The shipping process involves many steps, and in this must-read guide article, we come to you with solutions that will help you understand how to save money, time, and avoid trouble, even if this is your first time shipping or you already have experience in importing goods from China to Malaysia. 

Part 1. How to find a reliable freight forwarder?

Why do you need a freight forwarder, and what can they do for you?

A freight forwarder is an experienced person from the international trade and transport community that coordinate and ship goods from one place to another by air, sea, rail and/or highway. He is the best option when you want to ship by yourself, or when finding a reliable partner to do business with, among the thousands of companies available in the market at this moment becomes a hard task.

Having a freight forwarder would make a great difference when you don’t have enough time and energy, experience or you just want to avoid all the troubles this process might bring you sometime such as document preparation or cross-see transportation process problems; they will use their industry expertise to reduce costs and help you find solutions to any transportation problems, and you will be able to save more time and money than if you ship by yourself.

If you are an occasional carrier who knows little about international transport, we also recommend you to find a cargo agent who will be able to help you in this complex process.

In other words, if you want to save time and money while making an international delivery from China to Malaysia by air, sea or land, consider using a freight forwarding agent. A freight forwarder will make sure that your cargo will arrive on time and in the right conditions.


Should I choose a freight forwarder from China or Malaysia?

When importing from China, regardless of the mode of transportation, it is always best to choose a freight forwarder from China. The Chinese freight forwarder is the ideal choice for overseas transporters because it has the advantages of language and geography, and you will also need a warehouse for storage and preparation. An experienced Chinese freight forwarder will have these abilities: fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, it will have a thorough knowledge of the Chinese business culture, experience in managing Chinese suppliers, category and sourcing process experience, quality control experience, audit experience, and logistics experience. Local forwarders (from Malaysia) will often have to contact another agent in China to handle the picking, preparation, storage, and customs clearance.


How reliable is a freight forwarder?

In general, freight forwarders are reliable and experienced agents who can help you ship your goods to the final destination without any troubles, but to be sure they provide what you need, you can ask the freight forwarder a couple of questions to assess whether he is qualified for your transportation or not. Time, money and the success of your shipment from China to Malaysia is what matters.

  • 1) Does the freight forwarder have a business license from the Chinese government? – Having a business license makes everything legal and transparent for you.
  • 2) Does the freight forwarder have an official website, and has a good ranking on Google? – On their website, you can find the necessary information about their services and costs. Not to mention that in these modern days, Google reviews are a must-have for any company that respects itself and cares for its customers.
  • 3) Does the company have a good insurance plan? – Having a good insurance plan is very important because it will compensate for your merchandise if any damage occurs in shipment or warehousing.
  • 4) Do they have a complete cargo tracking system to update your cargo progress in real-time? – Finding a cargo shipping partner that offers cargo tracking is crucial because you can see in real-time where your shipping is and how much it takes to arrive at the final destination.
  • 5) You can also ask them to provide the most recent shipment record or bill of lading – A bill of lading contains all relevant details about the type, amount, condition, and destination of the goods.
  • 6) During the consultation, were the responses prompt, with professional advice and explanations? – If you are convinced by their services, but you still have some doubts about the process, is best to try the freight forwarder with a shipment of small goods. This way, if anything goes wrong, you won’t lose a big amount of money.


Part 2. How many modes of transportation are there from China to Malaysia?

Before talking about the modes of transportation is good to know what standards and regulations apply in Malaysia, and also which are restricted and prohibited goods.


1. Import Rules, Regulations, and Customs in Malaysia

  • Quality standards and regulations in Malaysia

For the classification of goods, Malaysia follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS), and all imported and exported goods into the country must be categorized based on the Malaysian Customs tariff numbers.
In Malaysia, not all goods require a license. To import licensed goods, first you have to register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, and once registered, you have to apply for an import license from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

The documents required for importing goods into Malaysia are: customs import declaration, commercial Invoice, bill of lading, packing list, and certificate of origin.

  • Malaysia Restricted and Prohibited Goods.

Some of the goods that are absolutely prohibited are: reproduction of any currency note, obscene articles, any device which intended to be prejudicial to the interest of Malaysia or unsuited with peace, all genres of Piranha fish, turtle eggs, cocoa pods, rambutans, pulasan, longan, and nam nam fruits from Philipines and Indonesia, intoxicating liquors containing more than 3.46 milligrams per liter, daggers and flick knives, cloth bearing the imprint of any verses of the Quran, pens and pencils, or other articles resembling syringes, poisonous chemical, lightning arresters containing radioactive material, etc.

