Sea Freight Forwarder China

with better shipping rate from China
  • Competitive ocean freight and stable space.
  • The destination charge is lower than the market price for LCL.
  • We charge a reasonable local fee to shippers under the FOB term, in order to avoid complaints from them.
  • Free warehouse service.
  • Receive loading pictures anytime you need.
  • Container loading supervision service in any city in China.
  • Vast experience in out of gauge (OOG) goods shipping.
  • Door to door service.
Ask Better Sea Freight Rate
FCL Sea Freight Shipping from China
FCL Sea Freight Shipping from China

FCL means that all the goods in a container belong to you, if the volume of goods is over 20CBM; it is better to use FCL. It will cut the shipping cost compared to LCL. Besides the good ocean freight, Bansar also can provide the best loading container solution.

  • Competitive ocean freight from China to anywhere you want.
  • Guidance in using a 20 foot or 40 foot, based on the size and gross weight of your package.
  • Guidance on how to load the goods in the container effectively to save space and money.
  • Container loading supervision service.
  • Guidance on how to reinforce the goods in the container.
  • Provide door to door, door to port, port to port, and port to door service.
  • We charge a reasonable local fee to shippers under the FOB term, in order to avoid complaints from them.
  • Free warehouse service if you have several suppliers in China.

LCL Sea Freight Shipping from China
LCL Sea Freight Shipping from China

If there is not enough goods to fill a whole 20 foot, we suggest shipping less than a container´s capacity. Just pay attention to the following. Make sure your packaging keeps the shipping goods safe because you will be sharing container space with other shippers, and confirm the destination charge for LCL shipping before shipping the goods.

  • Provide competitive ocean freight rates from China.
  • The destination charge is lower than the market price.
  • We charge a reasonable local fee to shippers under the FOB term, in order to avoid complaints from them.
  • Free warehouse service.
  • Receive loading pictures anytime you need.
  • Choose direct service from port to port to keep the goods safe.

BULK - Cargo Ship Sea Freight Shipping from China
BULK - Cargo Ship Sea Freight Shipping from China

For some large size and overweight shipments, it is recommended to ship by bulk-cargo ship. We have plenty of experience in this type of service and we guarantee to bring the goods safely from China to the final destination.

  • The best solution based on the shipping goods information.
  • Competitive freight by bulk-cargo ship.
  • Vast experience operating ground service at the bulk-cargo loading port.
  • Loading supervision service

OOG (Out of Guage) Sea Freight Shipping from China
OOG (Out of Guage) Sea Freight Shipping from China

We can handle not only dry cargo, but also any oversized or irregularly-shaped cargo. OOG cargo is loaded on an open top (OT) or flat rack container (FR). For OOG cargo, we will choose the best carrier based on the advantages of every shipping company.

  • Competitive ocean freight.
  • Vast experience handling OOG cargo and the best shipping solutions.
  • Guidance on how to reinforce the goods in the container well.
  • Loading container supervision for every OOG shipment.

Roll-On Roll-Off Sea Freight Shipping from China
Roll-On Roll-Off Sea Freight Shipping from China

It is safe to ship vehicles by roll on roll off service. Bansar is Expert on roll on roll off shipping from China.

  • Competitive rates because of a good relationship with carriers.
  • Vast experience because of the many shipments we have operated before.
  • Stable space from the carrier.

Calculate Your Shipping Cost From China

Sea Freight Shipping from China : The Definitive Guide

Sea freight, also called ocean freight, is the most popular methods of shipping from China to other global destinations.

If you’re importing from China, and would like to ship by sea, this guide will definitely help you.


Because I will guide you on everything about your shipping from China by sea.

Just imagine:

In 2017 alone, China is estimated to have exported a whopping 2.2 trillion dollars’ worth goods to countries across the globe.

Guess what?

A greater percentage was by sea or ocean.

Ocean freight

Ocean Freight

And, why sea?

Because it is affordable, reliable and convenient.

At Bansar, were are here to manage all your ocean freight logistics.

Let’s have a quick overview of what we offer before taking you to the nitty-gritty of ocean freight.

Bansar Ocean Freight Services

Bansar provides the best solutions and service delivery on sea freight shipping from China.

Having been in the industry for more than 10 years now, we (Bansar) have acquired enough experience and knowledge regarding sea freight.

This in return, makes us pretty good at providing sea freight shipping services for SMEs, big companies as well as individuals transporting goods from China.

As one of the leading China Sea freight agent, we can deliver your goods from China to any destination across the globe.

At Bansar, we offer you fast, affordable and reliable sea freight shipping rates and cargo delivery.

These three are the critical pillars of Bansar China.


Our services in air, rail and most of all sea freight shipping include;

  • Warehousing and distribution
  • Cargo insurance
  • Container loading supervision
  • Express shipping
  • Custom clearance services

As I said, we have a quality experience and widespread knowledge in the sea freight shipping business.

As such, we thought it’d be wise to put up this guide to help you successfully ship goods from China to any destination in the world.

Chapter 1: What is Sea Freight Shipping?

Sea freight or ocean freight is the process of shipping goods and parcels in a cargo ship.

The cargo ship moves on the water, whether in oceans, seas or lakes.

It is the shipping of cargo internationally with water as the primary mode of transport.

This form of shipping is an affordable solution for shipping goods to different parts of the world.

It is also convenient and quite reliable.

You know that water covers most of the earth’s landmass and that there is at least one large water mass at every corner of the earth’s continents.

This, therefore, makes sea freight a convenient mode of transporting goods to international borders.

Image 2 Cargo ship in sea

Cargo ship in the sea

And by the way;

Sea freight was the only mode of transportation in the industrial age.

It was only until a few decades ago when technology took over that other modes of transport started being used.

These include; air, rail, and road that became popular as trains, trucks, and planes provided people with a faster means of transportation.

But the truth is:

Despite the popularity of the advanced mode of transport, the demand for sea freight has not gone down.

The reality I am sure you already know is:

It takes more time to ship goods through the water.

However, the cost-effectiveness of sea freight shipping is something which makes it a common choice of importing goods from China.

Besides, cargo ships can carry bulky goods.

So, sea freight is still a convenient way of shipping from China to other countries around the world.

Chapter 2: Advantages and Disadvantages of Sea Freight

Don’t doubt this fact:

Sea freight is one of the best ways of transporting cargo to different parts of the world.

And at some point, you or your company will need to ship your goods via sea freight.

When that time comes, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of sea freight shipping.

This will help you know the best way to adopt this mode of transportation to your company’s needs.

In this particular chapter, am going to show you the various advantages and disadvantages of ocean freight. Take a look.

·  Advantages of Sea Freight Shipping

The various advantages of sea freight include:

1. Cost-effectiveness

Compared to other modes of shipping, i.e., air and surface; sea freight services are more cost-effective.

As a business person, I bet reducing the cost of operation is key to ensuring good revenues and continued success in business.

Reduced operational costs allow you to sell the goods to end users at a more affordable price.

This will give you an advantage over your competitors.

Image 3 Freight Calculator

Freight Calculator – Photo Credits: WORLD FREIGHT RATES

Because of this, sea freight shipping should be your ultimate solution to transporting your imports from China.

Note that cost efficiency is the main advantage of sea freight shipping.

2. Can transport bulky goods

Heavy or large, sea freight shipping facilitates the safe and reliable transportation of the most massive freight in the export/import industry.

So if you’re importing bulky goods such as automobiles or machinery parts, ocean freight offers a perfect solution.

NYK Arcadia am 20.6.11 ausgehend Hamburg
NYK Arcadia am 20.6.11 ausgehend Hamburg (NYK Line loaded with containers)

Don’t even think of going for air freight – it won’t work.

And, even if you get a chance to use one – the cost will be unimaginable.

It’s this simple, for heavy or bulky goods, go for ocean freight.

3. Provides a safe carriage of goods

Hazardous goods such as chemical goods, medicines, combustible gases, oil, petroleum products, etc. can be quite a challenge to transport.

They require very safe storage and transport conditions.

Otherwise, they can cause harm to both the vessel carrying it and the people aboard it.

In any case, planes, trucks, and trains restrict the transportation of such goods.

Image 5 Container with dangerous goods

Container with dangerous goods

As such, the best means to get these goods transported safely is via sea freight.

This is because, with sea freight, you can have a specific area of the cargo ship or a container assigned for the unsafe goods.

The area/container can also be maintained at particular conditions safe for the transportation of these goods.

The temperature, humidity, and moisture can be maintained at the right levels.

Also, the container containing these goods can be kept airtight until they reach their destination.

