China Shipping Agent: The Ultimate FAQs Guide

When importing from China, shipping can be an overwhelming task – a reason why you need China shipping agent or freight forwarder.

However, finding a reliable shipping agent can be an overwhelming task.

That’s why this guide will make the entire process simple for you by answering all questions you have about China shipping agent.

Let’s dive right in.

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What is the Role of a China Shipping Agent?

 China Shipping Agent

China Shipping Agent

Before looking at the roles played by shipping agents, it’s important to first understand what we mean by a shipping agent.

A shipping agent refers to a person who handles cargo in the ports on behalf of ship owners.

That said, below are some of the roles played by shipping agents in the shipping process.

Managing Custom Clearance

Most if not all importers will attest to it that this is one of the most overwhelming stages when shipping goods.

However, a Chinese shipping agent makes your work easier by taking care of all your custom clearance procedures.

Collection of Goods from the Suppliers

Shipping agents liaise with your suppliers in the collection of goods from their warehouse to the port.

Loading and Unloading of Cargo

Not only do they collect goods but also load and unload them from the shipping vessel.

Working with China shipping agents guarantees you smooth operations while you continue with your daily routines.

Freight Documentation

Documentation is an important aspect when importing or exporting any type of goods.

This might be an overwhelming process owing to the several documents that the port officials might require.

It is where shipping agents come in handy and ensure that your shipment has proper documentation.

Remember, documentation can be the determinant of whether you will receive your on time or there will be delays.

Therefore, working with a Chinese shipping agent reduces such risks.

Booking Space for the Cargo

Chinese shipping agents will ensure that your cargo has a secured space before the commencement of the shipping process.

Is a Shipping Agent the same as a Freight Forwarding Agent?

In as much as there are several similarities between a shipping agent and freight forwarder, these two are different.

A freight forwarder ships cargo on behalf of the importer and provides more diverse services.

On the other hand, a shipping agent represents the ship owner in the handling of cargo and shipments in ports.

Nevertheless, both of them are involved in the import-export processes.

Is Shipping from China Really Beneficial for my Business?

As a matter of fact, shipping from China is among the most beneficial businesses that most entrepreneurs choose to venture into.

This has seen China witness a rapid growth of the import-export business over the years.

Here are some of the benefits of shipping goods from china:

Affordable Goods

The affordability of goods from China is one of the major factors that drive most importers to import from China.

It is very easy to import a product and resell the same at triple the buying price.


In as much as counterfeits are circulating in the Chinese market, finding quality goods is not as difficult.

It’s important to do your research carefully and verify your business associates to avoid scams.

Working with China freight forwarders will help in identifying qualified suppliers with quality products.

However, if you are acquainted with the Chinese market, you could as well do it on your own and reduce costs.


China is considered the biggest manufacturing hub globally and with this comes the production of unique items.

With the current trends in technology, Chinese manufacturers are capable of producing simple items that function uniquely to make work easier.

Huge Profits

Shipping from China will benefit your business owing to the increased profits earned.

This is due to purchasing products at discounted prices which then allows you to sell the same at much higher prices.

Not only will this increase your business profits, but also enhances the growth of your business.

Boosts Competition

importing from China creates a good platform for your business to compete with other local businesses.

Not only will you be importing quality products at good prices but also unique ones which will attract more customers.

Not forgetting that this also boosts your business reputation.

Why should I Hire a Shipping Agent from China?

Working with a shipping agent from China is very beneficial not only to you but also to your business at large.

Let’s reason out this way; you are new to the importation business and you need to sort out loads of goods and documentation.

Furthermore, there is need to pass the goods through customs yet, you have insufficient knowledge on how any of this works.

Not forgetting the presence of several scammers in the market who might make your entire process fail.

That is when shipping agents step in to ensure that the shipping procedure runs smoothly and there is timely delivery of goods.

However, this does not mean that you cannot handle shipping alone.

If you are confident enough and have knowledge on how to ship from China then you can easily accomplish this.

Nevertheless, never risk it based on trying to cut on costs as this might land you in more expenses.

What are the Products that China Shipping Agents help to Ship?

