How to Ship from China to Germany: The Complete Guide

Jun 06, 2022 Lilia Khovrak Lilia Khovrak

China is the manufacturing hub of the world, and Germany is a major importer. This article will show you how to ship goods from China to Germany.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about moving goods from China to Germany, including key points on the necessary regulations.

When trying to find the cheapest shipping from China to Germany, there are many factors to consider, such as time, cost, and location. can help at every stage of your journey.


How long does it take to ship from China to Germany?

Shipping costs may differ greatly depending on a number of factors. These include the volume, weight, and dimensions of the package(s) being shipped; the goods of the package(s); and the mode of transportation. It's also vital to think about the shipment's insurance and the time of year.

SeaRates can help calculate the cost of shipping from China to Germany, but as a general rule: 

- Air freight is typically more expensive than sea freight (although it can be cheaper to send small packages via plane).

- Shipping expensive goods that carry a high insurance premium will increase your shipping costs.

- If you can’t fill a shipping container with your goods, LCL shipping (less than container load) is a cheaper shipping method than FCL shipping (full container load). 

- Rail freight can be a great alternative for importers moving goods from China to Germany because it's faster than sea freight and, in certain conditions, cheaper. To use rail freight, goods must be containerized, therefore less-than-container-load orders aren't a possibility. It's ideal for bulk goods, dry goods, liquids, and machinery. If you don't need your goods quickly or if air freight is too expensive, choose rail freight from China to Germany.

Considering these cost factors can feel overwhelming. SeaRates’ Logistics Explorer can help you figure out the best freight rates; to see what your options are, all you need to know is your ports of origin and destination, when you plan to ship your cargo, and what type of shipment you’re sending. 

In general, the cheapest shipping from China to Germany would be FCL shipping via the ocean outside of the peak time of year. 

How long does it take to move cargo from China to Germany? 

Shipping cargo door-to-door from China to Germany could take anything up to 55 days depending upon your chosen port of origin and destination, what is being shipped, and the method of transportation. 

Air freight is the fastest transportation method, with cargo taking between 1 and 5 days to reach its destination port in Germany. 

Ocean freight takes longer. It can take up to 60 days for goods to reach their German destination port from China. 

In addition, FCL shipping is a faster process than LCL shipping because of the logistics involved in loading and unloading the goods at either end of the journey. 

Rail transit times from China to Germany, hub-to-hub, take about 13-14 days, and door-to-door, approximately 16-18 days.


Sea, Air, Rail freight time from China to Germany


Port to port
Door to door
31-50 days
36-55 days
31-50 days
39-62 days
Air cargo
1-5 days
4-11 days
13-14 days
16-18 days

When is the best time to ship from China to Germany?

Air, rail and sea freight rates – especially for FCL shipping – are affected by seasonal factors. 

The main peak season to consider when shipping from China to Germany is from mid-August to mid-October, ahead of the holiday shopping season, Chinese New Year, Golden Week, and Dragon Boat Festival. During peak times, prices increase because demand is high and container space is low. It is, therefore, cheaper to ship freight away from the peak season. 

When in the month you choose to transport goods can also make a difference to the price.

It can be cheaper to book a shipment in the last two weeks of the month because carriers are trying to fill spots on vessels. The beginning of the month can be a more expensive time, as carriers can levy General Rate Increases on cargo spots.

Generally, the cheapest shipping costs come from booking early.


What are the rates for shipping from China to Germany? 

As shipping rates can vary significantly, the SeaRates Logistics Explorer can help to find a quote to suit you.

After adding in the basic details, such as the destination and date of shipment, the marketplace will allow you to compare various freight journeys. This allows you to view the details of how your shipment will be processed and the duration of transit. The marketplace also provides a cost breakdown for each leg of the journey, to help you control your budget and spend. 

You can request a more tailored quote. This more detailed process asks specific questions about your shipment, such as its commodity type, its HS Code, and its weight. SeaRates will then contact you directly with some options.




What do you need to think about when packing your container? 

Taking a practical approach to your packaging requirements when shipping cargo is vital. You will need to consider your shipment’s weight, dimensions, and packaging material.

While there is a lot to think about, SeaRates’ Load Calculator can help you understand what your shipment will look like and the space it will need. 

The Load Calculator will ask you a series of questions about your shipment, including what equipment you will need to ship, your cargo dimensions, and what method of shipping you will use. 

The calculator will finally produce an image of what your cargo will look like in your chosen container, as well as the total volume and weight it will achieve.


What are the essential documents that need to be completed when shipping from China to Germany? 

Correctly packaged and labelled cargo is essential for it to have a smooth journey from China through the customs clearance process in Germany. Having the necessary documents such as an importation permit for certain goods, a commercial invoice, and a packing list is also key. 

The documents you need when shipping to Germany include:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Customs Value Declaration
  • Customs Import Declaration
  • Letter of Credit
  • Packing List
  • Proof of Insurance

You may also need a special permit if you’re shipping certain goods like hazardous materials.


Should you insure your container? 

We encourage our customers to always insure their cargo. Cargo insurance is often the only protection you have if your shipment is damaged or lost. 

You can find cargo insurance through the freight forwarding community or a third-party insurance agent. SeaRates can also help find the right insurance policy for you. 

Insurance costs are typically in the region of 0.3% to 0.5% of your Commercial Invoice value.  


What are the major shipping ports in China?

Your factory, supplier, or freight forwarder will likely be happy to offer advice on which port is right for you. Certain ports may prove better for you based on their location, customs processes, and goods handling volumes, or perhaps your factory has a special agreement with a particular port. 


Major ocean cargo ports in China include: 

  • Shanghai
  • Ningbo
  • Shenzhen


Major air cargo ports in China include: 

  • Beijing
  • Chengdu
  • Guangzhou
  • Hong Kong
  • Shenzhen
  • Shanghai
  • Hangzhou
  • Xian
  • Xiamen
  • Qingdao
  • Wuhan
  • Tianjin


Major rail hubs in China include: 

  • Chongqing
  • HeFei
  • Xi’an


What are the major shipping ports in Germany?


Major ocean cargo ports in Germany include: 

  • Hamburg
  • Bremerhaven
  • Bremen


Major air cargo ports in Germany include: 

  • Frankfurt
  • Dusseldorf
  • Berlin Tegel
  • Hamburg
  • Munich
  • Coln/Bonn
  • Berlin Schonefeld
  • Stuttgart


Major rail hubs in Germany include: 

  • Duisburg
  • Hamburg
  • Munich


Is it time to find an easy route from China to Germany?

Shipping to a new destination can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be.

The SeaRates platform ensures you secure the most convenient route at the best price. We aim to help you navigate the complexities out of the market so that you can concentrate on growing your business.


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.