Shipping goods from China to your country is a popular way to get inexpensive products for a business or individual use. China’s rapidly expanding manufacturing sector produces cost-effective goods that have international demand. To get these products, you need to understand the shipping process out of China and your country. Without a proper understanding of international shipping from China, the potential cost savings of a product are eliminated by high shipping costs and long delivery times.
Shipping from China is categorized into shipping for individual products and commercial shipping for businesses. Within each category, there are shipping options to consider, such as using a third-party logistics provider, the intricacies of fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and quality control requirements.
Personal Door to Door Delivery from China
Private parties who purchase products from China face fewer shipping regulations and complications than commercial purchases. In the United States, your shipment is considered private if it is sent to a residential location and is under a specific price and quantity. As a private buyer, you are still responsible for many important decisions and customs protocols.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website advises residential buyers to answer two questions before ordering a package from China. The answers to the questions determine what customs declarations and regulations need to be followed. These regulations are for the United States, so make sure you research customs laws in the country where you plan to ship the product.
Can the product be legally imported?
Some items have determined quotas and restrictions, even for private use. Some examples include seeds, food products, and medicine. Familiarize yourself with restricted and prohibited items before ordering imports from China.
Can you trust the seller?
It might be easy to find cheap products from China online, but counterfeits and misleading products can mean repercussions for the buyer. It is your legal duty to make sure the seller accurately describes the product to customs. If the product description is misleading and the actual product is prohibited, the importer is held legally responsible.
A seller should be open to clear communication, discussion surrounding delivery arrangements, and demarcation of shipping costs for the seller and buyer. If you cannot communicate with a seller about these logistical steps, there may be reasons to worry about your shipment.
Private Shipping Options
As a private purchaser of Chinese products, you need to know which shipping option makes the most sense for your purchase. The cost and shipping time vary significantly from one option to another, so your specific needs determine which shipping method is best for you. The options are international postal service, a courier service, or freight shipping.
International postal service
Shipments through the international postal service go through customs before they are forwarded on to the buyer. In the United States, the product’s price largely determines if custom fees are added to the cost of shipping. If so, the receiver pays the fees at the post office when they pick up their package.
The seller can fill out and attach CN 22 or CN 23 documents to expedite the customs clearance process. These are product declarations that inform the customs office of what is inside, how much it costs, and where it is going.
International postal service is economical, but there are potential downfalls. In the United States, if the product is worth more than $2,000, then it needs to pass formal entry. This requires you to hire a customs broker or complete the paperwork yourself.
Courier services, like DHL, have their own customs brokers who speed the customs process up for your package. These shipping companies offer seamless door-to-door services for items from China, but they cost significantly more than the international postal service option.
The price increases come from shipping and handling fees and service fees for the customs clearance. This can lead to confusion when the shipping rates cost more than the actual product.
Freight shipment is when a product is transported along with large amounts of other merchandise in shipping boats, airplanes, or rail freight. Freight charges can be lower than courier prices because your package is transported along with many other shipments, thus diffusing the cost of delivery.
A personal package shipped by freight requires further shipping to an individual once it arrives at a port or rail yard. Ask your seller to tell the freight company to forward your package to your door. Otherwise, your package will stay at the dock or yard where it’s unloaded.
Third-party logistics providers
You and the seller may agree to hire a third-party logistics provider (3PL) to assist with the freight shipping process. An international 3PL takes responsibility for international shipments from the initial drayage to an exporting warehouse, to the air or sea freight, and the delivery to the final destination.
Third-party logistics providers take the complexity out of shipping for sellers and buyers. They are qualified to interact with customs offices or hire agents on your behalf. Reputable 3PLs, like Asiana USA, have connections with companies at every step of the international shipping supply chain. That includes trucking companies for drayage services, shipping companies for ocean freight, and warehouse and fulfillment centers for storage.
The advantages of a third-party logistics provider are their reliability, ease, and cost savings compared to couriers. Though the seller and buyer must agree on who pays for the 3PL service, the price tag is reasonable considering the many services a 3PL provides.
3PLs keep shipping prices low by grouping your order in with other shipments. They are responsible for large international shipments, so adding a personal order to their shipments is relatively inexpensive. This keeps the price low for private customers with relatively small orders.
Commercial Shipments from China
Businesses rely on China for manufacturing because Chinese manufacturers bring products to market faster than those in other countries. Chinese businesses are branching out to international marketplaces to sell their products.
The international supply chain has never been more critical for businesses. Most businesses handle their door-to-door delivery needs with one of three shipping methods. Companies use international couriers, third-party logistics providers, Amazon services, or a mix of these services with their own warehouses.
International postal couriers
Small businesses or individual resellers sometimes use international couriers, similar to how private parties do. The service is fast; it clears shipments through customs quickly and delivers the goods right to the client’s door. For shipments from China, all the recipient needs to do is sign the bill of lading, which is a document that states the recipient received the package.
