Shipping from China to South Africa

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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 South Africa. It covers everything from common shipment methods, timing, and costs. Keep reading to learn why we’ve rapidly become the preferred shipping agent 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 South Africa?

The best way to ship manufactured products from China to South Africa will depend on four critical factors:

  • What types of goods you are shipping
  • The size and weight (or load) of those goods
  • Your timing requirements
  • And of course, your budget
 

Depending on your above requirements, South African Importers manufacturing goods in China have several shipping methods available to them, including:

  • Air express
  • Airfreight
  • and sea freight
 

Regardless of the method chosen, the cheapest way to move those goods will always be by contracting a China Freight Forwarder like Guided Imports. Our rates are pegged for the Chinese market, meaning they’re usually far below what a South African freight forwarder would be able to quote. And, our logistical expertise in all things Chinese means we can usually find more cost-effective routes than our competitors. Best of all, we offer a best rate guarantee when you get a shipping quote from China.

Keep reading to learn more about shipping options from China to South Africa.

Express Shipping from China to South Africa

China Express Shipping is the fastest option when shipping manufactured goods from China to South Africa. It is also the most costly.

Provided by major global couriers like UPS, DHL, and FedEx, express shipping is a door-to-door service with all costs included. This means logistics from your factory to the departure airport are included in the cost, in addition to customs clearance in South Africa, and logistics from the arrival airport all the way to the final destination.

As we’ve mentioned already, this convenience does come at a significant cost. Especially for loads under 200 kilograms. So we recommend you only use Express Shipping for very small shipments, like receiving samples from your supplier, or when getting your goods to the final destination is extremely urgent.

How long does express shipping take from China to South Africa?

Express shipments between China and South Africa typically take anywhere from 2-6 days, door-to-door, and the cost increases depending on just how quickly you want your goods sent.

How much does express shipping cost from China to South Africa?

Express shipment rates vary depending upon the speed and load (size and weight) of your shipment, with larger loads being more economical. 

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↑)
R174.19R225.00R156.77R214.84R156.77R214.84R156.77R214.84

 

Air Freight from China to South Africa

China Air Freight is a cost effective alternative to express shipping when you need your goods quickly, but it’s important to remember that air freight quotes are typically not door-to-door as they are with couriers. This means you will be responsible for managing transportation of our goods from your supplier to the airport in China, customs clearance and any duties owed in South Africa, in addition to transportation from the airport in South Africa to the final destination. This additional logistical work means that air freight shipments from China to South Africa typically take a day or two longer than air express.

As with air express, air freight shipments offer the best rate per kilo when loads are heaviest, typically somewhere between 300-500 kilos. But it’s still a viable alternative at lower loads when you need your goods quickly, as sea freight shipments take at least three times longer. 

You should consider air freight when you need your goods quickly, and a best rates are at higher loads, typically between 300-500 kilograms. 

How Long Does Air Freight Take from China to South Africa?

Shipments via air freight between China and South Africa typically take anywhere from 2-7 days, not including the additional time required to transport goods from the departure and arrival airports in the respective countries.

How much Does Air Freight Cost from China to South Africa?

Air freight costs from China to South Africa can vary greatly depending upon demand, the season, and the load being shipped.  We’ve included a table below that will give you a general idea of current rates as of the time of writing (2021). 

45kg (↓LOW↓)45kg (↑HIGH↑)100kg (↓LOW↓)100kg (↑HIGH↑)200kg (↓LOW↓)200kg (↑HIGH↑)300kg (↓LOW↓)300kg (↑HIGH↑)
R153.87R163.31R72.58R111.19R72.58R111.19R72.58R111.19

 

Sea Freight from China to South Africa

China Sea Freight is the third and most economical shipment option for importers who need to move goods from China to South Africa. It is also the slowest when compared to express and air freight. 

This makes sea freight the preferred shipping method when:

  • Timing is not the most important requirement
  • Loads are heavy and large
  • And express or air freight is not within your budget

Sea freight also has various options available to the importer, including LCL and FCL shipments. We’ll cover what this means and what’s involved next.

LCL from China to South Africa

LCL stands for “Less than Container Load” shipments. During an LCL shipment, your goods are packed into a container along with other importers’ goods. 

LCL shipments to South Africa are ideal when the volume of goods being shipped is roughly 1-15 cubic meters, and with the exception of very small loads, LCL shipments are more economical than air freight.

FCL from China to South Africa

FCL stands for “Full Container Load” shipments. During an FCL shipment, your goods are packed and shipped into their own container.

FCL shipments to South Africa are ideal when the volume of goods is in excess of 15 cubic meters. A various container sizing options are available for these shipments, including:

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How Long Does Sea Freight Take from China to South Africa?

Sea freight shipments between China and South Africa average anywhere from 20-26 days. A number of factors like the port of origin in China and destination port in South Africa will effective exactly how long the shipment will take, in addition to whether the shipment is LCL or FCL, and lastly, whether your incoterms are port-to-port or door-to-door.

Below, we’ve created a table you can reference which shows you average shipping times from China to South Africa, depending upon the port of origin and destination port.

Shipping from Shanghai (CNSHA Port)

Shipping from Ningbo

(CNNGB Port)


Shipping from Shenzhen (CNSZX Port)

Durban

20-22 days

22-24 days

23-28 days

East London

25-31 days

25-31 days

23-28 days

Ngqura

26-31 days

26-31 days

24-28 days

Port Elizabeth

26-31 days

26-31 days

24-28 days

Mossel Bay

27-32 days

27-32 days

24-29 days

Cape Town

25-30 days

27-33 days

24-26 days

Saldanha

27-33 days

27-33 days

25-30 days

How Much Does a Container Cost from China to South Africa?

Container shipping costs from China to South Africa will depend on your incoterms and the route used. Here are the average costs as of the time of writing (2021).

Container shipping rates from China to South Africa: 40’ container

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)
DurbanR74,031.60R79,838.00R74,031.60R79,838.00R74,031.60R79,838.00
Port ElizabethR78,386.40R82,741.20R78,386.40R82,741.20R78,386.40R82,741.20
Cape TownR76,934.80R84,192.80R76,934.80R84,192.80R76,934.80R84,192.80

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

How Much Does LCL Cost from China to South Africa?

View sample pricing for some of the more popular shipping LCL shipping routes from China to South Africa.

Shanghai (↓LOW↓)Shanghai (↑HIGH↑)Ningbo (↓LOW↓)Ningbo (↑HIGH↑)Shenzhen (↓LOW↓)Shenzhen (↑HIGH↑)
SingaporeS$52.72S$79.08S$59.31S$79.08S$39.54S$52.72

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

 

How to Ship from China to South Africa

Step 1: 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. South African Customs

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