Shipping Cost from China to Germany
Freight rates determine how much it will cost to transport cargo from one point to another. The total cost is affected by the type of goods, the mode of transport, the dimensional weight of the cargo, and the distance to destination.
Other factors go into the cost of shipping from China to Germany, including location, size, and shipping mode: sea FCL, sea LCL, air, or express.
This guide will give you pricing estimates for each shipping mode from popular ports in China to popular ports in Germany.
Ocean Freight from China to Germany
Ocean Freight FCL
FCL, or full container load, means your goods fill an entire container, either 20’ or 40’ long. If you are shipping at a high volume, you’ll save time and money by shipping FCL. Pricing for FCL is done as a flat rate, regardless of whether or not your container is completely full.
Learn more about FCL here.
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Ocean Freight LCL
LCL, or less than a container load, means your goods do not fill an entire container, and will be shipped along with other boxes or pallets. Note that when you ship LCL, your goods will need to be consolidated at the origin port and deconsolidated at the destination port.
That’s why LCL shipping takes a few days longer than FCL.
Air Freight from China to Germany
Air cargo shipping cost from China to Germany per kg
Shipping by air is generally faster but more expensive than shipping by ocean, so the mode you choose will depend on the size and weight of your shipment, and how quickly you need it to arrive at destination.
For help choosing which mode is right for your shipment, use our air vs. ocean comparison calculator.
Shipping from China to Germany transit time
Ocean, Air and Express freight transit time from China to Germany
How long will it take to ship from China to Germany?
Your shipment’s transit time will be impacted by location, shipment size, and season. Transit times aren’t always the same. Depending on market conditions, acts of nature, and other occurrences, freight shipments may be delayed.
Use the following table for timing estimates for each shipping mode from China to Germany.
How much is shipping from China to Germany?
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China to Germany shipping delays: are shipments from China delayed?
For shippers from China to Germany, the coronavirus has been profoundly disruptive, causing major delays to both manufacturing and shipping.
Production in China is back to normal, but COVID-19’s impact is creating a variety of other challenges including high demand for containers and delays at ports and warehouses.
Additionally, with new waves of the virus, restrictions on air travel can dramatically reduced air freight capacity, leaving space tight and prices volatile.
For the latest developments in international freight, visit the Freightos.com updates page.
It’s also important remember that freight rates are seasonal, with regular fluctuations throughout the year. Check the following table to understand when peak seasons for shipping from China to Germany could affect your supply chain:
|Event||Effects on Shipping||When|
|Chinese New Year||Factories and facilities shut down for several weeks of celebrations, causing price spikes and delays||Late January/early February (exact dates follow the lunar calendar)|
|Golden Week||This week-long festival exacerbates holiday season price spikes and delays||October 1st and the week following|
|Dragon Boat Festival||Businesses typically close for three days, causing potential delays||June (exact dates follow the lunar calendar)|
|Holiday Shopping Season||Prices rise steadily over a period of months as businesses prepare for holiday shopping||October-December(air), July-October (sea)|
Top shipping routes from China to Germany
When you’re shipping from China to Germany, there are many different viable routes that you might want to ship.
Freightos has global shipping rates for all of these lanes and can provide real-time FCL, LCL & Air rates for shipping from China to Germany.
The top 3 shipping lanes for shipping freight from China to Germany are:
- Shipping from Shenzhen to Hamburg
- Shipping from Shanghai to Frankfurt
- Shipping from Shanghai to Hamburg
Get an estimate from the world’s largest database of freight rates and then join Freightos.com to compare, book, and manage your upcoming shipments.
Cheapest shipping from China to Germany
When you’re shipping from China to Germany, you can choose from one of four modes: FCL sea freight, LCL sea freight, or air freight. Here are key factors for each mode:
FCL Sea Freight from China to Germany
FCL, or full container load, means your goods fill an entire container, either 20’ or 40’ long. If you are shipping at a high volume, you’ll save time and money by shipping FCL. Pricing for FCL is done as a flat rate, regardless of whether or not your container is completely full. Learn more about FCL here.
LCL Sea Freight from China to Germany
LCL, or less than a container load, means your goods do not fill an entire container, and will be shipped along with other boxes or pallets. Note that when you ship LCL, your goods will need to be consolidated at the origin port and deconsolidated at the destination port. That’s why LCL shipping takes a few days longer than FCL.
