All About International Ocean Sea Freight and Step-by-Step Instructions

In this article, I'll give an overview of Ocean Sea Freight and also the step-by-step instructions you need to take to arrange for ocean freight and actually receive your goods.


Related Reading: FCL Freight vs. LCL Freight

Related Listening:

Air Freight/Air Courier is Reasonable When Ordering Samples

The first thing to consider with Ocean Freight is whether you are actually better off shipping via air freight or air courier. There are some significant differences between air freight and air couriers that we discuss in our article here.

But the general rule of thumb is that for shipments under 200 kgs or so shipping via some air method as opposed to sea freight is almost always cheaper and far more convenient. Air shipping rates generally range from $5/kg-$10/kg but do not have the same high fixed costs common with ocean freight.

Air freight vs ocean freight

How Much Does Ocean Freight Cost?

For any shipment over 200 kgs or so, ocean freight is normally your cheapest option.

Ocean freight has high base costs but it scales very well. For example, your ultimate cost to ship a 20 kg box via ocean freight may be $300, but for 200 kg you will pay $310, for 2000 kg, $390, etc. For air freight, there is almost no scaling. A 20-kgs box will cost you $100 and a 40-lbs box will cost you $200.

Sea Freight comes into two varieties: Full Container Load (FCL, 20’ and 40’ containers) and Less than Container Load (LCL). Further, containers come in three basic sizes: 20′, 40′, and 40'hq (40′ high cube).

LCL freight simply means you have one or more pallets put into a container along with other companies goods. Full containers mean you get the full container to yourself. Simple, right? Any freight forwarder can arrange for full container shipping or LCL for you.

ocean freight rates 2018
An Ocean Freight rate sheet provided by a Freight Forwarder in October 2018

Full containers cost anywhere from $2000-$4000 for a 20’ container to North America (always cheaper to the West Coast) and LCL is pretty close to fractionally equivalent to how much of the container you’re using up (if you’re taking up 25% of the 40’ container, you’ll pay around 25% the cost of a 40’ container).  See the above image for sample sea freight quotes from October 2018.

Sea freight can be delivered to most major ports. Vancouver (Canada), Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are the big ones on the West Coast.

Live in a landlocked part of the world like Denver? No problem—you can still ship a container there but your container will simply be put on a train and railed into your city, although prices are slightly more expensive for inland delivery (although still extremely reasonable).

When Should You Ship Full Containers (FCL) and Less than Containers (LCL)?

When should you use LCL ocean freight and when should you use FCL ocean freight? The obvious answer would appear to be that you should ship full containers when you have enough stuff to fill the container and LCL, otherwise. This isn't quite true.

From a financial perspective, a full container 75% or greater full is normally cheaper than shipping LCL (in other words, LCL has around a 25% pro-rated surcharge). However, there are two other important considerations as well. First, LCL has transit times around 1-2 weeks longer than FCL. That's because the freight forwarder has to pack your items and unpack your items with other people.

Second, LCL cargo is more prone to loss and damage (although it's very rare) because of this additional handling. If time and care are important for you, shipping even a half-empty container can sometimes make sense.

Ocean Freight Has High Fixed Costs and Many Surcharges

With Ocean freight, there are a lot of surprise fees when the shipment comes to your country. When you receive an invoice from your freight forwarder you may be shocked at how many fees exist outside of the actual ocean freight. Below are some sample fees you can be expected to pay:

  • Dock Fees: $50-100
  • Freight Forwarder Administration Fee: $75-200
  • Security Fee: $50-100 (normally on Full Container Loads)
  • Customs Clearance Fee: $100-200 (plus applicable duties/taxes)
  • Final Truck Transportation from the bonded warehouse to your doorstep: $200+ (unless you pick up your shipment yourself)

The last two fees, Customs Clearance Fee and Final Truck Transportation, you can technic and do yourself. In reality, no one ever does this themselves.

These are just the fees once your shipment arrives in your home country. They do not include the fees from within China (which can vary significantly depending on what your incoterms are) or the actual cost of the sea freight itself.