Moreover, ocean freight shipping does not stop at any point.

It offers nonstop passage which eliminates the need for continuous stopping and refueling like planes and roadway vessels.

4. Environment-friendly

Well, for the environmentally conscious, sea freight is a good option for shipping your goods from China.

This is because it does not harm the environment like most other modes of freight transport.

Air freight, for example, tends to leave an enormous carbon footprint in the atmosphere.

This is no doubt harmful to our environment.

Note that carbon emission upsurges the temperatures of the earth, thus disrupting its ecological balance.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that ocean freight is 100% perfect – No.

It has some disadvantages.

Let’s have a quick overview of these disadvantages.

· Disadvantages of sea freight

Essentially, the downside of sea freight shipping is a combination of speed and now piracy threats.

Note however that these do not render sea freight shipping as an inefficient service.

These are only shortcomings that rate it below other modes of transport.

So, what are some of the disadvantages of sea freight?

1. Speed

The most significant shortcoming of sea freight is the speed of the transporting ships.

It tends to be slow when shipping goods from China via sea.

Often, the difference between a reliable supplier and non-reliable one is the time taken to deliver goods.

When you deliver your products faster, you get an edge over your competitors.

Unlike when you take too long to do so.

Here is a good calculator for you – Sea Distances.

Image 6 Port distance

Port Distance

As such, sea freight might not be the best option in times when you need to get products to clients faster.

2. Piracy concerns

Piracy reports have been on the rise these days.

Ships are coming under attack by pirates.

They attack the vessel and steal products being transported.

This results in huge losses for businesses and individuals using ocean freight.

Sometimes, pirates even hijack the ships and demand for ransoms before releasing them.

Unfortunately, securing the release of a seized ship can take a very long time.

Also, this can lead to massive losses to business and even individuals whose cargo was on board.

Image 7 Piracy in the Indian Ocean

Piracy in the Indian Ocean

For instance, if you were importing goods to resell in the local market, it means the stock will be held until the ship is released.

Moreover, products that are perishable might end up going stale.

Again, that is another loss to your business.

The threat of piracy, therefore, impacts the safety of sea freight shipping negatively.

. Ship accidents are often disastrous

These accidents are rare.

But if they happen, destruction is always big, I tell you.

When a ship is involved in an accident, retrieving the cargo on board is often very difficult.

Most of the shipment is unrecoverable as it sinks into the deep waters.

In some cases, cargo like crude oil can cause water pollution when it spills into the sea.

It can lead to environmental degradation as well as the death of marine life.

Like I said earlier, sea freight is a very efficient, economical and reliable mode of shipping and its few shortcomings does not make it inefficient.

I hope, we are reading from the same script, let’s move on.

Chapter 3: Air Freight vs. Sea Freight – An Ultimate Comparison to International Shipping

When it comes to shipping goods abroad, there are two main options; to ship via air or sea.

Either of these modes of transport can be used to get goods from China to any other part of the world.

Now, unlike air, sea freight has been around for some time.

Historically, it was the only mode of transport in the industrial age.

Countries in Europe and America used ocean freight to transport goods.

Even people were using ocean freight to move from one continent to another.

Air freight, on the other hand, is a beneficiary of technological advancement and civilization.

Today, people want things to move faster, and air freight seems to be gaining popularity.

Of course, this is due to the rising need for faster and ideally convenient mode of transportation.

That is not to say that sea freight is no longer popular. No!

The demand for sea freight is steadily increasing day by day.

So, which of these two shipping options would you use instead

Air or sea freight – let’s find out.

Let’s compare the benefits, drawbacks, and features of both options to find out which one suits your individual/business needs better.

Image 8 Air Freight vs Ocean Freight

Air freight vs. Ocean freight

· Air freight vs. sea freight

Essentially the comparison between air freight and ocean freight is a combination of cost, speed, and reliability.

These three factors tend to influence the decisions of most businesses and individuals looking to ship products internationally.

But why?

Or how?

1. Cost

Needless, to say, cost is often a significant point of comparison when it comes to decisions like this.

The truth is, nearly all businesses are more concern of the financial viability of any type of freight.

It is for this reason that they will get quotes for both the ocean freight and sea freight.

The truth is:

Air freight tends to be more expensive compared to sea freight.

Of course, when shipping bulky goods.

Normally, weight and size determine the cost of air freight.

Just as I mentioned earlier – for bulky goods, go for ocean freight.

On the other hand, for small size consignments, air freight will be cheaper than ocean freight.

What’s the bottom line?

Contact various freight companies to know how much they charge for specific goods.

This way, you will know various rates for both ocean freight and air freight.

2. Speed

Besides cost, speed is another point of comparison when it comes to these two modes of transportation.

Without a doubt, air freight is faster ocean freight.

Goods transported by an airplane can arrive at the contracted destination one or two days after departure

On the other hand, ships can take days, weeks or even months to deliver a consignment.

It will depend on the on the destination port.

Take for instance, you can compare the following destinations:

Of course natural calamities and political tensions may also affect the shipping speed, among other factors

So, if you want to deliver urgent packages, air freight may be your choice.

But if you have a large consignment, the main concern should be freight cost.

The speed may not be an important factor here.

3. Reliability

Shipping to international destinations is fairly reliable if done by sea.

Cargo ships undergo inspection to confirm that the goods are in condition before departure.

Also, most of the transporting vessels are designed to overcome all kinds of adverse weather conditions.

In most cases, they will maintain their schedule.

Image 9 Loading at Port of Shanghai

Loading at port of Shanghai

Like air, delays in ship delivery do occur, but they don’t last too long.

Considering air shipping, well planes are a recent thing.

As I said, they are here thanks to technological advancement,

But history aside, air transport is fairly reliable.

I mean, flights can be delayed due to weather and all, but airlines often have very well managed flight schedules.

So, do not ride with misconceptions when choosing either mode of shipping.

Just consider your goals and budget and then choose the type of shipping method.

Most definitely, you will get a convenient, cost effective and reliable shipping method.

It will all depend on your priorities.

Chapter 4: Main Sea Ports in China – Know the Chinese Port You Want to Ship from

As earlier mentioned, sea freight is the main shipping mode not just China but also in international logistics.

Presently, over 90% of imports from China are shipped by sea.

And the shipping is mostly done from the ports of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Qingdao, Dalian, Xiamen, Tianjin, Ningbo and Guangzhou to various destinations across the globe.

Now, with your interest to trade in China, it would be best to know which ports you will be shipping your goods from.

So, here are the main seaports in China.

· Port of Shanghai

The Shanghai seaport is one of China’s largest and busiest seaports.

It is located in Shanghai city east of the East China Sea and south of Hangzhou Bay.

The port handles a massive amount of cargo with records as at 2016 showing that a historic 37 million TEUs of cargo was handled by the port that year alone.

Image 10 Port of Shanghai

Port of Shanghai

Currently, this port has an annual cargo tonnage capacity of about 514 million TEUs and a container volume capacity of 37.133 million TEUs.

That aside, Shanghai seaport is managed by the Shanghai international port.

This is a public listed company that took over management of the port in 2003 and is partly owned by the municipal government of Shanghai.

· Port of Guangzhou

Economically, Guangzhou is a very important city in China.

It serves as the main trade hub of the country’s southern region.

The city plays an important role in the development of China’s economy.

As a seaport, Guangzhou is located in Guangzhou city, Guangdong province of China.

Its maritime trade reaches over 300 ports in more than 80 destinations across the globe.

Image 11 Port of Guangzhou

 Port of Guangzhou

Note that the port also serves as Guangdong’s and the Pearl River Delta region’s primary economic and transportation hub.

The numerous industries in Guangzhou and neighboring towns, i.e., Hubei, Hunan, Huizhou, Yunnan, and Sichuan; also rely on this seaport for transportation among other trade-related activities.

· Port of Tianjin

Tianjin seaport which was formerly known as port Tangju is the largest port in northern China.

It is definitively located on the western shore of Bohai Bay, centered on the estuary of Haihe River, 170km southeast of Beijing.

Image 12 Port of TianJin

Port of Tianjin

It covers 121 km² of land surface, with over 31.9 km of quay shoreline.

The port of Tianjin remains to be the largest man-made seaport in mainland China and among the top ten largest ports in the word.

Rated as the world’s 4th largest seaports by cargo throughput, Tianjin port is an important trading center in northern China, mainland China.

Starting as just a small port, Tianjin has grown at a rapid rate to become one of the world largest and busiest seaports.

The port links to over 600 ports in more than 180 countries all over the world.

The reference gateway underlines its strategic importance to Beijing.

