Express Shipping from China to the US


This guide is here to answer all your questions as it relates to using express shipping from China to the US. It covers everything from its advantages and disadvantages, carrier options, and when it might be the best shipment option for you.


Table of Contents

What is Express Shipping from China?

Express Shipping from China Involves using a major international courier, like UPS, DHL, or FEDEX who handles all:

  • Shipping arrangements
  • Logistics
  • Documentation
  • Customs Clearance
  • Door-to-door service

Express shipping companies are all very similar, and because these international companies have strong resources in virtually every country, they allow for incredibly simple solutions to move parcels, while relying on their own internal networks. 

DHL, FedEx, and UPS all have their own cargo planes and trucks capable of efficiently picking up cargo from anywhere, and hand-delivering it to the final destination.

 While these services are incredibly simple for shippers to use, the cost is something that needs to be factored in, as these services are not the cheapest option when shipping from China to the US.  

How Long Does Express Shipping Take from China to the US?

Air express shipping from China to the US, in general, can take between 1-3 days, and at times, up to 5 days, when factoring in hazardous products that might require unique routes. 

Each international courier offers its own service, and while each forwarding company has its own preferences, DHL, FedEx, and UPS offer very similar shipping services. Which you choose will depend on your product, load, and timing requirements.

China Express Carrier Options

Now let’s look into a bit more details about the various options when choosing to ship your goods via China Express to the USA.

FedEx International Priority & International Economy

FedEx offers two primary services when shipping internationally, the priority service focuses on speed, and its economy services focuses on savings. 

With International Priority, nicknamed IP, FedEx can ship customers products from China to the US in 1-3 business days. If you are shipping over a weekend, there is a chance the days will not be counted, as FedEx only ships during Saturdays in some regions of the US, and not all. IP is the highest priced product FedEx offers. 

For a slightly lower cost service, FedEx also offers its International Economy or IE service. Customers shipping via IE can have their cargo arrive in as little as three days, but at times up to 10 days, as this type of shipment is not prioritized.

It is worth noting that FedEx does not ship lithium-ion batteries, so any cargo containing batteries must be shipped using alternative services, such as DHL and UPS. 

UPS Worldwide Expedited

UPS offers an international courier service called UPS Worldwide Expedited, which can ship from China to 220 countries worldwide. 

This service takes approximately 2-5 business days and includes door to door service. 

UPS handles all customs clearance,  and in our opinion, does a better job fulfilling larger cargo shipments than both FedEx and DHK, which we’ll detail next. 

DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express 12:00, & DHL Express 10:30

DHL offers three products to customers shipping from China to the US. 

DHL Express Worldwide is its standard express shipping service and the service that most forwarders will quote when customers request DHL to ship their cargo via express mail. This method is ideal for smaller shipments, and DHL tries to deliver this cargo by the next business day. When shipping from China to the USA, this usually means that it takes two days for cargo to arrive, however, results vary by 2-4 days on average. 

DHL Express 12:00 is a service that allows for time-sensitive shipments to arrive the next day, before 12:00 noon, whenever possible. These shipments are usually prioritized the same way DHL Express Worldwide is prioritized, however, once the shipment arrives in the US, it is expedited to arrive at the destination before noon. 

DHL Express 10:30 is a service for the most urgent shipments. This service is set up to allow for shipments to arrive by the next day, before 10:30 AM. This cargo is often prioritized immediately, once it arrives at any of the DHL’s warehouses in China. 

Bear in mind, Coronavirus continues to impact shipments from China. We recommend contacting us for an updated quote anytime you are shipping products from China.

When to Select Express Shipping from China

Express shipments from China should only be considered when speed is a primary factor. Because the services are much more expensive than other forms of shipments, shippers should look to express as a last resort when shipping medium to high volume. For small shipments, less than 150 kilograms, samples, and documents, express is a worthy consideration.

While we like to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various express courier services, for most shipments, any of the big three can offer a reliable service for your cargo. To assist in the decision making, we suggest avoiding the consideration of which company to use, as most freight forwarding companies will suggest the service they believe is the most ideal for your shipment. Once they offer their suggestion, the brand decision ultimately comes down to which offers the lowest rate. 

When you are unsure if you should be using express or another form of shipping, it is best to compare express service as a whole with other forms of shipping, such as air freight and LCL sea freight shipments.  Below, we will discuss when it would be advantageous to use this service, and when it would be preferable to use China sea freight or China air freight.