Examples of goods that are prohibited but under an import license or permit from relevant authorities, you can import them: eggs in the shell, any animal parts and poultry, live animals, explosives and fireworks, imitation arms, arms and ammunition, articles of clothing used as protection against attacks, soil and pests, safety helms, video machines, motor vehicles, equipment to be connected to a public telecommunication network, live fish, animal oils and fats, plants, household and agricultural pesticide, electric domestic equipment (50 volt or 120 volt), toxic and/or hazardous wastes, corals (alive or dead), and so on.

Importing and exporting illicit drugs such as morphine, heroin, candu, marijuana, etc. is strictly prohibited, and the punishment for drug trafficking is death by hanging.
Prescribed drugs can only be imported into or exported from the country under a license issued by the Ministry of Health in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s top 10 imported items in 2018 were: electrical machinery, equipment, mineral fuels including oil, machinery including computers, plastics, plastic articles, iron and steel, vehicles, optical, technical, medical apparatus, gems and precious metals, organic chemicals, aircraft and spacecraft.

The mode of transportation is an important aspect and has to be evaluated when you’re planning the shipment (costs, shipment urgency, the value of the goods, and the size and weight of the package). There are various options for transporting goods in Malaysia, and each option of transport has advantages and disadvantages.

When you are planning your shipment, you have to prioritize your needs, understand the process, and compare costs. By choosing the right mode of transportation, you can significantly optimize your cargo flow.An experienced China-Malaysia freight expert will have excellent communication skills understanding all your requirements, including time, budget, and mode of transportation.


 2. Express delivery from China to Malaysia:

Studies have shown that 95% of product samples and a small amount of high-value goods are sent by courier.

Express is a relatively easy way of transportation compared to sea or air transport. We have thought of FedEx, UPS, and DHL as the fastest ways of shipping from China toMalaysia, because they are expected to take just 3-7 business days.If you have an urgent and quick delivery, express shipping is the best option because is a relatively easy way to transport goods, and it takes, in general, 2 – 5 business days to reach your doorstep.
Time delivery to West Malaysia by courier service is around 3 business days, and to East Malaysia, it is around 5 business days.


The prices and rates for express delivery are higher than other forms of transportation. Also, the cost of express shipping may increase during the holidays.
Freight forwarders can find an express company that gives you a reasonable price, and he can also get a discount price that you won’t find on their official website.


3.  Sea shipping from China to Malaysia:

Sea shipping is suitable in general for loads over 500 kilograms or when the size of the products occupies more than two cubic meters. However, it is also the most complicated mode of transportation, and it takes a long time, but sometimes this might be the only option. From China to Malaysia, sea shipping time, in general, is estimated at around 8 to 16 days from port to port.
Time delivery to West Malaysia by courier service is around 15 business days, and to East Malaysia, it is around 15 to 18 business days.

In China, there are several ports such as Shanghai port, Ningbo port, Shenzhen port, Tianjin port, Qingdao port, Xiamen port, and Hong Kong port, from which your shipping can leave to Malaysia. If your freight forwarder is located in these cities, you will have the advantage that he will be more familiar with the loading and unloading rules of each port, making it easier to handle your goods, saving you time.

The top ports for importing in Malaysia are: Johor Port, Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Kuantan Port, Penang Port, Bintulu Port, Kemaman Port, and Port Klang (Kelang) – is the largest port in Malaysia.

Sea freight shipping is the best choice for bulk goods transportation. When importing from China, you can choose Full Container Load (FCL) or Less than Container Load (LCL), if your overall cargo volume doesn’t meet one full container requirement. There are three types of containers 20 ft., 40 ft. and a 40 ft. high cube container. The 20 ft. containers are designed to carry more weight such as minerals, metals, machinery, sugar, paper, cement, etc., while the 40 ft. containers are designed to carry voluminous cargo rather than heavy cargo, for example, furniture, steel pipes, paper scrap, cotton, tobacco, etc.

If you don’t have enough goods to fill a 20′ or a 40′ container (FCL), you should choose LCL. This enables importers to ship smaller amounts of cargo, which doesn’t have the right volume to make Full Container Load a viable option. This means your cargo is combined with other shipping cargos for the same destination. When combining several shipments in one container, your freight forwarder needs to do more work. LCL freight is calculated in cubic meters (CBM) and charged based on the volume.

FCL refers to when the quantity of your goods is large enough that they can be put in at least one container. In this case, the freight is calculated on an FCL basis. FCL shipment will be loaded and sealed at origin by your supplier, then shipped to your final destination.


4. Air freight from China to Malaysia:

You should choose this mode of transportation if your goods are smaller than 2 CBM and 200 kg, and/or you are in a hurry to receive the goods. In a matter of days, air freight can bring your cargo from a factory floor in China, to your destination. On average, you can expect your cargo to arrive in 2 – 7 business days, depending on if you choose express delivery or economic air freight delivery.

