What is the best method to ship your products between Vietnam and China ?


In this first part of our guide, we will have a look on 3 different method of shipment : air freight, sea freight and trucking (or cross border). We will compare the 3 options, give you important details and some advices about the method you should consider for your future shipmen(s).

Sea freight between Vietnam and China

Overview - Ocean cargo between Vietnam and China

Shipping products by sea freight is the most common method to transport goods. Why ? Simply because it is the cheapest method so far ! China is the first trading partner with Vietnam, in 2019, more than 35% of importation was coming from China and 18% of Vietnamese exportation were shipped to China. And guess what ? Majority of them have been moved by sea freight !


Shipping company offering services between Vietnam and Chinese ports

You want to learn more about sea freight port in Vietnam? Feel free to check our dedicated page : sea freight services

Here first you have a listing of shipping lines operating between China and Vietnam : (Please note we will select the most competitive company to ship your goods when you need)

It's not a surprised, China has 7 ports in the top 10 most important port in the world, just this ! Let's have a look on them, starting from the biggest one to the smallest.

Port of Ningbo

More than 1.5 billion ton of goods passed through this port in 2019. This port was created in 2006 but beware, it is actually the merger of 2 Chinese ports (Ningbo and Zhoushan) to create the world number 1 in terms of volumes processed. The port of Ningbo - Zhoushann is located in Zhejiang province and more precisely in the south of Hangzhou bay.

Port of Shanghai

In 2019, it is around 1.3 billion ton that passed through the port of Shanghai. Shanghai is also the largest city in China. The port of Shanghai saw 36,540,000 containers in transit through its port in 2019.

Port of Tianjin

It is around 900 millions tonnes passed through this port in 2019. However in 2015 the classification of this port is likely to change. In fact, a huge fire following the explosion of tanks containing chemicals caused the death of several dozen people, which considerably slowed down the activity of the port of Tianjin.

Port of Tangshan

820 million tonnes passed through this industrial port in 2019. The port of Tangshan is the fifth largest port in the world. It is the most important port in Hebei province. It is a strategic city in the North East of China and is located on the shores of the Bohai Sea.

Port of Canton

750 million tonnes passed through this port in 2019. Located in the south-east of the country, the port of Canton each year traffics around 200 million tonnes of goods. Please note that the city of Canton is also called Guangzhou in Chinese. It is located in the province of Guangdong and is one of the largest cities in the country.

Port of Qingdao

680 million tonnes passed through this port in 2019. It is the fourth largest Chinese port located in the northeast of the country and more precisely facing South Korea.

Port of Dalian

520 million tonnes passed through this port in 2019. The port of Dalian has a long history, it was founded in 1899 in the south of the Liaodong peninsula. The port is located in Liaoning Province.


Should I ship by consolidation or full container between Vietnam and China?

LCL (Consolidation)

LCL - Less Than Container Load (or consolidation) is used when you can't fill a full container. There are several type of container but you can keep in mind these 3 sizes :

  • Container 20 feet with a capacity of 33 CBM (Cubic Meter)
  • Container 40 feet with a capacity of 67 CBM
  • Container 40 feet HQ with a capacity of 76 CBM

Usually, people ship in LCL when they have less than 13/14 CBM. If you have 15 CBM or more (sometimes less), it will be safer and cheaper to book a full container, even if you fill only half.

FCL (Full Container)

FCL is an ISO international standard referring to a (full) container load (20″ or 40″ or 40″ HQ) containing a shipment for a consignee (an importer). FCL sea transport is the cheapest mode of transport when importing (or exporting) from China. However, in order to be a viable freight option, the importer must purchase a relatively large quantity of goods.

How long does it take to ship between Vietnam and China by sea freight ?

Ningbo Shanghai Tianjin Canton Qinqdao Hong Kong
Da Nang 5 days 4 days 5 days 5 days 6 days 6 days
Saigon 5 days 4 days 5 days 5 days 6 days 6 days
Ba Ngoi 4 days 3 days 4 days 4 days 5 days 5 days
Cam Pha Port 4 days 4 days 4 days 4 days  5 days  5 days

Please note that transit times shown are here just as indicative information. Keep in mind as well that it doesn't include the whole process but only the freight delay (so you will have to add some delay for pick up, delivery, customs clearance process...).


How much does it cost to ship a container between Vietnam and China ?

It is quite hard to provide pricing in advance considering shipping line adjust their pricing monthly. This pricing will be highly influenced by oil market price so keep this details in mind. Finally, providing freight price only won't really help you as it is just a minority in the total cost of the operation : pick up and delivery (trucking fee), export charges and import charges, duties and taxes... All those costs are on the side but totally mandatory so don't base your estimation on the freight price only !

Special sea freight services 

Reefer container between Vietnam and China 

You need to ship temperature controlled goods? We can provide such service ! Feel free to contact our sales department to learn more about our services.


Roro/Bulk/OOG between Vietnam and China 

We also provide different kind of sea freight services, our scope of work is not limited to "classic" sea freight as we also handle RORO shipments (oversized items like big machine or others) and Bulk cargo which include a large volume of goods.