Ocean Freight is Very Different From What You Are Used To (Sort Of)

Most of us are accustomed to shipping things via USPS, FedEx, etc. and other small parcel carriers. Ocean freight at first seems very different from these types of services, but when you think about it more deeply, you'll realize they are actually very similar.

If you are shipping something via USPS, you know that you have to drop the item off at a post office. With Ocean Freight it's the same way: someone has to drop it off at the post office! Except, in this case, the port is the post office.

If you imagine the United States for a second, you know that Kansas is very far from the ocean. So to ship a few pallets to, for example, the Port of New York, you somehow need to have the goods shipped up to New York. The same thing is true if you order something from your supplier in Chengdu (central China) to the Port of Shanghai.

Shipping from Chongqing to Shanghai
Shipping from Central China to Shanghai

Thankfully, you don't actually have to arrange with some random Chinese truck driver to pick up your goods. Most freight forwarders are happy to arrange to pick up your goods from your Supplier's factory. But it will cost more money. That is why things called Incoterms are very important.

For example, if you and your supplier agree to the shipping terms FOB Shanghai, this means your supplier will pay for the cost of having your goods shipped to the Port of Shanghai.

If you agree on EXW Chengdu, you will pay for it (see my warning on EXW here). Shipping goods hundreds or thousands of miles via truck isn't cheap, no matter what country you are in, so always be aware of this!

Once your goods are shipped to the port, they get put in a container, and the next time you hear of them should be when they arrive in your home country.

How to See How Much Your Competitors Are Importing from China

Want to see how much your competitors are importing from China?

Custom import records are public information in the United States and there are multiple tools that allow you to simply search for a company name and see exactly how much these companies are importing from China.

Research tools which lean on public U.S. customs records can be extremely valuable for finding and verifying Suppliers.

My favorite tool for this is Jungle Scout's Supplier Database tool which costs less than $50 a month (other more expensive options include Import Genius and Panjiva).

These tools will neatly summarize all of the information included on a particular company's Bill of Lading information such as product type, quantity, and supplier name/address.

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Ocean Freight (and Air Freight) Require the Use of a Freight Forwarder

So how do you actually book sea freight? You need something called a freight forwarder (the same goes for air freight as well in fact). A freight forwarder is essentially a broker who buys space on ocean liners for containers. You cannot book this space directly on ships yourself – you need the freight forwarder.

Freight forwarding is HIGHLY competitive and there are thousands upon thousands of freight forwarders. There are now two very popular brokers for freight forwarders (in essence, they're brokers of brokers) called FlexPort and Freightos. You can get a quote for nearly any shipment.

However, the easiest way to ship your goods is to simply have your overseas manufacturer arrange the freight for you.

How Long Does Ocean Freight Take?

SeaRates.com is my absolute favorite site for estimating transit times and also getting freight estimates. In general here are some rough shipping times from China to various ports:

  • Shanghai to Los Angeles: 18 days
  • Shanghai to New York: 35 Days
  • Shanghai to London: 30 Days

These times vary wildly depending on the route and other factors but are good approximations. They also do not consider container loading and unloading times which can easily add many days (and sometimes weeks) onto these transit times.

When Your Shipment from China Arrives in Your Country

When your goods are close to arriving in your city, your freight forwarder will give you a call or an email to let you know how much you owe them (more on this later), an ETA, and where to pick your goods up.

Keeping with the USPS example, you know that if you're not home when the mailman tries to deliver your package, you will have to pick it up at the post office.

The same thing is true for ocean freight except they won't ever try to deliver your package to your home. You always have to pick it up from either the port or a nearby warehouse.

If you ordered a full container, you will almost certainly pick your container up at the port. In my case, this is the Port of Vancouver.

Port of Vancouver containers
Container at the Port of Vancouver

If you ordered LCL freight, then remember you have only a fraction of that container with a bunch of other people. Your goods could be at the very back of that container, so somehow they need to facilitate a way for you to get those goods.

Time at the port is very expensive so they'll move your container to a nearby warehouse (nearby could mean 30 miles away) and destuff the container, in other words, they'll take your goods out and put them in a warehouse to make for easier and cheaper pickup.

In the graphic below, you can see that the goods are moved from the Port of Vancouver (where the container gets unloaded), moved to a nearby city (Richmond) and then moved to a warehouse.

