Nowadays, many products made in China ,so importing from China to USA is becaming very popular worldwide, such as clothing, perfumes, electronics, furniture, and so on.
For many businesses, importing from China has proven to be a successful tactic of global sourcing, but this is not an easy task, especially if you are new to it. This process can be extremely complex, exhausting, confusing, and costly. You can often expect at long transit times, delays, rising or fluctuating delivery costs, and regulatory fees.
Importing from China to the USA can be a complicated process, which involves many unfamiliar steps and risks.
A. Sourcing from China to the USA
- 1. Spend time looking for the right supplier
- 2. Factory Audits
- 3. Quality inspections
- 4. Ask for a sample
- 5. Notes before payment
- 6. Some common trade terms
B. Shipping from China to the USA
- 1. Sea Freight
- 2. Air Freight
- 3. Courier or express shipping
- 4. Customs clearance in the USA
- 5. Tips for avoiding delays
C. How to save money and time when importing from China to USA
Do I simply purchase from the website or do I need to find a purchasing agent in China?
Many of you must have been asking yourselves this question. I will explain below what importing from China means.
First of all, let’s clear out what an importer is – an importer is the person that is buying goods from foreign sources.
If you are purchasing goods from China for the first time, such as a sample, a small package (a few items), or even a letter, then you can simply purchase from their website. On the other hand, if you are looking to buy great quantities, than it is better to find a reliable freight forwarder to help you through this process.
If you don’t understand the Chinese culture and language at all, then finding a reliable purchasing agent seems like a good choice. I will list below the advantages of hiring an experienced Chinese freight forwarder:
- He will be fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese,
- He will have a thorough knowledge of the Chinese business culture,
- He will have experience in managing the Chinese suppliers,
- He will have quality control, audit, category, sourcing, and logistics experience.
By choosing an American freight forwarder will lead you to higher costs and time waste because most of the time, he will have to contact another cargo agent in China who will handle the picking, preparations, storage, and customs clearance.
A freight forwarder or cargo agent will not only help you purchase the goods you need, but he will also help you customize your purchase, audit your suppliers, and perform quality inspections of goods. Broadly, they can solve quickly many problems that arise during the importing process, saving you time and moneywhen you are importing from China to USA.
Of course, if you have a long-term import plan or are interested in understanding the Chinese market, then I suggest that you take the time to find the right supplier. After all, you can accumulate a lot of experience by saving the middleman’s commission. Now, I will provide some necessary guidance for when you decide to purchase goods from China, especially for purchasing from China to the United States.
In this article, we will talk about sourcing from China to the USA and shipping from China to the USA.
A. Sourcing from China to the USA
1. Spend time looking for the right supplier
If you have decided to purchase and import goods on your own, then spending time to find the right supplier is the best thing to do.
For the best outcome, you will have to set your criteria. Here is what you should be looking for when you are trying to find the best supplier: the delivery time from the receipt of your order until it reaches you, minimum and maximum order quantities (this depends on the quantity of goods you want to purchase) if they offer storage and handling facilities, specific methods of delivery, return policy, quality assurance processes, quality control, and so on.
Also, you will want to look into the supplier’s performance and company background.
Once you have set your criteria and evaluated the potential supplier(s) for sourcing from China to the USA you will want to know:
• How much you are paying per unit and if there is any discount you might be able to get if you are buying in bulk.
• What is the plan of action in case a dispute arises? Disputes can arise when the customer isn’t happy about the received products or the delivery time was delayed. Is he willing to help you to solve the problem?
• Are there any seller guarantees? Find out if your supplier will offer you a 30-day money-back guarantee if the product wasn’t what you have expected.
2. Factory audits
Once you list suppliers, you need to verify their credentials. Although some obvious information can be found online, you need to evaluate:
- If they are really factories and not middlemen (trading company).
- If they have technical expertise and production capacity to achieve what they say.
But what is a middleman? A middleman is an intermediary or an agent between two parties, in a transaction or process chain. They make money by selling the product for a higher price than its purchase price.
A middleman can be a small company or a large corporation with an international presence.
Before we dive in, I want to tell you why people prefer to work with factories over trading companies. Working directly with a factory has many advantages, among which lower taxes, transparency, and building a relationship that will lead to a better communication in time (called Guanxi).