· Port of Xiamen

The port of Xiamen is located in Fujian province, south coast of China.

This port can handle 6th generation large container vessels linking over 68 routes in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Image 13 Port of Xiamen

Port of Xiamen

It is an important port because some of the world’s top shipping companies have established their hubs and routes here.

The port of Xiamen has a cargo handling capacity of over 1.30 million TEUs of containers.

It is owned and operated by the Xiamen port authority.

· Port of Ningbo-Zhou Shan

This is a deep sea port that is with modern infrastructure and other developments.

The port is located in Ningbo and Zhou Shan, on the coast of the East China Sea.

Ningbo and Zhou Shan are in Zhejiang province south of Hangzhou Bay, across which it faces Jinxing and Shanghai.

Image 14 Port of Ningbo Zhoushan

Port of Ningbo Zhou Shan

The superior hinterland and natural conditions of Ningbo and industrial affinity of Zhou Shan, make this port quite a sterling.

The constant development done at this port continues to increase its demand in cargo transportation.

Currently, the port can handle over 100 million tons of cargo annually.

It also serves more than 560 ports in over 90 countries globally.

· Port of Shenzhen

The port of Shenzhen is bulging. Its annual container throughput has exceeded the 25 million TEU mark.

The port is spread across the 260 km coastline of Shenzhen, Guangdong province of China.

Unlike the other ports we’ve mentioned above, the port of Shenzhen is not a singular port.

It is a collective name for various ports located on the Shenzhen coastline.

Image 15 Port of Shenzhen

 Port of Shenzhen

Cargo transported via the Shenzhen port mainly comprises of fertilizer, coal, oil, ore, sugar, steel, cement, grains and many more.

This port, I must mention, is one of the fastest growing, with an annual growth rate of over 20% both in cargo and container throughput.

Today, the port of Shenzhen is recognized globally as one of the largest and busiest seaports in the world.

·  Qingdao Port

The port of Qingdao is large and busy one in China.

Like Shenzhen, Qingdao is a combination of three ports that were merged to form what is presently one of the largest shipping and logistics center in North East Asia.

Image 16 Port of Qingdao

Port of Qingdao

This port comprises 15 terminals, 73 births and it mainly engages in the transportation of coal, crude oil, ore, among other types of goods.

Besides, freight services, Qingdao also engages in some cargo handling services which include customs clearance, loading and offloading, warehousing, etc.

The port has many shipping companies with establishments there.

Its operational routes serve over 450 ports in more than 130 countries and territories around the world.

· Port of Dalian

The Dalian seaport mostly engages in the transportation of crude oil, containers, refined oil, coal, grains, bulk minerals, chemical products and many other goods.

The port which is located in the Liaoning province of China is regarded as one of the most northern ice-free port in the country.

Image 17 Port of Dalian

 Port of Dalian

The port of Dalian is the main gateway to Pacific Northwest regions and serves routes across South, South and East Asia, North America and Europe.

It is also the largest container transshipment hub in mainland China.

This seaport I must say is quite large as it covers a water area of about 346 km² and land surface of about 15km².

The port has quite some loading and discharging equipment.

It also has about 80 modern berths which are in production.

38 of which are deepwater berths for vessels exceeding 10,000 tonnes of deadweight.

These are the 8 main seaports in China.

Note that extensive port knowledge and expertise is essential anytime you ship goods from China via water.

Chapter 5: International Shipping Incoterms (Here are the Most Common Trade Terms Explained)

The shipping industry has a unique vocabulary known as Incoterms.

They can be a bit overwhelming and confusing for someone with little or no familiarity with freight shipping processes.

If you are of the kind of a person, then I have made this section for you.

It will help understand a few of them.

But first, let’s define Incoterms.

Incoterms are a standard set of shipping terms that detail when liability passes on from the consignor to the consignee.

These terms can affect your insurance costs.

The truth of the matter is that there are so many risks in international trade.

Therefore, it is important to know how you can/should share them with sellers.

Normally, we use Incoterms to give details of the risk sharing agreement, alongside other shipping documents.

Image 18 IncoTerms


With that in mind, here are some of the most often used incoterm in international shipping;

1. Free on Board Shipping (FOB)

FOB which stands for free on board or freight on board is the most commonly used shipping method.

For this method, the buyer takes full responsibility for the shipment as soon as it leaves the consigners shipping dock.

This means that as soon the consignment leaves the shipping point, the consigner records a sale.

Therefore, you (the buyer) assumes responsibility for all delivery costs and risks from that moment onwards.

Here is the reality:

While the seller records a sale when the consignment leaves the shipping dock, the buyer also records an increase in inventory.

This is because at this moment he/she takes on both risks and rewards for ownership of the goods.

Image 18 IncoTerms Image 19 FOB

FOB – Photo Credits: International Commercial Terms

As such, the consigner ceases all liability for damages and cost during and upon delivery.

Note that in FOB, the seller only handles the cost of availing the goods at the docking point and that of loading the consignment onboard.

2. Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) Shipping

CIF stands for cost, insurance, and freight.

It is a trade term used only for sea freight that is not containerized.

What’s more?

In this shipping method, the quotation given to the buyer is inclusive of all costs of delivery and insurance.

This is meant to guarantee the buyer of compensation in case goods are lost or damaged in transit.

The seller, in this case, assumes all responsibility for delivery of the shipment up to the destination port.

From this point onwards, liability shifts to the buyer.

Note that in CIF, the seller records a sale only after the goods leave the destination port.

The buyer also records an increase in inventory at this point.

3. Cost and Freight (C&F) Shipping

Cost and freight shipping (CNF) has some similarity to CIF only that in this case, there are no insurance covers against loss or damage to goods.

This means that the seller is responsible for the consignment’s delivery up to the destination port.

However, he/she is not liable for risks that may occur during delivery.

Like CIF, CNF also lets the buyer assume the responsibility for goods after they reach the destination port.

But, here is one more thing you should know:

While CNF prices are lower, there are other additional costs that you as the buyer will have to incur once the goods reach your port.

Such costs include:

  • VAT
  • Import duty
  • Docking charges
  • Customs clearance costs
  • Warehouse fees
  • Port charge fees
  • Fuel surcharge, etc.

So, before you agree on a CNF term, consider the additional charges you’ll have to pay at your destination port.

This is the only way you will be able to determine CNF is cheaper for shipping needs at that moment.

4. DDP

DDP stands for delivered-duty-paid sale.

This incoterm specifies that risk passes to the buyer only after the delivery and clearance of goods at the destination port.

In this case, the seller is expected to insure the shipment up to when the buyer assumes its responsibility.

CIF does not oblige either the buyer or seller to contract for goods insurance.

5. EXW

EXW or EX-works are often followed by the name of the destination, i.e., Dubai, Chicago, etc.

It means that the seller will be fully responsible for availing the goods/shipment at the seller’s location.

The seller, in this case, will also help to determine where the goods will be made available.

In this case, the seller is said to have delivered the goods once they leave the suppliers warehouse/factory.

Henceforth, all risk transfers to the buyer.

He/she must ensure that the goods are insured and delivered safety at their destination port.

6. Shipping Container (20’’ – Volume: 33.2 cbm; 40’’- Volume: 67.7 cbm; 40’’ – Volume: 76.3cbm)

These basically refer to the shipping container types.

There is the 20 ft. Containers (20” GP) as indicated, 40 ft.

Ones (40” GP) and 40 ft. tall containers (40” HQ).

The first two containers are often used for general purpose, while the 40 ft. tall containers are used for high cube shipments.

Image 20 Shipping Containers

  Shipping Containers

Also, 20 ft. containers are used to carry weighty goods, but with low volume.

40 ft. containers, on the other hand, are designed to carry voluminous but less weighty goods.

So, while the 40 ft. containers are twice the volume of the 20 ft. ones, both have the same maximum load.

In this case no more than 27 and 28 tons in China.

This means that while you can load double the 20 ft. the volume of goods into a 40ft container; you can’t load double the weight of a 20 ft. load into a 40 ft. container.

I hope we are together on that…

Note that the rates for shipping using a 40” GP is less than twice that of a 20” GP and the same as the 40 HQ container.

Although, the 40 “HQ costs are higher at times.

So, deciding on what type of container to use is solely dependent on you.

You can choose to buy the number of goods that you need and not to worry about the volume it will take.

Or, you can decide to fully load the container which means that you’ll have to utilize all the space in the container.

Whatever the case, it is best if you ask for a quotation based on the quantity of goods you want to ship and let the seller advice you on the best way forward.

7. Less than Container Load (LCL) Shipping

Less than container load is a simple vocabulary.