Goods from China at Bonded Warehouse
Goods from China at Bonded Warehouse

Continuing our post office example, you know that the post office will not hold your package forever. Eventually, they'll simply return it to the sender. The same is true for ocean freight. You generally have five free days of storage.

After this, they will start charging you for storage (for a container it's about $100/day and for LCL Freight it is around $50 a day, depending on the size of the LCL freight).

The chances are good that you don't actually want to pick up your goods yourself from the port. In this case, let your freight forwarder know the ultimate address you want your goods delivered to (ideally before the order actually ships) and they'll be happy to arrange overland trucking to that ultimate destination.

Be warned that overland freight for even short distances can often be almost as much as ocean freight for thousands of miles (I recently paid $2000 for a 20′ container to be shipped from Shanghai to Los Angeles and then $1100 for it to be shipped 30 miles from Los Angeles to San Moreno).

Your Goods Are Being Held Ransom at This Point

So your goods have arrived in your home country (great – you know the boat didn't sink!), however, they are now being held ransom in a sense. Three parties need to be paid, and the warehouse or the port will not let you pick up your goods until you have paid these three parties. These three parties are:

  • Your Supplier
  • Your freight forwarder or shipping agent
  • Customs

Paying Your Supplier

At this point, you should have already paid your supplier. However, your goods are like a car: you need to have the title for them in order to claim ownership. An original Bill of Lading is essentially a title to the goods.

Your supplier will mail you 2 or 3 physical copies of this (photocopies are not permitted – they must be original) and you must give one of these Original Bill of Ladings to the freight company in your local country (normally in the city of the port, but not always).

Your supplier may also Telex Release the goods to you, which basically means they telephone the company and say “Please release the goods to Dan’s XYZ Company” and forgoes the need for an OBL. You probably want to have your supplier telex release your shipment as opposed to sending you an original Bill of Lading. 

Paying Your Freight Forwarder

The freight forwarder will also ask you for a small payment at this time, which will include ocean freight costs and various other surcharges.

When you pay your money to the freight forwarder, confirm with them the location of the warehouse with your goods, if you shipped LCL and are picking up the goods yourself. Also, ask them for something called the Cargo Control Number. This is basically the unique ID of your package.

The warehouse will not be able to find your items without it. When the Freight Forwarder initially contacts you to tell you that your goods will arrive soon, they should forward you a document telling you both the ultimate location of your goods and the cargo control number, as seen below.

Document-Manifest Paying for Customs

The final thing you will have to pay for is customs. This actually isn't quite true: you may not actually have to pay for customs (if your goods have a 0% tariff) but you will have to clear customs.

Customs clearance is a complex topic. Basically, countries require a record of all goods entering the country.

Most goods, especially those from China, have some percentage of tariff/duty associated with them, normally in the 1-15% range, although many actually have 0% tariff/duty. Regardless of the amount of duty owed, you have to fill out a customs declaration form.

A customs broker can handle all of this for you, for approximately $150-200 + applicable duties. There are literally thousands of customs brokers, but the one I use is Pacific Customs Brokers (they can handle Canadian and/or U.S. Clearance). Your freight forwarder may also be a registered customs broker as well.

Once you have cleared customs, the local customs authorities will notify the warehouse holding your goods something along the lines of “Dave Bryant has cleared customs- you can release these goods to him”.

You've Paid Your Ransom—You Can Pick Up Your Goods!

Once you've paid your three ransoms, you can finally pick up your goods. You simply go to the warehouse (in the case of LCL freight) or the port (for containers) where your goods are and pick them up.

If you are picking up LCL freight, the warehouse may charge you $25-50 for a dock fee which is often only payable in cash, so bring cash with you just in case. Remember that your goods will likely be on a pallet.

If you have a vehicle, like a pickup truck, that you can simply load the pallet onto it. This is the best arrangement. On the other hand,  if you have a small car you could be disassembling the pallet for a while and stuffing your car with boxes.

Want to Ship Your Goods to Amazon?

Are you looking to ship your goods directly from China to Amazon via ocean freight? Good news: we have a couple of articles that can make your life a bit easier:

Shipping LCL or FCL shipments isn't particularly difficult but you need to be aware of some of their labelling requirements to avoid having your shipment rejected.

