How to ship from China to Amazon FBA?


Industry Encyclopedia

What is Amazon FBA?

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) is the fulfillment service offered by Amazon, in the hope of making selling easier for its sellers. With FBA service, you can store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and Amazon staff will be responsible for picking, packing, shipping and handling all customer inquiries and returns for these products.

As an Amazon seller, you are not a qualified one if you don’t know the shipping costs, customs clearance and duties. If we have a good preparation and knowledge about that, we will have more advantages of selling prices and then make more profit. It’s no longer a secret that buying goods from China to sell in the USA can be a lucrative approach for Amazon FBA seller, so if you have a US-based ecommerce business and want to get in on the action, this guide is an ideal first stop before you start sourcing.

Shipping from China to Amazon FBA can be confusing, especially if you are new to Amazon. Even experienced FBA sellers tend to be overwhelmed by the various options and regulations. Although it is quite hard to use, it is significant. And this article will help you much about this. There are 9 steps:

Step 1: You have to determine the way of shipping your goods from China to Amazon FBA warehouse. There are three ways:

Method Pros Cons
Direct Shipping from China to Amazon FBA Cheapest, fastest, most convenient Cannot check and control product quality
Ship to Your Home First, then to Amazon Warehouse Can inspect quality and control defect rate by yourself
eliminate the risks of bad customer reviews
Can label products by yourself
Additional transportation fee from home to Amazon warehouse
Waste time of transportation.
Ship Via Prep Service Company, then to Amazon Warehouse Can inspect product quality and label products
Help transport to Amazon FBA smoothly.
Expensive labor cost for 3rd party in US.
More expensive than directly ship from supplier to Amazon.


Step 2: Choose the shipping method from express, air freight or ocean freight.

Express Shipping:For smaller quantities of goods, you might be able to use express shipping, which is essentially courier transportation. While this is the simplest way, it can be very costly. On the other hand, it does make for straightforward customs clearance, and if the value of your shipments is less than $800, they will not incur US customs duties.

Air Freight:If your shipments are likely to weigh between 50 and 100 kg, you should consider moving them from China to the United States using air freight. Shipping costs for air freight can be significant, although not as expensive as express shipping, and of course, you have the advantage of short transit times if that is important to your logistics strategy.

Ocean Freight:The slowest, but least expensive way to transport your products from China to the US is by sea, and depending on the volume of goods you are moving, you can choose less-than-container-load (LCL) or full container load (FCL) shipping.


Use express freight (courier) when:

  • • Your shipments weigh less than 50 kg
  • • don’t have much time for shipping.
  • • You don’t want to deal with the complexities of customs clearance

    The approximate shipping cost using this method of transportation is around $6 to $7 per kilogram, but note that some courier companies use a calculation of dimensional weight for pricing purposes.

    A dimensional weight calculation converts the size of space required for your shipment, into a notional weight, and can work out more expensive than actual-weight pricing, particularly if your products are large in size but light in weight.

  • -Use air freight when:

    • • Your shipments weigh less than 100 kg
    • • Speed is essential and you don’t want the high expenses
    • • You want to control over export and import customs clearance
    • • You are prepared to manage the clearance process with help from a customs broker or freight forwarder
  • -Use ocean freight when:

    • • Economical transportation is more important than speed
    • • Your shipments weigh more than 100 kg or are more than two cubic meters in volume
    • • You are familiar with the complexities of ocean freight and can determine if FCL or LCL shipment is the most cost-effective option, or you are happy to engage a freight forwarder to help manage your shipping activity.
    • Transit times for ocean freight are lengthy, and your shipments will take anything from 30 to 45 days to arrive at the US port of discharge. You will also need to account for the time necessary to get your products from the port to an FBA fulfillment center. LCL shipments take longer than FCL, due to the need for consolidation in China and deconsolidation in the United States.

      Step 3: Settle Incoterms

      Determine the shipping responsibilities of you and your supplier. To do that, you will need to settle upon one of the shipping incoterms applicable to international trading transactions. You can published an article with the necessary information a few months ago if you want, but it’s fair to say that when shipping from China to the United States, buying under the Free On Board (FOB) incoterm is typically the safest and most straightforward option.

