Even if this is your first time shipping or you already have experience with this process, we come to you with solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam that will make you understand better this complex process. To make it easier for the reader, we divided this must-read guide into 3 parts:

Part 1. How to find a reliable freight forwarder?

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

First of all, let me tell you what a freight forwarder is – a freight forwarder, forwarding agent, or cargo agent is an experienced person from the international trade and transport community that coordinates and ship goods from one place to another by air, sea, rail and/or highway.

If you want to ship by yourself or you have a hard time finding a reliable business partner, a freight forwarder is the best option because he will help you find solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam. Also, 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.

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 sometimes such as document preparation or cross-see transportation process problems.

In other words, if you want to save time and money while making an international delivery from China to Vietnam by any mode of transportation, consider using a freight forwarding agent. He will make sure that your cargo will arrive on time and in the right conditions.


• Should I choose a freight forwarder from China or Vietnam?

Regardless of the mode of transportation, shipping goods from China was always a complex process. Choosing a Chinese freight forwarder is the best option when you ship from China because first of all, he has the advantages of language and geography, and second, you will also need a warehouse for storage and preparation.

An experienced Chinese freight forwarder will have these abilities: he will be 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.

Freight forwarders from Vietnam will often have to contact another agent in China to handle the picking, preparation, storage, and customs clearance.


• How reliable is a freight forwarder?

Time, money, and the success of your shipment from China to Vietnam is what matters.

A freight forwarder is a reliable and experienced agent who will help you find solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam. But to be sure they provide what you need, you can ask them the following questions to assess whether they are qualified for your transportation or not:

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 Vietnam?

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


• Import Rules, Regulations, and Customs in Vietnam

The required customs documents when you are importing to Vietnam are the following: bill of lading, certificate of origin, import goods declaration form, import permit (for restricted goods), cargo release order, commercial invoice, customs import declaration form, packing list, delivery order (for goods imported through seaports), technical standard/health certificate, inspection report, and terminal handling receipts.



A system of minimum quality or performance is ensured by the following ministries and agencies: animal and plant protection, health safety, local network compatibility, money security, and cultural sensitivity. You can import goods in Vietnam in unlimited quantity and value if the goods meet the minimum standards.

Vietnam Restricted and Prohibited Goods.Importing the following goods is prohibited: military weapons, arms, and ammunition, explosive materials, used internal combustion engines of less than 30 horsepower, polluting waste and scrap, refrigerating equipment using chlorofluorocarbons, right-hand vehicles, used spare parts for vehicles, obscene articles, narcotics, and so on.
The following goods are restricted to import in Vietnam unless you have an import license from the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam: used electronics such as telephones, computer parts, wireless equipment, and computer hardware.

The following goods are banned for importing into Vietnam: playing cards, graphite products, stamps, magnetized materials, wooden goods of any description from Liberia, and satellite parts.

Vietnam’s top 10 imported items in 2018 were: electrical machinery and equipment; machinery including computers; plastics; mineral fuels including oil; iron and steel; optical, technical, medical apparatus; knit or crochet fabric; vehicles; cotton; fish.

There are numerous options for transporting goods in Vietnam – ship transportation, air transportation, land transportation, and multimodal transportation.
The mode of transportation is an important aspect and has to be evaluated when you’re planning your shipment (cost, shipment urgency, the value of the goods, and size and weight of the package).

Depending on your load volume, it is best to evaluate the mode of transportation when you are planning the shipment process because each option of transport has advantages and disadvantages. By choosing the right mode of transportation, you can significantly optimize your cargo flow and save money and time.

An experienced China-Vietnam freight forwarder will help you find solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam and will have excellent communication skills, understanding all your requirements, including time, budget, and mode of transportation.


• Express delivery from China to Vietnam:

Studies have shown that 95% of product samples and a small amount of high-value goods are sent by courier (DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT, EMS, etc.).

If you have an urgent or a 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.