Should You Use a Third-Party Logistics Company (3PL) For Your Business?

A Third Party Logistics company, or 3PL, is simply a warehouse operated by another company where you can ship your goods to (a first-party logistics company would be your own warehouse). Having a relationship with a 3PL is critical for importers and nearly every major city has TONS of 3PLs.

photo of a warehouse in the USA filled with packages

If your shipment is big and you don't have room to store it at your own home (or you don't have your own warehouse) you're probably going to need the services of a 3PL to store your goods and eventually ship them to wherever your goods are going.

Even if you're selling on Amazon and plan to ship direct to Amazon, you're probably eventually going to need the services of a 3PL for a variety of reasons (such as storage limits, handling returns, etc).

Here are some other reasons to consider using a 3PL:

  • You need a backup to Amazon for logistics (don’t get caught with your pants down!)
  • Pandemics – who knows what will happen? Better to be ready, and make sure to don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
  • Storage limits – this is going to be always an issue with Amazon, doesn’t matter the time of the year, this problem can show up, but having a 3PL will help you to store your packages in their warehouse (cheaper than Amazon’s warehouse).
  • Get cheaper storage rates – Amazon Inventory is one of the most expensive options during picks, you can lose a lot of money (we’re talking about $200 per pallet in months like January). You may want to consider this option maybe for a short time period.
  • Handling returns
  • Avoid stock-outs – having a 3PL helps you to minimize your inventory and help your marginal

Check out our guide on how to select a great 3PL for your business.

Pros and Cons of Ocean Sea Freight

Pros of Shipping with Ocean Sea Freight

  • Cost-effective
  • Capacity
  • Flexibility
  • Security
  • Environmentally more friendly than air cargo

Cons of Shipping with Ocean Sea Freight

  • Longer transit waits
  • Dependence of weather or sea conditions
  • Custom clearance
  • Limited accessibility

Conclusion

Hopefully, this gives you a good overview of how international sea freight works. Importing from China can be intimidating the first time (or second time) you do it. But once you understand the nuances of sea freight, it will become second nature.

If you have any other questions about sea freight, feel free to comment in the comments section below.

Dave Bryant

Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

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Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson
1 year ago

Dave,
Should I be receiving a full 20ft container at a port, and wish to pick-up myself, will I need a TWIC card to gain access into the port, or will the cargo be placed in an area accessible that does not require a TWIC card? Thanks…and you show great commitment to us seekers of information for the past several years. Outstanding!!!

Amir
Amir
1 year ago

Full article, perfect article.

Defender Fence
Defender Fence
1 year ago

Great article! Thank you for taking the time to write a very informative article with examples.

Mahendra
Mahendra
1 year ago

Hi
I am planning a sea shipment at Toronto from China.
Just to have an idea, Can you please give me link to sea a bunch of port charges does freight forwarder charges for shipment arriving at Vancouver ?

Harvey
Harvey
1 year ago

Hey Dave,

Thank you for all the details.
I am purchasing a full container arriving at Port of Miami from china. Im being told I only have to pay customs fees, is that correct? If not, how would I be able to calculate total fees?

Lori Lara
Lori Lara
1 year ago

I want to buy wedding venue furniture from Alibaba and they are FOB and it will be a 20ft FCL going to Houston Port. I have never done this before and I read your article. I looked into freight forwarding /broker to my address in San Angelo Texas and it was not feasible. It was going to cost upwards of $5000+ to go from port to home. I know that there is a lot of paperwork involved for clearance etc. I want to go and get my own items and load them in a moving truck to save on costs. Where does the sea container go after arriving at port? Does it go directly to a warehouse as I was reading even for an FCL and how do we know which one?

Jkn Logistics
1 year ago

Your article is really great. Thanks for sharing valuable information with us. We are the best logistics and cargo services provider in canada. For more inforamtion you can visit our site: http://www.jknlogistics.ca

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

I have a question as someone whop is looking to go through this process for the first time. I have a forwarder than can usually pick up a shipment from the port and get it to its final location by road. However, I was told that the equipment that they use to get the containers from the port is all tied up due to the back up in the supply chain. So my best option would be to get the shipment from the port to a warehouse. How do I facilitate that process and who to I contact for information on doing this? The article above states that a LCL will usually be sent to a warehouse, however I know that my shipment will be a full container.