China shipping agents can assist you to import anything and everything from China.

Some of the products that China shipping agent help to ship are not limited to;

  • Electronics
  • Clothes
  • Building materials
  • Shoes
  • Furniture
  • Power tools
  • Machinery
  • Cutleries
  • Vehicles

China Shipping Agent Cargo Vessel

China Shipping Agent Cargo Vessel

What Kind of Services can I get from a China Shipping Agent?

China shipping agents provide arrange of beneficial logistics services which are not limited to;

Freight Documentation

Documentation is one of the major factors of any type of shipment.

This stage might be overwhelming owing to the several requirements that need to be met by port officials.

Luckily, China shipping agents are not only experienced in such but also have established networks.

This makes them handle the whole documentation procedure effortlessly.

Collections of Goods

Shipping agents in China collect goods from your supplier and deliver them to your desired port.

Loading and Unloading Processes

After collecting your goods, China shipping agents load them to the shipping vessel.

Moreover, they are also responsible for unloading the cargo from the ship.

Booking Space for Your Cargo

Shipping agents ensure that your cargo is assigned to a warehouse as they wait to be shipped.

Plan the Storage of your Cargo

China shipping agent plan how or where your goods will be stored.

Custom Clearance

This is one of the most tedious processes for any importer.

Working with a shipping agent makes it way easier as they are experienced in custom clearance.

A shipping agent follows up on your shipment as they keep you informed until delivery of your cargo.

Are there Products that are off-limits for China Shipping Agents?

No there aren’t. China shipping agents can help you in shipping products from China provided it is not a prohibited product.

Therefore, when planning to ship from China, it’s important to check whether the product in question is restricted or not. This mostly applies to hazardous products.

How Long will it take a China Shipping Agent to Deliver Goods that I Source from China?

Averagely, the approximate time it will take for goods from China to be delivered to you is 35 days.

However, you should know that the time taken might either be more or less than 35 days.

This will depend on varying factors such as;

  • Custom inspections
  • Weather conditions that might result in delay of the shipping vessel
  • Congestion at the port
  • Incorrect documentation

Will a China Shipping Agent provide Delivery Direct to my Door?

Yes, they will if you choose to use door-to-door shipping.

China shipping agent will not only package your goods but also ensure there delivery right to your doorstep.

Not only does door-to-door shipment save on time and costs but also it is quite convenient.

What are the Specific Documents Required by China Shipping Agents when Making New Shipments?

For every successful import and export process, shipping documents have to be in place.

China shipping agents should have the following documents when making new shipments;

  • Commercial invoice
  • Bill of lading
  • Certificate of origin
  • Insurance certificate
  • Shipper’s letter of instruction
  • Product certification
  • Quote
  • Packing list

Do I need to Personally visit China when Working with a China Shipping Agent?

No, you don’t need to visit China when working with a China shipping agent.

Your shipping agent will monitor all your shipment on your behalf to the time you receive the goods.

By so doing you not only end up saving on time but also costs incurred when traveling to China.

Do China Shipping Agents Sign Non-Disclosures with Clients when Providing Sourcing Help?

Yes, most sourcing agents agree to sign non-disclosure agreement.

This helps in preventing disclosure of information regarding your product design.

To ensure efficient and effective shipping, China shipping agents need to know your product specifications.

This information is vital in identifying the appropriate supplier for your product.

They may also share your product specification with other manufacturers.

Therefore, it is necessary to have a non-disclosure agreement to protect copying of your product design by others.

Which Currency does Chinese Shipping Agent Transact in?

The main currencies used by most shipping agents are Yuan and RMB, which are the main currencies used in China.

China is one of the unique countries which have two currencies.

In addition to that, many Chinese shipping agents also accept USD.

What are the typical China Shipping Agent Fees?

You are bound to spend from as low as $35 to as much as $75 or more on China shipping agent fees.

For that matter, it is important figuring out what kind of service you will be signing up for.

At the end of the day, you are looking to get high-quality services.

But remember that there are chances of getting low-quality services when you pay less.

Therefore, ensure to exercise due diligence and weigh the services offered and the price charged while selecting your China shipping agent.

