Alibaba Shipping Costs: Best 5 Methods to Ship From China

Sharline Shaw

Alibaba Shipping Costs

Leelinesourcing is your one-stop product sourcing agent in China that helps buyers save the cost of visiting China to buy your goods. With our excellent communication team, we source, prepare, inspect, and ship goods to any location worldwide. You’ll get free consultation until you decide on the supplier.

Alibaba Shipping Costs

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Sea Freight

Sea Freight

Leelinesourcing has a global network of sea transportation partners who offer our customers competitive shipping rates. You’ll get access to our systematic tracking of goods to meet your customers’ delivery dates. We use the best carriers for each region for cost-effective delivery globally.

Air Freight

Air Freight

We are a leading air freight forwarder in China. Leelinsourcing offers flexible air freight forwarding as you can choose the best delivery speed that meets your budget. Your goods will be prepped and packed with lightweight materials to protect your goods from any damage.

Railway Freight

Railway Freight

Leelinesourcing offers customers affordable and fast rail transportation globally. Your goods will get an unbeatable track and trace system until they reach your customers. We partner with domestic, regional, and international rail lines to cover all transit formalities, and our services cover all types of goods.

Door-to-Door Shipping

Door-to-Door Shipping

We are your ‘go-to’ door-to-door shippers. With Leelinesourcing, your products will be picked up from the supplier’s factory and delivered to your warehouse or any shipment location worldwide. Our expert team tailors our logistics services to meet your budget without any hassle.

Alibaba Shipping

Alibaba Shipping

You’ll hugely cut down on shipping fee using our Alibaba dropshipping services. Leelinesourcing helps you quickly ship your goods from one or multiple Alibaba suppliers to your warehouse. We take charge of your customs clearance and follow up on the shipment till it gets to your warehouse or your customer’s location.  

Shipping To FBA

Shipping To FBA

Leelinesourcing ensures your goods get to the right FBA fulfillment warehouse on or before the due date. Our expert team sees that your products meet Amazon FBA requirements before shipping. Your goods and documents will be booked, tracked, and coordinated following FBA shipping processes. 

Our Alibaba Manufacturing Services Include:

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Sourcing Product Suppliers

Leelinesourcing finds the factories, gets the lowest prices possible, follows up on the production, and ships products. We ensure you get the best product quality, price, material, and design. You’ll surely get the best products through our excellent communication.

Product Quality Control

At Leelinesourcing, your products will receive a one-on-one inspection at the factory before shipping. Our expert team audits each factory and sends real-time reports using photography and video coverage. Leelinesourcing helps eliminate any risk related to product defects. You’ll get all these at an affordable cost.

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Private Label & White Label Products

We work with private and white label manufacturers to provide private label products to our clients. Leelinesourcing’s graphic design team will work hand in hand with you to ensure your brand label and logo prints are in perfect shape. This will boost your brand image and increase your sales.

Dropshipping and Fulfillment

We cut the go-betweens by getting quality products from the manufacturers. We use various shipping options to ensure you get a favorable shipping rate and meet your customers’ delivery date. Leelinesourcing ensures your customers get their products without damage.

6 Tips on Sourcing Products To Sell Online

Hear it from fellow Wholesaler

Using this Chinese freight forwarding agency has really helped my business meet my annual goals. Recommended by a friend they have proven to be a serious-minded team of professionals. Leelinesourcing charges are affordable in contrast to other add-ons you’ll get from them. I wish I had met them earlier.

– Brown, USA

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Alibaba Shipping Costs: Best 5 Methods to Ship From China

Let’s be honest. Alibaba shipping costs are BANK BREAKING. Making many business owners HOLD BACK from purchasing in Alibaba. 

As an Alibaba shipping expert. I know importing products from China doesn’t have to be so expensive. This article goes over the best 5 shipping methods for your Alibaba shipments. Never GO OVER your budget when importing again! 

Don’t miss out and continue reading. 

Why Are Alibaba Shipping Costs So Expensive?

Alibaba shipping costs are expensive mainly due to the distance. If you want to buy something and have it delivered to the USA, you must consider how far apart the two countries are. Located in Asia, China is quite far from the United States of America.

I calculated the shortest route between the 2 countries. It still adds up to a distance of 6000 miles. Not so close, right? 