It simply means that the goods you intend to ship cannot fill a whole container.

In this case, the shipper will have to consolidate the shipment so that your goods are shipped alongside that of other shippers in the same container.

For this to happen, you need the help of a consolidator is often engaged.

This is someone who specializes in arranging for goods from different shipper to be shipped together in the same container.

So once the shipments reach the destination port, they are separated and delivered to individual destinations.

Note that LCL is an economical means to transport your goods from China.

That is, if you are not able to fill a whole container.

It is a popular shipping method so don’t worry if you can’t meet a full container load (FCL)

8. Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping

FCL is the opposite of LCL, and it stands for full container load.

In this method, all products that are in a container (s) belong to one shipper.

So if you have enough goods to fill a whole container, then you go for an FCL shipping method.

Image 21 Full Container Load Shipping

 Full Container Load Shipping

Please note this:

A container does not have to be fully loaded for it to qualify as an FCL shipping.

The term is only used when a shipper gets all shipping rights to a container.

But why choose FCL over LCL?

Well, the former offers the benefit of a faster and safer delivery of goods compared to that of LCL shipping.

Remember, in LCL you have to share the container – I am sure you are beginning to imagine how messy it can be at times.

It is even worse when you don’t get a professional to do it for you.

There you have it…

These are the most common Incoterms you’ll come across when shipping from China via sea.

So take the time to fully internalize them to minimize problems.

Of course, they will help you reduce unnecessary costs when importing from China.

Chapter 6: Types of Sea Freight – Know a Suitable Shipping from China

It is no doubt that sea freight is slow.

Nonetheless, due to its cost-effectiveness, ocean freight remains a popular mode of transport when it comes to delivering goods to destinations across the globe.

That said, sea freight is of many types, i.e.

· FCL Sea Freight Shipping from China

As previously mentioned, FCL shipping involves the shipping of goods using the standard 20 ft., or 40 ft. containers.

In this case, a buyer rents a whole container to ship goods from China to his/her destination port.

Dependably, this means that the buyer incurs a much lower shipping cost compared to the weight of cargo.

Image 22 FCL Sea Freight

 FCL Sea Freight

Note that container loading in sea freight is much a much-complicated process and it requires more specialized equipment to do so.

As such, an FCL shipping provides you with a much safer method of shipping.

Here the focus is often laid on preventing any damage to the goods during both loading and shipping.

· LCL Sea Freight Shipping from China

LCL shipping, on the other hand, involves a form of shipping where the buyer opts to share a container with other shippers for the transportation of goods.

Image 23 LCL Sea Freight

 LCL Sea Freight

LCL is suitable for small quantity of goods that can’t fill up a whole container.

In such cases, it will be uneconomical to rent a whole container.

So, the carrier helps you to consolidate your goods with that of another shipper transporting from China to the same destination port.

· Bulk Cargo Ship Sea Freight Shipping from China

Bulk cargo ship sea freight shipping is a type of sea freight that involves the transportation of bulk cargo.

Bulk cargo, in this case, is a large volume of single commodity goods like oil, coal, grains, gravel, etc.Image 24 Loading Coal

 Loading Coal

When shipping from China, you’ll find that bulk cargo is not packaged during transportation.

Instead, it is stored in large quantities in a ship’s hull and transported that way.

In this type of freight shipping, bulk cargo carriers/freighters/bulkers are used for transportation.

· Out of Gauge Sea Freight Shipping from China

Out of Gauge Sea freight (OOG) is a logistics term that refers to sea freight shipping of oversized cargo.

This is a cargo that does not meet the standard shipping dimensions.

They include trucks, heavy machinery, agricultural equipment, military equipment, tanks, boats, helicopters, etc.

Image 25 Out of gauge cargo

 Out of gauge cargo

OOG goods are quite difficult and challenging to transport using the standard shipping containers.

This is largely due to their unconventional shipping space and capacity requirements.

They are also expensive to ship due to their weight and size.

Also, they may need specialized equipment to load, offload or transport them – implying more expenses.

· Roll-on Roll-off Sea Freight Shipping from China

Commonly known as RO-RO which is an abbreviation for roll-on roll-off, this is a form of sea freight that involves the transportation of wheeled cargo.

Wheeled cargo in this regard include cars, buses, trucks, etc.

In RO-RO, vehicles are driven directly into and out of the ship via inbuilt stern ramps.

This helps to reduce the cost and need for loading and to offload the goods using cranes as in the case of containerized cargo.

Image 26 RO RO Sea Freight

 RO-RO Sea Freight

As an importer of wheeled cargo, you should know that roll-on roll-off sea freight shipping is more cost effective.

In most cases, such cargos don’t match the standard shipping dimensions.

So, if you want to save some money when shipping a wheeled cargo, then RO-RO is the way to go.

Note that RO-RO ships are not your typical cargo ships.

They are ferry-like, but only designed for shipping across national borders.

· Reefer Container Shipping from China

Reefer containers are refrigerated containers.

They are used to ship perishable goods such as meat, frozen foods, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, flowers, pharmaceuticals, etc.

Image 27 Reefer Containers

 Reefer container

Therefore, reefer container sea freight shipping is the transportation of goods that require refrigeration on board.

Reefer containers have a central refrigeration unit.

However, they depend on power from other power points supplied by the container ship.

Such that when goods are being transported, the refrigeration unit is typically powered by generators connected to the shipping container during transit.

If you are planning to ship products that require strict maintenance of humidity and temperature levels, during transit, opt for a reefer container type of sea freight shipping.

You could be wondering why I am telling you all these – right?

I want you to know that ocean freight has unlimited possibilities.

It doesn’t matter the type of good or products you want to ship from China, you’ll get the best solution for you.

But, is this enough, NO – there’s more you need to learn, keep reading.

Chapter 7: International Sea Freight Container Shipping Rates

International shipping is a complex process that requires greater levels of efficiency.

So if you are going to import from China, it is important that you employ a reputable and reliable shipping company for this job.

You also need to hire a reputable freight forwarder who will handle all logistics.

And, more importantly, know the ocean freight shipping rates.

Here are a few crucial elements you must consider when it comes to this:

· Ocean Freight Rates 20′ and 40’ Container

In sea freight shipping, the standard containers are mainly 20 ft. and 40 ft.

The freight shipping rates, in this case, will depend on the size of the container you use and its features.

A 40 ft. container mainly carries voluminous cargo and tends to be more expensive than the 20 ft. ones.

Do you remember what I said about 40 ft. container?

Here is a quick reminder:

A 40 ft. container can carry double the volume of a 20 ft. container load.

But a 40 ft. container cannot carry double the weight of a 20 ft. container load.

This means that the maximum load for both containers is the same.

Image 28 Types of shipping containers

 Types of shipping containers

Although shipping from China using a 40 ft. container is more expensive; it is not more than double the cost of shipping using a 20 ft. container.

The freight rates when considering the container used will also depend on the items you are transporting and the requirement for its transportation.

If you are transporting perishable goods, you’ll need a reefer container that can maintain a set temperature and humidity level during transit.

This kind of containers tends to be expensive and will thus add to the cost of shipping.

· How do you Calculate Freight Rates?

If you’ve ever shipped goods anywhere in the world, then you know that freight rates vary per shipment.

But then, how are these costs calculated?

Well, there are many factors that determine the ocean freight cost.

Here we will look at a few ways in which shipping companies calculate international freight rates.

        i. Weight of the cargo

In international shipping, the weight of the cargo largely determines the cost of shipping.

To explain this, a container’s weight is determined by combining mass properties with the height of the cargo.

Most shipping companies use a scale that automatically determines these factors.

Items that are shipped in crates are assessed differently.

Image 29 Shipping containers on transit

 Shipping container on transit

For crated items, the cost is often calculated based on the length, weight, and height of the property.

This way, you get the total cubic meters of the goods.

They then appraise by its weight to determine how much will be charged to ship it.

If you choose to ship on pallets, then the freight rates will be calculated based on the load.

This is done to determine if the cargo is less than a container load (LCL).

So generally, the method you’ll choose depends on the types of goods you intend to import from China.

Also, it will depend on how much you’re ready to spend.

        ii. Shipping destination

Sea freight rates are also calculated based on their target location and shipping address.

It may cost you less to ship from China to Japan than it would cost you to Canada.

Also, the dimensional weight and height of the shipment will factor into the overall shipping cost when considering the target location.

Travel difficulty and distance can also factor into the pricing.

Image 30 Unloading containers

 Unloading containers

So when considering to ship your goods, know the port of destination (distance from sea port in China to the destination).

