Ocean and Air Shipping From China to Australia
Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping
Australia is China’s tenth-largest customer for exports. In fact, over a quarter of Australia’s manufactured imports come from China. A report in September 2019 described trade between the two nations as ‘booming’. A freight forwarder will be able to help your business exploit this boom by making things easier when you’re importing commercial goods from China to Australia.
Air shipping is by far the quickest way to get your import or export from China to Australia. Some shipments can be completed in just two days.
Ocean shipping is a longer process, with shipments taking 12 to 36 days. A freight forwarder will need to know information about your consignment such as its weight, size, volume, and your choice of ports to give you a quote for your shipment.
Shipping Ocean Freight From China to Australia
A freight forwarder can coordinate the transportation of your goods in a shipping container from China to Australia. You’ll have many ports of origin in China to choose from and a smaller selection of ports of arrival in Australia—usually a choice between these five sea freight ports:
- Brisbane port
- Adelaide port
- Sydney port
- Fremantle port
- Melbourne port
If your goods aren’t suited for oceans shipping in a standard container, your forwarder is likely to recommend one of the following specialist containers:
Whichever type of container best suits your freight, your goods will be shipped using one of two methods— FCL or LCL, both of which are explained below.
Shipping LCL Ocean Freight From China to Australia
With LCL ocean shipping your cargo shares container space with products from other companies importing from China to Australia. LCL is popular with companies shipping smaller consignments—cargo amounting to less than the 33 cubic meter capacity of the smallest container.
LCL shipping requires frequent touches of your goods, so products must be packed carefully to protect them during transit in a shipping container from China to Australia.
Shipping a Full Container Load (FCL) From China to Australia
FCL shipping gives you exclusive use of a container for your freight. This is often the most cost-effective option for consignments big enough to fill at least twelve standard pallets in a 40ft container, or six in a 20ft container.
With no consolidation required and fewer touches of goods, FCL shipping is ideal for fragile freight. And because it’s usually quicker than LCL shipping, it’s often the best mode of shipping for goods with a short shelf-life.
Cargo Ports of Origin in China
This port is situated on the coast of the East China Sea, just across the bay from Jiaxing and Shanghai. It’s easily accessible from Zhejiang, the fifth-largest export hinterland in China. There are seven container terminals ready to process goods for export or import to Australia.
Owned By: Ningbo Zhoushan Port Company.
Annual Container Volume: >26.3 million TEUs.
Nine container freight terminals process more than ten million TEUs annually from the Port of Xiamen. Australia is one of 50 countries to which goods from Xiamen are exported. Shipments from this port to Sydney can be completed in 36 days by FCL.
Owned By: Xiamen Port Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >10 million TEUs.
Ocean freight from Qingdao can be shipped to Australia in 21 days by LCL and 36 days by FCL. If your supplier or manufacturer is in Shandong Province, Qingdao is likely to be your nearest port of origin. It’s a magnet for container vessels, serving over 700 locations worldwide.
Owned By: Qingdao Port (Group)Ltd.
Annual Container Volume: >18 million TEUs.
The world’s busiest container port is a major draw for businesses seeking to export from China to Australia. The port is well-connected by roads and railroads to the city that shares its name—and to the surrounding areas. Shipping durations to Australia vary from 18 days by FCL to Brisbane to 27 days by LCL to Fremantle.
Owned By: Shanghai International Port Company Ltd.
Annual Container Volume: >40 million TEUs.
This Dhawan District port lies in Guangdong Province. It is an ideal alternative to the nearby Port of Shenzhen. There is a sole container terminal that will handle goods for import from China to Australia. Shipments bound for Melbourne can be completed in 25 days.
Owned By: China Merchants Shekou Port Service Company Ltd.
Annual Container Volume: >46,000 TEUs.
Other Ports in China
The list below shows other ports in China from where shipments to Australia can embark:
Cargo Ports of Arrival in Australia
Fremantle Harbor is Western Australia’s busiest cargo port. Located in the Perth Metropolitan area, the inner harbor handles nearly all international containerized freight arriving or departing the area. In 2018-2019 the port handled over 780,000 TEUs. LCL shipping from Shanghai to Fremantle can be completed in 27 days.
Owned By: Fremantle Port Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >780,000 TEUs.
Located 14km northwest of Central Adelaide, this port has a 510-meter quay exclusively for container vessels. The terminal covers 23 hectares and features 3000 square meters of warehouse space. Road links from the port to the surrounding area are strong, and railroad tracks connect directly to the Australian rail network.
Owned By: Flinders Ports Pty Ltd.
Annual Container Volume: >322,000 TEUs.
The Port of Brisbane is on the artificial Fisherman’s Island off the east coast of Queensland. It features nine deepwater container berths. The port is linked to the Gateway Motorway for easy access by road from the port to other destinations. These include, of course, the city of Brisbane—the third-largest city in Australia.