Imad Al sarayri
Imad Al sarayri
2 years ago

What does the IT DATE code mean by sea freight

Noah
Noah
2 years ago

Thanks for all the info Dave! I am in the process of ordering gym equipment from China to the Port of Philadelphia. This is my first time doing something like this and I may be in over my head. My shipment is coming in an LCL format and is 1189kg. Is this too small for a service to go from Port to Door (15 miles)? A lot of what I’m seeing looks geared towards huge orders. Thanks in advance!

Peter
Peter
2 years ago

Hi Dave,

I am ordering a 40’ container, full of building materials and furniture from China. It will be delivered to a residential address in interior BC (new house build). When the shipment arrives, do you know if (a) I’ll get to keep the container as well or if (b) the goods need to be unloaded on delivery? Also, if (a) do you know what is the procedure to sell/release the container ?
Thanks

Peter
Peter
2 years ago

Hi Dave,
I have a basic question for you. I’m in a process of ordering 40’ container full of building materials, furniture and similar goods from China. It would need to be delivered to a residential address to inland BC. When the container arrives, do I get to keep it, or do I need to offload it right away? If I keep it, does it mean it’s my property and I can sell it? If so, what is the process of selling it?

mahmoud
mahmoud
2 years ago

Hi Daved,
i have a question, I buy from china 2 big boxes and I buyed for shipping to port NJ
what is the process to get my stuff from the port?

thanks

Lindy Duong
Lindy Duong
2 years ago

Hi Dave, thank you for this very informative article. I’m looking to purchase a whole container to continuously use to transport all my goods. As well as renting it out to other people in my area looking to import products. Do you have any article written on this and are you familiar with the process? Thanks.

Hanson
2 years ago

Good information!!!

Helena Fernandez Morano
Admin
Reply to  Hanson

Thanks! Glad to hear it was helpful :)

Marianna
Marianna
2 years ago

Hi Dave,
I have a small 1st time LTL shipment I am planning from India to the USA. Ideally I would like to pick up on my own please tell me the questions I should ask both the Freight Forwarder/Customs Broker so there are cost surprises?
Thank you!
Marianna

christian
christian
2 years ago

Hello Dave,

I was a little unsure how the process worked but having read your article it has made things much clearer, thank you.

I do have a question regarding when the LCL sea shipment arrives at the port, my customs broker has asked me if I have been notified by the freight forwarding company if the shipment has arrived, my supplier arranged the freight forwarding company so I have had no contact with them previously, the sea shipment was due to arrive today 22.02 in Dublin Ireland, do you know how long it usually takes once the sea shipment comes in for the freight forwarder to make contact?….and what information I should be asking for i.e where the pallet will be stored?

I expect once I have been contacted I can pass on any information to our customs broker and they can deal with the rest including delivery of the shipment to our warehouse after all duties and taxes and charges have been paid.

Last question is there a way for me to track the sea shipment to see if it has landed or if it is delayed?…..maybe using the bill of landing number?

Thank you for your help and any advice you maybe able to give.

Christian

soro
soro
2 years ago

Thanks for the reply.
Do you think it might be better if one lived in a port city like Halifax or Montreal, for example would it be more cost effective if it was picked up and cleared by me at the port rather than have company do that and pay for the trucking cost to another city?

Soro
Soro
2 years ago

Hi , great article, lots of great tips.
I got just a quick question, I understand that from China the closest port in Canada is Vancouver but what if I wanted to Import goods from places in West Asia for example Turkey, which port would be the closest in this situation?
Thanks in advance.

Daryl Miller
2 years ago

This is just a Quick Inquiry; Do you do Custom Clearance and Local Delivery? I have some artwork coming in from Europe and would need some help in Sorting them out.
Let me know if your Firm can be of Assistance.