The main airports in Malaysia are Kuala Lumpur airport (is the largest and busiest airport in the country) and Langkawi airport.

There are two classes of Airfreight, economy and express or fast air transportation.
1) Economic air freight:
This service applies for general cargo (no dangerous goods, oversized or temperature-controlled goods). For this category, the price is relatively low compared with the express air freight. The time delivery for express delivery is around 2 to 7 business days for the good to be delivered to your doorstep.

2) Fast air transportation:
With this service, you can transport cargo of all shapes, sizes, and types, including dangerous and oversized goods in a short time. The time delivery for this mode of transportation is around 2 to 3 business days for the good to be delivered to your doorstep.

There are two methods to calculate the air freight price. The first method is cost per kilogram multiplied with the cargo weight, and for the second one, for low-density cargo (low weight and high volume) you will be charged based on the volume it occupies.

Part 3. How to save money?

To save money, you have to understand the terms FOB, EXW, CIF, and DAP because, in the same transport model, transport cost is a crucial factor.


1.Understanding the Terms: FOB, EXW, CIF, and DAP

Many websites like Alibaba use the quotations FOB, EXW, CIF, and DAP. In general, these quotations include information about where your cargo is being shipped to and from, the transport mode and equipment being used, shipment details such as dimensions, weight and a description of the goods.

FOB means free on board or freight on board and is an international shipping agreement used in the transportation of goods between a buyer and a seller.
FOB is the primary mode of Alibaba’s quotation, which means that your Chinese supplier will be responsible for the transportation from the Chinese factory to the Chinese loading and unloading port. For example, if you see FOB Ningbo – Ningbo is a city and a port in China, and it means that this is the port that the supplier will ship your order to, which is covered by the FOB price, and from here, you are responsible for the freight. The freight is divided into two aspects – the first one is from China airport/port to the airport/port in Malaysia, and the second one is from the airport/port in Malaysia to your doorstep.


EXW stands for Ex Works. If you see this quotation on the website you are buying from, it means that the seller is making the goods available at their premises, or another named place.

In other words, EXW means that your freight has been increased one step, and you will be responsible for the transportation from the factory in China to the loading port in China. This is an aspect your Chinese freight forwarder will help you manage.

Your shipping costs will divide into three categories – From China factory to China airport/port – from China airport/port to Malaysia airport/port – from Malaysia airport/port to your doorstep. Over this, other transportation costs will be added such as Chinese export costs and customs clearance costs.
Finding a reliable freight forwarder is important because he will let you know where every cost is going, with no hidden expenses.

CIF stands for cost, insurance, and freight, and it means that the supplier is responsible for all transportation costs from the factory in China to the airport/port in Malaysia, including insurance.

In other words, CIF is an expense paid by the seller to cover the costs, insurance, and freight if a package or item is lost or damaged while it is in transit to an export port. The seller must cover other expenses such as additional customs, export paperwork, inspections or rerouting, but once the freight is loaded, you (the buyer) become responsible for all other costs, including the expenses from the airport or port in Malaysia to your doorstep. With CIF the supplier adds an extra charge to compensate for their efforts, and it becomes more expensive than FOB.

It will save you time and money if you find a freight forwarder, because usually, the suppliers in China will also find a freight forwarder to deal with the whole process, and they cannot professionally update the status of your goods promptly.

The last one is DAP, which stands for delivery at place or destination delivery. If you see this quote on the website you are buying from, it means that the seller will handle all the charges and the delivery to the buyer facilities, but the import taxes will be paid by the buyer at the destination.

Once the goods are ready for shipment, the packing is done by the seller at his own cost, then the goods are moved to customs location opted by the seller at exporting country at his expenses under DAP terms. All the necessary legal formalities in the exporting country are completed by the seller at his costs and risks; also the insurance up to the destination (Malaysia) is arranged by the seller. If it’s not mentioned in the contract, the unloading cost at the final destination has to be borne by you (the buyer).

In other words, the seller is responsible for all the expenses and risks to deliver the goods up to the destination mentioned in the contract. From the destination mentioned in the contract, it becomes the buyer’s responsibility for the goods to reach his premises at his own expense.

But even if the seller is responsible for all the shipping steps, he can’t do detail work such as warehousing, labels, and goods inspection, so it is best to find a reliable freight forwarder, to help you with the detail work.

Therefore, the best way to save money and time is by choosing FOB or EXW, because your goods will be in professional hands, with the lowest price, and the fastest time to reach your destination.
Import Duties and Taxes in Malaysia.

