Import from China: Shipping & Logistics
Import from China: Ship by FCL
FCL stands for full container loading. That means you can fill up full containers with your order.
FCL shipping is pretty easy. Just let your freight forwarder contact your supplier(agent) to arrange everything. You just need to double confirm your customs papers and handle the papers to your forwarder before container reaches your port.
In some cases, your supplier can even sent these papers directly to your forwarder(but you must check these papers or let your forwarder check these papers to better follow your customs rules ).
Your freight forwarder will do customs clearances and ship your container to your warehouse.
Above is called FOB. You pay your forwarder freight at your side when container arrives in.
Another type is CIF or C&F works in a different way: it's your supplier use their own forwarder ship container to your port directly, your own forwarder or customs clearance agent only take over when your container reaches your port.
With CIF(C&F), you pay fright to your supplier. Your supplier pay their forwarder when your Bill of Lading is ready.
Import from China: Ship by LCL
LCL stands for less than container loading. It means your products are not bulky enough to full up a full container, so you need to share a container with others.
LCL shipping is done in a same way as FCL. You need a forwarder for FOB shipping, or at least a customs clearance agent for CIF or C&F shipping.
Compared with FCL shipping, LCL is usually slower and not as safe as FCL. The shipping cost per cubic meter is also much higher than FCL.
If you're from countries close to China like Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, Vietnam... some shipping companies offers a door to door shipping service, charged by cubic meters, which is also very convenient for buyers to begin. Now seems some shipping companies are also offering LCL door to door to European countries like Spain and Italy.
Ship by Express Couriers, China Post
Ship by Express couriers is the easiest way. It's a simple door-to-door shipping within several working days.
Express couriers like UPS, DHL, FedEx, TNT, EMS are the most populars ones used with importing from China. The advantage for these couriers is easy and fast. On the other hand, it's pretty expensive per KG. Usually only high valued, small and light products like electronics, jewelry are shipped by couriers.
China Post is another option to get products shipped to your nearby postal office. It's not as expensive as couriers. But very slow.
Related: What Is Freight Forwarder?
According to Wikipedia, a freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get large orders from the manufacturer or producer to market or final point of distribution.
Forwarders will contract with a carrier to facilitate the movement of goods. A forwarder is not typically a carrier, but is an expert in supply chain management. In other words, a freight forwarder is a "travel agent," for the cargo industry, or a third-party (non-asset-based) logistics provider.
A forwarder will contract with asset-based carriers to move cargo ranging from raw agricultural products to manufactured goods.
Freight can be booked on a variety of carrier types, including ships, airplanes, trucks, and railroads. It's not unusual for a shipment to move along its route on multiple carrier types.
International freight forwarders typically arrange cargo movement to an international destination. International freight forwarders, have the expertise that allows them to prepare and process the documentation and perform related activities pertaining to international shipments.
Some of the typical information reviewed by a freight forwarder is the commercial invoice, shipper's export declaration, bill of lading, and other documents required by the carrier or country of export, import, or transshipment. Much of this information is now processed in a paperless environment.
The FIATA short-hand description of the freight forwarder as the 'Architect of Transport' illustrates clearly the commercial position of the forwarder relative to his client.