Air freight between Vietnam and China

Overview – Classic vs Express air freight 

There are 2 types of air freight services : "classic" (or conventional) air freight and "express" air freight. Both options will have different avantages and disadvantages as they are quite different. "classic" air freight will use the available space in classic airlines companies when "express" method will be handled by "courier company" such DHL, FedEx, UPS...


What is the difference between volumetric and gross weight?

*The cost of your shipment will be based on the most important weight between the gross weight (weight on the balance) and the volumetric weight (based on dimensions). The most important between this 2 is called the chargeable weight.

It is important to assimilate the difference between volumetric and gross weight and it make sense when you start to understand it. Indeed, imagine someone who ship a boxes full of pillow. The density will be so low that the company must charge the volume. On the other side, imagine you want to ship a cube of metal, super heavy, right ? In this case the company will charge based on the gross weight. Finally, note that the calculation of the volumetric weight is different between the "classic" and "express". While classic air freight consider 1 m3 as 167 Kgs, express shipping will consider 1 m3 as 200 Kgs.

Should I choose a Classic Air freight between Vietnam and Australia ?

Which airlines company should you ship with ?

  • China Airlines is a Chinese airline serving all china main cities and East Asia in general.
  • Vietnam Airlines (in Vietnamese Hãng hàng không Quốc gia Việt Nam) is the national airline of Vietnam. It operates domestic and international flights from its two main hubs at Tan International Airport Sơn Nhất in Ho Chi Minh City and Nội Bài International Airport in Hanoi.


Transit time Door to Door between Vietnam and China by air freight ?

For a door to door operation, you should count at about 3 to 5 days.


How much does it cost to ship a parcel between Vietnam and China?

As mentioned previously in sea freight part, it is very hard to provide a pricing just by considering the number of airport in both China and Vietnam. The price is also not stable as it is influenced by airlines traffic, the basic law of supply and demand. As sea freight, we will price on case per case basis so feel free to contact our sales department to get a price !


Should I choose an Express Air freight between Vietnam and China ?

Express service – Perfect solution for small package

If your goods are equal or less than 100kgs, this is an interesting solution. For important volume, this service will be too expensive. Therefore, we will advise and book for you what is the most convenient method considering your timing and budget.


How long does it take for a package to be shipped between Vietnam and China? 

Again, thanks to the fast customs clearance process (automated), you should count no more than 3 days for the all process. Thanks to our good relationship with these companies, we ensure you a good service and price.


How much does an Express service cost between China and Vietnam ?


*As classic air freight, Express shipping will be charged based on the most important value between the volumetric and the gross weight. Note that for express shipping, 1 CBM = 200 Kgs

Please, advise more information about the operation and then we will revert to you with a quotation. We are working with these companies for so long. Therefore, the price we can get from them are very low. If you ask them directly, you will have some bad surprises.

Major airports to ship in China 

TOP 10 airports in China (cargo ranking)

Rank Airport City
Division IATA/
Passengers Aircraft Cargo
1 Shanghai Pudong International Airport Shanghai Shanghai PVG/ZSPD 74,006,331 504,794 3,768,572.60
2 Beijing Capital International Airport Beijing Beijing PEK/ZBAA 100,983,290 614,022 2,074,005.40
3 Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Guangzhou Guangdong CAN/ZGGG 69,720,403 477,364 1,890,560
4 Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport Shenzhen Guangdong SZX/ZGSZ 49,348,950 355,907 1,218,502.20
5 Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport Chengdu Sichuan CTU/ZUUU 52,950,529 352,124 665,128.40
6 Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport Hangzhou Zhejiang HGH/ZSHC 38,241,630 284,893 640,896.00
7 Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport Zhengzhou Henan CGO/ZHCC 27,334,730 209,646 514,922.40
8 Kunming Changshui International Airport Kunming Yunnan KMG/ZPPP 47,088,140 360,785 428,292.10
9 Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport Shanghai Shanghai SHA/ZSSS 43,628,004 266,790 407,154.60
10 Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport Chongqing Chongqing CKG/ZUCK 41,595,887 300,745 382,160.80

Door-to-door transfer between Vietnam and China

Door-to-door method overview

A door to door services is a premium services as it is an all-inclusive package. You want to ship your products stress-free ? This is the offer you need !

And guess what ? This is our specialty at DocShipper ! Let us handle all your logistics needs, from departure to arrival we will guarantee a professional services : packing, storage, loading/unloading, customs clearance, international freight, trucking... All those services will be included in our offer !

Customs clearance between China and Vietnam

How much will I pay ? 

It is very important (for your business indeed) to have a proper idea of the future cost which includes logistics services but also customs clearance step and all related duties and taxes. You want to check it by yourself ? You just need what we call the HS Code (Harmonized System) ! All members of the World Trade Organisation use the HS code (composed of 6 numbers minimum), this numbers defines the nature of your good (by ID).