Although working with a factory has its advantages, trading companies have benefits as well, if you can find one trustworthy enough. Trading companies can save you time by handling the sourcing process for you, can find suppliers that you cannot locate on yourself, and they will have better communication and better English.
For example, when sourcing for a product from China using Alibaba, you’re not sure if the supplier is a middleman or a manufacturer. Now, how can you make sure that your supplier is a Chinese manufacturer and not a middleman when you are sourcing from China to the USA?
You have five possibilities:
a. Check their product line. If your supplier is selling, for example, silicone rubber, then the factory will likely have silicone gloves, silicone baking sheets, and silicone measuring cups, meaning that he is the manufacturer. Their entire production line and supply chain are configured to manufacture those items from silicon rubber.
On the other hand, if the supplier offers selfie sticks, phone cases, and USB chargers, then it’s likely to be the middleman because there is no way one factory can manufacture such a wide variety of items.
b. Ask technical questions about the items you want to purchase. Answering technical questions will help you build confidence. If they don’t know the answer to simple, technical questions such as ‘How long it takes to charge?’ or ‘Is this product heat resistant?’, then you should start doubting the supplier.
c. Ask them directly. Usually, trading companies reveal their true identity. Also, real manufacturers have their own factories and they are not “partner factory”.
d. Ask to visit the factory. If you have time and money to spend visiting factories, then this is probably the best way to find out if you are sourcing from a real factory or a trading company. Factories will be more than happy to welcome you.
e. Make unplanned video calls.
3. Quality inspections
No matter how long you’ve imported from China, quality control is key to protect your business.
When you are importing goods from China to the USA, the payment is general released to the manufacturer prior shipping, and you risk receiving poor quality goods with few options to send them back. This procedure can be costly, meaning that it will directly impact your business because there will be high expenses for shipping back the items and customs duties, not to mention the amount of time it would take to send back the goods and receive a new batch.
China’s legal system it’s intricate, and you wouldn’t have any success in a lawsuit. Therefore, because of the low quality of the goods, your business will suffer.
When your business involves importing products from China, it is essential to incorporate a quality control process in your supplier’s factory. The purpose of implementing a quality control process is to identify any problems, defects, and non-conformities in the product. If your product doesn’t follow the required specifications or general international standards, and it’s caught early in the quality control process, these issues can easily be solved to fix the initial batch and avoid any future problems.
The quality control process not only ensures the quality of the products but also monitors their timely delivery.
In this matter, it is best to work with a third party inspection company or a freight forwarder.
You can develop your own detailed and specific inspection protocol based on your own product specifications and quality requirements. The inspection protocol might include:
– cosmetic verification;
– functional verifications;
– your requirements verification.
Be as specific as you can, and ensure you provide clear details when you are talking with the inspector.
Third-party inspection companies or freight forwarders are the most flexible and reliable option for small and medium companies. They can check if all your requirements are met, from the inspection of the outer box to the quantity, quality, and even product photos or other needs. Also, they can quickly operate all over China, while you keep control of the quality of your goods and benefit from their expertise regardless of your location.
4. Ask for a sample
You’ve found the perfect supplier, now what? You don’t need to hurry to order a large quantity of goods, first ask for a sample.
But why ask for a sample?
First of all, you have to see, feel, and test the product in real life. When purchasing from B2B platforms, a major concern is product quality, and many times product pictures differ from reality (many Chinese suppliers copy images from Western product catalogues).
Second of all, this is a good and simple way to verify the supplier. Through this process, you will see how the communication between both of you works, how fast the shipping is, etc.
Third, ordering samples will build a strong relationship with the supplier because he will see you are serious about this and your interest in dealing with them is very high.
Give specific details when asking for a sample.
Explain to the supplier that if the sample meets your requirements you will place a large order.
Because of these cultural differences and language barriers, it’s important to be extremely specific when requesting a sample from your supplier.
• Every reputable manufacturer in China is used to working with deadlines, and they should be able to communicate a clear timeframe for the samples.
• Imperial measurements (pounds, inches, etc.) are only used in the United States. Therefore, you should convert to global measurements like the metric system (centimeters, liters, and grams) when doing business with international partners.
• Once the sample is completed, ask for a video chat so you can see what the sample looks like before it is shipped. This will save you time and money.