Air Freight from China to Germany
Shipping by air is generally faster but more expensive than shipping by sea. For help choosing which mode is right for your shipment, use our air vs. ocean comparison calculator.
Shipping from China to Germany pricing
Air freight costs and rates from China to Germany
Air freight by far the fastest for the price. Express air freight is a little more expensive.
Freight rates can vary widely between freight forwarders and prices change regularly, so make sure you shop around.
For larger shipments sizes and origin/destination pairs, LCL (less than container load) ocean freight costs might actually be cheaper than air freight costs – make sure you check it out!
Sea freight costs and rates from China to Germany
Once a shipment weighs more than around 500 kg, shipping by sea becomes the cheaper option. Ocean freight offers tremendous economies of scale (some ships can carry 20,000 twenty-foot containers) – but prices have risen steadily since summer 2020 making sea freight less economical than before the pandemic. Like air freight, ocean freight rates vary widely between forwarders and over time, so shop around before choosing your forwarder.
You can even start shopping around right now with our handy freight rate calculator. It will give you instant shipping estimates for both air and sea.
How can Air Freight be cheaper than Sea Freight?
Each shipping mode has its own combination of base and variable costs. Modes with a lower base cost are cheaper for smaller shipments while modes with lower variable weight costs are the cheaper options for larger shipments, even if they start out with a high base cost.
How long does it take to ship from China to Germany?
Rules of thumbs for lead times (in regular conditions) are 1-2 weeks for regular post, 3 days for air express freight, 8-10 days for air freight, and 30-40 days for ocean freight.
These estimates can be affected by a wide range of circumstances, especially in the current market, so it’s worth checking with your logistics provider. With things the way they are, expect that there may be delays.
Shipping from China by surface mail takes forever. China Post offers much quicker, cost-effective options in airmail and express mail service (EMS), which are both likely to take between one and two weeks.
Customs agencies will deprioritize release of parcels if something looks wrong with the paperwork. So, increase your chances of regular post only taking one week, by checking that the supplier gets the paperwork right before sending.
Express Shipping Options
When shipping from China by international courier, allow at least three days for picking up the parcel at the Chinese supplier’s door (unless the supplier has dropped it off at their depot). If it’s really urgent, there are more expensive premium services which may even be delivered overnight.
Standard air freight between China and Germany generally takes around 8-10 days. It’s not that planes are slower; it comes down to the fact that air freight processes are more complicated than for express freight.
At a minimum of 30-40 days for a door to door shipment from China to Germany, sea freight has the longest lead time. That’s because ships move a lot slower than planes.
Beyond additional preparation, ocean liners also move slower to save fuel (and money) whenever possible.
On top of that, port congestion, customs delays, and bad weather condition affect sea freight more than they do for air freight.
More on Shipping Modes from China to Germany
Air Freight from China to Germany
The larger the shipment, the more complex the shipping process. It’s harder finding space in a plane’s hold than with regular courier services and shipments are delivered to a facility where they are consolidated (packed with other shipments) first.
You also have to keep in mind that there are limitations on what products you can ship.
International law, national law, carrier organization regulations and individual carrier regulations all play their part in defining and restricting what goods are considered dangerous for transport.
Generally, more products are restricted as air cargo than ocean cargo, including: gases (e.g. lamp bulbs), all things flammable (e.g. perfume, Samsung Galaxy Note 7), toxic or corrosive items (e.g. batteries), magnetic substances (e.g. speakers), oxidizers and biochemical products (e.g. chemical medicines), and public health risks (e.g. untanned hides).
For further information on shipping hazardous material, check out the Freightos.com Hazardous Material Table.
FCL and LCL Shipping from China to Germany
Ocean freight usually means full containers. But if you don’t have enough material to fill a full 20’ or 40’ container’s worth of shipment (FCL), it’s usually worthwhile to ship a less-than-container load (LCL).
With LCL, several shipments are consolidated and packed into one container. This means more work for the forwarder when consolidating various shipments into a container before the main transit, and de-consolidating the shipments at the other end.
It is more difficult to keep a trace of a shipment that is one of many in a container than it to keep tabs on a container with FCL. And of course, there’s extra paperwork involved and more risk of delay.
Freight Forwarders from China to Germany
When shipping from China, there’s a lot of factors involved in mastering your freight. Getting the right mode is a good start.
If you are looking at air freight or ocean freight, make sure that when you request freight quotes that you are selecting a forwarder with a good reputation as well as a good price.
