Shipping from China to Chicago: Time, Rates, and More

Chicago is one of the largest cities in US. It is home to millions of people, and thousands of businesses, online marketers, and retailers.

Because of the low production costs in China, importers in Chicago source most of their products from China. 

In this article, you’ll learn the various processes of importing goods from China to Chicago and the best shipping methods.

Ultimately, importers and businesses would understand cost-effective ways to ship cargo from China to Chicago.

How to Ship from China to Chicago?

Shipping from China to Chicago

Once you decide to import goods from China to Chicago, you should take some steps. They include:

  • Decide what to import after doing thorough product research- To find out what kinds of goods are available for shipping, check out well-known Chinese online stores like Alibaba and AliExpress.

  • Find a reliable Chinese supplier- Once you have decided on the product to ship, the next step is to look for Chinese vendors who sell the product you needYou might need to screen the suppliers based on their prices, ratings, and online reviews.

  • Define the Incoterms for your shipment- Knowing the Incoterms you wish to use for shipping allows you to identify the parties in charge of the logistics of the entire shipmentIn a DDP incoterm, the supplier is in charge of all shipping, whereas an EXW incoterm places shipping responsibility on the importer. FOB Incoterm is one of the most used incoterms as well.

  • Check trade laws in China and Chicago– This gives you a headstart in preparing for customs clearance duties and Customs clean procedures. You will also know goods prohibited or restricted goods from China to Chicago.

  • Select a shipping method– There are three main ways to ship goods from China to Chicago: Express shipping, air freight, and ocean freight. Keep reading this article to know the best shipping method for your shipments.

  • Use a reliable freight forwarder when shipping– Freight forwarders simplify the entire shipping process. DFH is one of the best freight forwarding companies with the necessary experience shipping goods from China to Chicago. We can assist with managing your shipments and cargo from the supplier to your desired location in Chicago. You can also employ the services of a shipping agent to help ship cargo.

  • Buy insurance for your goods– Although it is not compulsory, buying cargo insurance is always a good idea when shipping expensive goods from China to Chicago, such as electronics, phones, and other high-value items. 

Shipping methods from China to Chicago

Shipping methods from China to Chicago

Shipping from China to Chicago with many different shipping methods. Here below, we will describe all of them then better for you to make the right decision about which shipping method is the best for you.

Air freight from China to Chicago:

Air freight from China to Chicago:

Air freight is an international shipping method that transports cargo through airliners and air freight carriers. Chicago has well-developed, standard airports that receive cargo from all over the world, especially in China.

Compared to express shipping, air freight is a second quicker and more affordable method to ship cargo. It is ideal for sending urgent, expensive air cargo from China to Chicago.

Two advantages of air shipping services that should always be considered are their increased scheduling flexibility and controllable goods flow. 

How long does it take for Air freight from China to Chicago?

After express freight, the quickest shipping method from China is air freight. There are also ways to expedite the delivery of goods, but they come with higher costs.

The types of goods being transported, their charge weight, and their monetary value are all factors that influence the transit times of air freight cargo.

Generally, Shipping to Chicago by USA air freight from China takes about 5 to 8 days.

How much is Air freight from China to Chicago?

The price of air freight to Chicago varies according to the kind of cargo being shipped, its weight, and the airline being used. Standard air freight is the cheapest option for 150 and 500-kg shipments. 

As seen in the table below, air freight costs do not have a flat shipping rate; rather, the cost per kg decreases as the weight of goods increases.

Charge WeightAir freight Cost per KG

Sea freight from China to Chicago:

Sea freight from China to Chicago:

Sea shipping is the most popular way to ship freight into Chicago. It is a cheap, safe, adaptable, and reliable way of shipping goods.

The main disadvantage of ocean freight is how long it takes. At the same time, other shipping options can deliver cargo in a matter of days, ocean freight can take weeks, depending on the cargo being shipped and the actual arrival and departure ports.

Sea freight operates using containers. Goods can be shipped through LCL sea container shipping (Less than Container Load) or FCL shipping (Full Container Load)

How long does Ocean freight take from China to Chicago?

The transit time is influenced by the type of cargo, the cargo value, the shipping company, and the precise arrival and departure ports. Here below is just a reference shipping time. If in peak shipping season the time may difference.

Table 2 showing average transit time from China to Chicago

How much is Ocean freight from China to Chicago?

Chinese SeaportChicago SeaportLCL cost per CBM20ft FCL costs40ft FCL cost
ShanghaiChicago IL $100-$1809002300
NingboChicago IL $100-$1709502200
ShenzhenChicago IL $80-$1508002000
QingdaoChicago IL $90-$1989002350
XiamenChicago IL $100-$1988002200
GuangzhouChicago IL $90-$1708002000

Many factors also decide ocean freight costs from China to Chicago. Above is a shipping price based on 2022 December, influenced by COVID-19 in China. We are sure the price will be lower than now when you need to ship. Please don’t forget to inquire about us to get a real-time quotation when your shipments are ready.