When providing instructions for your sample from your supplier you should include the following:
– The complete address where you want your sample to be sent (country, state, region, etc.).
– Specify that the sample be labeled “sample: of no commercial value”- this will save from being charged duty for the package.
– Be as specific as possible with your details regarding the sample you want to be made.
– Ask them to test the product before they ship it to you.
– Ask them to include on the package the model number and company name, so you won’t confuse the samples if you order from different suppliers.
5. Notes before payment
In this part of the article we will give you some tips about what you should do before the payment. This will include negotiating the price, 30% prepay, payment terms, and keeping records of all your purchases.
- Negotiate the price
A successful price negotiation means that you will find the right price equilibrium with your supplier. In other words, it means you will pay the right price for the right quality; asking for too low prices can lead to terrible quality issues and unanswered calls. In the context of finding a balance in terms of the right price, you will have quality products, and your supplier will make enough money to stay in business and pay his employees.
In order for you to obtain the right price you should consider the following
a. Set your target price – Remember that price negotiation is a common practice in China, thus, is expected;
b. The supplier must make a decent profit as well;
c. Be clear about your quality requirements before you start negotiating;
d. There is a right time for price negotiations;
e. Stay up to date on raw material costs;
f. Find other ways to get a better price.
- 30% prepay
Because there are hundreds of thousands of suppliers in China, paying 30% in advance and 70% on the bill of lading, for some of them this would be considered safe terms, while for others, obviously unsafe.
Some suppliers will not ship your goods until you make your final payment. They do not trust the Telex Release (a message with all original copies of the bill of lading).
Most suppliers won’t agree with 30% prepay unless they know you for a long time or the shipment balance payment is guaranteed by a Letter of Credit (a bank guarantees the payment).
When importing from China to the USA, 30% prepay is ok. However, the 70% balance should not be paid until a correct ISF (Import Security Filing document with 10+2 fields of information) is presented and confirmed with Customs.
Also, you have to obtain copies of the shipping documents, including bill of lading, commercial invoice, and packing list. Make sure those are in order.
Generally, most suppliers will require a 30% deposit before they start to arrange the order (some suppliers will try to get 50%), and the 70% balance will have to be paid before the goods are packed and delivered to port.
- Consider payment terms
A suitable payment method that conforms to your needs will reduce the payment risks.
Here are some of the recommended and accepted methods of payment for international trading:
– Advance Payment
– Letter of credit
– Documents against Payments – D.A.P or D/P basis
– Documents against Acceptance (D/A)
– Advance Payment
Advance Payment is a payment method done by an importer (the buyer) to the exporter (the seller/supplier) before shipment.
This method will benefit the supplier, as the payment is received in advance, as soon as the order is confirmed or any time before shipment. Advance payments can also be used to negotiate a reduced price or to cover the initial supply costs.
However, from the buyer’s point of view, this method of payment presents a low risk, as it advances the payment before the goods are shipped. Prepayment is chosen by a buyer only when he knows the seller in detail.
– Letter of credit (LC)
This method of payment is opted by both, importers and exporters. LC is one of the most secure instruments accessible to international traders. An LC is bank commitment, on behalf of the buyer, that the payment will be made to the exporter/supplier, with the condition that the terms set out in the LC are met. In other words, an LC is an assurance from the bank that they buyer will be making the payment to the seller on time, for the correct amount. An LC eliminates the possible risks. If the buyer is unable to make the full payment of the purchase, then the bank is required to cover the rest of the payment.
A letter of credit is usually a negotiable instrument – the issuing bank pays the beneficiary or any bank designated by it. If a letter of credit is transferable, the beneficiary may assign to another entity, such as a corporate parent or a third party, the right to draw money. Banks usually require a pledge of securities or cash as collateral for issuing a letter of credit, and it also charge a service fee, usually a percentage of the size of the letter of credit. An LC also insures the buyer – there is no obligation to pay until the goods have been shipped or delivered as promised or guaranteed.
The letter of credit is a vital aspect in international trade.
– Documents against Payments – D.A.P or D/P basis
This is a term of payment in international trade, and it is based on an instrument generally used in international trade, called a bill of exchange or draft. The documents will be delivered to the importer (buyer) only after the payment is made by the buyer’s bank.
