Shipping from China to India

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Written by the team at Guided Imports, this guide is here to answer all your questions as it relates to shipping from China to India. It covers everything from common 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.

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Table of Contents

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

The best way to ship from China to India depends on several critical factors:

  • How fast you need your goods in India
  • The type of goods you need to ship
  • The size and weight (or load) of your goods
  • And your budget

Depending on your above requirements, Indian importers will find that one of the following options works best:

  • Express shipping
  • Air Freight
  • Sea Freight
  • Rail Freight
  • or Road Freight
 

Regardless of the shipment method chosen, the cheapest way to ship goods between China and India is to use a China Freight Forwarder like Guided Imports. 

Why? Because we are able to pass-on our high-volume rates negotiated for the Chinese market to all of our Indian customers. And these rates are typically far lower than you would receive from a competitor outside of China.

Keep reading to learn more about the various China shipping options to India.  

Express Shipping from China to India

Express shipping between China and India is managed by major global couriers like DHL, FedEx, and UPS. And as its name sounds, express shipping is normally the fastest way to move goods between the two countries. 

Besides its speed, express shipping from China to India has several key benefits, including the fact that it’s:

  • faster than all other shipping methods
  • a door-to-door service, which means you won’t be responsible for any additional logistics, like getting your goods to/from airports
  • And costs are “all-included”, which means the price quoted includes everything from logistics, customs clearance, and any duties that may be due upon arrival in India

That being said, all this convenience does come at an added cost, making Express Shipping the most expensive and least commonly used shipping method for Indian companies importing from China. 

At Guided Imports, we recommend that our Indian customs only use Express Shipping for the following situations:

  • when you want to order samples from a supplier in China
  • when you need your goods incredibly fast
  • and/or when the load exceeds 200 kilos, where the rates are more favorable

If these scenarios aren’t relevant to you, then one of the shipping methods detailed later in this article is probably a better option.   

How long does express shipping take from China to India?

Typically, express shipments between China and India can take anywhere from 3-6 days, although delays have been reported whenever border skirmishes between the two countries arise. And due to these backlogs, several couriers have recently decided only to transport the most high-value items. If you’re unsure whether your goods qualify, feel free to contact us for help.

How much does express shipping cost from China to India?

Express shipping rates between China and India are based on load, with larger shipments offering more favorable costs per kilo. You can consult the table that follows for a snapshot of this month’s (Feb 2021) current 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↑)
₹ 752.65₹ 1,056.60₹ 419.75₹ 658.57₹ 419.75₹ 658.57₹ 419.75₹ 658.57

 

Air Freight from China to India

China Air Freight is the second fastest option for importers wishing to move their goods between China and India. Yet, there are important considerations to keep in mind that make it different from express shipping, namely:

1. Air freight is not a door-to-door service. This means you will be responsible for organizing transportation of your goods to/from the respective airports in China and India.

and

2. Air freight costs are not “all-included”, which means you will be responsible for covering the cost of logistics to/from airports, in addition to any importing fees and duties that will need to be paid on your goods to Indian Customs agents.

How Long Does Air Freight Take from China to India?

Airfreight shipments between China and India typically take anywhere from 2-6 days.

How much Does Air Freight Cost from China to India?

Airfreight costs are highly volatile and can vary greatly depending upon the season, current demand, and the load being shipped. We’ve included the current rates (Feb 2021) in the table below for your reference.

45kg (↓LOW↓)45kg (↑HIGH↑)100kg (↓LOW↓)100kg (↑HIGH↑)200kg (↓LOW↓)200kg (↑HIGH↑)300kg (↓LOW↓)300kg (↑HIGH↑)
₹ 405.27₹ 434.22₹ 316.98₹ 350.99₹ 316.98₹ 350.99₹ 293.82₹ 327.84

Sea Freight from China to India

China Sea Freight is the most common method for shipping goods between China and India, due to its reliability and cost. 

While sea freight shipments between the two countries take considerably longer than air, rail, or road, it is also a much more cost-effective solution than all of the other alternatives. 

Likewise, sea freight is also much more reliable than road freight, due to poor road conditions in India, which often cause road freight shipments to face delays. 

That’s why we typically recommend sea freight to all of our Indian customers for whom air freight is not a viable alternative. 

This makes sea freight the best option when:

  • Airfreight and express shipping are beyond your budget
  • You don’t need your goods urgently
  • Or you are shipping very large loads

Various options are available when shipping via sea freight, including LCL and FCL shipments, which we’ll cover next.

LCL from China to India

An LCL shipment stands for “less than container load”. During an LCL shipment from China to India, your goods are packed inside a container along with the goods of other Indian importers. LCL shipments to India are ideal when the volume of goods is between 1-15 cubic meters. Larger loads are better suited to FCL shipments, which we’ll detail next.

FCL from China to India

An FCL shipment stands for “full container load”. When making an FCL shipment, your goods are packed into their own container, minimizing the opportunity for damage. FCL shipments between China and India are idea when the volume of goods being shipped exceeds 15 cubic meters, and various sizing options are available, including:

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How Long Does Sea Freight Take from China to India?