Express Shipping from China to Chicago

Express Shipping from China to Chicago

Express shipping is the quickest method to ship goods to Chicago. Air couriers like DHL, UPS, and FedEx express offer these shipping services. They are dependable, safe, and operate a door-to-door service; hence express shipping is a very secure way of delivering goods without stress. 

The major disadvantage to express freight is its cost. It is the most expensive shipping method and is, therefore, not a viable option for heavier goods.

How long does Express freight from China to Chicago?

Express shipping takes about 2-8 days to ship goods to Chicago from China based on which Express company you choose and the Priority or Economical service.

How much does the Express cost from China to Chicago?

Express freight costs depend on the type of goods, weight, and packaging size. It usually costs about $5 – $10 per kg.

You can check the air courier’s website or contact us for a real-time quote.

Door-to-door shipping from China to Chicago.

Door-to-door shipping from China to Chicago.

DFH offers direct shipping to Chicago through our door-to-door freight shipping. We offer this service with our DDP shipping.

We offer this service at very cheap costs, handle all customs clearance and logistics documentation, and deliver timely to anywhere in Chicago, including the Amazon FBA warehouse.

Goods take about 7 to 11 days to arrive through air freight and 40 days through sea freight. Our Door to door services can be done in the following ways-

Ocean freight combined with Express Freight

Ocean freight combined with Express Freight

This is a shipping method usually preferred by Amazon and other online retailers. It involves shipping the goods into the USA through sea freight, then using express freight to deliver them to the particular destination in Chicago. This combined service saves about ten days of shipping and is mostly offered by UPS delivery to door after the goods finish customs clearance and paid taxes.

Ocean freight combined with Truck freight.

This is the standard shipping method of shipping goods into container ports in Chicago by sea freight, then using trucks to deliver them to the destination address. It is the slowest method of shipping goods and experiences shipping delays.

Air freight combined with Express Freight

In this Door to door shipping method, products are first transported into Chicago using air shipping and then delivered to the destination using express freight- UPS. This method might take more time, but it is more cost-effective than express shipping.

Air freight combined with Truck freight.

This shipping method involves delivering goods via air freight to Chicago, where they are picked up by trucks and driven by road to the destination address. This shipping method is suitable for oversize packaged shipments such as pallets, wooden cartons, flight cases, Lengths over than 1.2meters shipments, and so on.

Documents required for shipments from China to Chicago.

Documents required for shipments from China to Chicago.

When importing goods to Chicago, the importer must ensure all required paperwork is presented.

The documents include:

The Import License (if needed)

The Bill of Lading (BL) or Airway Bill

The proof of import

Certificate of Origin (CO)

Commercial invoice

Packing list

What is the best way to ship from China to Chicago?

What is the best way to ship from China to Chicago?

This is a difficult question because there is no stable way for every importer. Choosing the best shipping method depends on the following:

  • The type and size of the goods- How big is the product being shipped? Some goods, like batteries, cannot be shipped through air freight which determines the shipping method used. For goods < 500kg, air freight is a very viable option. Heavier goods should be shipped using sea freight.

  • The destination address- How far away is the destination from the port? 

  • The urgency of delivery- How quickly are the goods needed? If the importer has time to wait, sea shipping is the most cost-effective method. If not, then air freight.

  • The cost budget of the importer- How much does the importer plan to spend on shipping?

Why Choose DFH to arrange shipments from China to Chicago?

Why Choose DFH to arrange shipments from China to Chicago?

DFH is one of the most reputable freight forwarders in China. To save time and money, it is necessary to choose freight forwarders with the required expertise and knowledge to handle the supply chain from China to the US more efficiently.

We have office locations all over mainland China and offer free pickup of goods from your supplier within three hours. 

When you use DFH, our strong service availability helps you to run your business more effectively and with peace of mind because we offer the following:

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Low-cost insurance premiums

  • Free of charge packing and repacking

  • Free-of-charge warehousing

  • Renowned logistics expertise

  • A strong network of forwarders and customs brokers in Chicago

  • Unbeatable low shipping costs.

  • Free quality inspection services.

You can call us or send an inquiry directly to request a quote on DFH. We’ll assist with shipping arrangements and work on your products immediately, guaranteeing prompt and secure delivery!

How long does it need to ship from China to Chicago?

Below is the reference shipping time for different shipping methods from China to Chicago. Please check again with us for the exact shipping time and price when you goods are ready to ship.

Shipping method Transit time
Express Freight3-8 business days
Air freight5-9 business days
Sea freight30-40days
Air and Express Combined5-12 business days
Sea and Express Combined20-30 business days

What is the cheapest way to ship from China to Chicago?

Ocean freight is the cheapest way to Chicago from China. However, this also depends on the size of the goods being transported. For example, air freight shipping can be more favorable for goods less than 500kg.

Do I need to buy insurance for shipments from China to Chicago?

Cargo insurance is always a good idea when shipping pricey items like electronics, phones, and other high-value items. However, it is not compulsory. Contact DFH to get excellent insurance premiums.

Final Words.

Do you need any help in shipping your goods from China to Chicago? Then contact us today to get a quote within minutes!

DFH Global Logistics - China

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