The exporter (supplier) ships the goods and submits the shipping documents to the importer’s bank with their instructions to release the documents to the importer against payment. The bank will hand over the shipping documents to the buyer, including the document of title (bill of lading), only when he paid the bill. In simple words, D/P is an arrangement in which the supplier (seller/exporter) directs the presenting bank to release the shipping documents only when the buyer made all the payments.
– Documents against Acceptance (D/A)
This is another term of payment in international trade, and it is based on an instrument generally used in international trade, called a bill of exchange or draft.
With this term of payment, the seller (supplier/exporter) allows credit to the importer (buyer). The buyer is required to accept the bill and make a signed promise that he will pay the bill at a set date. After signing the bill, he will receive all the documents, and can clear his goods. In simple words, D/A is an arrangement in which the supplier directs the bank to release the shipping documents only after the buyer has signed the accompanying bill of exchange.
- Keep records of all purchases
In general, in any business is important to keep record.
You should keep a record of the purchased goods that are intended for re-sale separately from the ones that are not intended for re-sale.
Broadly, your records should contain the date of the purchase invoice, a consecutive number, in the order in which the invoices are filed, the name of the supplier, and VAT.
6. Some common trade terms
Trade terms (terms of trade – TOT) represent the relative price of exports in terms of import. There are many trade terms, but we will tell you about the most common trade terms that are found in suppliers’ quotes.
MOQ stands for Minimum Order Quantity, and is defined by the minimum amount of goods the supplier is willing to sell (or produce) at one time. Most times, MOQ is defined by the amount of goods produced in a production run (1000 or 10,000 units), but sometimes it can be defined by currencies as well ($1000 or $10,000 of product).
Minimum Order Quantity is calculated independently by each supplier, and depends on the cost it takes to produce them. It covers the cost, energy, and effort, and ensures that the supplier will be able to earn a profit as well.
EXW (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.
With this quotation, your shipping costs will divide into three categories:
1. From China factory to China airport/port
2. From China airport/port to the USA airport/port
3. From the USA airport/port to your doorstep.
Over this, other transportation costs will be added such as Chinese export costs and customs clearance costs.
FOB stands for 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/supplier.
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), 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:
1. From China airport/port to the airport/port in the USA,
2. From the airport/port in the USA to your doorstep.
C&F stands for Cost and Freight, where cost refers to the cost of goods and freight refers to all the other costs that are related to the means of transportation of your goods. If you see this quotation, it means that the seller will pay the costs and freight required to bring your goods to a designated port of destination, and also he will obtain maritime insurance against the buyer’s risk or loss of the goods during transport.
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 USA, 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, the buyer becomes responsible for all other costs, including the expenses from the airport or port in the USA to your doorstep.
With CIF the supplier adds an extra charge to compensate for their efforts, and it becomes more expensive than FOB.
Though this term is used for ocean freight only, in practice, many importers and exporters still use it in the air freight.
B/L stands for bill of lading, and contains all the relevant details about the type, amount, condition, and destination of the goods.
The bill of lading is a legal document issued by the carrier (Transportation Company) to the shipper, as a contract of shipping goods. In other words, B/L is an agreement established between a shipper and a transportation company for shipping of goods. It also represents a receipt of cargo accepted for transportation.
It serves as proof of ownership of the cargo (document of title), and can be released in either a negotiable or non-negotiable form.
A bill of lading can be used as follows:
– in letter of credit transactions, where it can be bought, sold, or traded;
– as collateral for borrowing money,
– in all claims for compensation for damages, delays, or losses,
– for the settlement of disputes concerning the ownership of the goods.
Broadly, the bill of lading comprises:
– consignor’s and consignee’s name,
– names of the ports of departure and destination,
– name of the vessel,
– dates of departure and arrival,
– itemized list of goods being transported (number of packages, type of packaging),
– rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of the carrier and the shipper,
– marks and numbers on the packages,
– weight and/or volume of the cargo,
– freight rate and amount.
AWB stands for airway bill, and is a legal document that accompanies the goods that are being shipped by an international air courier. It provides detailed information about the shipment, and allows it to be tracked. The AWB has copies for every party involved in the shipment.
It is also known as an air consignment note, and is a type of bill of lading, which has a similar role as an ocean bill of lading, but it is issued only in non-negotiable form.