Sea freight shipments from China to India typically range between 14-24 days. The exact transit time will depend upon the departure port in China and arrival port in India, whether your shipment is FCL or LCL, and whether your goods are being shipped port-to-port or door-to-door. You can reference the table below which details the average transit time between China and India’s most popular ports. 

Shipping from Shanghai (CNSHA Port)

Shipping from Ningbo

(CNNGB Port)


Shipping from Shenzhen (CNSZX Port)

JNPT

12-14 days

15-18 days

16-20 days

Mumbai

12-14 days

15-18 days

16-20 days

Visakhapatnam

14-16 days

16-18 days

20-27 days

Chennai

10-14 days

13-20 days

15-18 days

Kolkata

19-25 days

25-30 days

22-28 days

Mangalore

19-25 days

20-25 days

23-27 days

Tuticorin

17-20 days

20-25 days

22-29 days

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

FCL or container shipping costs from China to India will vary depending upon your incoterms, the route used, and the type of container being shipped. Below you can reference the current average costs (Feb 2021).

Container shipping rates from China to India: 40’ container

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)
Kandla₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00
JNPT₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00
Mumbai₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00
Visakhapatnam₹ 253,295.00₹ 289,480.00₹ 253,295.00₹ 289,480.00₹ 253,295.00₹ 289,480.00
Chennai₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00₹ 231,584.00₹ 260,532.00
Kolkata₹ 289,480.00₹ 303,954.00₹ 289,480.00₹ 303,954.00₹ 289,480.00₹ 303,954.00
Mangalore₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00₹ 296,717.00₹ 318,428.00
Tuticorin₹ 282,243.00₹ 303,954.00₹ 282,243.00₹ 303,954.00₹ 282,243.00₹ 303,954.00

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

How Much Does LCL Cost from China to India?

View current (Feb 2021) sample pricing for some of the more popular shipping LCL shipping routes from China to India.

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)
JNPT₹ 7,237.00₹ 8,684.40₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40₹ 6,513.30₹ 8,322.55
Mumbai₹ 7,237.00₹ 8,684.40₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40₹ 6,513.30₹ 8,322.55
Chennai₹ 4,342.20₹ 5,789.60₹ 4,704.05₹ 5,789.60₹ 3,618.50₹ 5,427.75
Kolkata₹ 7,237.00₹ 8,684.40₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40₹ 6,513.30₹ 8,322.55
Mangalore₹ 7,237.00₹ 8,684.40₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40₹ 6,513.30₹ 8,322.55
Tuticorin₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40₹ 8,684.40₹ 10,131.80₹ 7,598.85₹ 8,684.40

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

 

Rail Freight from China to India

Rail freight is the third-fastest shipping option between China and India, with goods arriving considerably faster than via sea freight but slower than both express and air freight. 

That being said, rail freight rates between China and India are quite high. Generally, rail freight is only a good alternative if you are shipping at least 2CBM and your supplier is located close to a rail line, otherwise, we typically recommend you use sea freight instead.

As with air freight, it’s important to remember that rail freight between China and India is:

  • Not a door-to-door service, so you will need to arrange transportation to/from the railway station in China and India
  • Costs are not all included with rail freight to India, which means you will be responsible for paying for transportation to/from the railway station in each country, in addition to covering any import duties and fees required on arrival to India 

How Long Does Rail Freight Take from China to India?

Rail freight between China and India takes anywhere from 11-16 days, depending upon where exactly the goods are being shipped from in China, and their final destination in India. 

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Container by Rail Freight from China to India?

 As we’ve already mentioned, rail freight between China and India is more expensive than sea freight, while offering only modest improvements in speed for the vast majority of shippers. That’s why we typically recommend Indian importers use sea freight instead. Below are current freight rates (Feb 2021) for a 40’ container from China to India. 

Road Freight from China to India

The fifth, and final, transport method available to Indian companies importing from China is road freight. Yet, due to its extremely low reliability and relatively high costs, we almost never recommend this option.

Due to poor road conditions in India, road freight shipments often take far longer than the route would suggest. In fact, actual road freight transit times so rarely align with the quotes provided, we don’t even think it’s prudent to provide you with a table of transit times, as we have with other modes of transportation between China and India. 

Not to worry! 

Given the vast majority of suppliers in China are located next to major airports or seaports, road freight is very rarely a great option. As with rail freight, the rare exception would be to use road freight for relatively short trips, for example, Kunming to Kolkata. Otherwise, sea freight is always a better option.

How to Ship from China to India

Step 1: Choose your transit method

Remember, Indian importers have five options available, including express, air, sea, rail, and road freight.

Step 2: Contact a Freight Forwarder Based in China

Leverage our logistical expertise and high-volume rates. 

Step 2: Get a shipping quote from China

We’ll inform you of your options, depending on your budget, speed, and load requirements.

Step 3: Get China freight insurance

Avoid catastrophic loss. It’s affordable and the best way to protect your investment.

Step 4: Arrange Customs Clearance

At Guided Imports, we’re happy to assist with any arrangements you might need.

Useful Links

  1. China Customs
  2. India Customs

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