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Guide to Types and Prices of Sea Freight Containers from China

Some traders are afraid of the shipping process when importing from China, because of the difficulties and challenges at the stage and because they think that the matter is out of their control at this stage, but the reality is different, so the process can be controlled to a large extent with a set of simple steps.

In this guide, we will help you prepare for the shipping stage from China to your country, and introduce you to the types and sizes of shipping containers, then the types of sea freight, then sea freight rates from China and its cases, all the way to your acquaintance with the most important shipping ports in China and the most important terms of international trade.

At the end of this article, you will become a shipping expert, so let’s start with the types of containers.

Guide to Types and Prices of Sea Freight Containers from China

Types and sizes of sea freight containers

Shipping containers are one of the most important elements of sea freight, because they are the tool through which you will transport your goods from the country of import to your country.

In this axis, we will introduce you to the most common types of shipping containers and learn about their sizes and uses.

20ft and 40ft dry containers

You can use the dry container to transport dry goods, as it is airtight, hard, but not suitable for transporting food or chemicals. The dry container is 20-foot 6 meters long, about 2.5 meters wide, and holds 28 (CBM).

A 40-foot dry container is 12 meters long and 2.5 meters wide, and each 40-foot container can accommodate 56 (CBM).

Learn more: 20ft and 40ft Container Dimensions

40ft or 45ft High Rise High Cube (40′High Cube) container

You can use this type of container if your goods are many and of high height. Because this container is about 8 cubic meters higher than a regular 40-foot dry container or slightly more if it is 45 feet, the weight of the goods it accommodates is between 68 to 78 (CBM).

Learn more: 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC Shipping Containers Guide

20ft and 40ft open roof containers

You can use open-roof containers to ship large goods, and these containers tend to have a large capacity because they are not constrained by a roof. It has the same dry container lengths but a 20-foot flat container holds up to 32.5 (CBM), and a 40-foot container holds up to 62 (CBM).

20ft and 40ft refrigerated containers

You can use this type of container if your goods are sensitive to heat, such as meat and fruits, as they are equipped with a refrigerated device that ensures that the cold is kept at a certain level. And it can withstand the same load as the dry container.

Shipping methods from China: FCL and LCL

Sea freight is divided into two main types, you need to know them accurately and be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these two types to be able to determine the most suitable price for your shipment.

The Meaning Of LCL VS FCL Shipping, The Differences And How To Choose

Shipping methods from China: FCL and LCL

Total shipping (Full container load, FCL)

In this type you can use a full container to ship your goods from China to your country. With the possibility of choosing the appropriate container type for the type of your goods. You can use this type of shipping when the weight of your goods exceeds 20 (CBM) or more.

This type of charging is more expensive than the second type “partial charging”. However, it has several features that you can take advantage of:

  • You can load your goods into the container directly from the supplier’s warehouse or factory without having to transport them to the ship’s port, and then load into the container.
  • Ensure that the container starting from the vendor warehouse is closed and not opened until it reaches the port of access specified by you.
  • The container can be transported in multiple ways, you can ship it by sea and then complete the journey by land easily without fear of losing the goods by transport or unloading because the container will only be opened at the agreed delivery place.

Partial charging or (less than container load,LCL)

In this type you can rely on a specific part of the shipping container, which will be used by a group of importers, including you, to ship goods jointly.

Shared containers are used when your goods are not enough to fill an entire container, or if the volume of goods is less than 20 (CBM). This type of shipping is cheaper than the former.

Among the most important partial charging features that you can take advantage of is the following:

  • This type of shipping is useful for you in shipping your goods on seasonal or peak days, as you only need a specific part of the shipping container, and therefore you can ship your goods with any other importer by agreement between you, and this will be the task of the shipping company that secures you a place in a common container.
  • Partial shipping helps you save on shipping costs, instead of paying for renting an entire container, you will pay for a specific place in the container.

Now that you know the types of containers and the types of sea freight you can adopt, let’s say when you should rely on sea freight instead of air and land.

Why choose sea shipping from China to your country?

If you are one of the importers who prefer to rely on sea freight, but you do not know the optimal cases for adopting this type of shipping, here are the most important cases in which it is preferable to rely on sea freight instead of other types of shipping.

When the distances are far or there is no land border between you and the country from which you are importing

In this case, sea freight helps you transport your goods safely and at a much lower cost than your use of air freight.

For example, John, an Australian importer, contacted a sportswear supplier in China, and because there was no land border between the two countries, John asked the Chinese supplier to ship the goods by sea freight.

When the goods are liquid or dangerous

Often, for aircraft safety reasons, liquid cargo cannot be shipped by weather, and even goods that can be affected by atmospheric pressure factors such as some chemical products such as: (cosmetics).

So if your imported goods are oils, creams, or a type of power battery, you will definitely use sea freight to transport them to your country.

When your goods are of large size

Sea freight containers can accommodate the largest shipments, goods and products of all kinds, due to the variety of sizes and shapes of containers to suit the type of your goods. This is an important point that distinguishes sea freight over other types of shipping.

For example, a US customer imports a batch of solar panels from China and trades them in the United States to help solve the power crisis the country is experiencing. Here, the customer will definitely rely on sea freight to ship the goods from China to the USA, because these panels are large in size, so he can easily transport them by sea.