The limiting factor for international postal couriers is the price. It is expensive to send a lot of shipments this way, and passing the price onto the customer can increase a product’s cost to a non-competitive level. This is especially true for heavy and large orders because shipping costs are partially determined by the weight and volume of the shipment.
Businesses using international postal couriers also have to pay attention to the news as changes in tariffs and other postal codes can drastically alter shipping costs. For instance, recent United States and United Postal Union compromises create the possibility for significantly higher shipping costs for international shipments.
International postal rate changes affect any international shipping method, but the effects are felt most by sellers who ship with couriers. Couriers ship individual packages directly to doorsteps, so the cost of shipment is not diffused by bulk shipping the way it is for larger freight shipments. Any increase in shipping cost is fully transferred to the seller and buyer.
Large-scale freight and warehousing
On the other end of the international shipping spectrum are large businesses that use freight containers and shipping lines to ship bulk goods to their own warehouses. Like resellers, some large businesses manufacture their products in China because of the low costs and high speeds.
Rather than ship individual products to each buyer, these large businesses ship bulk quantities of products to storage warehouses and fulfillment centers. They save money on international shipping while still delivering products quickly to customers.
This style of door-to-door delivery from China requires significant investment in warehousing. Also, it is risky to pay for and ship products before customers have purchased anything. These investments and risks make sense for large businesses because of the long-term savings in shipping costs.
This method of international shipping from China also requires significant planning for the various stages of the supply chain. Many businesses will work with a third-party logistics provider to assist with complicated parts of the supply chain. 3PLs handle international warehousing, customs clearance, ocean freight, and drayage to the company’s domestic warehouse. Some 3PLs can even provide domestic warehousing and the final delivery to a client’s door.
Deliver from China with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Businesses without the resources to own warehouses but who ship in large quantities can use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service. FBA transfers the warehousing, packaging, and domestic delivery responsibilities from a business to Amazon.
The business still needs to deliver products from Chinese manufacturers to the correct Amazon fulfillment centers. FBA also has packaging requirements, importing requirements, and product limitations. Your business’s FBA eligibility depends on consistently meeting these requirements, so it is essential to understand them and ensure your products qualify.
FBA packaging requirements
Fulfillment by Amazon packaging requirements depends on what type of product is in the package. For instance, packages that contain a set of products must indicate the products are a part of a set with a label. One general FBA rule is that all packages need easily accessible and scannable barcodes.
FBA importing requirements
Importing shipments from China to FBA centers is allowed, but it requires an Importer of Record other than FBA. The Importer of Record is responsible for all the customs clearance requirements, including any additional customs payments. Your business will likely list itself as the Importer of Record. FBA can be the ultimate consignee listed on the customs declaration, but there are further nuances to this.
There are limitations on products that FBA centers receive and specific limitations on imports. Beyond packaging and labeling that does not meet Amazon’s requirements, there are various products, like alcohol, that FBA will not accept. Import restrictions follow the regulations set forth by your country’s customs office, including those for food products and medical devices.
Quality Control Options for FBA
The complex regulations and rules associated with using FBA make your shipments’ quality control before FBA arrival paramount to its successful door-to-door delivery from China. A business can either do quality control before shipping products directly to an Amazon fulfillment center, ship products to the business for quality control, or entrust a third-party logistics provider to do quality control.
Ship directly to Amazon fulfillment center
Shipping directly to an FBA fulfillment center is cost-effective and quick but risky. There is no way to inspect the packaging, product quality, and customs documents if you ship directly to FBA centers. The manufacturer or seller in China is responsible for quality control, so trust and communication are necessary for this QC method to be viable.
Do quality control yourself
Businesses can first ship the delivery to themselves before forwarding it to an FBA center. You can ensure that a shipment will pass all regulations and receive the full benefits of an FBA agreement. This quality control method is timely and increases the shipping cost but is less risky than shipping directly to an FBA center.
Use a third-party logistics provider
A 3PL can do quality control checks in China and domestically to ensure the shipment will clear customs and FBA regulations. Trustworthy 3PL companies like Asiana USA have experience with FBA protocols and work with companies to provide smooth shipping and FBA delivery. It costs more than shipping directly to FBA centers, but it reduces risk and is more efficient than doing quality control yourself.
Remove the Stress of Delivery from China with Asiana USA
While it is possible to handle all the steps of door-to-door delivery from China on your own, it is stressful and full of costly risks. Asiana USA removes the stress from the shipping process with our years of international shipping experience. Our connections at every point in the supply chain can reduce costs and increase efficiency for individual and commercial shipments from China.
Contact Asiana USA for more information about international shipping from China at (855) 500-1808 and learn how we can help you get the goods you need cost-effectively and efficiently.