What is the Process of Shipping Products in China?

Shipping products from China has become simpler and faster as compared to before.

Thanks to the emerging trends in technology and enhanced infrastructure in the shipping sector.

If you are planning to ship products from China, the first step will be to identify your supplier.

This comes after you have already decided on which product you want to ship from China.

You can either design the product or might prefer to import ready-made items.

While making decision, it’s important to consider whether or not there are restrictions pertaining to the items you intend to import.

Online platforms such as Alibaba, Made in China, and Aliexpress among others are ideal for searching for a supplier.

Aside from that, you can decide to visit China and do the selection by yourself.

It’s better to work with a sourcing agent when trying to select your ideal supplier especially if you are new to this.

Being scammed or having communication problems are some of the major problems you don’t want to encounter during your search.

After identifying a reliable supplier, the next step would be agreeing on the payment and shipping terms then making your order.

However, when planning to import products in bulk, it’s wise to request a sample product before making the actual order.

Your supplier will work with shipping agents and freight forwarders to ensure timely delivery of the goods.

The terms of shipping from China Depend on the incoterm you choose.

The goods will require warehousing as they wait for customs clearance for shipping.

Thereafter, shipping agents will load your cargo into the shipping vessel and monitor your shipment until you receive them.

How do I Qualify a China Shipping Agent?

One thing that you should never overlook is verifying every business associate you are planning to work with in China.

China being a global leader in manufacturing, expect to come across all kinds of suppliers and manufacturers.

Both genuine and scammers exist in the market.

Therefore, to save you the agony of landing in the wrong hands, here are some checks to look out for;

  • Confirm the Licensing: Verify if your shipping agent has the required licensing by requesting their license.

If there are no valid reasons why they don’t have, then proceed to the next.

Sometimes the license might be under renewal and in such instances, you can choose to wait until they have it.

  • Find out how long your shipping agent has been operating. Do some online research as well as request documents from them to establish their length of existence.

Hesitation to answer some of your queries should be a red flag.

  • Take note of shipping agents who communicate through personal emails as this is might be a scam.

Genuine shipping agents have professional communication channels which relate to the business.

Is there a Limit to the Volume of Goods I can Ship with a China Shipping Agent?

There is no limit to the number or volume of goods you can ship with a shipping agent.

How do China Shipping Agents find Suitable Carriers and Shipping Rates for Clients?

Cargo Carrier

Cargo Carrier

China shipping agents are not only experienced in this business but also have broad networks with different carriers.

Their full knowledge of the language used also makes it easier for them to communicate and negotiate prices effectively.

Owing to this they can easily find suitable shipping rates for you.

Do China Shipping Agents offer Lower Prices than Agents outside China?

Yes, they do. As compared to shipping agents outside China, China shipping agents offer unbeatable prices.

You can attribute this to the low labor costs in China.

In addition, Yuan is low therefore reducing the overall prices.

Will a Shipping Agent help me Export my Sourced Goods from China?

Yes, a shipping agent will help you export your sourced goods from China.

Shipping agents work closely with Chinese sourcing agents to ensure that your goods are delivered at the right time.

Do China Shipping Agents actually Specify Carriers to Ship with from China?

Yes, they do. China shipping agents inform you of the different carriers available and the ideal ones to select for your shipment.

Do Shipping Agents in China Provide Export Clearance Support?

Yes, they do. Shipping agents take care of customs clearance for your goods at the port before being loaded into the ship.

This is among the reasons why most importers choose to work with shipping agent as custom clearance can be an overwhelming task.

How Can I Pay my China Shipping Agent?

China shipping agents accept a wide range of payment option which are not limited to;

  • International credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Cash
  • Western Union
  • Telegraphic transfer
  • Payoneer

What is the Best Way of Finding the Cheapest Shipping Agent in China?

Reducing costs increases profits and to achieve this, it’s important to work with a reliable and cheap shipping agent.

Visiting China would be the most effective method to identify a cheap shipping agent.

Meeting with your shipping agent face to face creates a chance for effective negotiation on prices.