Owned By: Port of Brisbane Corporation.
Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs.
New automated container handling facilities at Port Botany are helping boost Sydney’s annual cargo throughput. Over one-third of Australia’s containerized freight is processed here every year, and the port now generates $60 billion worth of international and domestic trade annually.
Owned By: Sydney Ports Corporation.
Annual Container Volume: >2.6 million TEUs.
Upgrades at the Port of Melbourne have boosted its container-handling capacity in recent years. A new Victoria International Container terminal has been built and $550 million invested in a highly automated new dock. These improvements also mean that the port, situated at the mouth of the River Yarra, can now handle larger container vessels.
Owned By: The Lonsdale Consortium.
Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.
Air Freight From China to Australia
Freight can be flown from China to Australia in two to eight days, depending on your airports of origin and arrival. Businesses tend to favor air shipping when:
- Their delivery is urgent
- Their cargo is fragile
- Their consignment is small—usually no more than three pallets
- They want the peace of mind provided by stringent airport and airline security procedures
Airports of Origin in China
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a two-runway facility in Sichuan Province. Situated 16km to the southwest of Chengdu city, it’s a former military airfield that processes 600,000 tonnes of air freight annually. Cargo can be shipped from here to Melbourne in two days.
Australia Airports Served: Sydney, Melbourne.
Chengdu to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA CODE: CTU.
The world’s third-busiest airport for freight processes 3.7 million tonnes of goods every year. Its location and outstanding transport links make it a prime destination for businesses with goods to import or export from China to Australia. Shipping from here can arrive at the following destinations in the times stated below:
- Perth—3 days
- Melbourne—4 days
- Sydney—4 days
- Brisbane—6 days
Australia Airports Served: Melbourne. Sydney.
Shanghai to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: Qantas Cargo, MASkargo
IATA Code: PVG.
China’s tenth-busiest air freight hub is located just under 20km from the city of Chongqing. For goods originating in the Yubei District in Western China, this is an attractive proposition as an airport of origin. A fourth terminal is due to open at a facility already popular with multinational IT organizations with goods to ship overseas.
Australia Airports Served: Melbourne, Sydney.
Chongqing to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: Qantas Freight.
IATA Code: CKG.
This air hub in Southern China has a seaport nearby. If your supply chain requires fast shipping to Australia, through areas including Hong Kong or others around the Pearl River Delta, the airport is the place to ship from. Shipments bound for Sydney can be completed in three days and those to Brisbane in five.
Australia Airports Served: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane.
Shenzhen to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA CODE: SZX.
Guangzhou’s central location makes it popular with manufacturers and suppliers from all over China. That popularity has made the airport the 19th-busiest for air cargo in the country. The facility can handle an annual throughput of 1 million tonnes. Shipments to Melbourne can be completed in 2 to 8 days and Brisbane in 3 to 5 days.
Australia Airports Served: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney.
Guangzhou to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express.
Other Airports in China
Additionally, your goods can be flown to Australia from the following airports in China:
- Shanghai Hongqiao
Airports of Arrival in Australia
Adelaide International Airport is just 6km west of the city center. Air freight shipments from Shanghai-Pudong can be completed in just two days—ideal for urgent orders. Direct flights operate from Guangzhou Airport in China. Shipping from other locations in the People’s Republic will be routed here using indirect services.
Connected Airports in China: Guangzhou.
China to Adelaide Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA Code: ADL.
Australia’s fourth-biggest airport is located 10km west of Perth city. It’s a two-runway facility with direct services from Guangzhou in China. Indirect services from Shanghai-Pudong can result in air freight being ready for collection here in three days and from Shenzhen in five days.
Connected Airports in China: Guangzhou.
China to Perth Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA Code: PER.
Located 8km south of Sydney city center, around 45% of Australia’s air cargo traffic passes through Sydney airport’s seven cargo terminals. Here’s an overview of the estimated shipping durations from selected airports in China:
- Beijing-Capital—8 days
- Shanghai-Pudong—4 days
- Shenzhen—5 days
Connected Airports in China: Beijing-Capital, Chengdu, Nanjing, Shanghai-Pudong, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Fuzhou, Xiamen.
China to Sydney Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express, Qantas Freight.
IATA Code: SYD.
Serving the city of the same name and other cities in Southeast Queensland, this is Australia’s third-biggest freight hub. It’s a 24/7 operation with an 82,000 square meter apron that accommodates freighters. A new runway is due to open during 2020. The facility saw a 6% growth in air freight volumes during 2018/2019.
Connected Airports in China: Guangzhou, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenzhen.
China to Brisbane Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA Code: BNE.