Furthermore, you need to know if there are other regulations or risks associated with that sea route.

        iii. Type of goods to be shipped

Bulk cargo will generally attract more costs to ship internationally than smaller cargo with defined shapes.

Cars, in this case, heavy machinery, large electronics, furniture, etc. can be a bit costly to ship from China to an international destination.

But why so?

Well, a large part of freight cost, in this case, will be due to crating.

The cost of crating itself can be on the higher side.

A car, for instance, can cost $ 4000 or more to crate.

You can, of course, research a bit to find the best deals regarding international shipping rates.

Nonetheless, when it comes to shipping the said items, the cost will be higher.

So ship it using the best of the best services.

Extra costs; Additional charges may apply to your overall freight shipping rates depending on if you need certain supplies to help ship your cargo.

For example, you may need a reefer container.

In such situations, you will incur extra costs.

Surcharges, i.e., fuel surcharge, customs clearance, security, documentation, CAF and BAF factors may also add up to your overall freight shipping bill.

· Sea Freight Rates Calculator

If you want to know the best shipping rates, then you can use a sea freight rates calculator.

There are quite a number of scripts on the internet that can give you estimate sea freight rates.

With a basic understanding of how they work, you can easily find the best shipping options out there.

So what is a sea freight rates calculator?

A freight rates calculator is a software available on the internet.

They are designed to give an estimate shipping cost from one location to another.

And please, do not get me wrong.

I am not saying that they are 100% accurate.

This is because there are other parameters that they don’t factor in.

Take for instance, risks in different sea routes or sudden fluctuation in currency conversion rates.

Note that freight rates calculator depends on the information you key in it to provide these results.

To get an estimate cost, you may key in the following information on the sea freight rates calculator:

  • Cargo origin and destination
  • Date and time of shipping

Image 31 Calculating freight cost

 Calculating Freight Cost

Depending on the design of the sea freight rates calculator, you may get quotes for:

  • Cost of sea freight
  • Quotation for customs clearance, pick up delivery service, etc.

With this information, you can easily search for a company that offers better shipping rates.

Also, depending on the design of the calculator, you may get:

  • Details of available service as per shipping company
  • Estimated departure and transit time
  • Details of the freight shipping company.

Image 32 Results of sea freight cost estimation

Image 32 Results of sea freight cost estimation

You can use this calculatoranytime you want to estimate the ocean freight cost.

The advantage of using a freight shipping calculator is that it does conversions with minimal effort.

So you don’t have to worry about the measuring systems or currency conversions.

But, as I pointed out earlier, they are not 100% accurate.

So, you need to hire a freight forwarder who will help you get the most accurate sea freight cost.

· How to Find the Cheapest Sea Freight from China

To import goods from China to your destination, you’ll need the best sea freight shipping services the industry can offer.

As a business person, you always want to spend as little as possible.

But of course, you must not compromise on the quality of the service.

Honestly, finding the cheapest sea freight from China can be a challenging task.

That’s why Bansar is here for you.

Nothing is impossible when you hire Bansar. Our team will ensure you get the best services.

Anyway, how should you go about it? Assuming you want the best sea freight provider from China:

  i.  Go for companies that offer competitive sea freight rates. So here, you have to get rates from different companies.

ii.  Hire a company that offers a range of services. Sea freight does not involve loading and offloading a cargo in a ship only – there are other paperwork too.

iii.  Does the company have a global presence? And, for how long has the company been in the freight forwarding or sea freight industry?

The best sea freight service should have a good network of agents and associations in the industry.

The best part:

These types of companies can identify carriers that will eventually reduce sea freight cost.

Their large network and contacts come in handy in helping them locate the cheapest services for you.

They can locate a cheap truck for inland transportation, a cheap shipping line, etc.

All this will come in handy in helping you to reduce sea freight shipping expenses.

As a rule of thumb:

Do a thorough research and do not rely on information you get on the internet.

Call the company and if possible meet their representative.

· Factors Affecting Sea Freight Shipping Rates from China

Several factors affect the cost of shipping goods from China by sea.

In fact, I have discussed quite a number in this guide.

So, here I will just make a quick summary and they include:

  • Varying rates for individual goods instead of general cargo
  • Delay charges due to the high amount of traffic at ports
  • Changes in exchange rates when goods are still in transit
  • Fluctuations in fuel prices for ships
  • Other surcharges incurred by the ports and shipping lines
  • Types of cargo – whether FCL, LCL, RO-RO, etc.

With all these, I am sure you can determine the average cost of ocean freight from China to any sea port in the world.

Now, another critical thing you need to know before going for ocean freight is the estimated transit time.

How long will it take the ship to dock at the port of destination from China?

Well, let’s have a look at this interesting subject:

Chapter 8: Sea Freight Shipping from China Estimated Transit Time (ETT)

How long will it take to ship goods from China to my destination?

This is a question that most people importing China ask every day.

Honestly, there is no precise time when the ship will reach the port of destination.

The only thing you can get regarding transit time is an estimate.

Like other forms of international shipping, sea freight has its challenges too.

Delays are sometimes inevitable, especially in the following circumstances when;

  • Ship leaves the origin port late due to bad weather
  • There is congestion at both ports
  • A holiday which often impacts import schedules from China
  • Vessel changes routes when it transits and has to make multiple stops
  • There is a customs clearance issue
  • Unavailability of space in the booked vessel

In any of the above cases, a delay in delivery of goods to a destination port is inevitable.

But this doesn’t mean that goods won’t be delivered; they will.

So understand that apart from sea freight being generally slow, cargo transit times can vary due to some reasons most of we’ve mentioned above.

Here, however, is estimated time of arrival schedule when shipping from China to the port of destination in the following regions;

How long to ship (ETT)

Note that the varying ETTs are based on the shipping route used, carrier, and the distance origin/destination port.

8.1. Cargo Tracking in Sea Freight Shipping from China

Transit time in sea freight is never guaranteed.

There can only be estimated transit time (ETA) but no accurate TAs.

This means that anything could happen.

You may have scheduled to receive your goods after 3-5 days, but then 5 days elapse without your goods having reached the destination port.

Why do you think this happens?

Well, like any other mode of shipping, sea freight can delay.

This could be due to bad weather, change in routes, congestion at the port, customs holding the shipment, etc.

Anything can happen when goods are in transit.

This is why most shipping lines provide cargo tracking facilities to help shippers track their goods at every point of transit.

Cargo tracking helps you know where your shipment is at various time points.

This way, you can easily calculate the estimated time of arrival and prepare accordingly to receive it.

Image 33 MAERSK Cargo Tracking

 MAERSK Cargo Tracking

If you have to clear with customs at the destination port, then you can do it appropriately and on time, which is before the cargo gets to the port.

So, what do you need to track cargo efficiently?

Nothing special.

You just need to know the name of the shipping line, the container number, and the booking number.

All these are contents that you will find your bill of lading document.

With these numbers, you need to find the shipping lines cargo tracking facility.

You will enter the relevant information and track your cargo in real time.

Chapter 9: Top International Container Shipping Companies in Sea Freight Business

As you would expect, there is no monopoly in the container shipping business.

Many companies have come up offering equally reliable and cost-effective container shipping services.

Note that container shipping is the most popular and efficient means of transporting goods country to country by sea.

The containers are often shipped using two major shipping vessels; liners and tramps.

Liner and tramp vessels have varying features.

Most of these features are designed to suit the specific needs of shippers and the business.


· Liner Vessels vs. Charter (Tramp) Vessels (What’s the Difference?)

Well, a liner vessel, to begin with, is a kind of vessel designed to transport goods across international destination via a fixed route.


Liner vessel only follows predetermined routes and their availability is often advertised per port.

Note that liners follow a very fixed schedule which as mentioned is often advertised per port for shippers to book.

You should know they are designed to carry various types of goods.

They have various decks, bales, and generally varying spaces for loading different kinds of cargo including reefer cargo.

To use a liner vessel, you’ll have to wait until your route is advertised then book shipping space as per what is advertised.

Tramp vessels or charter vessels, on the other hand, operate according to the prevalent market demand.

Their routes, schedules, and cost are a not predetermined like in the case of liner vessels.

These are usually a function of the market conditions.

It is interesting to know that sometimes tramp vessels leave origin ports without knowing what their destination is.

Even when on transit, the ship can be redirected to the highest bidder.

Similarly, a charter vessel does not operate on a fixed route or selected ports.

For instance, a ship can transport grains from Shenzhen to Chicago.

The same ship will then be loaded with electronics for transportation from Chicago to Durban.

Generally, tramp ships do not follow any predetermined routes neither do they follow fixed shipping schedules.