If you consider the shortest routes, it still adds up to a distance of 6000 miles. Alibaba charges its customers for the distance. Some of the other factors that affect the Alibaba shipping costs are the weight and amount of your item(s).

The whole Alibaba shipping process  

Step1: Order Goods from the Right Supplier:

Note to differentiate trading companies from manufacturers.

Step 2: Conduct Quality Control

Ensure quality of the product before delivery. Quality control is vital, especially for branded products with expensive shipping fee.

Step 3: Review the Regulations of Reliable Shipping Options

Air, land, and ocean shipping each has its pros and cons. From there, select a suitable or the cheapest shipping method to save money.

Step 4: Choose a Freight Forwarder

Select based on the commercial route between two countries. 

Step 5: Select Customs Brokers

They can help ease your international trade. You can let them handle your customs clearance procedures and fees. Remember to get customs information for paperwork purposes. You’ll need different information for import and export ports. 

Step 6: Arrange Shipping from Alibaba 

Arrange to ship based on the size restrictions. After confirming the details, you can pass your orders to the freight forwarder. They will arrange shipping from Alibaba for you. 

Step 7: Make Payments to Freight Forwarders

You can pay to his bank account via Wire Transfer, Western Union, or others.

Step 8: Follow up with Your Buyers 

Check if they received within the delivery time and look for room for improvement.

Suggested reading: Is Alibaba Safe and Reliable? Is Alibaba legit?
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Suggested reading: Best China Products To Import

Alibaba Shipping Costs Overview:

The stages of transportation for your product fall into intervals. It makes sure the shipping costs are transparent.

There are several stages through which the product passes. I’ve shipped thousands of parcels from Alibaba. Let me show you how much each interval usually costs.

Here are the stages:

1. Factory to Port Transportation:

After the production and the finalization, the factory awaits confirmation from the buyer. Once the buyer confirms the product, the provider arranges a commute for the product.

This takes it from its factory to the nearby port for transporting. This cost of transportation is added to the net total. It ranges from 50-480$.

2. China Export Clearance:

The Chinese authorities will verify the goods at the port. If everything is in order, they will clear customs for export.

But, they might prohibit the goods’ transportation due to arguable faults. It can lead to legal issues too.

Suppliers can choose to follow the EXW guidelines.  The authorization cost is included in the FOB, ranging from 100-300$.

3. Shipping Freight Cost:

Freight cost is charged from the departure ports to the final destination ports. This is the phase where most of my clients pay a lot. The cost usually exceeds the 1000$ mark, varying upon distance, size, and amount.

It includes the costs imposed by the local authorities. Here are two ways to pay freight fees.

  1. You can pay high freight forwarder costs and low local charges
  2. You can pay low shipping freight fees and high local charges

The latter option looks more appealing. But, the first choice gives you a better outcome. 

4. Shipping Insurance

It is always recommended to buy insurance. Ignoring shipping can cause you great loss during an unprecedented accident. I’ve witnessed business owners suffer great losses during unprecedented shipping accidents. My clients never had that problem as I always use shipping insurance. 

The insurance company provides compensation for your shipment issues. They only charge a minor cost to do so. 

The general formula for insurance cost is 0.02% based on 110% of FOB cost.

5. Document Delivery (DHL or FedEx)

This cost usually consists of miscellaneous charges during shipping.  It includes specific certificates, authorizations, records, and invoices.

It is not a big expense which usually ranges from 40-50$. Courier companies like FedEx and DHL charge these costs.

6. Port Charges (Port of Destination)

The local charges at the destination country are usually high. Local authorities charge a lot, up to 500-1000$ per container. 

The price relies on the meters of cubic for independent or smaller packages.

Some fresh importers choose not to pay to save money. But, they face big charges when receiving the product. Experienced importers maintain these costs to receive a good output.

7. Custom Bonds (United States)

A customs bond is necessary to bring something above $2,500 to the USA.  Shipments below $2,500 can import with minor paperwork without bonds.

There are two types of bonds. You can get them via surety companies or custom brokerages. 

  • Single entry bond

It is for one-time transport, costing $100-200.

  • Continuous bond

It is for regular importers, costing $250-450.

8. Domestic Transportation (Port of Destination to Final Address)

It is the last transportation phase of the whole import. Heavy vehicles take your product from the Destination port to your warehouse.

