Have you made plans for shipping goods from China to the United Arab Emirates? It does not matter whether it’s the first time you are shipping or if you already have a good or bad shipping experience. We are here to give you ideas on how to avoid the complications of international shipping and how to ship goods efficiently at minimal cost and with the least time possible. This article has three parts which are listed and discussed below.


Part1: How to find a reliable freight forwarder for shipping from China to the United Arab Emirates?

What is the need for a freight forwarder, and what can they do for you?

Finding a reputable business partner to do business with among the thousands of companies that are in the market currently can at times be difficult. That is the reason why we have freight forwarding companies. Making use of the services of a freight forwarding company will be advisable if you do not have much time or if you lack the expertise of international shipping. Also if you want to save on money and avoid all the headaches associated with shipping goods from China to the United Arab Emirates, make use of a freight forwarder. The freight forwarders have the expertise and will help you to solve all the transportation problems.

Saving time and money and avoid the troubles associated with the long journey of international shipping are the key expectations of any shipper. If you want to make an international shipment from China to the United Arab Emirates by air, sea or land, consider using a freight forwarder. A freight forwarder will ensure that the merchandise is safely transported and that they arrive in time and under the right conditions. If you occasional ship goods, we advise you to make use of a freight forwarder to assist you in the complex process of shipping goods. The freight forwarders have many years of experience in this business and they will help you save on time and money than if you ship by yourself.


Should you choose a freight forwarder from China or the United Arab Emirates?

If you are in need of a freight forwarder to handle the shipping of your merchandise from China to the United Arab Emirates, it always the best decision to choose a freight forwarder from China. It does not matter whether you want to ship by sea, air or multimodal shipping. Due to the advantage of language and geography, Chinese freight forwarder will be the best choice. You will also need a Chinese warehouse for storage and preparation in the shipping process. Choosing a local forwarder (from the United Arab Emirates) will make you spend a lot of money and time because they will possibly need to contact another agent in China to manage the picking up, packing, processing, and customs clearance; and the language barrier will also be a problem.


How reliable is a freight forwarder?

When shipping goods from China to the United Arab Emirates, what matters is time, money and the success of the delivery from China to the United Arab Emirates. Getting a reliable and reputable freight forwarder is not an easy task. To determine whether or not a freight forwarder is suitable for your shipping, there are few questions you should ask yourself and the freight forwarder.

1. Does the freight forwarder have a business license from the Government of China? Having a business license makes things legal and straightforward for you.

2. Does the company have a good insurance policy in place? Having a good insurance plan is very important because it will pay for your product if there is any harm to your shipment or warehousing.

3. Does the freight forwarder have an official website and positive reviews on Google? You can find the necessary details about their products and costs on their website. Not to mention that, in these modern days, Google reviews are a must-have for any business that values itself and takes care of its customers.

4. Do they have a full cargo tracking system to monitor the cargo progress in real-time? Having a freight shipping partner that provides cargo tracking is important because you can see in real-time where your shipment is and how much time it takes to get to the final destination.

5. You may also ask them to provide the latest shipment record or bill of lading. The bill of lading includes all relevant details of the nature, quantity, condition, and destination of the merchandise.

6. During the consultation were the responses prompt, with professional advice and explanations? If you are not very confident about their services, but still have some reservations about the process, it is best to try the freight forwarder with a shipment of a small number of goods. That way, if anything goes wrong, you are not going to lose a lot of money.


Part2: How many modes of transportation are there from China to the United Arab Emirates?

Before talking about modes of transportation from China to the United Arab Emirates it is good to have an understanding of the import customs procedures in the United Arab Emirates.


Import customs procedures in the United Arab Emirates

  • Import customs procedures in the United Arab Emirates require you to provide the following documents: 
  • Delivery order from a shipping agent addressed to a company licensed in the United Arab Emirates.
  • For seaports- original bill of loading.
  • Original invoice from the exporter to the licensed importer in the country specifying the total quantity, definition of the products and the total value of each product (in triplicate).
  • Copy of the commercial license of the purchaser and the seller.
  • Certificate of origin approved by the Chamber of Commerce in the country of origin setting out the origin of the goods.
  • Certificate of transport.
  • Declaration of customs entry.
  • A letter of exemption from customs duties in cases where the exemption conditions are met, including a Local Purchase Order (LPO).
  • Detailed packing list: weight, packing method and HS code for each individual item included in the shipment.
  • Import permit from the appropriate authorities in the case of the importation of restricted products.
  • A health certificate for processed products, an export certificate stating that the item is suitable for human consumption.
  • A Halal certificate for the ingredients of meat.
  • A non-radiation certificate for certain products (optional for European products). Transport documentation needed for import clearance.
  •  Documents with a * must be accredited by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates and the Chamber of Commerce in the country of origin of the products.

