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Tips Of Shipping Method To Import Medical Kits From China To USA

Are you thinking about shipping first aid equipment or kits from China to the USA, but you don't know how to begin the process and the best method to use?

In this article, you'll find useful tips for purchasing first aid kits from China, and as a bonus, the guidelines are based on our shipping experience.

Part 1: Express shipment from China to USA

Express is the easiest transportation medium when compared to sea or air freight, and it offers the fastest shipping from China to the US.

With Express, the destination doesn't matter much. So, whether your goods are being delivered to the east of the United States or the west, the delivery fees are likely the same.

Thus, all you have to do is find an express company that gives you a reasonable quote, then sit back, relax and wait for the goods to be delivered to your address.

Little wonder why 95% of the product samples and a small amount of high-value goods are shipped by Express.

Which Express Company is the best?

I'm pretty sure you've heard of or even used FedEx, UPS, and DHL to ship goods. They are the most popular express couriers available. Since there is a wealth of information on Google regarding these companies, I won't bore you with many details about them.

Instead, I'll answer a crucial question: which of the couriers are reliable and cost-effective for shipping from China to the US?

I'll strongly recommend FedEx and UPS.

Why? First, generally speaking, FedEx and UPS's customer clearance process is faster and easier than that of DHL.

Secondly, in some instances, DHL's shipping cost from China to the US can be relatively higher.

For the shipping cost of FedEx and UPS, you have to ask your supplier or your freight forwarder to provide you with a real-time price; then, you can select a cheaper one.

Note that generally, the shipping cost of Express is quite unstable and might even change every week, and the costs can rapidly escalate during busy seasons like a month before Christmas and Thanksgiving.

During the less busy seasons, the costs may plummet rapidly.

Express Shipping Charges

Charged by Actual Weight (normally, applies to a small empty kit, chest seals, tourniquets, and splints)

For example: if the total weight is 100kg, the unit price will be $8/kg, which means that the express cost will be $8×100kg = $800.

Since it's a door-to-door service, the duty fee is not included.

Here are some likely questions that you may be interested in asking about these shipping methods and the cost, we have provided a detailed answer to help you out.

If I have a FedEx account, can I use the account to do freight collection?

I wouldn't recommend that approach. Whether with FedEx, UPS, or DHL, the official price is generally higher. If you choose to use your account, that means the supplier has to call the official FedEx to make the shipment, and they'll charge the official price.

In China, the supplier has a long-term corporation express agent that offers shipping discounts: so you can get a lower price if the goods are sent by the express agent instead of through your account.

Charged by dimensional weight ( usually for first aid kits with complete contents)

I was satisfied with the unit price of your first aid kit, but why is the shipping cost so expensive?

The price is charged by dimensional weight.

By now, you might be wondering what's the difference between the two types of weight?

Here is your answer: Actual Weight is exactly what the product weighs, including packaging, while Dimensional Weight takes into account the length, width & height of the package that you are shipping.

This brings us to the next point: charged weight.

When using Express, ensure you pay close attention to the problem of charged weight.

So, is charged weight calculated by the "kg" – the package's real weight or its real volume?

If the volume of the goods is larger than its actual weight, charges are applicable based on the volume.

Here is an instance: if you ship 40pcs of first aid kits with complete contents, it's one carton. The dimension of each carton is 60cm×50cm×40cm, and the real weight is 18kg.

So, the Express company will definitely not charge you by real weight (18kg) since the size of the package will be large and occupy significant space.

Interestingly, the charges are not calculated as per the volume either. Instead, the cost is actually determined by dimensional weight.

Here is the formula to calculate it:

Dimensional Weight: Length (cm) × width (cm) × height (cm)/5000.

So if the unit price is $8/kg, the total cost by dimensional weight will be: 60cm×50cm×40cm/5000 ×$8 = $192.

What you need to know about Express Shipment

If the actual weight or dimensional weight is less than 300kgs or the volume is less than 1CBM, you can choose Express Shipment.

If the value of goods you are purchasing is less than $800, it is duty-free by FedEx.

It is advisable you pay the shipping fee to your supplier in advance if you asked them to help you ship goods by FedEx.

Express Shipment is your best bet if you need the goods urgently and you want to save cost - generally it takes 4-7 working days to receive your package. Alcohol pad, lubricant for NPA , quick clot powder, makers are not allowed to be shipped by Express.

Customs Clearance

The customs clearance process is much easier if you use Express services, majorly because you don't have to bother with it at all - it is handled by the shipment agent.

You can ask the agent for a DDP (door to door, including duty-free and custom clearance)

Part 2: Air Freight from China to the US

Now that we've covered the cost estimates for express delivery of first aid kits let's move into air freight.

The first thing you need to know about the air freight shipping method is that it's similar to Express, in the sense that they both use airplanes as a tool to ship cargo.

However, there are some significant differences between the two, and you'll find out about them soon. Just keep reading.

The Differences Between Air Freight and Express

Clearly, express delivery is quite simple and straight-forward. Do these features also apply to air freight?

Sadly no. Shipping via air freight involves a complex process even though its import and export processes are just like the traditional sea freight.

