Cost Factors of Air Cargo from China to USA

Air cargo from China to USA has witnessed massive demand in recent years. 

The value of global air cargo trade is expected to reach $319.645 million by 2029. With the annual growth rate of 6.62% due to factors like ecommerce expansion and globalization. 

Accounting for nearly 25% of total air cargo volume, China remains to be the world’s largest exporter. 

Businesses and individuals hoping to use this service need to better understand the factors influencing the cost of air cargo from China to the USA to make informed decisions and optimize their supply chains and keep their promise of cost-effective transportation of their goods. 


Choosing the Right Shipping Method for Your China-US Needs

Businesses tend to have a wealth of opportunities when it comes to the China-US trade landscape. Diverse shipping methods can be overwhelming which is why it’s necessary to understand which shipping method is for you in order to optimize costs, speeds, and overall efficiency

1. Air Cargo

Considered to be the fastest option, air cargo from China is ideal for time-sensitive shipments or valuable goods with real-time tracking available. 

It’s preferable for those with high-value electronics or urgent shipments. 

2. Sea Shipping 

Sea shipping from China to USA is considered to be the most cost-effective option for large volumes. It’s a great way to transport large quantities of goods over long distances, specifically items that aren’t time-sensitive. 

Shipping by sea from China to USA is best for those with bulk commodities, raw materials, furniture, and machinery. 

3. Freight Forwarding 

Freight forwarder USA to China streamlines logistics, handles documentation and customs clearance, and offers a variety of shipping options under one roof. 

Businesses who are considerably new to importing and exporting may find freight forwarding a suitable option, as well as complex shipments and those preferring specialized services. 

Some freight forwarders assist by also offering air china cargo tracking as part of their normal packages! 

Shipping Cost From China to USA

With rising demand and fluctuating logistics, figuring out the cost regarding air cargo shipping from China to the USA demands informed decision-making. 

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive way to know the exact shipping cost from China to USA, however, there are resources and strategies to offer a close estimate.

Factors Affecting Shipping Costs From China to USA

There are several factors that contribute to the final cot of your air cargo shipment from China to the USA. 


Considered to be the major cost component, including air carrier’s charges for transporting your goods based on weight, dimensions, and destination. 


Time is money, which is why if you have urgent shipment which demand immediate delivery you’re more likely to want to venture into express air freight, however keep in mind that it’s at a higher cost. 

Size & Weight 

Chargeable weight is often determined by the higher value between actual and volumetric weight. It dictates your costs. Oversized packages might call for dimensional weight charges. 


The perceived value of your cargo impacts your cost. If the shipment contains expensive electronics, luxury goods, or other high-value items, you might need additional security measures. 

Terminal Surcharges

Additional security measures, which are implemented by both airlines and airports, typically mean surcharges to cover handling, enhanced monitoring, and potentially even armed security. 

These measures are placed to ensure the safety and integrity of your valuable cargo. 

Terminal Handling Charges

Airport fees like terminal handling charges cover essential ground handling, security checks, and storage, all contributing to making sure your package is delivered smoothly. 

Custom Clearance

Though it is complex and potentially time-consuming, understanding the process and associated costs helps you better plan your budgeting, ordering, and delivery. 

Prepare all documentation; commercial invoices, packing lists, bills of lading  and any relevant licensing. 

Cost factors depend on duty and taxes, brokerage fees, storage fees, and any possible fines and penalties acquired due to incorrect documentation or non-compliance. 

Security Fees

Security fees are unavoidable, since it ensures that your cargo and global trade remains safe. 

Container Shipping Rates from China to US

Container shipping rates from China to the USA are experiencing fluctuations based on several factors.

While overall air freight rates from China to the USA  have stabilized in comparison to the dramatic increases seen in 2020-2022, they still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Factors Affecting Rates

  • Seasonality: Higher rates during peak seasons like Christmas and Chinese New Year 
  • Fuel Surcharges: Fluctuate based on global fuel prices and can significantly impact your final bill. 
  • Route and Destination: Shipping to remote locations or those with limited infrastructure might lead to higher fees. 
  • Container Type/Size: FCL is generally cheaper per unit than LCL, and 40ft containers tend to cost more than 20ft containers. 
  • Service Level: Express services are more expensive than standard shipping. 

