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Shipping Cost from China to Europe during COVID-19

Shipping is a very important part of the process of importing from China to Europe. Whether you ask suppliers to arrange transportation, or find a freight forwarding company yourself, you need to keep abreast of changes in the way of transporting goods, changes in costs, and matters needing attention. Choosing the right shipping method can save you a lot of money.

At present, under the influence of COVID-19, the cost of transportation of goods keeps rising, and the purchasing power of importers decreases. This has led to higher prices in countries that depend on Chinese goods. However, according to a recent report from S&P Global Market Intelligence, container freight rates are expected to fall by 20-30% in the second half of this year, and container rates are expected to drop to an average of $6,000 to $7,000 per 40 foot equivalent unit (FEU).

This is good news for us. But don’t have high expectations, it’s just a prediction. If it catches up with the peak shipping season, container freight is likely to rise instead of falling.

1. Express Shipping from China to Europe

Shipping time: 3-5 days

Express is only suitable for the transportation of small batches and high-value products. The advantage is that it does not require customs clearance, which is very convenient and fast. Usually, we will use express to send samples. Common and reliable courier companies are FedEx, UPS, DHL. Usually FedEX and UPS are faster than DHL, and sometimes DHL shipping is more expensive.

For importers purchasing in bulk, ocean and air freight are the most commonly chosen shipping methods. So in this article we will focus on the cost of both sea and air freight.

2. Sea Freight from China to Europe

Generally, for goods exceeding 2CBM (cubic meters), we will choose sea or land transportation. Most of the products imported from China to Europe are shipped by sea. If you are completely ignorant about ocean shipping, you can seek help from a professional freight forwarder or your supplier/purchasing agent.

First of all, according to the quantity and volume of your goods, you need to choose Less Than Container Load (LCL) or Full Container Load (FCL), and the size of the container.

There are three sizes of containers to choose from, 20”GP, 40”GP, 40”HQ, and the corresponding volumes are 28 CBM, 58 CBM, and 68 CBM.

ContainerVolumes(CBM)
20”GP35
40”GP42
40”HQ42

When the volume of goods is less than 15CBM, we usually choose the LCL. LCL is to use a container with other importers, because your goods cannot fill a container, LCL can help you save costs.

But there is a very big disadvantage in the way of LCL. For example. If you have 12 CBM goods that you want to transport to your own country by LCL, then your goods are likely to be divided into 4 parts, each with 3 CBM of goods, which will be transported in 4 batches respectively. Therefore, the shipping time of LCL will also be longer.

The Cost Of Sea Freight from China to Europe

LCL calculates freight in CBM units, while FCL calculates freight in whole container units. If you compare the price of sea freight per CBM, LCL will be cheaper, but the destination port of LCL is more expensive. Moreover, the goods in the LCL will be scattered and distributed into multiple cabinets, which will be very troublesome when receiving the goods.

Example of sea freight: from Ningbo port in China to a port in the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, and Spain.

CountryLCL USD/RT20”GP40”HQTime(day)
United Kingdom3061401028029
Poland3061901073028
Germany304740878038
Spain40119401248035

This price is only the shipping cost from Chinese ports to European countries’ ports. All transportation costs also include local logistics costs in China, export costs in China, customs clearance costs in destination countries, and local logistics costs in destination countries.

Sea freight changes in real time. If you want to know the latest sea freight price, you can contact us to quote for you.

3. Air Freight from China to Europe

If the weight of the goods is between 300kg and 500kg, you need to consider which is more cost-effective by air or express. If the weight of the goods is more than 500 kg, then air freight is definitely more cost-effective.

One thing to note. The billable “weight” for air and express delivery and the actual weight of the goods are not necessarily the same. If the dimensional weight of the goods is greater than the actual weight, then air and express will calculate the freight according to the dimensional weight of the goods. The volumetric weight is calculated by volume, and the calculation formulas for air and express are slightly different.

Air freightvolume weight=length*width*height/6000
Expressvolume weight (kg) = length (cm) * width (cm) * height (cm) / 5000

Air Freight fee from China to Europe

In 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-19, the price of air freight from Chinese airports to airports in European countries was about 3-6$/kg; after the COVID-19, the price in the two years was about 6-12$/kg. It takes about 7-10 days for shipping.

This cost is only one part of the air freight. The complete air freight cost also includes the local logistics and export process in China, and the local logistics and import process in the European landing country.

So when you ask about shipping cost, be sure to pay attention to whether the price the freight forwarder or supplier gives you is the all-inclusive price. Some freight forwarders will only quote a portion of the price to lure you.