These vessels are available on short notice and are also relatively cheaper to use compared to the liner ships.

· Examples of Container Shipping Companies

Now that we know the difference between liner and charter vessels let’s look at some of the top international shipping companies in sea freight business.

1. APM-Maersk (MSK)

If you have been in the import/export business, then surely know Maersk.

This is like the biggest container shipping company in the world.

APM-Maersk is a Danish company whose headquarters are located in Copenhagen.

It also has subsidiary offices in more than 130 countries and regions around the world.

Image 34 APM-Maersk (MSK)


Presently, Maersk is presently the leading company among the world’s top 10 container shipping companies.

While employing more than 85000 people across the globe, Maersk also boasts of a fleet of over 500 ships with a container capacity of about 3 million TEUs.

2.  Mediterranean Shg Co (MSC)

Following APM-Maersk, the Mediterranean shipping company limited is the second largest shipping line in container vessel capacity.

This company boasts of a 471 vessel fleet with an average container capacity of about 2.4 million TEUs.

MSC currently employees more than 24,000 people in more than 480 offices across 150 countries around the world.

Image 35 Mediterranean Shg Co (MSC)

Mediterranean Shg Co (MSC)

Its vessels operate about 200 trade routes calling 315 ports across the globe.

Looking at how far this company has come, MSC is one of the fastest growing shipping container companies at the moment.

The company has grown from owning just one vessel, Patricia in 1970.

Several second-hand vessels followed this, and now the company owns over 400 shops among them the largest container ship, MSC Oscar which has a capacity of about 19 224 TEUs.

3. CMA CGM Group (CMA)

The CMA CGM group is one of the world’s leading shipping companies that was founded in Marseille, France in the year 1978.

Image 36 CMA CGM Group (CMA)

 CMA CGM Group

Presently, CMA owns a fleet of 504 diversified vessels which call about 420 of the world’s 521 commercial ports.

The company surprisingly employs over 30, 000 people in 755 offices across 160 around the world.

4500 of these people are employees based at CMA’s world-class headquarters in Marseille, France.

4. COSCO Shipping Co Ltd (COSCO)

COSCO which in full is China ocean shipping company has more than 300 subsidiaries under its name.

The company is one of the leading logistics service providers in China, and it has been in business for almost a decade now.

Image 37 COSCO Shipping Co Ltd (COSCO)

 COSCO Shipping Co Ltd

Being relatively new in the sea freight marketplace, COSCO has gained a lead over other shipping companies that operate in Asia.

In 2012, the company was listed among the top 15 China brands.

It is currently the world’s 4th largest shipping container line and the 1st in Asia region.

Although new (relatively), COSCO has expanded its operations to major cities worldwide, serving about 289 ports in more than 80 countries across Asia, Europe, America and parts of Africa.

5. Hapag-Lloyd AG (HPL)

Hapag-Lloyd is a German brand which specializes in freight shipping.

The company was founded in 1970 as a merger between two companies; Hamburg America line and Nord Deutscher Lloyd.

Image 38 Hapag-Lloyd AG (HPL)

 Hapag Lloyd AG

Presently, Hapag-Lloyd ranks as the world’s 5th largest container carrier regarding vessel capacity.

This German carrier serves routes across Latin-American, Trans-Atlantic, Middle East and Trans-pacific regions among others.

6. Evergreen Marine Corp. (EMC)

Founded in 1968 by its chairman billionaire Yung-Fa Chang, Evergreen is ranked among the world’s top 10 largest container shipping companies.

This company has shown tremendous growth since its inception into the container shipping business.

Currently, Evergreen owns more than 150 container ships that call 240 ports in more than 80 countries and territories across the globe.

Image 39 Evergreen Marine Corp. (EMC)

Evergreen Marine Corp.

The company is Taiwanese with its headquarters in Luzhu District, Taoyuan city in Taiwan.

It serves routes across the Far East, Caribbean, Europe, America, Australia, and Africa.

1. NYK Line (NYK)

NYK which is an abbreviation for Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha is one of the oldest and largest container shipping lines in the world.

The company, which has its headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo Japan has been in operation since 1870 when the Tosa clan people first founded it.

Image 40 NYK Line

 NYK Line

Since then, NYK has undergone several changes and developments that has it seen it blossom.

It is one of the most sought-after shipping lines in Asia and the world in general.

You may be interested to know that Nippon Yusen has a fleet of about 800 ships.

These include container vessel, bulk carriers, tankers, RO-ROs, woodchip carriers, reefers, cruise ships, etc.

2. Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. (YML)

Founded in 1972, Yang Ming marine transport corporation is a Taiwanese company headquartered in Keelung, Taiwan.

This company has a very rich history all thanks to its merger with China merchants steam Navigation Company.

Image 41 Yang Ming Marine Transport

 Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

YML currently operates a fleet of over 80 ships with an 8250 TEU container capacity.

It also operates about 17 bulk carriers.

The shipping line calls, 170 service ports in more than 90 countries around the world.

3. Hamburg Süd Group (HBS)

Based in Hamburg, Germany, Hamburg Süd was founded in 1871 as Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft ApS & Co KG.

Image 42 Hamburg Sud Group

 Hamburg Sud Group

The company was formerly part of the Oetker group.

It was later sold to APM-Maersk group in 2017 and is now among the world’s top 20 container shipping lines.

It is also one of the top 5 reefer brands in the world.

HBS has over 6300 employees in 250 offices in more than 100 countries around the world

4. Wan Hai Lines (WHL), ZIM

With headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Wan Hai lines is one of the largest container shipping companies in the Asian regions.

Image 43 Wan Hai Lines (WHL), ZIM

 Wan Hai Lines

The company has a capacity of over 90,000 TEUs.

It was founded in 1965 as a log transportation company serving Taiwan and South East Asia regions.

The company currently employs more than 3.94k people and has a fleet of about 70 full container ships.

5. “K” Line (KLINE)

Kline whose name is an acronym for the three Ks of Kawasaki, Kisen, and Kaisha is one of the biggest container shipping companies operating internationally.

Image 44 K Line

 K Line

The company was founded in 1919 after merging Kawasaki, Kisen, and Kaisha to form a stronger carrier of 40-50 vessels.

After its inception, Kline has faced tremendous challenges which includes loosing over 50 vessels by the end of the Second World War.

It however still stands strong as one of the most in-demand shipping lines in Asia and beyond.

Kline recently merged with Nippon Yusen and Mitsui lines, to form a joint venture operating under the banner, Ocean Network Express.

The new joint venture began operations in April 2018 and has a holding office in Tokyo Japan and headquarter offices in Singapore.

It also has regional headquarters in several nations, including the UK, USA, Hong Kong and Brazil.

6. Hyundai M.M. (HMM)

Hyundai merchant marine abbreviated to HMM is a South Korean container shipping company founded in 1976.

Image 45 Hyundai MM

 Hyundai MM

Presently the company operates a vessel line-up of over 130 states of the art ships.

Thus, it is ranked the 14th largest container shipping companies regarding vessel capacity.

7.  Pacific Int. Line (PIL)

A Singaporean conglomerate, Pacific International Lines is one of the largest container ship owners in South East Asia.

Image 46 Pacific Int. Line

Pacific Int. Line

At present, the company has a container capacity of over 440,000 TEUs with a fleet of about 160 modern ships.

8.  MOL Liner (MOL)

MOL is the abbreviation of Mitsui O.S.K Lines, a company based in Minato, Tokyo, Japan.

MOL which started in 1884 as part of the family-owned conglomerate Mitsui Zaibatsu, has risen among its ranks to become one of Asia largest container shipping companies.

Image 47 MOL Liner

 MOL Liner

In 2017, MOL together with NYK and K lines decided to merge their container operations to form what is now known as ocean network express.

As I said, container shipping is a huge business that is also complicated.

And today, these are the key players in the container shipping business worldwide.

Chapter 10: International Container Shipping Process: The Step by Step Guide

International shipping has become an essential part of the trade in the world today.

The process of international shipping is one that involves a lot of complexities.

Sourcing of goods, getting them to the departure port, and customs clearance; are all part of international logistics that make it quite tedious for a first-time shipper.

Want to know what a typical shipping process from China entails?

Well, here is a breakdown of all the stages you’ll have to go through to get your goods to any particular destination.

Step 1: Transport goods from the supplier’s warehouse to the freight forwarders warehouse

This is the first process in container shipping.

Here, you have sourced goods from a manufacturer in China.

It could be one from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin, etc.

Once you’ve sourced for goods and agreed on the terms of sale, you identify a freight forwarder with the most reliable services and rates.

