How to ship chemicals from China

Once chemical importers have found the reliable and right chemical supplier, later is to confirm order and arrange payment. At last there goes the shipment of chemicals from China to destination countries. The illustration above shows three basic options for chemical shipment. 

1. By Air 

2. By Sea 

3. Inland Shipping. 

We will break them down one by one step by step.

Now before we start, let’s get one thing straight: Your freight forwarder will charge you by Weight Or Volume?

How To Calculate The Shipping Cost By Air?

If You are shipping chemicals by air, firstly there will be a 100usd extra cost to apply for a Certificate of safe air transportation.

Shipping cost by air will be calculated against the “weight“. 

This weight could either be the actual weight of the goods or the volume weight. Shipping companies charge against the bigger. 

The equation of the volume weight is volume/5000 (divided by 5000), the actual volume calculated with CM as length unit.

For example, if your chemicals are packed in one box with dimensions of 40CM*50CM*60CM, and the gross weight of your package is 15kg. 

Now let’s do the math: 40*40*60/5000=24kg>15kg. 

So shipping companies will charge you by 24kg for the shipping cost rather than 15kg.

Estimated shipping cost=90CNY/kg*24=2160CNY+Additional fees from the shipping company.

Please note this 2160cny is the price with a special discount, about 70% of the official price from TNT. So you may have to pay (3366/0.7)/6.9=697usd if you use your own TNT account for freight to collect.

1.Ship Chemicals By Air

To ship chemicals by air normally applies to smaller quantities compared to the other 2 options, from grams to hundreds of kilos due to its high cost. Shipping chemicals by air (from airport to airport) would require a Certificate for the safe transport of goods or certificate of safe transport of chemical goods

There is more than one authority who can issue such certificates, such as DGM, SIMT, etc, Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry Testing Co., Ltd. You can check one copy of the certificate of safe air transport below for Iron dextran issued by SIMT.

Please note: all chemicals to be shipped by air would require such a certificate, one copy costs about 100usd. Some chemicals are not categorized as safe and suitable for air shipping, such as Type 3, 4 hazardous chemicals, we will show how chemicals are categorized in the next article.

1.1. By airplane (From Airport-To-Airport)

Shipment by airplane always requires formal customs declaration in China Customs. However small the value of the good is, exporters are required to provide the whole set of documents for customs declaration.

Shipping cost by airplane is comparatively lower than that of Courier Companies such as FedEx, DHL. It is not 100% true when FedEx or DHL gives a big discount for a certain period.

1.2. By Courier (From Door-To-Door)

1.2.1 FedEx:

the most often chosen courier for international shipment of chemicals.

1). Punctual 2). On-time tracking 3). Competitive 4). Medium Customs Clearance Ability 5). Requiring Certificate of safe transport

1.2.2 DHL:

our second favorite, slightly more expensive than FedEx but more punctual and easier import clearance. (In Dec. 2019, DHL from Hangzhou almost stopped shipping chemicals)

1.2.3 UPS:

The most expensive one, we barely use.

1.2.4 TNT:

Similar to FedEx on every aspect, we simply prefer FedEx :-).

1.2.5 EMS:

1) Very unpunctual 2) No On-time Tracking 3) similar cost for certain areas. 4): Highest chance to pass customs 5) No certificate of safe transport needed (Dec. 2019, EMS stopped shipping route to many areas).

1.2.6 Aramex & Other:

Their routes are very limited. They only to the middle-east areas and they also require a certificate of safe air transport. They seem to stop shipping chemicals nowadays.

The difference between Shipping by air from Courier is that Courier can either ship a very small quantity of chemicals informally or formally. Shipping by air requires a formal customs declaration for any amount of goods.

2. Ship Chemicals By Sea

We divide shipments by sea into 3 categories: FCL, LCL, and others.

The general process is as below:

2.1 Who chooses shipment by sea?

Sea freight is often chosen by importers buying chemicals by large quantities in bulk. Shipping by sea is the cheapest shipping method. If you are importing a bulk amount of chemicals, sea freight should be the most cost-effective option for you.

2.2 Sea Freight vs. Shipment by air.

Shipping chemicals by sea from China, shipping companies or your shipping agents would require a Certificate of safe transport similar to that for air transport, but not all shipping companies, instead, they would ask for a Guarantee letter for non-dangerous goods from Shipper. 

As for hazardous or highly dangerous chemicals, there will be more requirements before goods are allowed to be loaded, such as UN packing, etc. But Hazardous goods from type 1~9 all can be shipped by sea.

The courier could not ship hazardous goods, such as the most common types such as type 6, type 9, etc. Of course, the higher cost compared to common goods. Shipment by air, there are very able shipping-agents in China who can ship type1~9 by airplane.

3. Ship Chemicals By land

For Inland shipping of chemcials, it is suitable for neighboring countries by land and not divided by oceans such as countries who have the roads or railways connecting each other.

It is the safest shipping method for chemicals among all the 3, so theoretically you can ship any type of chemicals this way.

If you have any different ideas on those shipping methods, leave us your comment.

If you are fed up with your current shipping agents, we can recommend you the best agents we know.