Malaysia is a partner to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade in Goods Agreement and a member of five regional free trade agreements (FTA) through the ASEAN with China, Australia, India, Japan, and Korea.

Malaysia follows two different systems based on the location of the imported/exported goods – for goods not originating from member states of the ASEAN, it follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS), and for goods that come from ASEAN member states, it follows the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN).


2.Import Tariffs and Taxes

Malaysia’s tariff rate ranges from 0% to 50%, following the ad valorem rate. In general, the average duty paid on industrial goods imported into Malaysia is 6.1%. Malaysian customs apply higher tariff rates for pork and alcohol.
Raw materials imported into Malaysia (especially when it’s difficult to provide them domestically) for the use in manufacturing exported goods have a reduced tariff or a tariff exemption is applied.


3. Become Familiar with Size and Weight Calculation Rules

If you want to transport goods via express delivery and air freight you should take into consideration these rules because the costs can be high – the actual weight is calculated in kilograms (kg), and the volume is calculated in cubic meters (CBM).

A) Calculating the actual weight – If the actual weight of the goods in kilograms is more significant than its dimensional weight, it will be calculated like this:
Actual weight of the package x cost per kilogram (this price varies from company to company).

B) When the volume of the goods is larger than the actual weight is called dimensional weight – this is an estimated weight calculated by multiplying the length of the package with the width and height divided by a dimensional factor, also called a DIM divisor. Dimensional factors are numbers set by the major freight carriers, and represent cubic inches per pound. The dimensional weight is the weight of the package at the minimum density accepted by the carrier.
Dimensional weight = length × width × height/dimensional factor

International transport and logistics companies are based on the maximum value they can charge. For example, freight carriers like USPS, FedEx, or UPS calculate shipping charges based on whichever number is greater (actual weight or dimensional weight). For example, if you have a package that has the actual weight less than 31 kilograms (let’s say 29 kg), the freight carrier will charge for the dimensional weight of 31 kilograms since it is the greater number. For them, whichever number is higher becomes your billable weight. Therefore, in some cases, to save money it is necessary to compress the package to reduce the measurement volume.
Finding an experienced freight forwarder will give you the most cost-effective solution promptly, and will save you money and time.


4.Plan Ahead to Avoid the Rush Hour

In general, planning will help you avoid trouble. In international transportation, you always have to plan your shipment in advance because the delivery time of your goods is the crucial factor that decides the mode of transportation. Holidays in China can have a great influence on your delivery time, and knowing the holidays’ schedule in China and important shipping deadlines and guidelines will save you time and money because in those peak periods the shipping prices are usually higher and the factories are closed.

Here are some examples of peak seasons in China: Chinese New Year, Golden Week, Dragon Boat Festival, Holiday Shopping Season (October-December for air freight, July-October for sea freight).

If your shipment is not urgent, you will save money and you will also have time to face unplanned delays such as congestion, blockages, supplier issues, and documentation mistakes. You can also ask questions surrounding the company’s response to delays, to see if they have procedures for resolving these issues.


5. Find a Hybrid Transportation Solution (multimodal transportation)

Multimodal transportation also known as combined or hybrid transportation is the transportation of goods with at least two different modes of transport, under a single contract. Legally speaking, the carrier is responsible for the entire transport, and he does not have to possess all the means of transport.

It comes with many advantages such as centralization of responsibility in one transport operator, economies of scale in transport negotiations, use of international experience in transportation, in the field of bureaucracy and commerce, better use of available infrastructure and more efficient means of transport, focused on cost reduction, and reduction of indirect costs (e.g. human resources).

A freight forwarder can offer you the option of multimodal transportation for your delivery if air freight is too expensive, and sea freight cannot be delivered in time. They can use their contacts to your advantage and find a way to achieve this goal faster and cheaper, which will help you save money and time.
This hybrid solution will deliver the goods in the correct time frame and keep your shipment on budget.



Regardless of the mode of transportation, you choose from China to Malaysia (airfreight, sea freight, land freight or multimodal transportation), shipping, in general, is a complicated process, which involves many steps such as warehousing, document preparation, customs issues, cargo insurance and so on.

With the rapid development of international trade, the international logistics industry has also grown, and choosing an experienced freight forwarder is the key to solve the problem of international transport.

Our company is based on customer gain, placing customers first and offering them the best shipping possible from China to Malaysia through our experienced freight forwarders.
We have experience, airline relations, customs reputation, competitive prices and timely delivery. Our success is based on integrity and responsibility, and it is our job to find you the best freight forwarder.
We will help you find a viable solution and see measurable results in little or no time.

If you‘re ready to start your shipping process click here for more information and offers.



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