A Guide to Shipping from China to the UAE (United Arab Emirates)

The high costs associated with shipping from the Far East to the Middle East can be an off-putting factor for many businesses, but there are ways to keep costs low and shipments running smoothly, and that’s where SeaRates comes in.

Don’t put off shipping from China to the UAE, instead let the experts at SeaRates help. We can:

  • Find you the best freight rates
  • Offer easy access to all necessary documentation
  • Take the guesswork out of preparing your cargo with a range of specialist tools

Find the best rates with just a few clicks.

How much does it cost to ship from China to the UAE? Get a free online quote in just a few clicks

Whatever you’re shipping, the first thing every shipper wants to know is the total cost. It is beneficial to familiarise yourself with all associated costs well in advance if possible.

Anticipated costs include:

  • Carrier charge
  • Peak season surcharge
  • Bunker adjustment factor (BAF)
  • Terminal handling charge (THC)
  • Customs duty
  • Delivery or pick-up fees.

Freight Rates: How much does it cost to ship from China to the UAE?

We work with reliable freight forwarders across the world, meaning we supply you with the best freight rates for your business. You can check prices on our SeaRates Online Freight Marketplace in just a few clicks. All you need to do is input the place of loading and discharge, date, and type of shipment.

If you have not been able to find suitable rates, you can also use our ‘Request a Quote’ feature. Our managers will then find a suitable option specific to your needs to transport cargo from China to the UAE.

Packing your container ready for shipment

Container space is often overlooked, but you can save money if you know what to look for. Optimising the space will also ensure that your goods are placed safely and securely within the container.

Our Load Calculator tool makes for an invaluable part of the stuffing process. A 3D simulation will show you how the goods can be efficiently stuffed into the container. All you need to do is input the shipment details and parameters, and the algorithm will do the rest. Load Calculator can be used for stuffing a Full-Container load or Less-Container Load.

For FCL shipping, if your shipment is large enough, it will be stuffed into its own container. LCL shipping is intended for smaller quantities, meaning your goods will share container space with another shipper’s cargo. While LCL shipments may take longer to arrive, it is more cost-effective when you’re transporting low quantities.

How long does it take to ship From China to the UAE? Booking your shipment

One of the essential steps in the shipping process is planning your shipment route. This will not only help you prepare for unexpected or unplanned for events, but also ensure that your cargo reaches its final destination on schedule.

With China being such a vast country, the time it takes to ship to the UAE will depend a great deal on the ports of origin and destination.

Ocean transit times when shipping from China to the UAE


Port of Origin
Port of Destination
36 days
Jebel Ali
18 days
Jebel Ali
29 days
Jebel Ali
30 days
25 days


Port of Origin
Port of Destination
Jebel Ali
27 days
Jebel Ali
23 days
38 days
Abu Dhabi
30 days
Jebel Ali
30 days

Air freight naturally offers a faster route that will still take a few days to arrive at its destination. So it’s worth considering weighing up the pros and cons before making a final decision.

Air transit times when shipping from China to the UAE

Airport of Origin
Airport of Destination
Abu Dhabi
6 days
Dubai International
5 days
Dubai International
10 days
8 days

You can also access our Ship Schedules tool to find carrier schedules with shipping lines and specific dates. If you require different port locations, you can easily view the available alternative ports and ports of loading and discharge.

Major shipping ports in China:

  • Port of Shanghai: One of the busiest ports in the world. It is situated in the city of Shanghai and experiences a high volume of container traffic.
  • Port of Shenzhen: 39 shipping companies operate out of the Port of Shenzhen, which connects to 131 international freight routes.
  • Port of Guangzhou: Considered to be one of the largest seaports in the world, with direct access to nearly 300 ports in more than 80 countries.

Major shipping ports in the UAE:

  • Port of Jebel Ali: Considered the largest seaport in the Middle East. It offers connections to more than 150 ports around the world.
  • Zayed Port: Abu Dhabi’s main port and one of the biggest commercial ports in the emirate. The port is equipped to handle ten ocean-going vessels at once, along with general and bulk cargo.
  • Mina Rashid: The port primarily deals with non-containerised cargo, including break bulk and roll-off (RoRo) vessels.

Clearing customs in the UAE

Much like any other country, the UAE has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed. The process of clearing customs can be daunting, especially if it is your first time dealing with documentation for the region. Our SeaRates Smart Documents can helps you to understand and complete the following:

  • Master Airway Bill/House Airway Bill for Air channel
  • Master Bill Of Lading/House Bill Of Lading for Sea Channel
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing List
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Delivery Order

Additional paperwork may be required depending on the items you’re shipping. You will require special licenses and permits for importing pets, agricultural products, medicines, vehicles and other cargo. Items that are prohibited for import include controlled substances, exotic and endangered animals, as well as gambling machines.

Do you need help with customs when shipping from China to the UAE? We can help, just get in touch with our team.

Do you need to insure your container?

If you are the liable party as per the agreed upon shipping terms, then it is worth considering cargo insurance. The cost of insurance depends on value and coverage. You have the option to choose either single coverage (per shipment basis) or open coverage (insurance for a specific period of time).

At SeaRates we recommend that you always insure your cargo. Connect to our support team who can help you select the right policy for you.

Why shipping from China to the UAE is good for your business

The Belt and Road Initiative, a modern take on the ancient Silk Road, will only add to the importance of the Middle East, and the UAE in particular, as a global trade corridor for Chinese goods. Although 2020 did temporarily disrupt trade between the two nations, there was a substantial rise in activity over the second half of the year.

What 2021 means for businesses and traders between China and the UAE is still unclear, but many can’t help but be excited by the long-term prospects. If you haven’t experienced trading between these two thriving markets yet - what are you waiting for?

SeaRates provides an end-to-end solution and the most competitive rates in the industry.

Why not contact our team today to plan your next shipment?

Lilia Khovrak is a professional content manager from Odessa, Ukraine. Loves life by the sea. Dreams to see Paris and eat a croissant on the thresholds of Notre Dame de Paris. Hates to read meaningless articles.