The forwarder will then help you to arrange for transportation of your goods from China to a contracted destination (anywhere in the world).

Now, export haulage, in this case, is where the goods move from the supplier’s warehouse to another warehouse.

This is where the goods will be loaded into a container ready for shipping.

Inland transportation from the supplier to a loading warehouse could be taken care of by the supplier.

Alternatively, you can do it depending on the terms of the shipping contract.

Step 2: Move goods from freight forwarders warehouse to the departure port

Once your goods reach the warehouse which could be the freight forwarders, they undergo various processes to get them ready for shipping.

These processes include:

  • Offloading the goods from the truck that brought to the warehouse
  • Inspect the goods to see if they are intact.
  • Package them into right materials and quantities for transportation

Once this is done, the packaged goods are then planned for loading into a shipping container.

This could be a consolidated container where it is shared by other shippers.

Alternatively, it could be a full container where you own all the rights to the container space.

Note that the contracted freight forwarder often does inland transportation in the origin country.

Image 48 Loading containers at the port

 Loading containers at the port

Depending on your shipping agreement, the forwarder is the one who’ll actually collect goods from the supplier.

The freight forwarder will then transport them to the packing warehouse and then avail the goods for shipping at the shipyard.

At times, the supplier may be responsible for the goods until they leave the port.

That is:

The supplier will arrange for transport of the goods from their warehouse, to a packing site and then to the port.

Your goods will be verified by the freight forwarder or supplier, and loaded into the shipping container.

Step 3: Clearing with customs at the origin port

Customs clearance is an important part of international logistics.

Goods cannot leave one country or accepted in another without authorization from the customs office.

Customs officers inspecting containers
Customs officers inspecting containers ( Custom Clearance )

Take for example:

When importing from China to the U.K., goods will leave the port only with proper documentation.

You should expect the same in the receiving port in the U.K.

You cannot take over ownership of the imports if customs authorities do not clear them in the UK.

So you see, this is a very critical part of the shipping process.

Now, after goods reach the port of departure, you will need to provide the necessary documentation for the customs office to clear the goods for shipping.

Documents needed in this case may include:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading, among other shipping documents

The best part:

Your freight forwarder/customs broker will process all these documents.

Customs officials will inspect and evaluate goods you’re shipping.

Of course, this is for the purposes of calculating payable duties and taxes.

Once this is done, you’ll need to make a payment for the bill provided.

Customs payments can be made via wire transfer, online payment systems, check, or via a credit card.

Remember, you will only pay duties and taxes if the shipping agreement puts you responsible for it.

If not, then the responsible party, in most cases the supplier will take care of this charge.

Step 4: Goods are shipped from the origin port to the contracted destination port

Well, it is just as it sounds.

Goods have been cleared by customs and loaded onto a container, what next? Shipping.

NYK Arcadia am 20.6.11 ausgehend Hamburg
NYK Arcadia am 20.6.11 ausgehend Hamburg ( NYK Line Loaded )


So this is the point where the container with the imports is loaded onto a carrier vessel and shipped from to the destination port.


If you hired a freight forwarder, they are the ones responsible for identifying a reliable carrier.

So if you are shipping from China, Bansar as your freight forwarder through its numerous contacts will find the best carrier.

They will ship your goods to the most convenient destination and at the most affordable rates.

Step 5: Clear with customs at the destination port

Remember, you had to clear at the port of origin for goods to be shipped to the current destination.

So now you’ll have to avail all the necessary documentation for the goods to be cleared for entry into the destination country.

Customs authorities have to inspect the imports and verify that they are not prohibited in the country.

If they are, then there will be problems if not –  then merry!

Note that here you will also have to pay customs duty/taxes to the relevant customs authorities.

Also, don’t forget:

Customs clearance in delivery port has to be done before the shipment arrives.

This is because once the goods cross bordering water, they are considered as already in the country.

So clearance processes ought to begin when the goods are still in transit.

It should be complete by the time they get to the destination port.

Step 6: Inland transportation from destination port to destination warehouse

Goods have successfully been shipped from one country to yours.


They have been cleared successfully by customs, great too!

What now?

The next thing to do is get the goods to your territory.

That means you transport them from the destination port to a warehouse of your choosing.

Image 51 Loading container on a truck

 Loading Container on a Truck

In this case, you’ll need to get the shipping documentation from the freight forwarding agent in your country.

From the forms, get the original bill of lading and submit it to the shipping line.

They will then release of the container with your goods.

And, by the way, in case you hired a freight forwarder, there’s no need to go through all these.

The agent in your country will do everything for you.

He/she is the one that will secure the release of your container from the carrier line.

Step 7: Delivery/distribution of goods

As the consignee, the goods are now in your ownership, as per the bill of lading.

This means that you can personally verify that the goods are in mint condition, repackage if necessary and then distribute to customers.

As you can see, it is a simple and straight forward process.

Chapter 11: Documents You Need When Shipping from China by Sea

I must say, international shipping is quite complex.

It has a lot of documents that you must fill appropriately.

Besides, you must submit them to the correct authorities before shipping of goods commences.

As I said, the amount of paperwork needed in ocean freight is quite a lot.

You have to be careful when filing each of these documents.

Don’t worry…

Your freight forwarder can help you with the paper filing process.

Nonetheless, it is not advisable to leave everything to your shipping service.

You need to be part of this process.

Just know what documents to fill, when and where – simply know what the freight forwarder is doing.

It will also help you to ensure that everything in the transportation process is running smoothly.

The truth is:

By being on top of your game, you are less likely to experience challenges along the way.

That said, let us look at the different documents you may need when shipping from China by sea.

1. Bill of lading (BOL)

A bill of lading is the most critical of all international shipping documents.

It is some written certification given by the shipping company to the consignee.

This document shows that goods have been received on board in the form of cargo for shipping to a contracted destination.

A BOL is often signed by the shipping department of the Carrier Company or sometimes master of the ship.

Image 52 Bill of Lading

 Bill of lading

Note that the term ‘bill’ refers to the schedule, costs of services while lading refers to the loading of cargo onto a ship.

Thus, ‘bill of lading’ means sending cargo at a specified cost to a specified consignee.

A standard bill of lading document;

  • Acts as evidence of the existence of a valid contract for the transportation of goods on behalf of a consignor. For this reason, the document spells out all the terms and conditions of the shipping agreement.
  • It acts as a receipt that a consignee signs to show that the goods delivered conform to the description of the goods consigned.
  • Is a document of transfer, nonetheless it is not a negotiable instrument.

There are three types of a bill of lading document.

There is the straight BOL, Order BOL, and a bearer BOL.

The Straight BOL is a non-negotiable document.

That means that any consignee will not acquire any better rights than those of the consigner.

The Order BOL, which is negotiable can be bought, traded or sold while the goods are in transit.

This means that the original consignee can assign ownership of goods to another person to whom the goods will be delivered to.

The bearer bill of lading, on the other hand, is also negotiable.

It implies that the shipment can be delivered to whoever holds the bill of lading.

This BOL can be negotiated through material delivery.

Please note this:

A bill of lading in sea freight shipping doesn’t mean that it is a title document.

Instead, it is an identification that a certain person has the ownership rights of goods once they are delivered at the contracted port.

Note however that when goods get lost or damaged in transit, or if delays in delivery are experienced, a BOL cannot be enforced.

This is because the terms of the privacy of contact do not give a third party the right to enforce it.

What are the requirements of a Bill of lading document?

The name of the consignor, consignee’s name, the ship master’s name, the name of departure, port, freight price, marks and number of the goods shipped.

2. Commercial invoice

When you purchase goods in China for importation, a commercial invoice will be given to you by the buyer.

This is to show that you’ve purchased a certain type and amount of goods from him/her.

This document details the agreement of both seller and buyer, including the terms involved in the selling and purchase of goods.

Image 53 Commercial Invoice

 Commercial Invoice Photo Credits: FedEx

The document details the kind of goods bought the port of departure, the total worth of the goods and the destination port.

It also includes the names of the consignor and the consignee as parties involved in the shipping of the sourced goods.

A commercial invoice when importing from China is only created after the sale of goods is made.

And as earlier mentioned, it is an agreement of sale between you (the buyer) and the supplier of goods.

You may wonder what importance this document has in sea freight shipping from China.

Well, for you to clear with customs, both at the departure and the destination ports, a commercial invoice is needed.

This is because the details in the document are what is used to calculate the exact custom value of the goods you are transporting.