Not forgetting that this also establishes a bond for future business deals.

In case visiting China is not one of your options, maybe the following options would be ideal;


China has several trade expos that happen every year.

Most importers use this opportunity to familiarize themselves with manufacturers and network with suppliers and shipping agents in China.


Online platforms like Alibaba are some of the ideal sites where you can easily identify China suppliers and shipping agents.


Apart from Alibaba or Made in China website, you can opt to conduct your research on Google.

You will come across several results of different shipping agents across China.

From these, you will be able to compare them and select the best that suits your preferences.

Social Media Platforms

Also play an important role for most businesses and individuals globally.

You can utilize social media platforms like Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, and Twitter to search for a desirable shipping agent in China.

What are the Main Things to Consider when choosing a China Shipping Agent?

A shipping agent is one of the main determinants of how efficient your shipment will run.

Failure to single out the best agent can result in serious damages not only to your business but also your finances.

Therefore, here are some of the factors to consider when selecting China Shipping Agent:

  • Length of operation of the shipping agent: The longer the length of operation the more contacts earned and the more skilled the shipping agent will be. This is vital in the prosperity of your business.
  • Location of the shipping agent: Seek to find out whether the sourcing agent is a foreign company or a native Chinese company. Working with a foreign company with offices in China is much easier compared to dealing with a native Chinese shipping agent.

The reason being, it’s difficult to check some credentials of your Chinese shipping agent owing to the strict measures enforced in China.

  • Ensure they have the required documentation: Some of the documents to check out include; bill of lading, certificate of origin, detailed packing list, and fumigation certificate.
  • Get to know how they manage quality issues: Seek to find out quality control measures in place and make it clear to them that you will not condone sub-standard products.
  • Look out for references from previous clients: Enquire from the references about the shipping agent. This includes asking about the length of time they have been in business with them and the quality of services provided.
  • Confirm the licensing of the shipping agent: Having a license in China is mandatory for all businesses. Therefore, it is important to check whether your shipping agent has a license before doing business with them.
  • Check their network distribution: Assessing how established their network is crucial as this guarantees you efficiency in the shipment of your goods.
  • Confirm the language proficiency: A shipping agent proficient in both English and Mandarin is the ideal one to work with. Keep in mind that most Chinese are not proficient in English and therefore knowing the two languages is vital when doing business.
  • The shipping agent should be knowledgeable on the rules and regulations applicable in the import and export countries.
  • Check the ethics displayed by the shipping agent.

Do I Pay More While Working with a China Shipping Agent than Shipping on my own?

If you want to save a lot when shipping your goods from China, working with a China shipping agent is the catch.

First, you need to reason whether you require the services of a shipping agent.

Often, new importers or importers who are not well oriented with the import processes choose to work with shipping agents.

The reason being, not only will they save but also avoid issues such as being scammed or language barrier.

They handle everything as you proceed with your daily activities.

However, this doesn’t mean that importers who have been in the business don’t need shipping agents.

Many of them work with shipping agents owing to how efficient they handle the shipping process.

This leaves them with ample time to concentrate on other important matters of business without worrying much about their shipment.

On the other hand, if you are confident in yourself about handling shipment on your own then just get it done.

Though it might be inconveniencing when you are unsure of how to handle some procedures and arising issues.

How are Shipping Risks Controlled when Shipping Via a China Shipping Agent?

China shipping agents not only have the responsibility to ship your goods but also to ensure that they control risks when shipping.

Some of the ways used to achieve this are not limited to;

  • Acquiring an insurance certificate that protects cargo from loss or damage.
  • Ensure that you have made adequate research about your China shipping agent before engaging with them.
  • Practice clear and timely communication to avoid unplanned costs, incidents, and documentation delays.
  • Qualified personnel: Ensure that the people handling your shipment are skilled and qualified in that line of work.

Do I need to get involved in the Shipping Procedures if I already have a China Shipping Agent?

No, you don’t.

Once you have identified your ideal China shipping agent, there’s nothing else you should be worried about concerning your shipment.

A China shipping agent will handle everything on your behalf.

However, it’s always advisable to keep tabs on your shipment process in as much as the agent is handling everything.