Shipping by air includes these three steps:

  • Local logistics in China and export process

  • Air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport

  • Local logistics in the US and import process

The good news is, this method is the best choice if your cargo quantity exceeds 500KG as it is cost-effective.

As mentioned earlier, Express is the perfect choice for shopping cargoes less than 300kg – air freight is not recommended.

Here some question you may like to ask about this shipment method and our answers to them

What if my cargo quantity is between 300-500 kg?

I wouldn't recommend air freight or even express. Like Express, the price of air freight is continuously fluctuating, so it's impossible to know which is cheaper.

It all comes down to real-time prices.

There are also many irregular discounts to express.

For instance, FedEx is cheaper than air freight if the plane of FedEx has much empty space left.

  • Destination Difference

In most cases, the quote for air freight shipping is from airport to airport, while Express is usually quoted from door to door.

For example

Air Shipping: shipped from Shanghai Port in China to Los Angeles in the USA. You'll need to handle the delivery from the airport to your warehouse.

Express shipping: shipped from supplier to your warehouse directly.

Note that I said in most cases: the air freight supplier can deliver your goods to your doorstep, all you have to do is decide beforehand which service you prefer and ask for it. The cost of shipping from China airport/port to your door is also known as the al-included cost.

Further, keep in mind while the quoted price for shipping from China airport-to-destination airport might seem low at first, there are hidden charges attached that suppliers don't tell you about initially.

  • Difference in Charges

There is a slight difference between the formula used to calculate the charged weight for Express and that of air freight.

Remember we said the dimensional formula of Express is

Dimensional Weight = Length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm)/5000

With air freight, it is mostly the same. Here is what I mean:

Dimensional Weight is now equal to Length x Width x Height/6000, all in cm

The dimensional weight calculation is particularly essential to importers who decide to carry out the shipping process on their own.

If you're shipping your goods yourself, be sure to know the cost of each part of the air freight as it's not just an all-inclusive price - we'll throw more light on this soon.

Some suppliers will quote you the FOB price.

Basically, this means your Chinese supplier is responsible for the transportation from a Chinese factory to the Chinese airport.

Here, air freight involves

  • The cost from China airport to American airport.

  • The cost from American airport to your doorstep.

  • The Chinese export costs and American custom clearance costs.

So, FOB shipping cost = cost for air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport + American customs clearance cost+ Local logistics cost in the USA.

However, you have to ask your local supplier for the accurate cost of American customs clearance and local logistics in the USA.

Remember, there is a little difference between the cost of FOB air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport and sea freight: the cost of the latter depends on the type of cargo and the destination airport.

On the other hand, the freight forwarder might give you an EXW price: here is all you need to know.


Essentially, the EXW price quotation entails adding one more step to your FOB and handling the transportation from the Chinese factory to the port of shipment in China by yourself.

If you are given the EXW price, you'll have to add on the cost for logistics in China and the export process to the FOB cost.


Shipping cost = Local logistics cost in China + China export cost + cost for air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport + American customs clearance cost + Local logistics costs in the USA.

It is vital to note that cost of air freight isn’t fixed, you may incur some additional costs, this makes estimation a bit complicated.

Custom Clearance Difference

Unlike express shipment, where the customs clearance is done by the shipping agent, with air freight shipment, you'll have to handle the customs clearance on your end (in China). Typically, your FDA is requested to conduct the custom clearance for medical products and pay the duty fee involved.

What you need to know about Air Freight Shipment

If you have much experience in air shipment, congratulations, you can save a lot of costs.

Also, if you are very familiar with customs clearance, you can better communicate with the supplier. Establishing a good relationship with suppliers or freight forwarders is critical: they are experienced, so they can help you solve your shipping problems and offer useful suggestions.

Whatever approach you decide to take: When consulting a freight forwarder ensure that you ask for the price for the entire shipping process.

Shipping time for air freight is the time required for booking shipping space+flight time+Local delivery time in the US.

Under normal circumstances, it will take between 8-10 days to get your package due to the complex clearing processes at the port of origin and the destination port.

Weather elements, shipping season, frequent offloading and reloading of cargo at ports along shipping routes, and cost of crude oil are the main factors that can affect shipping time with air freight.

Part 3: Sea Freight from China to US

Sea freight shipping can get very complicated. Not to worry, we've got you. This is a simple guide that will be of help to you

If the volume of the cargo exceeds 2CBM, shipping by sea is a good choice ( typically, 500pcs of complete first aid kits with all the contents)

Similar to the air freight method.

In this part of the guide, we will explore sea freight rates for shipping first aid kits and a real-life example for better understanding.

But first…

What are LCL and FCL?

LCL is the acronym for Less Than Container Load, while Full Container Load is the full meaning of FCL.

When cargo is shipped by sea freight, it is conveyed in containers. If the volume of your goods is small and less than 15CBM, the sellers will help you to ship your goods by LCL.

Thus LCL entails sharing a container with other importers because your cargo load is less than a container.

The LCL method uses CBM (Cubic Meter) as the unit to calculate the freight.

FCL, on the other hand, is when your cargo volume is large enough, and you can fill one or more containers.