An AWB serves as a receipt of goods and contract between the shipper and the carrier (an airline). When both parts, the shipper and the carrier, sign the document, the AWB becomes an enforceable document.
Broadly, an AWB contains:
– shipper’s name and address
– consignee’s name and address
– three-letter origin airport code
– three letter destination airport code
– declared shipment value for customs
– number of pieces
– gross weight
– a description of the goods
– any special instructions (for example, ‘perishable’ or ‘fragile’)
– rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of the carrier and the shipper
POD and POL
These two common shipping terms stand for Point of Discharge – POD, and it represents the port where the goods are unloaded from the ship, and Port of Loading – POL, and represents the port at which the goods are loaded on to the ship.
PI stands for porforma invoice, and it represent your order list. The proforma invoice is a simple contract, which includes banking details, prepay, agreed terms of shipping like FOB and EXW, agreed terms of remittance like letter of credit, and details about the delivery.
In this step you can negotiate with the supplier. The final version that is agreed will be called a commercial invoice.
What Shipping Options Are Available?
There are three main ways to ship your freight from China to the USA:
a. Sea or ocean transportation,
b. Air transportation,
c. Courier or express shipping.
Each option has unique advantages and disadvantages.
1. Sea freight
Shipping is the main mode of transportation for global import and export operations. Low prices, high-volume loading, full container load (FCL) or less than a container load (LCL) options, are advantages that make ocean shipping the first choice for most US importers.
Sea transportation is also a slow mode of transportation, and you need to do your planning in advance and have generous margins for the possible delays. Besides all this, Chinese manufacturers don’t stock any products, they make them to order, and you have to be prepared.
For example, if you want your goods to be ready for the Christmas season, you should plan ahead and place your order in August or earlier. We would recommend that you should place an order with at least 3 months in advance.
Ocean freight starts from port A and ends in port B, so you need to know the main port distribution of the origin and destination countries.
The geographical location of your vendor isn’t something to pay much attention to because no matter where he is located in China, your goods will never be too far from one of the ports listed below.
Below we will present you the world’s largest and most productive ports that are ready to ship your goods from China to the USA.
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 the USA.
According to the U.S Coast Guard, there are approximately 360 commercial ports, but here are the most important container ports: Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Port of Seattle and Tacoma, Port of Savannah, Port of Oakland, Port of Virginia, The Port of Huston Authority, Port of Charleston, and Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Time – Estimated Transit Time (ETT) is the time between the Estimated Time of Departure from origin (ETD) and the Estimated Time of Arrival at the destination (ETA).
In order to give you a reference, I have compiled the reference time from the major Chinese ports to the United States ports. I hope this helps you.
ETDs and ETAs are subject to change at any time and they can never be guaranteed by your ocean carrier, and it can take up to 7 days for your cargo to be loaded at the loading port
Price – 90% of the trade is done under these two terms：FOB (Free On Board) and EXW (Ex-Works). Because CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) and DAP (Delivered-at-Place) are both carried out by your seller, it will take away more of your time and expenses. Therefore, you should chose FOB or EXW and leave your goods in professional hands, at the lowest price and the fastest shipping time. Choosing those you will save money and valuable time!
The EXW Shipping cost represents the cost for sea freight, from a Chinese port to an American port, which adds American customs clearance cost and local logistics cost in the USA.
The FOB shipping cost represent the local logistics cost in China, which add China’s export cost, cost for sea freight from the Chinese port to an American port, American customs clearance cost, and local logistics cost in the USA.
Other charges may include CUS (Chassis Usage Surcharge) and DOC (documentation fees), AMS (Automated Manifest System), ISF filling charge, warehouse entry, and insurance.
2. Air freight
Air transportation is suitable for goods that are urgent in time, or the unit price of the goods is high, but the quantity of the goods is small (300-500kg).
The geographical location of your vendor isn’t something to pay much attention to because no matter where he is located in China, your goods will never be too far from one of the ports listed below. These are the world’s largest and most productive ports that are ready for shipping from China to the USA by air.
Below we will present you the main port distribution of the origin and destination countries:
• Main China airports are: Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Xian Xianyang International Airport, Kunming Changshui International Airport, and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
• The busiest U.S.A’s airports are: Memphis International Airport, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Louisville International Airport, and O’Hare International Airport.