Daryl

Andrew
Andrew
3 years ago

Dave, super article, much appreciated. Couple things:
1. A recent container arriving at Vancouver (Centerm) was marked for an “exam” – what’s the usual lag for this exam? I’ve heard it should take CBSA 24hours, but almost 48hrs later I hadn’t heard from my FF (RDD). Is this normal?
2. With LCL cargo coming into Centerm, is cargo sorted at the terminal or a warehouse? Any idea (if there is only 1) where the location is? Trying to save on delivery fees with this one.
Thanks!

tony
tony
3 years ago

hi dave,

i have a shipment of 400 boxes (50lb each) coming from china to vancouver CIF.

whos responsible for unloading the container? is it a worker at the port? or does my freight forwarder arrange for somebody to do this?

also does the shipment get stored in a government/city warehouse? or is it a private warehouse that the freight forwarder arranged?

for my next steps, if i hire my own customs broker and then call up a local truck delivery company, i should be good to go right?

Adrio
Adrio
3 years ago

Hello Dave.
Thank you for all your help you give to people in this site. I am planning to buy a patio Pergola in Alibaba, from a Chinese supplier. The whole package is 2.7 CBM, 750 kg weight, with dimensions 5.1×0.3×0.3 meters. The supplier sends the merchandise LCL with Cargo, Insurance & Freight from China to the Port of Miami, the city where I live. It is my first time doing this. I read your explanations above, but I would like to see if you could give me some advices in this matter, mainly, what to expect and what steps to take.
Thank you in advance.

Charles Cochems
Charles Cochems
3 years ago

Lets say i live in the middle of the usa, and dont’ have a car. and i need to buy somethign from china that requires sea shipping. and i’m an individual. say it’s a cheap surrey bike. how the heck do I even do this?!?!

Juliet
Juliet
3 years ago

I’m inspired by your articles. You have shared very valuable information and knowledge that people should recognize. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see more updates from you.

Helena Fernandez Morano
Admin
Reply to  Juliet

Thanks, Juliet! We are happy to hear that you enjoy our content.

William
William
3 years ago

Hi Dave,

Thanks for an informative article on freight.

I’m considering importing approx 750kg of custom automotive parts from Europe. The supplier has flexibility in packaging and palletizing, so what guidelines should I request to save costs? Specifically, what size pallets are best, and what is the max height?

Thanks,

William

M
M
3 years ago

Hi! Thanks for all this great info but I’m still a bit confused. I’m trying to get an item shipped from China by ocean freight however the price I’m paying includes shipping but they said I have to give them the vancouver address of the port to pick up as I live in Vancouver. How do I know which would be the correct port address to give? Do I still need a freight forwarder? Will I only just paying dock fees and customs after that? As I already paid for shipping?

Thank you

Yuri
Yuri
3 years ago

Hello, thanks for the infos.
If I am an intermediary between a seller and a buyer,
I would like to know if there is a way to ship goods in a way that the consignee doesn’t get information about the shipper (company name etc…)?
Thank you

Jennie
3 years ago

I want to ship a few items from China FCL. I’m in canada, who do I need to contact to pick up the shipment from Vancouver port? Can you give me a company name to contact. I’m lost at this point currently I do door to door but I want to get stock for the first few holidays and I don’t want all of my money to go to shipping. My items I’m getting from different suppliers so I need a way to coordinate all of them to go to one container obviously?

Alex Brown
Alex Brown
3 years ago

hello dave,
I have just started my business and I want to import from china, this information is really helpful for me.

Jonathan C.
Jonathan C.
3 years ago

I am interested in buying “Multi-Function Smith Machine” from China because I can save $2000. However, I have never had to deal with customs myself. I live near a port (30 min drive) but I don’t know if I can load the 1000 lb wooden box into my truck… what should I do!

Also helpful article!

Rajiv
3 years ago

Hi Dave,

Firstly thanks for this amazing article – you’re a GOD!

I’m new to ecommerce, and shipping a number of consignments from India to Toronto in the next couple of months or so. Most of my orders are coming in separate containers (LCL) – each around 2 to 4 CBM.

My freight forwarder in India is responsible for everything until the customs clearance in Canada. After that it’s up to me to pick up the goods.