Here, the freight is calculated on the basis of the whole container and is generally cheaper than LCL freight.

The table below illustrates the three common FCL container types:

Full container load




CBM contained




1 CBM = 1 Cubic Meter

Now, let's talk about how you can calculate sea freight rates.

Sea Freight Shipping Cost

Before you start the calculation, you should know the three parts of sea freight rates:

  • Cost in China

  • China export costs

  • And cost in the local US.

Cost in China

This includes the cost for the supplier to ship your goods to the port of shipment and China export cost.

If it is bulk cargo (where goods quantity is less than container load), the price will range from $10 -$30/CBM.

However, cost largely depends on the distance from the factory to the port and the volume of the goods.

The smaller the volume, the more expensive the freight will be.

China export cost

Booking costs, export operating costs, and customs documents costs are included in this cost. Generally falls between $100-$300

For LCL (bulk cargo, less than one container), the cost will be $100-$200.

$300 is the estimated cost for FCL.

So, if you have a 5CBM bulk package, the cost in China will be:

($10-$30) x 10CBM+($100-$200) ≈ $150-$350

Cost in the local us

The cost in the local US consists of the US custom clearance fee, customs duties, warehouse fee, and delivery fee.

Once again, we will be discussing FOB and EXW, but this time as it relates to sea freight. If you're wondering why we are reading about these two again and not any other trade form, you should know that 90% of the trade is done under these two terms.

For instance, many suppliers offer you a FOB and EXW price when you source products on their website.

In EXW Price

The price consists solely of the price of the products, so shipping costs are excluded. You'll need to arrange shipment from the supplier's warehouse to your warehouse by yourself.

Thus, here, you have to pay all three parts of the shipping cost: cost in China + China export cost + cost in the local US.

In other words: EXW shipping cost = Local logistics cost in China + China export cost + cost for sea freight from a Chinese port to America port +American customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the USA

You shouldn't agree to this price if you don't have a good shipping partner in China, as you'll end up spending more than your budget.

However, if you stuck with the EXW price and you don't have a shipping partner, you should ask these crucial questions:

  • What is the cost in China for your warehouse to the seaport?

  • What is the shipping cost from China port to my destination port in the US?

  • What is the cost in US (custom costs, document costs, delivery fee, and duty fees)

In FOB price

It's the price of products plus the local logistics cost in China (Chinese factory to the port of shipment).

So, you'll need to pay China to export cost + cost in the local US.

Put another way: FOB shipping cost = Cost for sea freight from a Chinese port to an American port +American customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the USA.

If you get a FOB price, don't fail to ask the following questions about costs:

  • What is the cost from China port to my destination port in the US?

  • What is the cost in the US ( custom costs, document costs, delivery fees, and duty fees)?

There are two other trade forms we will consider in this section: DDU and DDP price.

This includes the price of the products + China cost + China export cost + cost in the Local US export duty fee.

Here, your goods will be delivered to your door, and the shipping agent will help you to do the customs clearance.

If you get a DDU price, you'll just need to figure out the duty fee.

In DDP price

It's the price of products + China cost + China export cost + cost in the local US, including duty fees. It's by sea/by air/by express, and it covers all costs that might be incurred on the way.

If you get a price, you don't need to pay for any extra costs; just wait for your goods to be delivered to your warehouse.

Here is a real-life example, you want to purchase 1000pcs of complete first aid kits with comments: Total 28 ctns

Dimensions of each carton is 60cm×50cm×40cm

Total volume= 0.6×0.5×0.4×28 ctns =3.36 CMB.

Suppose the costs of products quoted from the supplier are

EXW $9000

FOB $9,200

DDU $15,000

DDP $16000

Suppose the China cost quote is $150

The China export cost quote is $300

And the cost in the local US ( including custom costs, document costs, delivery fee, and duty fees) is $1000


If the price quoted from the supplier is EXW: you'll pay $9000 to the supplier, and you'll handle the shipment yourself. And you'll need to pay $150+$300+$1000 to your shipping partner + duty fee.

If the price quoted from the supplier is FOB:

You'll pay $9,200 to the supplier.

The supplier will arrange the shipment from the factory to China port.

You'll pay $300+$1000 to the shipping company + duty fee

If the price quoted from the supplier is DDU

You'll pay $15,000 to the supplier.

They'll arrange the shipment from China to your warehouse directly, DDU, duty fee is not included.

If the price quoted from the supplier is DDP

You'll pay $16,000 to the supplier.

They'll arrange the shipment from China to your warehouse directly, and you don't need to pay any costs.

As we mentioned above in the air shipment section, alcohol pads, lubricants for NPA, quick clot powder, makers are not allowed to be shipped by Express or air freight. But, they are allowed on the sea.


Shipping goods from China to the USA is no easy undertaking, regardless of the product involved. You have to consider the various trade forms, costs, suppliers, and fees. We truly hope that this article makes the process easier and that you got a lot of valuable information and inspiration on more strategies and methods for reducing costs when shipping from China to the US. Hopefully, you can now choose the most suitable method to ship in your first aid kits.

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