Do not just assume everything and wait for delivery of your cargo. Being in constant communication with your shipping agent is vital.

Not only do you learn from the procedures but also you get updated on the state of your shipment.

What are the Advantages of China Shipping Agents over Foreign Ones when Importing from China?

Some of the benefits of using China shipping agents over foreign shipping agents include:


Factors such as low cost of labor, cheaper expenses, and lower exchange rate contribute to the affordability of China shipping agents.


China shipping agents can easily and quickly adjust to arising situations to take care of your needs. They transfer the same energy on how they handel your goods.

As compared to China shipping agents, foreign ones will need to follow their overseas office to handle your shipment.

This might end up being slower and they may not have the appropriate expertise to handle your shipment when problems arise.

Their ability to switch providers is not as fast and efficient as seen with China shipping agents.

Efficiency and Flexibility

Local China shipping agents have a wide range of choices and options when it comes to shipping your goods.

Whether it’s paperwork, choosing the best route, and prices among others, they can easily find a solution in case of any problems.

Should I choose a Freight Forwarding Company or a Shipping Agent?

China Freight Forwarding

China Freight Forwarding

Both freight forwarding company and shipping agent work towards ensuring that there is the successful delivery of goods.

The difference lies in the tasks performed by each one of them.

While freight forwarders are shipping agents, not all shipping agents are freight forwarders.

Freight forwarding company not only has access to more resources but is also a large organization that handles the entire shipping process.

Shipping agents specialize in one mode of transport while a freight forwarding company will provide a variety of options.

Also, a freight forwarding company is more than likely to own a warehouse as well as vehicles used in freight forwarding.

This explains why they have better prices for clients.

That said, it is easier to make an informed decision on which one suits your needs.

If you want your whole shipping process handled then settling for a freight forwarding company would be the ideal choice.

On the other hand, if you are only concerned about the transportation of your goods then a shipping agent would work out.

What are the Disadvantages of Working with a China Shipping Agent?

Some of the disadvantages of China Shipping Agents include:

Loss of Goods

Product loss is a common problem when using freight services.

Some of these problems are very unpredictable as natural causes can result in the loss of goods.

Worse enough, an entire shipment might get lost in the sea as a result of bad weather or pirating.

This explains why there is always a need to insure your cargo before shipping commences.

Damage of Goods

Damage to goods can occur during the handling of the cargo.

Therefore, emphasize the state of your goods when shipping fragile products so that agents can be extra cautious when handling them.

Unfair Pricing

When working with a shipping agent, you can never be sure of the additional prices they add to the overall costs.

Some unethical shipping agents charge you additional prices as compared to price you would get if you directly contacted local transporters.


Miscommunication is one of the factors that cause delays during shipment.

This might occur as a result of missed information during language translation or the shipping process.

Such delays can ruin your business reputation with customers more so if the shipping agent has management issues.

  • You will not be at ease until your goods arrive and this is normal for most if not all importers.

Should I Choose a China Shipping Agent with Expertise in my Country’s Customs Clearance Laws?

Yes, you should.

Choosing a China shipping agent with who understands your country’s customs clearance laws prevents you from experiencing any problems with customs officials.

What’s the Difference Between a Shipping Agent and Customs Broker?

Shipping agent carries out several duties such as picking goods from supplier, booking container and shipping date, loading, and custom clearance process.

On the other hand, custom brokers majorly provide customs clearance services only.

This explains why a shipping agent will be the most ideal one to work with as compared to a customs broker.

Is there Difference between Shipping Agents in Different Cities in China?

There are no major differences between shipping agents in different cities in China.

Shipping agents might only vary depending on common factors such as;

  • Prices charged
  • Work ethics
  • Work experience

Are there China Shipping Agents who Specialize in Amazon FBA Prep and Ship Services?

Yes, there are shipping agents who specialize in Amazon FBA prep and ship services.

Additionally, using a shipping agent will save on costs incurred.

The shipping takes 30-50 days when shipping from China to other countries around the world.

Should I use a China Shipping Agent for Buying Wholesale Items on Alibaba?