Here’s my dilemma. I have spoken to a couple of local frieght forwarders, and as you have indicated in your article, its VERY VERY expensive to ship just 30km to my home. So the only option is for me to rent a UHAUL and do it myself, which i’m happy to do so. But my concern is regarding the pallets. How do i deal with the pallets? Do i need to remove them myself at the warehouse, so i can load the cartons onto the truck? Do i need to discard the pallets myself or will the warehouse usually have provisions for recyclables. Will i have labor help at the warehouse in case i need help with loading, or should i bring a friend just in case?

Thanks a lot for your time!
Rajiv

Christian
Christian
3 years ago

Hello Dear Ecomcrew,

I have a question and hope you can help me out.

I’m currently working on a product idea, which I aim to sell via Amazon and the product’s website. The product itself is being produced in Germany and the packaging in China. Both components are then assembled in the US and then send out to Amazon FBA.

My question is regarding the import process. Concerning the import from Germany I do not need to worry about a freight forwarder or a customs broker since the “transatlantic trade and investment partnership” makes the import from Germany rather smooth and easy. Am I correct about that or would you suggest still getting a freight forwarder and a customs broker for this case? From what I understood the TTIP allows free imports from Germany, which would mean no duties such as tariffs or US taxes?

Secondly, concerning the import from China, which includes paper box packaging, I was wondering whether a freight forwarder is always necessary even though the supplier says they can handle shipping all by themselves and offered me a great quote for door to door (sea shipping) service. I’m just making sure what makes more sense. Letting them handle the whole shipping process or rather still going with a freight forwarder.

I would highly appreciate your advice.

Thanks a lot.

Best,
Christian

Michaela
Michaela
3 years ago

Hello,

I am wanting to purchase a greenhouse from China. It will be shipped in a container. The supplier said it was about $500 for ocean freight to Savannah ga which is the closest port to me. Who do I need to contact to pick up the container and bring it just 4.5 hours up to north Georgia where I am located? I am new to this so I don’t understand it.

REG MITCHELL
REG MITCHELL
3 years ago

Dave, I am a rookie importer and have many questions. I am shipping 2 containers of Cement Powder which will be bagged in 2 ton Super Sacs on pallet. The shipment will be coming from France and coming into NYC for a project in Queens over a 2 year period.

Question ; Are there warehousing facilities associated with the container terminal that can receive and house the product for future shipments? Or is this something the port does not handle and I would have to use an outside source to warehouse?

Sylvia
Sylvia
4 years ago

Hi Dave,
Thank you very much for your interesting and helpful post.
I want to purchase goods from multiple factories in China, and then consolidate them into one FCL (or maybe LCL). How would I go about this? How would that work out timing-wise – would the freight forwarder look after all this, or would I need to try to arrange for them to all arrive at much the same time?
Thanks, Sylvia

Moni
Moni
4 years ago

Hi Dave,

My supplier is telling me that to ship by sea that it will cost $130.00. They are stating that I did not have to pay for any other fees, and that my shipment will be shipped to my door. Does this seem correct?

Nz
Nz
4 years ago

Hi Dave:

I have about 7 boxes of goods, each box contain different type of product. Is it ok to pack them into a pallet, and ship as one pallet?

Emma Murphy
4 years ago

Dear Dave,
Your forum/video/and comment thread has been the most helpful resource so far in our search for answers and a better understanding regarding freight consolidation and overall logistics, so thank you! If you’d be so kind to advise us on the following as we are still trying to figure out how to forecast our costs and it seems most companies we have talked to want us to commit to using their services prior to providing quotes. It also seems there is an expectation that the inventory is already purchased from the supplier before we can expect to receive a price. We are purchasing mostly bathroom vanities, mirrors, and bathroom fixtures FOB to Baltimore via Ningbo port. Basically, we could use any resources you can provide that would help us better understand how to project costs and maximize efficiency when it comes to LCL. Are the industry standard pricing structures? What is the standard logistical approach? What is the most efficient way to consolidate shipping costs from multiple suppliers?

James
James
4 years ago

I’m shipping a full 40′ container of goods (large boxes) from China to a warehouse in Victoria BC. However, there is no loading dock at the warehouse, and possibly no room for a big truck with a 40′ container to get up to the bay door. The goods are not on pallets. Can I get these unloaded at or near the Port of Vancouver, and put on a regular truck for the final journey?