When the goods are heavy

Sea freight is highly flexible in handling weights and sizes, as suppliers and importers usually resort to sea freight from China when their shipments are very large.

For example, if you are seeking to ship heavy equipment you will certainly need one or more full containers, and therefore you will not be able to transport such goods by air freight.

And here it became important that we cover the cost of sea freight as this cost may change your choice.

Sea freight rates from China

Sea freight rates vary according to the volume of goods shipped, and change with time. Therefore, we can say that shipping rates are not fixed, and vary depending on several factors, including holidays or specific times of the year, such as the type of season.

But we will now know the average shipping rates from China to some countries of the world, and this figure may change up or down depending on the factors mentioned above.

Sea freight rates from China

1. Total shipping rates from China

If your goods exceed 20 CBM, then you will need a full container to ship the goods. Here we will give you approximate prices for shipping containers from China to USA, Germany, Saudi Arabia.

Freight costs for shipping containers from China to the USA: The price of shipping containers from Chinese ports to US ports ranges between $2,500 and $3,500 for a 20-foot container, while the price of shipping a 40-foot container averages between $3,200 and $5,800.

Shipping container price from China to Germany: The average price for shipping a 20-foot container from China to Germany is US$2,550 to US$4,050. Shipping time for shipping a 20ft container from China to Germany depends on the route. Generally within 30 to 50 days.

Learn more: Cost of Shipping 20ft & 40ft Container from China to Germany

Container prices from China to Saudi Arabia: As 2024 begins, shipping prices continue to rise, as the average price of shipping a 20-foot container from China to the Arabian Gulf reached $2,500 from $2,000, then rose to $3,000, while now the price of shipping a 40-foot container from China ranges between $3,200 and $4,500, and as we mentioned, the prices also change hourly depending on the port of loading and the port of destination.

If you want to know the cost of shipping containers from China to other countries, you can click on the corresponding post below:

2. Partial shipping rates

If your goods do not exceed 20 CBM, you will not need a full shipping container and it is enough to rely on partial shipping.

The partial shipping price is calculated by knowing the shipping price of one (CBM). The price of shipping one CBM from China ranges from about $250 to $400, but the more CBM you have, the cheaper you get;
note also that prices may drop to a price below $250 in some goods and some countries, and prices may exceed $400 in some goods with certain characteristics – such as machines, to name a few.

There are many sites that help you calculate the price of the cost of shipping your goods in an easy way, it is enough to put the information of the goods you want to ship, such as their size in CBM, port of shipment and port of arrival, and thus give you an approximate price that will benefit you to know the estimated cost of the shipping process in question.

Since the shipping price may vary depending on the ports from which you ship, we must know these ports.

If you want to get the freight rate from China as soon as possible, whether it is FCL or LCL, you can contact Basenton Logistics and get the latest price updates.

The most important shipping ports in China

China has 34 major ports, and most major cities in China are also harbors or easily accessible by a nearby port. In this axis, you will learn about the 4 most important Chinese ports for sea freight.

  1. Ningbo Zhoushan Port: Located 250 kilometers south of Shanghai, it is one of China’s major shipping ports.
  2. Port of Shanghai: tops the list of the largest shipping centers in the world.
  3. Guangzhou Port: It is one of the largest industrial and commercial ports in China.
  4. Shenzhen Port: It is the export port of Chinese technological innovations. If you want to import a technology product from China, your choice should definitely be Shenzhen.

One thing that we always advise merchants to do when doing so, is to familiarize yourself with shipping business terms because understanding them will make the process easier for you, so let’s get to know them.

Read also: China’s 10 Most Important Shipping Ports In 2024

International Commercial Terms Related to Sea Freight

The wide variety of terms related to the process of shipping goods may cause difficulty in dealing with them for the first time. But understanding the relevant terminology will help you ship the goods on time and in good condition.

Here are the most important of these terms and concepts:

1. Bill of Lading (Bill of Lading):

It is a document issued by the shipping company when it accepts to transport your goods to a specific destination for a transportation fee indicated therein. It includes the details of the shipment and the limits of responsibilities of the carrier, supplier and importer, and is considered one of the most essential documents in international trade.

2. Incoterms:

International Commercial Terms, published by the International Chamber of Commerce, are a series of global sales terms that are used to divide and distribute the costs and responsibilities of business transactions between you and the supplier in a manner that reflects modern transport practice. These terms are closely linked to the UN Charter of Global Goods Sales Contracts.

3. Demurrage Container Breakdown Allowance:

It is the fee you pay for your delay in returning shipping containers at the port of arrival after a grace period of one or two weeks or as agreed between you and the shipping company. The period is calculated from the date of arrival of the goods at the port of arrival until the empty containers are returned to the port of import.

4. Proforma Invoice:

It is the document that the supplier gives you as a first step or initial contract. In it, it indicates the price, specifications, shipping method and payment method that is agreed upon.

5. Unit “cubic meter” or CBM:

It is the unit of measurement of goods that are shipped by sea. CBM can be defined as the unit of measurement of the volume of goods that determines how much space your cargo will occupy on board a ship, and on the basis of which it determines how much you will pay on the shipment.

In conclusion, the process of shipping goods must be well thought out, because any mistake may cause you material damage or harm to your goods, we advise you to stay up to date and follow up on all updates related to sea freight rates from China, which may change over time depending on several factors.

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