Keep in mind that container shipping costs from China to the USA will also depend on the rest of the factors as well, which is why it’s so important to budget from all aspects. 

How Much is Air Cargo From China to USA

Having a better understanding about the charges of  air freight from China to the US including base  China to USA shipping rates, surcharges, and any additional fees is vital for budgeting effectively. 

Reputable freight forwarders provide transparent cost breakdowns to better help you understand what you’re paying for. 

Online Estimation Tools 

Online estimation tools are quick and easy cost estimates, without having to contact freight forwarders, however, they might not account for all potential charges. 

They allow for the comparison of rates from different providers to find the best deal, yet they might not offer comprehensive services or cover all routes. 

Estimation tools can help you acquire a rough idea of shipping costs to help you make an informed decision. 

Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarders act like your logistics experts, managing the entire shipping process from start to finish. 

They negotiate rates, leveraging industry connections and expertise to secure competitive rates on your behalf, saving your money. 

They manage complex customs paperwork and procedure, ensuring smooth border crossings and avoiding delays. 

Freight forwarders combine shipments from multiple companies for cost-effective transportation, especially for LCL shipments. 

Some forwarders offer additional services like warehousing, insurance, and supply chain management.

They also provide real-time tracking and updates on your cargo’s location and status, offering peace of mind.

How Long Does it Take to Ship From China to the US?

The time of delivery often depends on the urgency of receiving your shipment. 

Express vs. Standard Delivery Speed Options

Express often takes between 1 to 3 days but is significantly more expensive. Standard, on the other hand, delivers between 3 to 7 days and is considered to be more cost-effective. 

The time of delivery is impacted by the destination, customs clearance, and possibly any delays. 

Remote destinations or those with limited infrastructure can lead to longer transit times. 

Customs clearance can add delays, especially if documentation is not present, incomplete, or incorrect. 

Unexpected events like weather or mechanical problems can also impact and cause delays. 

Best Freight Forwarder From China to USA

The best freight forwarder from China to USA depends on a couple of key factors for selecting a reliable freight forwarder:  

Key Factors for Selecting a Reliable Partner 

1. Expertise 

It’s always best to look for a forwarder with extensive experience in your industry and shipping your specific type of cargo. 

They have a better understanding of the business and regulatory requirements. 

Some forwarders specialize in specific industries like electronics, pharmaceuticals, or hazardous materials. 

Look for a specialist if your shipment needs unique handling. 

2. Service Offerings 

Sea vs Air Freight: air freight from China to USA or sea, choose a forwarder offering both options to compare costs and choose the most suitable transit time based on your needs. 

Value-Added Services: Consider if you need additional service like customs clearance, warehousing, insurance, or door-to-door delivery. 

Technology: Look for a forwarder utilizing air cargo tracking software, advanced technology for real-time tracking, shipment management, and data-driven insights to optimize your supply chain. 

3. Reputation and Reliability 

Online reviews are necessary. Check independent review platforms and industry publications for feedback from other businesses. 

Don’t forget about testimonials from past clients within your industry. 

Industry awards and certifications from reputable organizations like World Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA) further showcases reputation and reliance. 

4. Competitive Rates and Transparency

Compare quotes from multiple forwarders and be sure to look over fuel surcharges, inland transportation costs, and any possible hidden fees. 

Don’t be afraid to negotiate for better rates based on your volume, frequency, and commitment. 

Transparency is of maximum importance, which is why freight forwarders need to provide a clear breakdown of all charges, avoiding any possible surprises later (unless they’re nature-caused). 

5. Competitive and Customer Service

Quick and efficient the forwarder responds to your inquiries and concerns. 

Choose a freight forwarder with a communication style that aligns well with your preferences, whether it’s organization, detailed reports or regular updates. 

Dedicated account managers handling your specific needs allows for better personalized attention. 

This is why we hold Forceget high. You can book, track, and manage your shipment with full control on your supply chain with our single dashboard.