The cost is usually low, within $50 – $500. Several factors determine it. For instance, distance traveled and modes of transportation like trucks and trains. The fragility, amount, and size of goods will affect it too.

9. Shipping Quotation Sample

Several suppliers on Alibaba make complicated invoices to rip their customers.

So, you should always pay attention to the commercial invoices. Try to understand the shipping costs to avoid scams.

You may base your bill on simple distance, amount, and volume measures. You should always demand Delivered-at-Place (DAP) or Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) prices.

Best 5 Alibaba Shipping Methods  

Best shipping methods

Shipping items from China to the USA seems complicated for some companies. But, it is extremely easy. Below’s the step-by-step process I do when shipping from Alibaba. Learn the basics and never get ripped off when shipping again. 

1. Express Shipping Method from China to the USA

  • Which express company is better?

International shipping is costly, and any rate decrease can save you a lot.

Express companies are cost efficient. You can also choose sea and air express for your need. 

Three main international air express companies are:

  1. FedEx
  2. UPS
  3. DHL

You should look for a reputable and reliable courier service with better shipping rates. 

  • Express Shipping Costs from China to the USA

It generally takes 1 – 8 days to reach buyers. The costs are based on weight.

To transport via FedEx, you need to decide on the shipping methods.

International Priority (IP) grants high priority. In contrast, International Economy Delivery (IE) is given less importance. This cost is for IP and is slightly more than that of IE.

For 0.5-5.5 kg, the cost ranges from $25-$90. Whereas the cost of 17-20.5 kg is 241-280$. 

  • Dimensional weight VS Real weight

The Alibaba shipping costs of heavy goods are usually based on weight. 

You’ll need to pay based on volume to ship lightweight but high-volume goods. For instance, wrapping paper or styrofoam. The formula to measure dimensional weight is

Dimensional weight= Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/ 5000

2. Air Freight Shipping 

We will now discuss Air Freight to learn its difference with express delivery. We will then discuss different aspects of it and pros and cons.

  • The difference between Air Freight and Express Delivery

The main difference is the weight limitation. Express Delivery allows delivering Alibaba products below 300 kg. But you must use it for goods above 300 kg.

Besides, Air Freights fall in the category of import transportation. There are many legal bindings and obligations to fulfill. You must follow the foreign exchange guidelines imposed by both countries too.

  • Shipping time and Shipping cost of Air Freight

Airfreight delivers fast and provides quality assurance, but is more pricy. It takes about 4 – 5 days from China to East Coat of America. To reach the West Coast of America, you can expect about 2 – 3 days.

The shipping costs are more pricy and charged based on volume and chargeable weight. You can expect $5.5 – $7.5 per kg with FedEx or $7.5 – $9.5 per kg with DHL.

  • The cost breakdown of Air Freight

We divide the added amounts by 6000 to know the dimensional weight for Air Freight. It is higher than express delivery. 

FOB (Freight-On-Board) Costs
  • Shipping costs from the Chinese airport to the USA airport
  • American customs clearance charges
  • The Local logistical charges.
EXW (Ex Works) Costs 
  • Chinese logistical local cost
  • China Export cost
  • Everything in FOB

3. Sea Freight Shipping from China to the USA

Sea Freight is a many-procedure activity. It is best for goods quantity above 2 cubic meters.

  • Less than Container Load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FCL)

LCL means that your product is less than the whole container area. It is efficient for Chinese suppliers. They can deliver more shipments in fewer containers. The limit is 15 Cubic Meters. 

FCL is more cost efficient for goods above 15 Cubic Meters. Your goods get a whole container, isolating them from other items. Hence, there is less chance for confusion. 

  • Sea Freight Shipping Costs and Shipping time

Sea Freight takes about 30 – 40 days to ship from China to the USA. It depends on customs, port, and documentation process. 

There are over 100 ports in the US, and each imposes varying costs. In the major ports, the prices range from $310 – $4200. It is for containers within 3-40 CBM.

To calculate the Freight Cost, you can use this formula:

Freight cost= Number of products x Dimensions of the product

  • Cost breakdown of Sea Freight

Sea Freight cost breakdown is similar to Air Freights, calculated in EXW and FOB.

FOB means the fulfillment of charges on your end. It includes the Local charges and custom clearances in America. Your Chinese supplier helps you throughout the process.

In EXW, your Chinese supplier does not help you. It includes the export costs and China local charges.