Here is the composition of an HS Code

hs code of a pineapple

Calculate applicable tariff with the HS code

You found your HS Code ? It's now time to check how many taxes you will have to pay on your shipment. You just need to do the following steps :

Duties and taxes from China to Vietnam

First, go the Vietnamese customs website : Vietnam customs tariff

Your first need to fill your information (in our case, we will fill the HS code and the origin country, here is China) :

It's done ? Now you just need to click on the search icon to reach a page who looks like this :


Duties and taxes from Vietnam to China

As for customs clearance in Vietnam, you first need to go on the Chinese customs website : Chinese customs tariff

Your first need to fill your HS Code first on the following page :

customs tariff china website

Once it's done, click on the Search button to go on the next step. You should reach a page who looks like this :

customs tariff china website example

as you can see, you have 3 different category :

  • Import tariff and tax
  • Customs declaration
  • Landed cost calculator

Let's have a look on them :

Import tariff and tax in China



Landed cost calculator in China

Landed cost calculator customs china


What are the Licenses required (import & export)?

Import license 

In order to ship goods between Vietnam and China, you do not need import licence. Indeed, in both China and Vietnam, you will need a registered company as consignee of the shipment. It is mandatory to pass local customs so don't try to avoid this detail !


Necessary documents 

The Bill of Lading for sea freight (or air way bill for air freight) is equivalent to a passport and a boarding card for your shipment. It is also a document certifying of the legality of the transfer, because it is emitted once the carrier received payment for its services. This document is mandatory for all international transfer of commercial goods.

The following pictures are detailing what information are provided on a Bill of Lading:

example bill of lading

  • 1 = Shipper
  • 2 = Consignee
  • 3 = Notify party
  • 4 = Vessel No.
  • 5 = Port of loading / discharge
  • 6 = Place of receipt / delivery
  • 7 = Container No.
  • 8 = Goods description
  • 9 = Net weight
  • 10 = Dimensions / volume


The original invoice

In both China and Vietnam (and it's the same worldwide basically), you will need the original invoice to clear your goods at customs. Make sure there is no difference between the original invoice and the packing list !


The packing list

The packing list is a listing of your inventory. This packing list will show what goods do you have and the declared value as well. It also shows the origin and arrival of the shipment. You also need to attach the MSDS data sheet if you’re importing hazardous or chemical products in Australia.


Certificate of Origin

Like the Bill of Lading, the Certificate of Origin is a very important document for all international import. The document must be signed by the manufacturer and delivered by a government agency in Vietnam or China, where your supplier is based.

Here is what it looks like (for China here):

example of CO

There might be some difficulties for you to handle it entirely. If this is a case, just send us an email or call us !


Additional services 

Our warehousing services 

Please kindly note the advantageous location of our warehouses. They are located near the ports of HCMC (Saigon), Haiphong and Quy Nhon. We are therefore able to receive your shipping for as long as you need it, before sending it to Australia (or anywhere else for that matter), or delivering it to Vietnam. Surveillance cameras and security personnel will ensure a perfect security of these places (so your goods). As a result, every fact and gesture will be filmed and recorded for a clear conscience.

Storage service in China and Vietnam 

You have an urgency ? You plan to consolidate several lots from different supplier ? This service is for you ! We will be able to store your goods whenever in both China and Vietnam.


Our packing/unpacking services 

Packing services services is very important as it will secure your goods for the whole logistics process. We will be able to provide such services in both China and Vietnam so feel free to contact our experts if you need such services : Carton box, palletization, wooden box and others like bubble wrap, tape...

Why packing is important for the insurance ? 

Unfortunately, it can happen that your goods may be damaged during transport (whether by sea, land or air). And... We all know how insurance companies are ! They everytime try to not refund so in a case of an international shipment, a bad packaging will be the perfect excuse for them to avoid any responsibility !


Freight insurance 

How much does a freight insurance cost ?

The amount of your insurance policy will be based on the value of your goods. As you can see, the higher the value, the more you will pay for the insurance.

In general, the following calculation is made: (freight value + product value) * 1-3%.

So, you can count on this calculation to make yourself an estimation. This rate is variable depending on the nature/category of your goods.

Moving service between Vietnam and China

Do you have problems with packing, storage, wrapping or customs clearance? Let us turn them into OUR problems between Vietnam and China. Are you interested in our moving services ? Have a look on our dedicated page : Moving services


Free regulation advisor

Our experience in this field (especially between Vietnam and China) has enabled us to be unstoppable on all administrative matters. Our answers will be efficient and will save you time and money.

What are you waiting for? Please contact us.

DocShipper info: Did you like this article? You may also like the following:

Adivce FNM :We help you with the entire sourcing process so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions !

  • Having trouble finding the appropriate product? Enjoy our sourcing services, we directly find the right suppliers for you!
  • You don't trust your supplier? Ask our experts to do quality control to guarantee the condition of your goods!
  • Do you need help with the logistics? Our international freight department supports you with door to door services!
  • You don't want to handle distribution? Our 3PL department will handle the storage, order fulfillment, and last-mile delivery!


DocShipper | Your dedicated freight forwarder in Vietnam !


Due to our attractive pricing, many customers trust our services and we thanks them. Stop overpaying the services and save money with our tailored package matching will all type of shipment, from small volume to full container, let us find the best and cost-effective solution.

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