Shipping from China

Top 3 Annoying Delays - Shipping from China.

Today we are happy to have a guest blogger, David Aherne MD @ Across the Ocean Shipping to talk about the Top 3 delays with China import export cargo. 

Over to David's expert opinion on the matter - let's get going with No. 1.


When importing from China or anywhere in the world your cargo / shipment must be cleared at origin port to leave the country and then cleared through customs upon arrival at the destination port. Just like when you travel on holiday and clear customs through your local airport and the arrival airport. Cargo whether it be via container / airfreight or LCL shipment must be cleared through customs.

From time to time we see delay's shipping from China where the factories do not have the correct export license to clear their cargo. This is where having a freight forwarder really helps you. Your Freight Forwarder can help your supplier purchase and complete the paperwork with the local customs officer to ensure that the shipment is declared correctly in China and passes through customs inspection without delay.

We have had many instances in the past where factories have insisted on shipping on a CIF Basis and then cargo has been held up for many weeks pending the correct documentation to get it through customs. Chinese customs are very strict on cargo declarations so it is imperative that your supplier has the correct paperwork for a smooth transit. With the correct paperwork in place your shipment can usually clear Chinese Customs within 48 hours.   


One thing to be aware of when importing form China are vessel delays on cargo. Most ports in the world right now have at least one direct sailing into major countries such as Australia, USA and UK. Direct sailings mean they ship straight form origin port say Shanghai to Melbourne and your container stays on the same vessel for the duration.

Another way to ship form China is via Transshipment vessel.  This means that your cargo will be loaded onto a vessel, say Shanghai and will then be offloaded in a major hub such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Busan or Jebel Ali. It will then sit in this port for a few days until the next transshipment vessel comes along and takes it to your port of destination for example Melbourne. Transshipment rates are generally cheaper than direct sailings however there is always a risk your container can be left at transshipment port for a period of time. It is not unusual for containers to sit in transshipment ports for up to two weeks due to peak demand and could even end up missing feeder vessels.

That is why it is important to measure cost against time when importing form China. Direct shipments are recomended.  


I'm guessing most people have something in their daily work life that can cause frustration and there's not always anything that can be done to solve this. In Australia you are likely to get told to "suck it up" and therefore just get on with the task in hand....not easy in the world of international freight forwarding when getting through Australian Customs and Border Control.

The day can be going swimmingly well for our international freight forwarders with shipping containers arriving to the wharf on time as planned, the client is well aware of this and is looking forward to receiving their goods. They are already doing a mental high five to themselves that this file will be closed by the next day as the client will have had their goods delivered and unpacked...BUT then the words that come next strike disappointment into our international freight forwarders...."this container is on border hold".

You can almost hear the dramatic music playing as the countdown from Customs informing the Freight Forwarder that the shipment is on border hold and waiting to be inspected by Australian Customs. A phone call must be placed to the client immediately informing them of this. Questions posed such as "Why my container" "This has never happened before, it was fine last time" "How long will this take?" are all certain to be asked.

Well why does this happen?

It's all about keeping our country as safe as possible from danger and disease. Manifests are completed before the vessel arrives to its destination; these are screened and assessed for risk. Customs randomly select containers in the system which is called the ICS (Integrated Cargo System). Selected cargo will go to the CEF (Container Examination Facility) - these have large x-ray machines and other built in technology to examine the shipment fully. Mainly these shipments are being checked for prohibited goods, illicit drugs, illegal firearms and other harmful goods. This process is usually completed in 24 hours but can take up to 72 hours.

I've always been intrigued by programs and articles about drug smuggling, what drives people to do it and how they do it...not sure why I'm so fascinated but it certainly got me questioning the importance of Border Hold. As frustrating for our International Freight Forwarders and our clients border holds are - it seems illicit drugs and prohibited goods can be hidden in all sorts of creative ways therefore it is a necessary checking system to stop the illegal drug trade from becoming an even bigger problem than it is already.

Chocolate bars, walnut shells, children's toys, jewelry, surfboards, cars, souvenir jars and champagne bottles were some of the most creative ways I saw reported to have had drugs smuggled through and over borders. I won't be looking at poor Mr. Potato Head the same way again! So with No 1 & 2 you can do something about it - with No. 3 you need a bit of luck, just try to plan a 3 days for this possibility. Don't try to rely on never having delays.


Ashley Bruns

I always use Chinese delivery since it is profitable. The goods go for a long time, but it's worth it. For a huge amount of goods, I pay a mere penny. I myself do small business. Here are good tips.

Mike Stender

Shipping from China is a great choice. I often work with Chinese companies, I order parts at factories. Delivery is inexpensive, but there are problems with terms, for obvious reasons.

Mike Stobs

I often use shipments from China, because the costs are minimal, the quality of the goods is normal, but there are minor temporary difficulties that do not create global problems. I can say with confidence that the quality meets the needs.

Roma Abuelo

Chinese Customs and vessel delays I guess are two of the problems that are becoming normal in China. I hope to see some improvements in the future, though. The Chinese market is no doubt continuously dominating.

David Mureithi

I will agree that there are lots of challenges when it comes to shipping from any part of the world. More so if you have no prior knowledge. Time is the main constraint when shipping goods. At times they go hand in hand with cost.

Scott Summers

I have never shipped anything overseas yet so I do not know much about this. However, having read this, it seems like China is ideal for shipping.

Lovely Marfil

I heard that it's hard to deal with Chinese customs because there are a lot of bribery and under the table things happening. I'm curious if this is actually so. Thanks!

Hezer Lovandas

Chinese suppliers can always deliver the necessary goods at normal prices, so I work with them constantly.

Lin Sy

There are always the obvious reasons when there's problem upon shipping goods from other countries - port to port. But, yeah, it is always profitable when you order products from China.

Nnaemeka David

Shipping from China is done on a regular basis here in my country because a lot of traders do business with Chinese suppliers. This article is an eye opener on some of the issues involved, especially border hold, as I now know why some containers are delayed by customs. Keep up the good work.

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