4. Rail transport from China to Europe

There are many international railway trains from China to Europe. Such as Yixinou, Hanxinou, Yuxinou, Xiangou, SuManou and so on. These routes all start from different places in China, pass through several countries, and finally reach a certain country in Europe. Among them, the “Yiwu-Xinjiang- Europe” China Railway Express is the China Railway Express with the longest transportation route and the largest number of countries.

The “Yiwu-Xinjiang- Europe” Train Route departs from Yiwu (west railway station), China, via Alashankou port in Xinjiang.  The train stops in Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving in Madrid, Spain. It took 21 days.

The transportation by “Yiwu-Xinjiang- Europe ” Train Route is faster than shipping.  For example, if you deliver the goods to Germany by train from Yiwu , you can received them about 22-30 days, and if deliver the goods from Ningbo port by sea, it will take 35-45 days.

YiXin Europe Train-yiwu market guide-union chance

summary

TransportationTime(day)CostAdvantagesDisadvantages
Sea Freight45-55cheapMost usedLong Time
Rail transport12-30CheaperHalf the time compared to sea shippingThere are many restrictions, and the inspection of infringing products is stricter. Most importers do not know the customs clearance process of rail transportation.
Air Transport7-10Most expensiveShort TimeThe most expensive, suitable for small quantities and high value products

Contact us to get the real-time shipping rates.

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5. Supplier's Forwarder VS Forwarder Yourself

If you want to save time and effort, we recommend letting your cargo supplier take care of your shipment. The supplier and the freight forwarder they have cooperated with for a long time have been running well. Compared with re-contacting a new freight forwarder, the efficiency of communication and the timeliness of information acquisition must be much higher.

Price. Usually importers who import from China with a relatively large volume like to find their own freight forwarders. Due to the large amount of goods imported from China each year, they may get lower prices from forwarders than suppliers. Note that this is only possible. For a large forwarder, you may get a lower price than the supplier if you ship more than the supplier. Or find some small freight forwarding cooperation, small freight forwarding is generally cheaper.

payment method. The supplier usually prepays the freight to the forwarder, and then importer pays the supplier after they receives the goods. The freight settlement between the importer (you) and the freight forwarder is usually paid on delivery or monthly or quarterly. For you, in fact, the same is to pay after receiving the goods. But for forwarders, they prefer prepayment.

Therefore, when the shipping schedule is tight, it is easier for the supplier to mention the cabinet and ship it in time. And your freight forwarder may keep telling you: there are no cabinets now, you need to wait.

6. Sea freight under the COVID-19

The sea freight in 2022 will probably increase by 2-5 times compared with 2019, and the shipping time will be about 10 days longer. Give a few examples. In 2019, a 40”HQ (68 CBM) from China to Poland will cost $3,000, and in 2022, it will cost $9,500, an increase of more than three times. The following table:

Country2019(40”HQ)2022(40”HQ)
US$1600$3000
Poland$3000$9500
Morocco$4000$17000

With sea freight rates rising so fast, where should importers go? Some importers choose to wait and see, and want to wait for price reduction before importing from China; while some importers choose to change their business and import high-value products, which have large profit margins and can accept the increase in sea freight.

For example, a 40”HQ cabinet of daily necessities is generally worth about 3,000$. For some high-value products, such as electrical appliances, a 40”HQ cabinet of electrical product can reach hundreds of thousands of US dollars, and the sea freight of several thousand US dollars can be ignored compared with the product value. .

If you are the importer who is waiting for the price reduction of sea freight, I can only tell you regretfully that the sea freight will have a small price reduction during the off-season. However, it is unlikely that a sharp price reduction will return to the price before the epidemic. If there are new business opportunities, start quickly, the sea freight will only get higher and higher.

7. Low and High Seasons for Shipment

The products and festivals of each country are different, so the time of product demand is also different. But there is a rule to refer to. Before long holidays in China, there are peak shipping seasons, such as China’s May 1st Labor Day, National Day, and Spring Festival.

In addition to the peak season before the long holiday in China, some products will have a specific peak season for shipments. For example, April and May are the peak shipping season for school supplies. August, September, and October are the peak season for Christmas supplies, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s goods, and summer supplies.

During the peak shipping season, the sea freight will increase, and the shipping schedule will be very tight. At this time, there may be a situation where you can’t book a cabinet even if you spend money. It is suggested that you must order in advance to avoid the peak shipping season, so as not to delay the shipping schedule and affect your business.

It’s your time

Hoping our article can give you access to various shipping information and help you better choose shipping methods. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. You can always contact us to get the latest shipping quote.

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