4. Cost-effective Shipping Solution (SFUC & AFUC)

There is an increase in international transportation. Thus, several cost-effective shipping systems have been made.

These solutions provide ease and convenience for regular users and newbies alike. For instance, a drop shipping owner. Or, a business owner who makes private label products.

Let’s start with the SFUC.

  • SFUC (Sea Freight UPS combined)

As the name indicates, UPS collaborates with Ocean Freight transportation. SFUC takes care of everything when the product arrives in America.

It is at least 10 days faster than traditional sea freight. Then, it ensures delivery to your doorstep.

The price is $1.5 – $1.8 per kg, for goods within 100 kg – 1000 kg. But, goods with high taxes will incur extra, which is $0.3 – $0.4 per kg. 

  • AFUC (Air Freight UPS combined)

UPS also collaborates with air freight for cost-effective transportation. It is faster than the Sea Freights, hence preferred by many importers.

AFUC takes about 11 to 15 days to deliver to your doorstep. It is ideal for many suppliers on Amazon FBA or other e-commerce platforms.

It charges about $4.8 – $5.3 per kg for goods below 50kg. Above that, you can expect $3.8 – $4.8 per kg.

Suggested reading: AliExpress Dropshipping
Suggested reading: Best 10 Alibaba Inspection Service Companies

5. DDP Shipping Method

DDP stands for Delivery Duty Paid shipping. It assumes maximum seller’s obligations and minimum buyer’s obligations.

In DDP, the seller must deliver the goods to the buyer’s port. He must also handle inland transportation to the buyer’s location.

The sellers will pay all shipping costs. Let’s discover further in this post.  

Suggested reading: Alibaba vs Aliexpress
Suggested reading: Made In China VS Alibaba

Read more

Alibaba DDP Shipping

Alibaba Shipping Tracking Tool

An Alibaba shipping tracking tool allows integration to your online store. You’ll need to key in your tracking number on the tracking tool. It allows most suppliers and buyers to know the status of orders. 

Alibaba Shipping Cost Calculator

It is crucial to calculate your shipping costs to maintain a budget. You should also know that each transportation mode incurs different charges. This Alibaba shipping cost calculator can help you save more money.

How to Save Your Alibaba Shipping Costs?

I’ve shipped from Alibaba for myself and other businesses for OVER 10 years. 

Unsurprisingly, I’ve got several tips and tricks to lower your Alibaba shipping costs. Curious? The answer’s just below.

How to Save Your Alibaba Shipping Costs?
  1. Packaging Optimization

Some packages are not optimized and take up extra weight or volume. You should optimize when packing your own products for future orders. 

Buyers can try ordering samples to check sample cost and quality problems. You can also communicate with your seller about packing methods from the sample. 

  1. Shipment Consolidation

Sometimes, your buyers order with small minimum order quantities. You can consider combining several orders like this to consolidate shipping. It saves you cost on warehousing, shipping, and consignments.

  1. Shipping Provider Selection

As mentioned in this article, you should choose professional freight agents. They have experience in managing shipping and customs. You can avoid unnecessary shipping costs and quality issues with their help.

  1. Route Planning

It is also crucial to analyze and optimize the optimal route. Using a suitable transportation mode will save you many costs too. 

  1. Shipping Calculator Utilization

Don’t forget to use a shipping calculator to calculate your shipping costs. This step is essential before you enter your target market.

  1. Shipping Costs Comparison

You should also compare shipping costs from various freight forwarders. Don’t look for unreasonably low costs as it could be a scam or illegal. 

You must also choose the service from a reliable service provider. View their own websites to check for their reliability.

Suggested reading: Best 30 Sourcing Websites
Suggested reading: Best 20 USA Sourcing Agents
Suggested reading: China Import Agent
Suggested reading: Best 20 China Online Shopping Sites to Buy Wholesale
Suggested reading: Import Tax From China To US

 A Fast, Easy, and Cheap Way to Ship from China

Do not hesitate to contact Leeline Sourcing at any time regarding your shipments from China.

Suggested reading: 1688 vs Taobao

Alibaba Shipping Terms You Should Know

There are dozens of common Alibaba trade terms used by Alibaba suppliers. I’ll brief you on the MOST COMMON ones I hear when buying from this platform.

For instance, CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), EXW (Ex Works), and FOB (Free On Board).