Sarah K.
Sarah K.
4 years ago

Oh my Gosh so glad i found your site. But my question is how in the world as a first time shipper, ship from the USA to the middle east. I have tried icontainers.com and a bunch of other online engines about 20 foot container to ship commercial food from usa to middle east. Thr products are all packed coming in from diff states in the usa . Now i live in the midwest so no major port near me. How do i find one that has warehouse capability so i may ship items as the container is fully loaded and what papers besides packing slips do these shipping companies ask for. Any other essential questions i should ask before reserving with a company?

Pavel Cusco
Pavel Cusco
4 years ago

Hi Dave, Do I need to create a LLC company to be able to import a LCL 20′ Container from china to Houston? or it can be as a Sole Proprietorship. Thank you

Johnny
Johnny
4 years ago

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the great article. I am shipping LCL and will have a total of 5 pallets. How would I go about picking up the goods if I wanted to pick it up myself at the port instead of picking up at a CFS (trying to keep costs low). I was planning on renting a U-Haul to pick up the pallets at the destination port. Your article mentioned that the goods would be devanned at a nearby warehouse and I would generally have a few days of free storage. Would it be safe to assume that one of the forklift drivers at this warehouse will load up the pallets onto the U-Haul for me? Thank you for your advice.

Benny
Benny
4 years ago

Hi Dave
I bought a sofa set from China .i paid $1600+$800 freight. About 300kg . My nearest port is new york. I live in Hartford CT (120 mil from port)So:
How much I have to pay for customs?
How much freight forward charge me to delivery to my house?
Any fee esle I have to pay?

William
William
4 years ago

Hello Dave,

I have a shipment coming from China, I purchased 3k mason jar with lids and would like to know about how much do I need to pay to retrieve my goods?
Thank you

William
William
4 years ago

Hello Dave,

I have a shipment coming from China, I purchased 3k mason jar with lids and would like to know about how much do I need to pay to retrieve my goods?
Thank you?

Charles Manns
Charles Manns
4 years ago

Hi Dave,
I am looking to purchase a wrought iron double door from a manufacturer in China. They will ship the doors to the Port of Baltimore. I need to hire someone to handle the delivery to Northern Virginia near Washington DC. Is there a company who can take care of all the details and make this happen?

John
John
4 years ago

Hi Dave,
I wanted to check if it is possible to pick-up a container without an OBL.
My case is particular: I hired a freight forwarder who in turn subcontracted another forwarder. My container arrived at destination port but I cannot release it because the OBL is with the sub-contracted forwarder (who does not want to provide the original nor agree to release). I paid all shipping fees to my forwarder but apparently, there is an issue between the forwarder and the sub-contractor as the forwarder did not pay the sub-contractor.

Many thanks!
The OBL has the subcontractor as shipper and the forwarder as the consignee. However, I have proof through other means of the items inside the container.

Is there any way in your opinion in which a carrier would accept to release the container without the OBL? Any indemnity letter or other representation?

Saleh
Saleh
5 years ago

I want to know, if a freight forwarder or the ocean line could change the destination’s port if they have been asked by the shipper to do so , while the ship has left the shipping port.
The shipment is FCL shipment .
The destination’s port (in the bill of lading)will be changed from Alexandria sea port to be pot-Said sea port.
Both 2 sea ports are in Egypt.
After issuing the Bill of lading ,the consignee was told that the ship will transit at port-Said port before going on to the final destination (Alexandria port) hence the consignee said that he wants to discharge the containers in Port-Said sea port instead of Alexandria port.
Is that possible ? If the bill of lading is telex release?
What about if the bill of lading wasn’t a telex release one..?

Krystin
Krystin
5 years ago

Hi Dave- I work for an importer of wine beer and spirits. Is it true that we cannot ship direct with an ocean carrier and that we HAVE to go through a freight forwarder? Is there a law?

Travis
Travis
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave Bryant

Hey Dave,

I would love to pick up for any small companies in Los Angeles or Long Beach for people who don’t wanna use all service of there freight forwarders but clear customs and we can take it straight to their door drop or live unload.

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