Using a freight forwarder will steer you clear of the pitfalls and take over the organizing and troubleshoot where necessary. But there’s one step that is often made before bringing in a forwarder. Before agreeing to a deal with your supplier, be sure that you understand about selecting incoterms.
Freight Documents and Forms
Having a forwarder means that you don’t need to understand everything about freight. But help yourself by being prepared for the barrage of paperwork and arm yourself with knowledge about freight documents.
You should take a few extra minutes to make sure that all documentation is complete and accurate. Those few minutes are very much worth the effort. And have a freight charges reference at hand; don’t blindly accept every surcharge and fee.
Use Correct Packaging
If you are looking at ongoing shipments, discuss packaging options with your supplier. You might be able to seriously cut freight costs.
What are incoterms and how do they affect freight prices from China to Germany?
When you’re comparing freight quotes, note the level of service the freight forwarder is offering.
For example, if you’re shipping from Shanghai, China, you’re going to want to ask your supplier about the cost difference between shipping from the supplier’s warehouse in Shanghai– which means using the EXW incoterm– and shipping from the port of Shanghai(CNSHA) – which means using the FOB incoterm.
Prices for FOB are typically lower, but shipping FOB doesn’t mean your total costs will necessarily be lower. You might make up the cost by paying your supplier to bring your goods to port. When comparing prices, take all your costs into account.
Note that some incoterms, including FOB, are used for sea shipping only.
Learn all about incoterms here.
What customs duties and taxes will I owe when shipping from China to Germany?
When importing from China to Germany, you will need to pay Customs Duty and VAT before your goods are released into the country. Customs and VAT can be significant. Researching your costs early can keep you from getting caught by surprise.
How the customs process works?
When goods arrive at port, customs officials will first check to make sure all your paperwork is in order, and then calculate the amount of duties owed and collect payment. After payment, goods will be released.
To handle customs clearance, you can hire your own broker, or use the brokerage provided by your freight forwarder. If you book on Freightos.com, you can use our brokerage services as well.
Do I need insurance to ship from China to Germany?
When calculating your shipping costs, don’t forget to protect yourself in case your goods are damaged or lost. You can do this through your freight forwarder or a third party insurance agent. Insurance costs are typically around 0.3% – 0.5% of your Commercial Invoice Value, which is the amount you paid for the goods.
What paperwork do I need to ship from China to Germany?
When shipping freight from China to Germany , in addition to standard shipping paperwork such as the Commercial Invoice, you will need an EORI number. Anyone shipping from outside to inside the European Union needs this number in order to clear customs. To apply, click here if you are VAT registered, here if you’re not.
Use our paperwork checklist here to make sure all your paperwork is in order before you ship.
How do I ship from China to an Amazon FBA Warehouse in Germany?
As an Amazon shipper from China to Germany, you’ll need to consider issues of timing and storage, as well as choosing the right forwarder. Check out this guide to learn more.
What are the busiest shipping ports in China?
Your factory, supplier, or freight forwarder will likely advise you which port is best for your export from China, based on location, ease of customs clearance, transit time, port volume, and any relationships or agreements between the factory and the port.
If you’re choosing a port on your own, important factors to consider include location, cost, and transit time. Here are the top ports for exporting from China:
Port Name: Shanghai
Port code: CNSHA
Port Name: Ningbo
Port code: CNNGB
Port Name: Shenzhen
Port code: CNSZX
What are the busiest shipping ports in Germany?
These are the top ports for importing into Germany:
Port Name: Hamburg
Port code: DEHAM
Port Name: Bremerhaven
Port code: DEBRV
Port Name: Bremen
Port code: DEBRE
Tips for Keeping Down Costs and Shipping Time from China-Germany
- Book in advance. Shipping by sea is the cheapest, but also takes the longest. Booking in advance when you can saves you money– and cuts out the stress if delays arise.
- Ship off-peak. When carriers get busy, both shipping prices and transit times go up. Ship during off-peak seasons whenever you can.
- Get your documentation in order. Having your documentation in order can make all the difference when it comes to clearing customs quickly.
- Know your HS Codes. A lot of shippers are surprised by how much customs fees can affect business costs. Do your research so you can budget effectively.
- Compare quotes from different providers. Quotes can vary, so check out offers from different providers before making a decision.
- Understand what’s included in your quote. Is your quote port to port or door to door? What service does it include? Know what you’re paying for to avoid getting hit with surprise fees.