How To Ship Goods From China To The UK

How To Ship Goods From China To The UK

The UK and China have had an excellent trading relationship for many years, making it easy for UK businesses to ship affordable goods from Chinese ports. However, the process of shipping goods from China to the UK can seem incredibly daunting, especially if you’re a new business.

In this article, we’re discussing the basic steps you should take when shipping goods from China to the UK. Let’s jump in…

Find A Supplier

Firstly, you need to choose a trusted and reliable Chinese supplier that will supply quality goods. Because shipping from Chinese to the UK is now so popular, finding trustworthy suppliers and manufacturers is much easier than it used to be.

There is currently a wide range of Chinese wholesalers that are used by countless UK businesses. Popular ones include Alibaba, Ali Express, Made-In-China, 1688, Global Sources and DHgate.

You should spend some time vetting each supplier before you make a decision. For example, you should ensure they offer secure payment options and that they have verified reviews from UK-based customers.

Choose Sea Freight Or Air Freight

Another big decision to make is the type of freight. The vast majority of goods are transported from China to the UK via sea freight. However, if you need goods in a hurry, you may prefer air freight. Some businesses choose to use both sea freight and air freight depending on the needs of their business.

Sea Freight Shipping

Sea freight shipping tends to be the preferred method of transportation for UK businesses as it has a range of benefits. For example, sea freight shipping:

  • Offers the option of shipping a large volume of goods
  • Is an affordable way to transport goods
  • Offers the option of shipping smaller volumes of goods
  • Ships to a wide range of UK ports
  • Has a lower carbon footprint than air freight
  • Is suitable for transporting heavy/bulky goods that cannot be transported via air
  • Ensures minimal risk of damage during transit
  • Is reliable and consistent.

If you are happy to wait a little longer for your goods, sea freight shipping is likely going to be the best option. Shipping times will depend on various factors including the location of the Chinese port, the location of the UK port and whether you choose a door-to-door service or not.

In general, shipments are at sea for between 25-42 days at a time. If you opted for a door-to-door service, you should expect to wait between 6 to 10 weeks – however, your sea freight company will be able to give you a more accurate timeframe.

Some sea freight companies, such as Shippo, offer a comprehensive door-to-door service. This means they pick up the goods from your chosen Chinese supplier, transport them to the cargo ship, load them, transport them to your chosen UK port, unload them and then deliver them directly to your door. Shippo also ensures the goods are cleared at customs (on both sides) and it offers both LCL and FCL shipments.

Choose LCL or FCL

With sea freight, you can choose between ‘less than container load’ (LCL) shipments or ‘full container load’ (FCL) shipments. Exactly what it says on the tin, a full container load shipment is ideal for when you are purchasing enough goods to fill a full container and therefore do not have to share the container with other merchandisers.

Whereas LCL shipments are ideal for smaller businesses and start-ups that only need a portion of the container load for their smaller shipments. LCL shipping makes it easy for small UK businesses to transport goods to the UK without overordering.

Air Freight Shipping

Air freight shipping is more costly than sea freight shipping and has limitations. For example, air carriers have much lower capacity and weight thresholds, meaning larger and heavier items cannot be shipped by air. It also has a higher carbon footprint.

On the flip side, air freight shipping tends to be more secure than sea freight shipping, making it ideal for high-value goods, such as jewellery. It is also faster and more convenient when shipping smaller quantities of goods.