- Time and price
Time – Shipping time for air freight is represented by the time required for booking shipping space, flight time, and local delivery time in the USA.
With this mode of transportation, the delivery time and price are more flexible than sea freight because you can choose non-stop transfer or charter services, with different airline routes.
Generally, the air freight from China to the United States is divided into three categories:
1 Economic air transport: economical price, suitable for goods with low time requirements (no dangerous goods, oversized or temperature-controlled goods).
2 Standard air freight: reasonable price, shorter time.
3 Emergency shipping: speed priority, suitable for time sensitive goods (perishables).
Price – Because of the different products that can be shipped by air, the price is different.
The “standard air freight” market price range from Shanghai to Los Angeles is 5.5-10 USD/KG. Of course, this does not include the cost of domestic and American delivery. Other costs depend on your terms of trade. This part is the same as shipping.
The unit of calculation for air freight is kilograms, and there are two methods for calculating the weight of air transport:
1. They will charge according to the dimensional weight.
2. They will charge according to the actual weight of the package.
The formula for the Dimensional Weight is: Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/6000
I will give you an example for foam.
Let’s suppose you need to ship 1 piece of large foam that is 100cm x 100cm x 100cm, and weights 20KG. What will it be its dimensional weight?
Dimensional weight = 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm/6000=167 kg
So, you see, its dimensional weight is far larger than its actual weight. Hence you will be charged for 167 kg.
You will find that packing your goods skillfully and minimizing its volume, it is often the key to saving money.
3. Courier or express shipping
Express shipping is the fastest and easiest mode of transportation from China to the US, when compared to sea or air freight. With express, the fees for Eastern and Western US will be likely the same, and you won’t have to worry about duty payments and customs clearance. You will also be able to track your goods at any time and plan accordingly.
Find an express company with a reasonable offer and wait for your goods to arrive at your address.
Express shipping means urgent and faster delivery, with higher prices and rates than other forms of transportation. Also, the cost of express shipping may increase during the holidays, but it can drop dramatically in the off-season.
- Time and price
Time – All courier companies use air freight to transport goods, so the delivery time and price are also flexible, similar to air freight.
There are many famous courier companies, regulating the Express companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, and many more.
Broadly, here are the delivery times for air transportation:
• Economic delivery: the delivery time is 8-10 days, the price is economical, and this mode of transportation is suitable for goods with low time requirements (no dangerous goods, oversized, or temperature-controlled goods).
• Standard delivery: the delivery time is 3-7 days, reasonable price and shorter time.
• Emergency delivery: the delivery time is 2-3 days, speed priority, suitable for time sensitive goods (perishable goods).
Price – Express delivery has many advantages. The unit price is usually higher than transportation by sea and air, but it all depends on your product needs.
If your shipment is a sample, a small package, or even a letter, then doesn’t hesitate to choose express. This method is simple and fast, and if the value of your good is under $800, with FedEx you won’t have to pay duties.
Your freight forwarder can help you find the best solutions for shipping from China to the USA and save you money and time, even if the quantity of your goods is slightly larger, but should be less than 500 kg.
The method of calculating the price is similar to standard airfreight:
1. They will charge according to the dimensional weight.
2. They will charge according to the actual weight of the package.
The formula for the Dimensional Weight is: Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/5000
For example, if your product package size is 50*50*50 cm and the actual weight is 10 kg, the express company will charge you 25 kg weight (50*50*50cm)/5000=25 kg) instead of the actual weight of 10 kg, if you want to ship this package from China to the USA.
Clearing customs is one of the biggest challenges a buyer will face when importing from China to the USA.
Once your cargo enters an U.S. port or airport, you face customs inspection and clearance processes. This job requires advance preparation and rich experience. In simple words, clearing customs means that when your goods arrive into the US, they will not be released until the appropriate paperwork is filled out and the necessary duties are paid.
There are three things you must know and be aware of when you are importing from China to the USA: document to be prepared, HS Codes and taxes, and inspection process.
- Customs clearance documents
If you want your goods to be cleared by the US Customs, you need to submit these two documents: CBP Form 3461 and CBP Form 7501. If you are shipping your goods by ocean, you will also need to submit an Importer Safety Declaration (ISF).
