Shipping from China to Germany


This guide was written to by the team at Guided Imports to provide you clarity on your options when shipping from China to Germany as an importer. We’ll cover shipment methods, timing and costs. Keep reading to learn why we’ve rapidly become the preferred shipping agent from China for retail, high-growth e-commerce brands, and FBA.


Table of Contents

What is the best way to ship from China to Germany?

The best way to ship between China and Germany will depend on a number of factors:

  • The type of goods you are shipping
  • How quickly you need your goods
  • The load of your goods (size and weight)
  • And your budget

Depending upon your unique requirements, importers have various shipment options to consider when shipping from China to Germany, including

  • Air Express
  • Air Freight
  • Rail Freight
  • Sea Freight

As its name implies, Air Express is your fastest option when shipping from China to Germany, and sea freight is the slowest transport method for importers. Regardless of which method you chose, the absolute best way to ship goods between China and Germany is to use a reliable and reputable China Freight Forwarder like Guided Imports. 


Our rates with carriers have been negotiated for the Chinese market, making them considerably lower than what our European competitors offer, and we pass these savings on to you. And because of our logistical expertise in shipping goods from China, we’re experts at finding the most cost-effective routes.

Now we’ll cover each shipping method in more detail. 

Express Shipping from China to Germany

When you need your goods fast, Express shipping is your best option for shipping between China and Germany. 

Express shipping involves the transport of goods by popular global couriers like DHL, FedEx, and UPS. Not only do they handle all logistics and transport, but express shipping is also an “all-included” and “door-to-door” service, meaning once your order is placed, the courier will handle every last detail of shipment, including customs clearance until your products arrive at their designated delivery address. There are never any additional costs when using express shipping, unlike with other forms of transport detailed in this article.

That being said, all of this speed and convenience does come at a significant cost when compared to other shipment methods, especially for loads under 200 kilos. This is why we only recommend express shipping in the event you are shipping something very small, like product samples, or you need your goods extremely fast.

Even when you’re using air express, you’ll want to use a freight forwarder rather than book directly with the couriers themselves.


Because freight forwarders get exclusive high-volume rates from global couriers, which means you pay far less than if you contracted the courier yourself.

How long does express shipping take from China to Germany?

Express shipping from China to Germany can run anywhere from 1-4 days, with costs increasing with the speed of delivery.

How much does express shipping cost from China to Germany?

Bigger loads are more economical when using express shipping from China to Germany. Consult the table for a snapshot of this month’s rates.

Less than 10 kg (↓LOW↓)Less than 10 kg (↑HIGH↑)Less than 100 kg (↓LOW↓)Less than 100 kg (↑HIGH↑)Less than 200 kg (↓LOW↓)Less than 200 kg (↑HIGH↑)300-500 kg (↓LOW↓)300-500 kg (↑HIGH↑)

Air Freight from China to Germany

If you need your goods quickly and use a freight forwarder, China Air Freight is a great alternative to express shipping but you’ll need to keep a couple of important details in mind. 

Airfreight isn’t a door-to-door service, and it’s also not “all-included”, so there will be both additional work and fees for logistics to and from airports, and for customs clearance in Germany. That being said, those fees will total less than what you would pay for express shipping, and the work would be managed by the freight forwarder if you use our China Door-to-Door service, making air freight a great alternative to express shipping.

As with express, the best rates for air freight are on loads between 300-500 kilos.

How Long Does Air Freight Take from China to Germany?

Airfreight shipments take a few days longer than express because the goods won’t move as quickly to/from airports, and will be held a day or two longer in customs. Average transit times are roughly 5-8 days port-to-port, or 6-13 days door-to-door.

How much Does Air Freight Cost from China to Germany?

Airfreight costs are volatile and will depend upon current demand, season, and the type of load being shipped. Current air freight rates from China to Germany as of March 2021 are in the table below for your reference.

45kg (↓LOW↓)45kg (↑HIGH↑)100kg (↓LOW↓)100kg (↑HIGH↑)200kg (↓LOW↓)200kg (↑HIGH↑)300kg (↓LOW↓)300kg (↑HIGH↑)

Airports with Air Cargo Service to Germany from China

  • Beijing
  • Chengdu
  • Guangzhou
  • Hong Kong
  • Shenzhen
  • Shanghai
  • Hangzhou
  • Xian
  • Xiamen
  • Qingdao
  • Wuhan
  • Tianjin


Airports in Germany that Receive Air Cargo from China

  • Frankfurt
  • Dusseldorf
  • Berlin Tegel
  • Hamburg
  • Munich
  • Coln/Bonn
  • Berlin Schonefeld
  • Stuttgart


Rail Freight from China to Germany

Surprisingly for most importers, rail freight can be a great option for importers moving goods from China to Germany because transit times are faster than sea freight, and when the right conditions are met, at a lower cost too. That condition is that goods must be containerized to take advantage of rail freight, so it’s not an option for anyone doing less than container load orders. This makes rail shipping from China ideal for bulk goods, dry goods, liquids goods, and machinery.

With several train hubs available in both China and Germany, consider using rail freight if you don’t need your goods incredibly fast, or if air freight is too costly.

How Long Does Rail Freight Take from China to Germany?