Advantages of Express Shipping

Air express is excellent for product samples and documents. If a shipment weighs under 150 kilos such as; 

  • Small trial orders;
  • High-value electronics; 
  • Drip shipments to Amazon FBA to ensure listings don’t go out of stock;
  • Small quantity, lightweight products;

Air express can be considered as one of the shipping options. 

Disadvantages of Express Shipping

The disadvantages of air express are often greater than the advantages when urgency is not the priority. 

Express is not intended to move large volume cargo. Instead, it offers a streamlined service for small-sized shipments that otherwise would not be worthy of shipping via sea or air cargo. Express shipping companies focus on shipping a lot of small products, for a lot of different customers. In order for them to stay true to this service offering, they make it inconvenient and expensive for large volume shipments.  

Anytime large volume shipments need to be shipped via express, considerations need to be made. Some express shipping methods don’t allow for palletized cargo or have a weight limit. 

For example, DHL only allows for a maximum weight of 30 kilograms for their DHL Express 10:30 service. As a general rule, we often consider shipments greater than 150 kilograms to be too heavy to express.  

Likewise, dangerous goods almost always need special compliance and safety documentation. However, when potentially dangerous cargo is shipped via air express, the compliance standards are more strict. One reason for this is that sometimes shipments are loaded into the cargo holds of commercial passenger planes. Commercial airline regulation restricts a lot of cargo that could be hazardous from being transported inside passenger airplanes. 

Some examples of restricted cargo are; 

  • Any kind of explosives, such as fireworks, gunpowder, and detonating fuses
  • Any kind of gas, such as gasoline, lighter fluid, fire extinguishers, and any type of aerosol can
  • Pesticides and other toxic chemicals
  • Lithium-ion batteries – depending on the carrier 
  • Any other products which could be considered a safety threat

How Much Does Air Express from China to the USA cost?

Typically, you can ballpark the cost of using a courier service to ship goods from China to the United States at about $5 per kilogram pre-COVID-19, and up to $8 per kilogram during COVID-19.

The difficulty with express shipping companies is the rates they quote to you are significantly higher than what they would quote directly to a China freight forwarder, like Guided Imports because we have a high-volume agreement with these companies. And because our agreement was made in China, our rates are usually much more competitive than those a US-based freight forwarder would be able to offer.

For example, if a US-based freight forwarder applied for preferential rates, even if their shipping volume was significantly higher than a logistics company with offices in China, the rates would be based on the region of the account. Since the cost of labor is higher in the US than in China, freight forwarders with their operations stateside are at a huge disadvantage. And so are you, if you chose to move your products from China to the US using a US-based freight forwarder.

At Guided Imports, we take full advantage of this and rely on our registered company in China to ensure our express rates are the lowest on the market. We then pass those savings on to our customers. While we can confidently say our express rates are some of the lowest in the industry, it does not mean that shipping via express becomes a viable alternative to larger shipments.  

You can learn more about the cost of express vs. sea vs. air shipments by visiting our detailed article on Shipping Costs from China to the USA.

What are the Best Air Express Shipping Companies in China?

With over 20 reliable courier companies serving customers wishing to ship goods quickly from China to the US, the best carrier is honestly the one who can meet your timeline and budget, while still getting goods to you safely. 

At Guided Imports, we typically recommend:

DHL  (

  • We find DHL to be the fastest solution and ideal for sending documents and very small parcels. While some assume DHL is always the most expensive, we find their service to be consistent and their price to be comparable. 


  • UPS is ideal when customers need to ship larger sized cargo via air express. Their pricing for larger volume is the lowest, and their end-to-end service is seamless. 

FedEx (

  • FedEx used to be a strong contender for shipments from China, however, their rates have increased over the years, and today we consider them to be the most expensive of the three. The benefit of FedEx is that they tend to have special rates at certain times of the year, which can make them the cheapest option, but these rates are inconsistent. At Guided Imports, when FedEx does not offer special rates, we always consider them to be our third option. 

Get an Air Express Shipping Quote from China

If you have an air express shipment you need to be sent from China to the US, feel free to contact us directly to get a quote. Remember, as a China-based freight forwarder, Guided Imports will typically be able to offer better rates than you or a US-based freight forwarder can offer. Our team will respond within 24 hours, excluding weekends, and best of all, we offer a best-rate guarantee. 

Click the blue link to get a shipping quote from China now.