For more information on the United Arab Emirates Customs, please visit the website of the Federal Customs Authority.

All imported meats (beef and poultry products) require a health certificate issued by the country of export and a Halal slaughter certificate issued by the authorized Islamic Center in that country.


Express delivery from China to the United Arab Emirates

Express delivery is an easy and less complicated method of shipping goods. Studies conducted in the past have shown that only a very small percentage of high-value goods are transported by courier. If your order is urgent and you need it delivered fast then express delivery is a good option. The time taken for shipments to be delivered to the United Arab Emirates with FedEx, UPS, or DHL is one to four working days. With express delivery, you get quick delivery and you do not need to worry about taxes or customs clearance. Generally, the costs and rates of express delivery are higher compared to other forms of transport. These costs can rise during festive seasons and drop automatically when the festive season ends.

Freight forwarders can negotiate for a reasonable price from express delivery companies and they are also able to get discounts that you cannot find on the official website of the express company. Shipping less than 100kg of merchandise from China to the United Arab Emirates through express delivery is faster and cheaper.


Sea shipping from China to the United Arab Emirates

Though shipping by sea is the best mode of transporting large loads, it also has its own challenges like goods taking a long time to arrive. You always have to schedule your shipment in advance, particularly if you have a large load (over 500 kg) or if the package volume is more than two cubic meters. From China to the United Arab Emirates, sea shipping time is calculated to be roughly 25 to 41 days from port to port and 42 to 47 days from door to door.
China has several ports such as the port of Shanghai, the port of Ningbo, the port of Shenzhen, the port of Tianjin, the port of Qingdao, the port of Xiamen and the port of Hong Kong, from which your ship can depart to the United Arab Emirates. If your freight forwarder is based in these cities, you will benefit more because the freight forwarder already knows the rules for loading and unloading in each port hence you will save on time and it will be easier for them to handle your cargo.

There are not many options available for transporting bulk freight; actually, sea transport could be the only appropriate mode if transporting bulk freight. While importing from China, you can choose Full Container Load (FCL) or Less than Container Load (LCL) if your maximum cargo volume does not meet one full container requirement. When it comes to size, 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.


LCL should be used if you do not have enough goods to fill a 20 ‘ or 40 ‘ container (FCL). LCL allows importers to ship smaller amounts of cargo that do not have the necessary size 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. Full Container Load refers to when the amount of your products is big enough to be loaded in at least one container. In this case, the freight is measured on the basis of FCL. FCL shipment will be packed and sealed at the source by your supplier and then delivered to your final destination.


Airfreight from China to the United Arab Emirates

As we all know, due to the nature of most freight, 90% of goods are transported by sea. If you want to transport high-value items quickly and reliably to the United Arab Emirates, such as seasonal goods, clothes, electronics and/or products that cannot be near water, they use air freight. If your load is around 100 kg, air freight will become a cheaper option. In a matter of days, air freight can take your cargo from the factory floor in China to your destination. Air transport reduces the shipping time between China and the United Arab Emirates.

There are two ways to determine the cost of air freight. The first method is the price per kilogram multiplied by the weight of the freight, and for the second method, for low-density cargo (low-weight and high-volume) will be billed on the basis of the volume it occupies. There are two classes of air freight, economy, and express or fast air transport.


  • 1. Economical air freight. The service applies to general cargo (no dangerous goods, overweight or temperature-controlled goods). For this class, the price is relatively low compared to express air freight. If shipping is not a matter of urgency and this service meets your requirements, then it is probably the best choice. Shipping from China to the United Arab Emirates will be shipped within 5 to 8 days.


  • 2. Fast air transportation. With this service, you can move cargo of all shapes, sizes, and types, including dangerous and overweight goods, in a short time. This operation has the advantage of time relative to commercial freight. If you have an urgent shipment or just want to deliver goods that are not appropriate for economic air freight, this is the best option. Shipping from China to the United Arab Emirates will be delivered within 1 to 4 days for door-to-door delivery.



