Shipping from China to USA - Sea or Air

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Shipping from China to USA - Sea or Air


Demand for the Chinese market has skyrocketed following China's dramatic growth over the years. Most famous American brands have moved their product line there. Because the cost of labor and resources is much cheaper than domestic production. Hence, the industry of shipping from China to USA has flourished. But which method is best for safe, cost-effective and permanent transport? Sea freight or Air freight?

A successful and professional importer does not only pay attention to price and time. Other factors such as safety, environmental impact and the type of product are important to him. To choose the best, you should examine their pros and cons.

Impact on the environment

Sea freight is the most popular method of shipping from China to USA. Because it is eco-friendly. Ships consume very little fuel due to their slow speed. As a result, their emissions are much lower than in other sections.

Instead, aircraft have high emissions due to high fuel consumption. Also, most cargo planes are old and harmful to the environment.

Shipping costs

Air freight is much more expensive than sea freight. Because the speed and quality of its services are better. Of course, in recent years, the maritime industry has been trying to bring advanced technologies into ships. It can be said that they have been very successful. Sea freight is very cost-effective for moving large goods and giant equipment.

Shipping restrictions

Ocean-going ships can move large volumes of goods. The maximum capacity of the largest ship in the world is 21,413 TEU. You have no restrictions on shipping in this way, neither in terms of type nor in terms of number and size.

But the aircargo industry has restricted or banned the import of some goods. This law is different in each country. But the import of perfumes, toxins, lithium batteries and chemicals into USA is banned. Also, due to the limited capacity of aircraft, they can carry a certain number and weight of goods. The maximum weight of the largest one is about 640 tons.

Safety and risks of shipping from China to USA

One of the main reasons for the high cost of air transportation is its high security. The intelligent tracking system and the strictures of the airports prevent  the cargo from being lost. Also, the risk of damage to goods is very low. Because, as we said, the capacity of airplanes is limited and the goods do not fit together tightly. But in sea transport, the risk of pirates and the losing goods is high. On the other hand, if you use the LCL method, your product will be next to packages for weeks whose contents are unknown. As a result, each of them is exposed to leakage, moisture and compaction. Therefore, it is recommended to use FCL to increase safety. 

Transit time 

Sea freight takes weeks due to the slow speed of ships, the long customs process and the occasional delays. But air freight will deliver your goods to the United States in a matter of hours or a maximum of one week.


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