Broadly, the documents you will need to prepare for customs clearance are:
1. Commercial Invoice
2. Packing List
3. Bill of Lading
4. Customs Bond
5. CBP Form 3461
6. CBP Form 7501
7. Arrival Notice
8. Commodity Specific Documentation
9. Importer Security Filing
- What is the Importer Security Filing (ISF)?
Importer Security Filing (ISF) or “10+2” – When you ship your goods by ocean, you need to submit the information about your shipment to the Customs and Border Protection with 24 hours before your shipment departs from its country of origin. This only applies for ocean transportation.
The 10+2 comes from the full name of the process, which is “Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements.” There are 10 importer security filing requirements, and 2 additional carrier requirements.
The things that need to be recorded in the ISF are:
3. Importer of Record Number
4. Consignee Number
5. Manufacturer or Supplier
6. Ship to Party
7. Country of Origin
8. HTSUS Number
9. Container Stuffing Location
The additional carrier requirements are:
1. Vessel Stow Plan
2. Container Status Messages
Failing in submitting an accurate ISF, will result in serious delays, a $5000 fine per violation, and also increased inspections on your shipment.
- What is the HS Code?
HS Codes (The 10-digit Harmonized Item Description Code) – This is the most important thing that all importers must know when importing goods. Almost every time you import an item, you need to know the HS code of the item. You can get this code from your supplier.
You can check your goods tariffs here https://hts.usitc.gov/?query=9506.99.
5. Tips for avoiding delays
Shipping delays are a common problem which can cause you losing valuable time; time that can affect your business.
International transport may be a complex mode of serious shipping or it may be an easy way to move freight from point A to point B, and choosing the most cost-effective and timely mode of transport is crucial. It is advisable to explore the various transport options to ensure that you ship your cargo at the lowest overall price.
In order to avoid time delays in China you should be aware of their holidays.
As I mentioned earlier, 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 will rise sharply due to a shortage of factory and road staff and the factories are closed.
This can cause your shipment to be delayed, but in order to avoid this you should plan ahead your shipment with your supplier.
To avoid delays you should do the following:
– Inform about the Chinese holidays
– Choose Experienced Companies To Work With
– Complete Clearance Paperwork Correctly
– Have Your Documents Ready
C. How to save money and time when importing from China to USA
1.Find a reliable freight forwarder
Shipping goods is a very complicated process, which involves booking space, document preparation, and customs clearance. Sometimes finding a reliable business partner can be a hard job, and that is what freight forwarders are for. Do not leave your large shipment to the supplier unless there is no other choice because costs consist largely of logistics, and most sellers make this mistake thinking that is the simplest and fastest thing to do.
China Freight is a reliable and experienced agent who will help you find solutions for importing from China to the USA. As a freight forwarder, we 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.
Another big advantage is the fact that a freight forwarder can help you save money, and will let you know where every cost is going, with no hidden expenses.
It is considered to be an important asset in international transportation because he has useful services that can help you when you don’t have experience with the international shipping process, and will help you maximize your e-commerce business.
2. Complete clearance paperwork correctly
Time delays will always cost you money. And the common cause for time delays is shipment being stopped during the clearance process and for this matter us important to fill out the paperwork correctly. Choose your suppliers wisely because they are the ones responsible for your goods paperwork.
Have Your Documents Ready – It’s vital to have an ISF (International Security Filing) because when you ship your goods by ocean you need to submit the information about your shipment to the Customs and Border Protection with 24 hours before your shipment departs from its country of origin. This only applies for ocean transportation. Failing in submitting an accurate ISF, will result in serious delays, a $5000 fine per violation, and also increased inspections on your shipment.
Once your goods arrive at the US customs, your shipper will need to file the Immediate Delivery Form. And also pay all the associated fees.
3.Make sure you consolidate your cargo
Consolidating your cargo is important especially if the goods are being bought from different suppliers. The logistics company can provide a consolidation process at any port of origin, where goods from different suppliers can be stored and delivered to you together.
If air freight is too expensive, but sea freight cannot be delivered in time, you can cooperate with your Chinese freight forwarder. He can offer you the option of multimodal transportation combining air freight and sea freight with other forms of ground transportation (trucks, trains, or some other mean of transport) for the delivery.
Therefore, we suggest that you go to a reliable freight forwarding company, tell them your needs, and they will help you handle the entire transportation link at a lower cost. All you have to do is to wait for your goods to be delivered.