When buying wholesale items from Alibaba, it’s best to use a sourcing agent.

Shipping agents are more concerned about shipping your goods as opposed to sourcing products.

A sourcing agent has the skill and expertise to identify a suitable supplier for your products and effectively negotiate on your behalf.

Can a China Shipping Agent Help me Ship Goods I Buy from Different Suppliers in Different Cities in China?

Yes, China shipping agents are not only skilled in providing services for a single shipment.

They can also help in shipping multiple shipments from different suppliers across China.

What Shipping Options do China Shipping Agents Offer to Importers?

Some of the shipping options that shipping agents offer to importers are not limited to;

  • Airfreight: Air freight is the most expensive and yet fastest shipping method.
  • Sea freight: Sea freight is the slowest and most reliable and affordable shipping option. It is ideal when transporting bulky products over longer distances.
  • Door-to-door shipping: This kind of shipping option allows you to have goods transported from the warehouse direct to the final destination.

You can as well choose a door-to-door express shipping which comprises of using FedEx, TNT, UPS, and DHL to ship your goods.

 Means of Shippings from China

 Means of Shippings from China

Can China Shipping Agent help in managing Quality Control?

When it comes to quality control of your products, hiring an inspection company would be the ideal choice.

An inspection company can conduct all types of inspections from the production stage to the pre-shipment inspection.

Therefore, you will not need to hire any other inspection service providers.

Keeping in mind that shipping agents mainly focus on the transportation of your goods.

Therefore, getting a thorough inspection of the quality of your goods will not be as effective as seen with inspection companies.

What Shipping Agents should I use for my Drop Shipping Store with Aliexpress for fast Shipping?

There are several shipping agents you can use for your dropshipping store with Aliexpress for fast shipping.

At SourcingWise, we will handle all your Dropshipping needs from AliExpress.

Here is a list of all drop shipping agents in China.

Can I trust my Seller Shipping Agent when Importing from China?

You can never fully trust a shipping agent whether from your seller or one selected by you.

All shipping agents will promise you excellent services and say all good utterances to convince you to work with them.

It’s important to keenly verify your shipping agent before engaging them in business with you.

Check their licenses, reviews from previous clients, and qualifications of staff just to mention a few.

Ensure that all are up to standard and as desired.

What can go Wrong when Working with a China Shipping Agent?

Anything can go wrong when working with a China shipping agent, thus it’s wise to be ready for any unpredictable circumstances.

Some of the issues that can arise when working with a China shipping agent are not limited to;

Loss of Goods

Goods can get lost in the middle of being shipped and this can be worse if there was no insurance in place.

Additional Costs Due to Delays

There is always a time limit for storage of cargo at a particular warehouse or port.

You will incur extra charges if this period lapses.

Damage of Goods

In most cases, this happens during transportation of goods to the warehouse or loading into the shipping vessel.


This usually happen because of miscommunication commonly experienced during language translations.

This can not only result in delays and wrong instructions but also affect your business reputation.

How do I know my Shipping Agent is to be Trusted?

The only way to know whether or not you should trust your shipping agent is through verifying them before working with them.

This involves going through the documentation and confirming that they are a genuine business and adhere to the set rules and regulations.

Also, checking their work experience and reviews from previous clients will help you have clear picture of how they operate with clients.

Don’t forget to assess the qualifications of the agents to confirm that they are skilled in their work.

Remember, a trusted shipping agent will also be proficient in both English and Mandarin.

If not they should have a translator in place. If any of this lacks, count them as a red flag.

Is there a need for Incoterms’ Shipping Rules when Working with a China Shipping Agent?

 Incoterms 2020

 Incoterms 2020

No, Incoterms are not mandatory. This is up to you to agree with your supplier or shipping agent on responsibilities to be handled by each party.

However, when working with shipping agents you don’t have to worry about anything concerning your shipment.

After communicating all your requirements, a China shipping agent will manage the shipment until there delivery to your desired destination.

At SourcingWise, we will help you find all products from China by giving the best advice and guidance you need.

So, if you need a reliable China shipping agent, SourcingWise is here to help – talk to us right now.

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