Counterfeit goods – Goods infringing intellectual property rights cannot be imported.
●Firearms – Only allowed with official permissions and documentation.
●Pornography – Any obscene materials are subject to seizure.
●Hazardous waste – Dumping or import of toxic trash is prohibited.
●Endangered species – CITES regulations apply to wildlife imports.

Importers must ensure goods comply with Laos rules to avoid costly delays or penalties at customs clearance. A licensed customs broker can assist with regulations.

Customs Clearance in China and Laos

China Export Clearance:

●Apply for an export license from the relevant authority if exporting restricted/prohibited goods. This can take 1-2 weeks.
●Submit integrated customs declaration (entry and exit declaration of goods) online via customs websites like We Trade Globe or HRS.
●Documents required include commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, certificate of origin etc.
●Goods are physically examined for verification against documents in 5-10% cases or based on risk assessment.
●Pay applicable export duties, VAT rebates (if any) and exit fees via customs broker.
●Customs issues release order within 24 hours in most cases upon verification of documents.

Laos Import Clearance:

●Submit online customs import declaration through ASYCUDA World system minimum 4 hours prior to arrival.
●Documents to be uploaded include commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of origin, import permit (if required).
●Goods may be subject to random physical inspection on arrival.
●If any issues found, goods are put on hold for clarification or testing till issues resolved.
●Pay applicable duties, VAT, stamp duties, commission within timeline provided.
●Customs issues clearance certificate/release order within 1-2 days on average for normal declarations.
●Regulated goods like foods, medicines, animals may require additional clearances extending overall timelines.

Imports are subject to 10% VAT as well as duties determined by goods classification under Laos’s Harmonized System (HS) Codes. A licensed customs agent can assist clearances.

Essential Documents for Shipping from China to Laos

Whether transporting by air, sea or road, certain key paperwork needs to be prepared:
●Packing List – Specifies goods, quantities, values and technical specs.
●Commercial Invoice – Declares transaction price, quantity and description.
●Bill of Lading/Air Waybill – Transport document issued to receiver.
●Certificate of Origin – Confirms goods’ country of manufacture.
●Import/Export License – For restricted or regulated items.
●HS Codes Declaration – For accurate customs duties assessment.
●Insurance Documents – To cover damages or losses during transit.

Proper documentation provides legal validity and enables smooth import/export processes and customs clearance in both countries.


In conclusion, selecting the right combination of transportation mode and logistics provider is crucial for seamless and cost-effective shipping between China and Laos. Air freight affords fastest delivery for urgent consignments while sea and road freight are most suitable for routine bulk shipments. Comparing all key factors like shipment attributes, costs, durations and clearance procedures helps identify the best-fit supply chain solution and facilitates smooth cross-border trade flows.


Does Laos customs open and inspect every import shipment?

No, not every shipment is subjected to physical inspection by Laos customs. Random selection checks are carried out based on perceived risk levels. Shipments can also be red flagged for inspection if documentation is incomplete or discrepancies are detected. Having accurate papers minimizes inspection chances.

How can I reduce custom duties for imports to Laos?

Laos is a member of ASEAN free trade agreements which waive import duties on many goods originating within the bloc. Presenting a valid Certificate of Origin certifying China as the source country allows duty-free access. You can also check eligibility for any specific tariff exemption under bilateral pacts between China and Laos.

Which Chinese ports are most suitable for cargo shipping to Laos?

Southern Chinese ports like Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai provide direct and frequent connections to Laos. Cargoes shipped from these major international hub ports benefit from comprehensive intermodal transport links and value-added logistics services for onward delivery. Ports situated in South/Southwest China such as Ningbo and Xiamen also accommodate regular services to Indochina destinations.

How can I track my shipment from China to Laos?

Reliable freight forwarders provide real-time tracking of shipments via email/SMS updates. For sea or road freight, tracking numbers allow online tracing of consignments right from origin to final delivery. Air cargo shipments can be monitored through flight/AWB numbers on airline websites. Hiring an experienced agent ensures timely notifications throughout transit help address any delays promptly.

Can I arrange logistics services myself or do I need a freight forwarder?

Coordinating multi-leg international movements directly presents numerous compliance, documentation and language challenges. Freight forwarders specialize in navigating complex import/export laws while managing door-to-door transport, customs clearance and handling unforeseen issues expertly. Their transport expertise and network resources make using an accredited agent a low-hassle solution for hassle-free China-Laos supply chain logistics.