Also known as Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne is Australia’s second-busiest air facility behind Sydney. Situated 23 kilometers northwest of the city, the southern freighter apron has five parking positions for cargo aircraft using the facility’s two intersecting runways.
Connected Airports in China: Beijing-Capital, Guangzhou, Shanghai-Pudong, Xiamen, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Changsha.
China to Melbourne Cargo-Only Operators: Kalitta Air Cargo.
IATA Code: MEL.
Customs Clearance Procedures in China and Australia
Plenty of rules, regulations, codes, and paperwork make customs clearance complicated. Knowing the documents you need to send with your consignment can make the whole process easier. So we have listed them below:
- Commercial Invoice
- Certificate of Origin
- Packing List
- Letter of Credit or other payment terms (these depend on the terms of the deal negotiated between the two contractors)
- Bill of Lading for ocean shipments (Shipa Freight will sort this out)
- Airway bill for air shipments (Shipa Freight will sort this out)
Please note that you may be required to supply additional paperwork with your shipment.
More information about the documents listed above can be found on this page.
How Long Does it Take to Ship Goods From China to Australia?
Delivery timescales will no doubt influence your choice of ocean or air shipping for your import or export from China to Australia. Air shipping is quicker, with some shipments completed in just two days.
If you have a less pressing delivery deadline or your consignment is too big to fly, ocean freight is for you. You should allow between 12 and 36 days for your goods to be shipped by an ocean carrier from China to Australia.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From China to Australia?
As these sample shipping durations show, ocean carriers can get your goods from China to Australia in 12 to 36 days:
- Guangzhou to Melbourne—24 days LCL
- Guangzhou to Sydney—34 days FCL
- Fuzhou to Melbourne—25 days LCL
- Guangzhou to Brisbane—36 days FCL
- Guangzhou to Sydney—36 days FCL
- Ningbo to Adelaide—29 days FCL
- Ningbo to Brisbane—12 days LCL
- Ningbo to Melbourne—23 days LCL
- Ningbo to Sydney—22 days LCL
- Qingdao to Fremantle—36 days FCL
- Qingdao to Sydney—36 days FCL, 21 days LCL
- Qingdao to Brisbane—21 days LCL
- Shanghai to Brisbane— 18 days FCL
- Shanghai to Fremantle—27 days LCL
- Shanghai to Melbourne—20 days FCL, 23 days LCL
- Shanghai to Sydney—19 days FCL, 19 days LCL
- Shekou to Melbourne—25 days FCL
- Shenzhen to Brisbane—19 days LCL
- Shenzhen to Sydney—21 days LCL
- Tianjin to Sydney—31 days FCL, 26 days LCL
- Wuhan to Sydney—36 days FCL
- Xiamen to Sydney—36 days FCL
- Zhongshan to Melbourne—24 days LCL
How Long to Ship Cargo by Air From China to Australia?
You should expect your air shipping from China to Australia to take between two and eight days, as this list shows:
- Guangzhou to Brisbane—3 to 5 days
- Guangzhou to Melbourne—3 to 8 days
- Zhengzhou to Brisbane—7 days
- Chengdu to Melbourne—2 days
- Beijing-Capital to Brisbane—4 days
- Beijing-Capital to Sydney—8 days
- Shanghai Pudong to Adelaide—2 days
- Shanghai Pudong to Brisbane—6 days
- Shanghai Pudong to Melbourne—4 days
- Shanghai Pudong to Perth—3 days
- Shanghai Pudong to Sydney—4 days
- Shenzhen to Perth—5 days
- Shenzhen to Brisbane—3 days
- Shenzhen to Sydney—5 days
- Qingdao to Brisbane—5 days
- Xiamen to Brisbane—5 days
- Xiamen to Melbourne—2 to 5 days
What’s The Cost of Shipping Cargo From China to Australia?
Your quote for shipping from China to Australia will take into account:
- The type of goods you’re sending
- Your choice of ocean or air shipping
- The weight, volume, and dimensions of your consignment
- Your preferred method of delivery—door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port
Unsure whether to choose air or ocean shipping? If your freight weighs under 100kg, sending it as air cargo can be just as economical as using an ocean carrier—and it’s quicker. Consignments weighing above 100kg will usually be less costly to ship if you send them as ocean freight from China to Australia.
Shipa Freight does not quote for consignments weighing less than 35kg.
7 Reasons to Choose Shipa Freight for Cargo From China to Australia
- Get a quote for your consignment—fast
- Easy to book and pay for your shipping online
- You can track your shipment from your smart device thanks to our platform’s GPS technology
- Your customs clearance requirements are clearly explained
- Get a 24/7 customer support service via email, phone, or online chat
- Benefit from the worldwide logistics expertise of the shipping professionals at our parent company Agility Logistics
- Choose from door-to-door, door-to-port, port-to-port or port-to-door delivery to suit your business needs.
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