Express delivery is suitable for goods that are less than one cubic meter or 200 kilograms.

The delivery time from China to Vietnam by courier service (FedEx, UPS, DHL, and TNT) is + 2 business days for door to door shipment.

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.

If you want to save money, cargo agents are the best solution because they can find you an express company that gives you a reasonable price, and they can also get a discount price that you won’t find on their official website




• Sea shipping from China to Vietnam:

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 Vietnam, sea shipping time, in general, is estimated at around 2 to 10 business days from port to port.

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 Vietnam. 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.

Ports in Vietnam are classified into three categories:

1. Ports that are located in the North of Vietnam: Cam Pha Port, Haiphong Port, Nghe Tinh Port, and Vung Ang Port;

2. Port of Central Vietnam – Da Nang Port;

3. Ports that are located in the South of the country: Qui Nhon Port, Nha Trang Port, Ho Chi Minh City / Cat Lai Port, and Can Tau Port.

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.


• Air freight from China to Vietnam:

You should choose this mode of transportation if your goods are smaller than 2 CBM and 200 kilograms. In a matter of days, air freight can bring your cargo from China to your destination. On average, you can expect your cargo to arrive in 2 – 5 business days, depending on the mode of air transportation you choose (economic or express).

Vietnams’ airports – Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Noi Bai International Airport, Da Nang International Airport, Cam Ranh International Airport/Khanh Hoa, Phu Quoc International Airport/Kien Giang, Vinh Airport/Nghe Anh, Phu Bai International Airport /Thua Thin-Hue, Cat Bi international Airport/Hai Phong, Lien Khuong Airport /Lam Dong, and Buon Ma Thuot Airport/Dak Lak.

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 economic delivery is around 2 to 5 business days for the good to be delivered to your doorstep.

2) Fast air transportation:
With express delivery, you can transport cargo of all shapes, sizes, and types, including dangerous and oversized goods in a short period of time. The time delivery for this mode of transportation is around +2 business days for the goods 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 Vietnam, and the second one is from the airport/port in Vietnam 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 Vietnam airport/port – from Vietnam 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 Vietnam, 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 Vietnam 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.

DAP 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 (Vietnam) 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 Vietnam.

VAT tax rates in Vietnam are 0%, 5% or 10%.
VAT tax rate for machinery that cannot be produced in Vietnam, teaching and vocational training as provided for by law, humanitarian aid, etc. is 0%.
For medical equipment, sugar, special-purpose machinery, and equipment for agricultural production, clean water, fresh and live food, etc., the VAT tax rate is 5%.
The goods that are not eligible for 0% or 5% standard tax rate, VAT tax rate is 10%.
For luxury items such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and petroleum products, there is an additional tax (special consumption tax SCT) when importing into Vietnam, and will be imposed on those goods. This tax starts at 7% and can be more than 100% (e.g. cars with a higher engine capacity).

Goods such as plastic bags, gasoline, coal, etc. are goods considered to have a harmful effect on the environment, and they are subjected to the environmental protection tax (EPT).

A tariff exemption is applied for goods such as materials, supplies, and components used for manufacturing export products, goods that are temporarily imported for re-export, raw materials and components which cannot be domestically produced etc.


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 and reduce the measurement volume.

Finding an experienced freight forwarder will help you find the ideal solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam, and will save you money and time.


4.  Plan Ahead to Avoid the Rush Hour

In general, planning ahead 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 than normal and the factories are closed.

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, in this mode of transportation, the carrier is responsible for the entire transport, and he does not have to possess all the means of transport.This hybrid solution will deliver the goods in the correct time frame and keep your shipment on budget.

This mode of transportation 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.

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 also 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.



The shipping process involves many steps, regardless of the mode of transportation you choose. A freight forwarder from China to Vietnam can help you with 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 might be the key to finding solutions for shipping from China to Vietnam.

Our company is based on customer gain, placing customers first. Through our experienced freight forwarders, we are offering you the best shipping possible from China to Vietnam.

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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