International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

How Long Does It Take to Ship from China to USA?

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Nowadays, businesses rely on global trade and shipping to reach new markets. And we can’t deny that many suppliers source products from China. However, the shipping process is a common concern among those looking to import from China. How long does shipping from China to the USA take for items to arrive?

This blog post will share everything you need about shipping times from China to the USA, including factors impacting delivery and tips for expediting your shipments.


Factors Affecting Shipping Time


Various factors can affect the shipping time from China to the USA. Here are some of the main factors:


Shipping Method


The method you choose is the first factor that has a more significant impact on shipping time.


Shipping MethodTimeframeIdeal forProviders
Air Freight1-5 daysUrgent, high-value, or perishable goodsVarious
Sea Freight15-40 daysBulk, heavy, or non-urgent shipmentsVarious
Express Shipping1-3 daysUrgent deliveriesDHL, FedEx, UPS



Distance and route

There are some major ports in both countries, and when shipping, the choice of port significantly impacts the overall timeline.

There are several major ports in China, including:

Shanghai’s port is considered one of the busiest ports in the world and handles a vast array of goods.

Shenzhen: Shenzhen port is a critical hub for electronics and high-tech goods.

Ningbo: Ningbo port is known for its efficiency and strategic location.

Guangzhou: Guangzhou is a significant port for automotive and industrial goods.

Qingdao: Qingdao port is vital for agricultural and chemical products.


On the USA side, the primary ports include:

Los Angeles:  
It is the busiest port in the USA, serving as a gateway for goods entering the West Coast.

Long Beach: Long Beach is located Adjacent to Los Angeles and handles a substantial cargo volume.

New York/New Jersey: This is the main port on the East Coast, crucial for goods destined for the Eastern Seaboard.

Savannah: Savannah is Known for its rapid growth and efficiency.

Seattle/Tacoma: Seattle is a Key port for goods heading to the Pacific Northwest.

Depending on the specific route and any transshipment points the duration will ranging from 15 to 40 days.


Customs Clearance

Customs clearance is essential and can delay your shipment’s arrival. The processing timings usually are:

In China: Export customs clearance can take 1-2 days if all the provided documentation is accurate and no inspections are required.

In the USA: Import customs clearance usually takes 1-5 days, depending on your port choice and the traffic volume.

However, documentation, random inspection or failure to meet regulatory compliance can further delay the shipment.


Seasonal Variations


Busiest Seasons in China


Chinese New Year:

Services decline or delay from late January till the first week of February. Most factories are closed due to which logistics are disturbed.  

Golden Week: 

In China, there’s a one-week holiday in October during which most businesses and governmental bodies cease operations. This leads to several short-term delays in production as well as shipping and deliveries.



Holidays in the USA


Christmas & New Years: 

November and December are globally known to be the busiest season in the United States. As soon as the holiday season begins, the import and shipping volumes also increase; often leading to delays and failure to match the demand in a timely fashion.


Again, Thanksgiving comes in November and is considered to be one of the busiest seasons in the United States. The sudden shift of shipping needs leads to failure in meeting supply.

When you plan your shipments, base your decisions around these crucial months. This information helps you avoid delays and other unpredictable circumstances to smoothly navigate the busy seasons. It is best if you work with your freight forwarder and confirm all your shipments well in advance as it will reduce the sudden surge in demand and supply and reduce peak season impact.



Comprehensive Guide to Shipping Options



1. Air Freight


  • Speed: Quickest and an impeccable option for meeting urgent supply needs.
  • Reliable: Air freight ensures a predictable schedule which reduces chances of delay; quite common with ocean freight.
  • Security: Reduced risks of damage and less man-handling because of a faster transit mode


  • Price: It is comparatively an expensive option.
  • Capacity: Aircrafts dedicate a smaller space for air freight deliveries due to weight restrictions.
  • Environmental impact: This obviously has a higher carbon footprint and is not an ideal option for contributing to global warming.

Let’s walk through a basic shipment process

  1. Booking: You will arrange all the important documents that will help you attain custom clearance without any hassle. These documents include receipts of the contents and information of their weight, dimension, etc.
  2. Pick-up: The shipment is collected via cargo from the supplier along with other shipments
  3. Export Custom Clearance: The shipment will undergo Chinese custom evaluation.
  4. Air Transport: Journey begins from China to the US; it may take up to 5 days for delivery.
  5. Import Custom Clearance: The process of clearance begins at the US Customs.
  6. Delivery: Cargo will ensure delivery to the final address.

Things to consider when calculating cost:


Weight: The weight of your shipment is essential — the higher the weight, the higher the cost.

Fuel charges: Fluctuating in fuel pricing globally will impact the final rates as well as the distance traveled.

Additional costs: There are security charges, and other custom duties. Fragile shipment requires additional fees.



 2. Sea Freight


  • Cost: It is comparatively more feasible; especially if there’s bulks of shipment
  • Capacity: This method has the ability to carry higher volumes of shipment
  • Versatile: Ocean freight shipment can transport a variety of goods, even relatively hazardous contents.


  • Speed: It is a relatively slower transit and can take up to 40 days.
  • Reliable: Due to longer transit, it can succumb to bad weather and port congestions.
  • Security: Damage and theft are more likely to occur


Let’s walk through its basic shipment process

  1. Booking: Make sure you have arranged all the important documents, receipts of goods and their information
  2. Pick-up: Cargo will collect the shipment and load it into the containers
  3. Export Custom Clearance: Chinese customs will evaluate and clear your shipment from their end
  4. Sea Transit: The shipment begins from China to the US — can take up to 40 days
  5. Import American Customs: American customs will evaluate and clear your shipment from their end
  6. Delivery: Deliveries are made at the final destinations

Types of Containers and Sizes

  • 20-feet container — apt for smaller shipments
  • 40-feet containers — a standard ship for small to medium sized shipments
  • 40-feet containers— an ideal cube container for those shipments that require additional height
  • Special containers — these are refrigerated with an open roof and a flat-rack for taking care of special and fragile needs.

Things to Consider when Calculating Cost:

  • Weight: Final charges are dependant on the size of the container rather than individual weight
  • Fuel cost: The cost of fuel globally reflect in the fluctuating cost of this transit
  • Additional fees: there are port and other charges that you must pay
  • Custom duties: You must clear import duties and they vary in every country

3. Express Shipping


  • Speed: It is quicker and takes 3 days
  • Convenient: the process is smooth — includes pick-up along with custom clearance and then there’s final delivery
  • Tracker: There is a real-time tracker for immediate updates


  • Cost: It is expensive
  • Capacity: It is ideal for small parcels and carrying important documents
  • Restrictions: There are limitations involved — certain types of goods cannot be shipped.

Comparing Popular Shipping Providers

  • DHL: Provides dependable, international deliveries
  • FedEX: Fine tracking service, cost-effective pricing, and a large market in the US
  • UPS: A well-connected network with reliable services
  • TNT: Market competitive rates and a strong market in European countries

Things to Consider when Calculating Cost:

  • Weight: The actual charges are dependant on the weight, the higher the weight the higher the cost
  • Distance: The charges depend on the length of the journey
  • Additional fees:There are fuel charges along with custom clearance fee and other handling costs.

Allwayforward can navigate the challenges involved in shipment coming from China to the USA. Our team is qualified and equipped with knowledge to help you simplify the entire process and ensure timely deliverance. We provide tailored solutions to meet your specific requirements whether it is air freight, sea freight or express shipping.


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