Mode Selection

Neil Updated by Neil

There are three freight modes (express, air, and ocean) for importing shipments included in this section, together with guidelines on selecting the best mode for your shipment.


Modes of Shipping from China

Express Freight (International Courier)

Nearly the meaning of shipment with express freight is copying the similar courier encounter you get every time you have an e-commerce shipment at home. While this means convenience, rapid, and an uncomplicated customs process, you’ll pay the price. Express freight is restricted to small shipments only. Size and Mass limitations differ by courier.

Even though many resellers, the market is mainly dominated by a few massive players, specifically UPS, FedEx, and DHL.


Air Freight

Air freight’s meaning is grasping nearly the same pace as courier shipment but with procedures optimized for international freight. Airfreight operations are more complicated and less motorized than express freight but are less excruciating than ocean freight procedures.

Goods are less expected to get damaged by air than by sea but are more exorbitant and more susceptible to a limitation on perilous products (as included in the Product Research portion).


Ocean Freight

In comparison with Airfreight, Ocean freight is generally economical.

But it’s also slow going (observe the difference by using this transit time calculator) and less dependable (delays created by a port obstruction, customs hold-ups, bad weather, etc.).In case of a hard deadline, it makes a high-risk selection. Ocean freight is becoming more dependable, eventually. Some ocean carriers provide exclusive services. “Expedited freight” works by smooth procedures and only accord with quicker ocean and trucking services.

Another benefit is that CO2 emissions are little in comparison to air freight.


Selecting the Best Mode for Your Shipment.

The table below offers general guidelines, not conclusive advice.





Express Freight

3-5 days

< 50 kg

Courier weight and dimensions limitation.

Air Freight

7-14 days

50 kg <> 500 kg

Planes have a prolonged record of limited cargo in comparison with ships.

Ocean Freight

25-40 days

> 500 kg

Ships are more inclined to delays (bad weather, port crowding, etc.).

* For below container load, China-US West Coast door to door. Each way has an exclusive faster option: express freight (1-2 days), air freight (5-8 days), ocean freight (18-30 days).

The rules of thumb in the table highlight the many freight variables, like start and destination points, and present freight rates. The Freightos freight rate calculator is a correct way to choose mode because it considers these essential variables. It utilizes live freight values and real points of start and landing.

Evaluate the price point you would exchange for getting your goods faster if your shipment possesses a ballpark mass of 500 kg. This is especially relevant if you are not near a major port, importing from China via the east coast.

If you search for even more correct rates, you can immediately find and choose binding quotes on the Freightos Marketplace.



In comparison, air freight is faster, and sea freight is economical. However, small size shipments are often economical by air than the sea.

Even though speed and cost are significant, other factors may also play a part in evaluating which mode is elite for your shipment. They cover courier mass and dimension limits, carrier limitations, carbon footmarks, and whether there is a drop-dead shipping date.


Next Read Cargo Insurance

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