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What’s the Shipping Cost from China to USA for 7 main shipping methods

Part 3 Sea Freight from China to the USA

Now, let’s move on to sea freight.

Sea freight is the most complex shipping method. But, you need not worry as this guide will make the process simple and clear for you.

Loading Before Sea Freight

If the quantity of your goods exceeds 2CBM, you should consider sea freight.

Just like air freight.

firstly, this guide will provide you with an all included price so you can compare the prices and roughly calculate the shipping cost.

This cost includes the delivery to your door but excludes the local logistics cost in China.

NO HURRY, before that, I have something else to show you.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FCL)

The cargo shipped by the sea freight is carried out in containers.

If the quantity of your goods is small and its volume is less than 15CBM, the freight forwarder will help you ship your goods by LCL.

It implies you have to share a container with other importers because your cargo load is less than a container.

LCL use CBM (Cubic Meter) as the unit to calculate the freight.


Now, what is FCL?

FCL is when your cargo quantity is large enough, and you can fill one or more containers.

In this case, the freight is calculated on the basis of the whole container.

Generally, it will be cheaper than LCL freight.

Furthermore, the container model is mainly divided into three types:

Full container load 20”GP   40”GP 40”HQ

1 CBM = 1 Cubic Meter

What is All-Included Sea Freight Cost to US

Again, this price mentioned here will help you in roughly calculating the shipping cost.

For bulk cargo, i.e. LCL, I’ll provide the price for the western United States, middle states, the eastern United States for your reference.

However, for the FCL price, I can only provide the cost of Los Angeles port for your reference.

This is because the cost from China to the different American port varies a lot.

And, there are more than 100 ports in the US.


Besides, the sea freight fares are changing in real time that is determined by the shipping company.

So, if you want to know the specific cost to your port, you can directly ask our customer representative.

They can help you with contacting the shipping company and offering you a real-time quotation.

The following table will give you an idea of the CBM and container shipping rates:

USA 3-5CBM 5-10CBM 10 CBM+ 20”GP    40”HQ
US West ($) 310 240 180 3700 4200 ($) 340 290 240 _ _
US East ($) 370 320 260 _ _

And, here’s how you can estimate the shipping cost of your products based on these. It’ll also give you a better estimate of the profit of your products.

So, how do you calculate freight rates?

Here is a real life example, you want to purchase 400 red wine glasses from China, and the size of the red wine cup with the package is 19cm x 23cm x 19cm, which you want to ship to Los Angeles (western United States).

The total CBMs for the 400 PCS will be:

400 x19cm x23cm x19cm/106 =3.3CBM

So, the total shipping cost will be $310*3.3CBM=$1,023.

Then, the average shipping cost of a wine glass will be:

Total shipping cost/400 units=$1023/400=$2.56

The Cost Breakdown Of Sea Freight

The all-included price is just to help you calculate a simple and rough shipping cost.

So, I’ll divide the sea freight process into three steps and show the cost in each step.

If you want to know everything about the sea freight process and its price, keep reading.

Or, just skip to my last part of this guide.

As discussed in Air freight, let’s read about the composition of sea freight under FOB and EXW.

Now, you must be wondering why these two again and not any other trade form.

Well, 90% of the trade is done under these two terms.

For example, suppliers usually offer you a FOB and EXW price when you source products on Alibaba.

Honestly, the EXW price is just the product cost, which means your supplier won’t help you ship the goods to the port of the shipment.

However, the FOB price includes the cost of the product and the local logistics cost in China (Chinese factory to the port of shipment).

Yes, that is it!

Now, let’s see the same through a formula for a much clearer overview.

In FOB, your supplier will help you ship your goods directly to the port of shipment.

After which, the part of sea freight you need to pay will be:

Shipping cost=Cost for sea freight from a Chinese port to America port +American customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the USA

On the EXW basis, your supplier will not help you ship the goods to the port of shipment.

In this case, the part of sea freight you need to pay will be:

Shipping cost = Local logistics cost in China + China export cost + Cost for sea freight from Chinese port to America port +American customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the USA

As you are now familiar with the components of total shipping costs, let us learn some more about the cost of each part.

Cost in China: It includes the cost for the factory/supplier to ship your goods to the port of shipment and China export cost.

If it is bulk cargo (Goods quantity is less than container load), the price will generally be around $10 -$30/CBM.

It depends on the distance from the factory to the port, and the volume of the goods.

Smaller the volume, expensive the freight will be.

China export cost: It includes booking costs, export operating costs and customs documents costs. It is generally around $100-$300.

If it is LCL (bulk cargo, less than one container) the cost will be $100-$200.

However, if it is FCL (Full container load), the cost is about $300.

So, if you have 5CBM bulk goods the cost in China will be:

($10-$30) x 5CBM+($100-$200) ≈ $150-$350

Cost for ocean freight is the cost from Chinese port to America port.

Similarly to air freight, the ocean freight is quoted by the shipping company, and the price is not fixed.

For a real-life example, when you book an air ticket, you’re most likely to get a 50-60% discount if most of the seats on the plane are vacant.

But, in the peak season, tickets are quite expensive (Full price).

Also, the price of the shipping cost to the United States east, middle and west of the different ports are different.

As there are more than 100 ports in the US, it’ll be difficult to give all the prices.

Below is the list of the prices of Los Angeles and New York.

The actual cost depends on the real-time quotation by the shipping company.

  Bulk Cargo(Less Than Container Load) Full Container Load (FCL)20”GP Full Container Load (FCL)40”HQ
Ningbo – New York $75/CBM $2100/Container $2600/Container
Ningbo – Los Angeles $70/CBM $1500/Container $1600/Container

Remember the 20”GP and 40”HQ?20”GP=28CBM,40”HQ=68CBM.

Cost in the local US: It includes US customs clearance, customs duties and local logistics cost in the US.

For this cost, you must consult an American customs clearance company or a local freight forwarder as it is a much simpler and more efficient way.

Let’s move on to the next part of the article.