Rail transit times from China to Germany hub-to-hub take about 13-14 days and door-to-door approximately 16-18 days.

How Much Does a Rail Freight Container Cost from China to Germany?

A container from China to Germany by rail freight averages $13,500 as of March 2021.

Chinese Rail Hubs that Service Germany

Rail shipments from China to Germany originate in the cities of:

  • Chongqing
  • HeFei
  • Xi’an

German Rail Hubs with Service from China

Rail shipments from China to Germany arrive in the German cities of

  • Duisburg
  • Hamburg
  • Munich


Sea Freight from China to Germany

Sea freight is by far the most popular shipment method when shipping from China to Germany for importers. 

While it is not as fast as the other shipment methods detailed in this article, it is more economical and offers far more flexibility in terms of the types of goods you can ship, the types of loads you can send, and the shipping routes that can be taken. 

When shipping via sea freight from China to Germany, two options exist LCL and FCL. We’ll detail what those mean, how long it takes, and how much it costs next.

LCL from China to Germany

LCL shipments are “less than container load” shipments. During an LCL shipment your goods are packed into a shared container along with those of other importers. This makes LCL shipments ideal for shipments between 1-15 cubic meters.

FCL from China to Germany

FCL shipments are “full container load” shipments. During an FCL shipment, your goods are packed into their own container making it ideal for shipments from China to Germany in excess of 15 cubic meters.

Various container load options exist for FCL shipments from China to Germany, including:


How Long Does Sea Freight Take from China to Germany?

Sea freight shipments from China to Germany are the slowest of all transport methods, ranging anywhere from 25-41 days port-to-port, and 41-47 days door-to-door.

The transit time is impacted by several variables:

  • The distance from your supplier to the port of destination
  • The shipping route selected
  • Whether you are shipping FCL or LCL
  • And your incoterms

What follows is a table you can reference for shipping times between some of the highest volume routes between China and Germany.

Shipping from Shanghai (CNSHA Port)

Shipping from Ningbo

(CNNGB Port)

Shipping from Shenzhen (CNSZX Port)


18-22 days

18-22 days

19-23 days


18-22 days

18-22 days

19-23 days


18-21 days

18-22 days

19-23 days

These rates are port-to-port shipping averages for a load of 200 kg/1 cbm.

How Much Does a Container Cost to Ship from China to Germany?

Container shipping costs from China to Germany will depend on the date, route, incoterms, and type of container being shipped. Below are the average costs for the time of writing (March 2021).

Container shipping rates from China to Germany: 40’ container

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)

The quotes on this table are port-to-port peak season FCL shipping average rates.

How Much Does LCL Cost from China to Germany?

The current LCL (March 2021) shipping rates from China to Germany are:

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)

These rates are port-to-port shipping averages for a load of 200 kg/1 cbm.

FBA Shipping to Germany

Do you need to get your goods shipped from China to an Amazon FBA warehouse in Germany? Guided Imports are leaders in shipping to Amazon FBA from China, and can handle all logistics, consolidation, inspections, labeling, repackaging, and shipping. 

Door to Door Shipping to Germany

Regardless of whether you use air, rail, or sea freight, Guided Imports offers all of its customers the option to have their goods shipped door to door. This means you won’t be responsible for arranging any logistics, documentation, or clearing customs. 

German Import Requirements from China

Germany has a number of import requirements for China importers, including a large list of prohibited items, required documentation, and duties and taxes due upon arrival to customs in Germany. Keep reading to learn more about these requirements. 

Documentation Requirements for Importing to Germany from China

All imports arriving from China to Germany must include the following documentation:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Customs Value Declaration
  • Customs Import Declaration
  • Letter of Credit
  • Packing List
  • Proof of Insurance

If you need assistance gathering the required documentation, check out our customs clearance services.

German Import Taxes and Duties

German customs collect import taxes and duties for all goods shipped into the country from outside the European Union, including China. Exactly what you will pay will depend upon the type of items shipped, with most items taxed at 19%, with the exception of agricultural products which are taxed at 19%. 

The exact tax and duties due will depend upon the TARIC code (the Integrated Tariff of the European Community). You can find more information about these fees here.  

How to Ship from China to Germany

Step 1: Contact a freight forwarder based in China

Take advantage of our high-volume rates and leverage our logistical expertise.

Step 2: Get a shipping quote from China

Understand your options based on your budget, timing requirements, and the product type and load you are sending.

Step 3: Get China freight insurance

It’s affordable and the best way to insure against catastrophic loss.

Step 4: Arrange Customs Clearance 

Our team is happy to inform you about and arrange customs clearance on your behalf.

Useful Links

  1. China Customs
  2. German Customs

Why Guided Imports

The team at Guided Imports has over 30 years of experience importing products from China to Germany, and we handle hundreds of shipments for our customs each and every month. 

What sets us apart from our competitors is our unique combination of:

  • Consistently delivering on-time and stress-free
  • Our logistical expertise
  • Our ability to use multi-modal transport to decrease your costs
  • Our high-volume rates negotiated for the Chinese market; savings which we pass on to you
  • Our European and American managed operations; so there is never any cultural confusion


To get started working with Guided Imports on your next shipment from China to Germany, simply get a China shipping quote, or feel free to contact us in the event you have any questions.

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