Each shipment terms indicate different responsibility by sellers and buyers. It is vital to understand and choose a suitable shipping term for your need.

Read more

Most Common Alibaba Shipping Terms

How to Find the Best Alibaba Freight Forwarder to Ship From China?

My decade-long experience has one ultimate piece of advice. Work with a freight forwarder to make International shipping much easier. They have the experience and expertise to make safe delivery on time. You can also get warehousing and contract logistics solutions from them.

But, many suppliers and buyers might not know how to work with them. You can read this article to learn more.

Read more

Best 10 Alibaba Freight Forwarders

Alibaba One Touch Service: Make Your Shipment Easier

Alibaba One Touch is an Alibaba affiliate that provides import and export services. It helps an Alibaba supplier and trading company to ease the export process. 

It allows access to order financing, logistics management, and export procedures. You must use it for customs clearance for orders above $5,000. Let’s discover more here.

Read more

Alibaba One Touch

FAQs About Alibaba Shipping Cost

What do I need to get a shipping quotation?

Freight Forwarders require some basic parameters to give you a shipping quotation. These include:

1. The total volume of your product(s)
2. The actual weight
3. The Port of Loading (Departure)
4. The Destination Port
5. Whether you do or don’t want insurance
6. Supplier and delivery incoterm

This can give you an estimate of the cost. You can only determine the actual cost once the shipping is good to go. Several factors may affect it. Holiday seasons can affect the total shipping cost of Alibaba shipment.

Does Alibaba have free shipping?

Most suppliers show free shipping with vague meanings. Technically, we can say that suppliers on Alibaba provide dropshipping. But, note that they always charge you secretly for it.

It is not a recognized trait of Alibaba. Instead, it is solely the trick for suppliers on Alibaba. Let’s look at some users’ experiences.

Q: Why is it possible that Alibaba suppliers allow free shipping from China to the US?

A: It is actually not free. Shipping is costly, including fuel, warehouse, transportation, labor, etc. It will cause them loss if they allow free of shipping charge.
In fact, these suppliers include the shipping fee in the goods’ price. Some suppliers have a minimum order quantity to allow shipping for free.

Q: Why are the goods’ prices so low even after including the shipping costs?

A: Most goods manufactured in China incur low production costs. It is due to the advantages of raw materials and labor costs. 
For instance, a watch costs only $10 in China. The suppliers will sell it at USD$40, which is relatively cheap for Western buyers. It includes the $20 product costs and $20 shipping costs. 

Q: Is there other possible reasons that Alibaba sellers offer free shipping?

A: Yes. The China e-Commerce has grown bigger in recent years. It benefits from economies of scale in production, warehouse,  and transportation. 
The labor costs are also relatively cheap. Some Alibaba sellers will have a minimum order quantity. 
That is why they can still sell you a cheap and quality product.

How to get cheaper shipping on Alibaba?

After comparing, FCL Sea Freights are the cheapest from China. Shipping using any other shipping method like LCL incur more cost.

Once you establish your need for a separate container, you have to pay a fixed price. Air Freights are fast to have your order shipped, but they are expensive shipping. 

In short, FCL Sea Freights are the cheapest, while Air Freights are the most expensive.

Does Alibaba ship to the USA?

Yes. In fact, many Alibaba gold suppliers are already experienced in shipping to the USA. You can choose whether to ship via air or sea freight. 

But, you should find the golden supplier. Conduct market research or view the eCommerce site to check the supplier response rate. 

A reliable supplier will discuss your cost and delivery time needs. You should also make sure the shipping method and term are in your plan. Let’s discover further here.  

What’s Next?

Shipping goods from suppliers to buyers is a long and complex procedure. It will incur Alibaba shipping costs too.

We’ve shared everything about Alibaba shipping costs and suitable methods in this article. You must calculate properly to prevent scams and reduce Alibaba shipping costs. 

You can also read further on this article to learn about the Alibaba shipping service. Or, talk to Leeline Sourcing for professional shipping services.

Do you want a successful import business?


Hey, I’m Sharline, co-founder of  LeelineSourcing. We’ve helped 2000+ customers import from China.

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Article by:

Sharline Shaw

Hey I'm Sharline, the founder of Leeline Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 2000+ clients import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA or shopify. If you have any questions about sourcing , pls feel free to contact us.

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