Part3: How to save money

I know that you have now established the mode of transport for your goods. You should be ready for the next step, which includes understanding the terms FOB, EXW, ICF, and DAP. Since transport costs are a key factor in the same transport model, knowing these concepts will help you save money.


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

Most websites use FOB, EXW, ICF, and DAP quotations. In general, such quotations provide information on where the cargo is being transported to and from, the mode of transport and the equipment used, specifics of the delivery, such as length, weight and 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 United Arab Emirates airport/port, and the second one is from the United Arab Emirates airport/port 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 United Arab Emirates airport/port – from United Arab Emirates 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 the United Arab Emirates, 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 United Arab Emirates airport or port 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 a 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 (United Arab Emirates) 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.


2. Import duties and taxes in the United Arab Emirates.

Shipments rated under AED 1000 shall enter duty-free and tax-free. Gifts brought by passengers flying to the United Arab Emirates whose price does not exceed AED 3000 are also exempted from customs duties. With the introduction of a common tariff for the GCC countries, customs duties are set at 5% of the CIF value of most goods. However, alcoholic products are subject to a duty of 50% and tobacco products are subject to a customs duty of 100%. Products with a higher customs tariff-70 percent of the CIF value of the product for alcohol imports and 100 percent of the CIF value of the product for tobacco imports. For the United Arab Emirates, there is a common customs tariff. Customs duties represent 4 percent of the CIF value of the goods or services.

The custom tariff includes a list of items or commodities exempted from customs duties (mainly food and medical products). Moreover, neither goods entering the Duty-Free Storage Area (DFSA) in Port Rashid nor goods imported from the free zones are taxed. For further details, please visit the Dubai Customs website. Since the creation of a free trade area between the GCC countries in 2003, the system has been harmonized. Customs duties shall be determined on the basis of the CIF value of the product. Duties can be settled in a variety of ways. Duties cannot be refunded once they have been paid (except in the case of a mistake on behalf of the United Arab Emirates authorities).


3. Familiarize yourself with the Size and Weight Calculation Rules

Generally, paying special attention to the charges is going to save you money. If you want to transport goods via express delivery and air freight you should take these rules into account because the costs can be high – the 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) – 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 of time to avoid rush hour

For international shipping, the delivery time of goods is the main factor that determines the mode of transport. Ample time will not only allow you to have more options, to save costs and to deal with unplanned time delays but also to support growth. It is also essential to know the schedule of holidays in China. When the holidays approach, labor costs will rise sharply due to a shortage of workers in factories and on the roads Factories in China will also be closed during holidays. These should be taken into consideration in advance.

Generally, transport costs will increase in the following periods:

  • During the prime time from September to early October.
  • The first month of the Chinese New Year — possibly January or February of each year— depending on the lunar calendar.
  •  If transport is relatively flat, the cost will be more competitive — e.g. each year after the Chinese New Year and also from March to April.


5.Find a Hybrid Transportation Solution

When air freight is too costly, but it cannot be transported in time, you can collaborate with the freight forwarder, who can offer the option of multimodal transport combining air freight and sea freight with other modes of ground transport. Experienced freight forwarders can often work within their contacts to find a way to achieve that goal. This hybrid approach will deliver the goods within the appropriate timeline and keep the delivery on budget.



The choice of an experienced reputable and reliable freight forwarder is the key to solve all the problems associated with international shipping. The process of international shipping is always complicated irrespective of the mode of transport chosen. The industry of international logistics has continued to grow due to the continuous growth of international trade.

China Freight is one of the most respected logistics and freight forwarding companies in China providing logistics services throughout China. Our mission is to provide unsurpassed logistics services and solutions to micro, medium and multinational companies and the international arena. China Freight is committed to providing its customers with efficient and reliable freight forwarding services. Our professional team of experts handles all types of freight and all dimensions of freight, depending on the needs of the customer.

As a leading logistics company in China, we understand our customers and their business needs and therefore deliver timely and reliable logistics solutions and remain committed to customer satisfaction. Participating in the success of our customers and feeling proud to help them meet their goals is what we do. We believe in upholding core business values such as trustworthiness, integrity, fairness, respect, hard work and punctuality.

Our experts are ready to start your worry-free shipping journey, click here for more information and quotes.



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