      FOB means that domestic transportation in China, from the supplier’s premises to the port or airport of loading, and the cost and responsibilities of export customs clearance, are borne by the supplier, who will, of course, account for the expense when quoting you a purchase price for your products.

      As a comparison, the ex-works incoterm stipulates that you will bear all costs and responsibilities for shipping and transportation. With this, your supplier’s price will be for the products only, and you will need to arrange for domestic transportation in China and the management of export customs clearance.

      Unless you know plenty about doing business in your supplier’s location, or have a reliable contact in China who can handle this side of things for you, it’s usually better to let the supplier take the responsibility and pass the costs onto you in the purchase price.

      Step 4: Having Freight quotes

      Obtain freight quotes and compare them. If your business will manage the entire shipping process, and assuming you purchase under the FOB incoterm, you will need quotes from international air or ocean carriers, and domestic carriers for transportation from the port of discharge to your assigned FBA fulfillment center.

      If your business receives the shipments internally, this process will be more complicated. In addition to quotes from carriers, you will also need to ascertain the costs for handling your shipments through the port of discharge, for import customs clearance, and insurance for your goods. The same is true if you ship to an intermediary in the United States for FBA preparation.

      Know Your Product HS Codes

      Before any carrier or forwarder can provide you with a freight quote, you will need to give them sufficient information to enable them to calculate prices. One item of information that you should have to hand at this stage is the classification of the products you are shipping.

      Step 5: Import Customs Clearance

      Primary Steps in Import Customs Clearance:

    • 1) Obtain an import business number (one-time task) if required for the country of import.
    • 2) Obtain certificates of origin for the items you are importing.
    • 3) Make sure your goods are not prohibited for import in the destination country.
    • 4) Determine the Harmonized System Codes for the materials or products you are importing.
    • 5) Obtain import licenses or permits for your goods, if required.
    • 6) File an import declaration, either electronically, or manually (Your forwarder or broker can do this).
    • 7) Await notification that customs officials have approved your declaration.
    • 8) Pay the taxes and duties assessed (your forwarder or broker will typically do this, and will invoice you)
    • 9) Await release of your goods.
    • If customs officials have no reason to hold your shipment, they will release it shortly after you have paid the taxes and duties.

      Step 6: Domestic Transportation in the US

      After your shipment has been offloaded from the ship or aircraft and released by the CBP, it can be transported onward to your business premises in the United States, to the premises of an intermediary, or directly to your assigned Amazon FBA fulfillment center(s).

      If you are shipping directly to fulfillment centers, you will need to trust in your Chinese supplier to have prepared your goods according to Amazon FBA requirements. Otherwise, when your shipment arrives with you or your intermediary, it will be time to move onto Step 7—preparation for delivery to Amazon.

      Step 7: Make preparation for Amazon FBA

      This step is new international FBA shippers tend to get things wrong. Amazon’s specifications for packaging and labeling are quite exacting and if not complied with, can lead to your shipment being turned away.

      We’ll share some of the more essential details for preparing FBA shipments later, but for now, let’s move on to one very critical task following preparation of your goods—scheduling the delivery to Amazon.

      In practice, your carrier will arrange the delivery appointment and you will give some necessary information. You can do this by completing an Appointment Request Form, available as a download directly from Amazon Seller Central. It’s critical to be aware that your chosen carrier must be one that Amazon recognizes and approves. If you fail to use an approved carrier, Amazon will not accept your delivery.

      Step 8: Onward to Amazon

      Step 8 is the final leg of your Amazon FBA shipment, during which your goods will be dispatched from your business premises or those of your intermediary, transported to the assigned Amazon fulfillment center(s), and received into the FBA warehousing system. This step should be straightforward, so long as you have met with all the requirements stipulated by Amazon.

      We hope these steps will help you with better shipment from China to Amazon. You can find a shipping agent to help you choose and handle the shipment, then have advantages from that.


Amazon FBA