So, when purchasing goods for importation from China, always ensure that the commercial invoice clearly states the difference between:

  • Excisable goods
  • Other duty-free charges
  • Total value associated with the purchase

Ensure that the document indicates that all levies on the goods are paid and names of consignor, consignee’s and carrier company.

3. Packing list

A packing list spells out all the items that are included in the shipment.

This document may sound simple, but don’t be fooled.

It is an extremely detail sea freight shipping document.

This means that when filling it out, you need to be extremely careful not to miss or leave out anything important.

A packing list shows the items included in the shipment.

It specifies the materials in each package as well as the type of packaging used for each item.

It also shows the weight and measurements of each package in the shipment.

This list note will be used to determine the total weight of the shipment.

Also, it is used to verify that the correct package is being shipped.

Customs officials in China and your port will use this packing list to check the cargo before departure and upon arrival.

Remember that the information provided for in the packing list must be consistent with those provided for in the bill of lading and other shipping documents.

4. Certificate of origin (C/O)

A certificate of origin is a document that details the origin location of the items that are being shipped.

This certificate is primarily used to verify the origin of the goods you are importing into the country.

It is often required for purposes of satisfying trade and customs requirements.

It is also applied as a document for evaluating tariff treatment.

Understand that most countries today apply different custom duty rates upon items imported from different countries.

Some countries require importers to provide this document for verification of goods by customs/trade departments.

So when shipping from China, always check with your local customs authority to find out if you’ll need a C/O.

If yes, then ensure that your supplier in China applies the appropriate one for you.

5.  Insurance certificate

If the goods you are shipping from China are insured, then an insurance certificate is issued to you.

This is to assure you that compensation will be given if and when goods are lost or damaged when in transit.

An insurance certificate assures that compensation will be offered for the entire value of lost, stolen or damaged goods.

Image 55 Insurance Certificate

Insurance Certificate

This certificate will detail all the items covered, for what risk and how much is covered.

It provides an easier way to claim for compensation and quickens compensation in case the insured risk occurs.

When filling out shipping documents, always ensure that you do it in the right manner.

And, that all the information needed is provided in a clear and precise manner.

And since most of these documents contain similar information, any slight inconsistency can lead to freezing of your shipment for a long time.

So to avoid any of these problems, let your freight forwarder take care of your paperwork needs.

On your part, we ensure that all the forms are filled and filed properly before your shipments leave China.

At Bansar, we handle all shipping documentation in ocean freight.

Chapter 12: Sea Freight Shipping from China FAQs

From my experience in the ocean freight from China, a number of importers have so many questions. Some of them literally go unanswered.

The good news is – I want to answer all of them here.

Here are a few common questions and answers that will help you understand everything about importing from China by sea.

1. What is sea freight shipping?

Sea freight shipping is the transportation of goods to destinations across the globe by water.

This is done using sea vessels, i.e., ships/ferries where the goods are loaded onto containers and then shipped to their various international destinations.

You can also call it ocean freight.

2. What makes up sea freight costs?

The portion where goods cross water boarders makes up sea freight costs.

Inland transportation, which involves the moving of goods to and from the suppliers and container yards by trucks is mostly not part of the sea freight charge.

3. Are there surcharges in sea freight like there are in air freight?

Yes, there are.

Sea freight surcharges include fuel surcharges, security surcharges, and other charges that often cover the transportation from port to port.

Container delivery charges and documentation fees are also some of the extra costs you’ll to incur when shipping from China.

4. What is a container yard?

This is a facility within seaports where containers are loaded, offloaded and stored.

5. What is FOB?

FOB is a logistic term which refers to free on board shipping.

Here, the responsibility of goods passes from the seller to the buyer once they are loaded onto a carrier ship.

This means that the seller will only avail the goods at the port of departure.

From therein, ownership and liability pass on to the buyer.

In FOB, you’ll have to pay the freight charges, insurance, offloading fees and inland transportation fees from the destination port to your final destination.

6. What is ‘live load’ and ‘drop and pick’ in sea freight shipping?

In your sea freight quotations, you will often see a live load or a drop and pick up charge.

It is very important to know the difference between these two terms.

Well, these two terms are related but have very different meanings.

Live load is where the driver transports an empty shipping container to the buyer.

Once the container is loaded with goods, the driver secures and seals it for transport.

In a live load agreement, there is a time limit within which loading must be completed.

When this time frame elapses, additional charges accrue.

A drop and pick case, on the other hand, is where the driver delivers a shipping container and leaves for a few days with the shipper.

Once the container is loaded, the driver comes back, picks it and transports it to a specified container yard.

Between the two, drop and pick is quite costly unless the loading location is close to the chosen container yard.

7. What documents do you need to ship from China?

You’ll need to file several documents when shipping from China.

These documents include a bill lading, commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of origin, hazardous goods declaration form, etc.

Note that some of these documents are needed when transportation certain goods and to certain destinations.

However, forms like the bill of lading, commercial invoice, and packing list are mandatory when importing goods from China to any part of the world.

Don’t stress yourself when it comes to filling shipping documents.

Your shipping service provider can take care of all the paperwork for you.

All you need is to provide the needed information and supervise the process to ensure that everything is done correctly.

8. What is a bill of lading document?

A bill of lading form or a BOL is simply an evidence of a contract between a shipping company and a shipper.

It shows that the shipping company has received goods from a particular seller for shipping to a named destination and recipient.

Without a bill lading, you can neither ship goods from China, nor receive them once they arrive at the destination port.

9. What is a commercial invoice and packing list?

Both are part of the mandatory documents required when shipping from China to any part of the world by sea.

A commercial invoice, in particular, is a document that details a sale agreement between a seller and buyer.

It shows the quantity of goods sold, at what amount and to whom.

This form is essential for shipping from China.

It is used to verify shipments and also calculate duty, among other things at the customs office.

A packing list, on the other hand, is a list of items included in a particular shipment.

This list often details the type of goods, weight, packaging material, etc.

It is also an importation document in the verification of goods during loading, offloading and clearing.

10. Who issues the freight documents?

Freight documents are often issued by either the freight forwarder or the supplier.

For instance, a bill of lading is issued by the freight forwarder while the seller issues a commercial invoice.

11. Is sea freight insured?

To some extent, yes.

However, most sea freight carriers limit their liability for risks to cargo, contractually.

The limitation often varies from carrier to carrier, but is usually very low.

In this regard, it is mostly advised that shipper finds out exactly what the limitation with their carrier is before shipping.

Also, getting additional insurance for their shipment is necessary to ensure total protection of your goods when in transit.

12. How long will it take for my shipment to reach my port?

It depends.

Delivery via sea freight often takes longer.

It could anywhere from a couple of days to a month or months, depending on the destination port.

So generally transit time in sea freight varies from destination to destination

13. Are there restrictions on imports from China?

Yes, there are.

Restrictions apply to all forms of shipping.

In sea freight, hazardous goods are often restricted in China.

This means that you’ll have to have a hazardous goods declaration form indicating what you are shipping is potentially dangerous.

Also, you’ll need to take queer measures to ensure the safe transportation of such goods.

14. Can I transport goods bought from different cities in China in one shipment?

Yes, you can.

All you have to do is contact your freight forwarder with the addresses of where you’ve bought each item.

They will then collect the items for you, load them in a single container and have them shipped as one consignment.

So, even if you’ve bought goods in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai, your shipping provider should be able to gather all the items and arrange for their shipping.

15. How much does it cost to import from China?

Sea freight charges vary from port to port.

The rates are usually affected by several factors.

It is best to know which port your supplier uses.

With this, you will know the exact cost, you may incur if you end up using it.

Note, however, to cut on freight shipping cost, you should always import goods from the largest port.

If possible, the nearest port to your suppliers’ warehouse.

16. So which port should I import my goods from?

China has very many seaports.

Depending on where you are sourcing your goods and estimated freight shipping budget, you can ship from anywhere.

You could use Dalian seaport, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ningbo, Tianjin, Qingdao, etc.


If this is your first time to use ocean freight, understanding international logistics can be cumbersome.

This is why I wrote this guide for you.

I want to help you avoid problems, overcharges, scams or confusion that comes with sea freight shipping from China.

I just want to make this process easy and simple for you to understand.

But again, you don’t have to worry about sea freight from China – Bansar is here to help you.

Just tell us what you’re importing, from which city and to where…

We’ll tailor an ocean freight solution for your specific needs.

Special Sea Freight Rate
  • Shanghai to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane:

USD650/20GP USD1500/40GP&HQ

  • Shanghai/Ningbo/ Shenzhen to Los Angeles: USD700/20GP USD900/40GP&HQ
  • More Shipping Rate please contact our support team
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