Trade relations between China and Italy date back to the days of imperial China and ancient Rome. Nowadays, iron, steel, furniture, apparel, and plastics are among the items that traders most frequently export from China to Italy.
If your business is already shipping these or other goods between China and Italy—or you’re planning to import for the first time—this page is sure to come in handy. It features:
- Information about ocean and air shipping from China to Italy
- Profiles of key ports and airports in both countries
- Transit times for air and ocean shipping
- Details about shipping documentation and customs clearance
Ocean and air shipping are the only feasible ways of shipping cargo from China to Italy. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and it’s the purpose of this page to show you what they are. So let’s take a look:
Ocean Freight From China to Italy
Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL is ideal if you’re shipping a small volume of goods that won’t require a full 20ft or 40ft shipping container. Your goods will share a container with other shippers’ products and will be subject to more moving and handling than goods shipped by FCL.
Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL shipping, there’s no need for your shipment to share space with others. Your goods get exclusive use of a container from origin to final destination. FCL is often the most cost-effective option for consignments occupying at least 12 standard pallets in a 40ft container, or six in a 20ft container.
Air Freight from China to Italy
Air freight is easily the fastest way to get your import or export from China to Italy. However, it’s also the most expensive.
Your quote for an air or ocean shipment from China to Italy will take into account:
- The nature of the goods you’re sending
- Your choice of air or ocean shipping
- The weight, volume, and dimensions of your cargo
- Your preferred method of delivery—door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port
Unsure whether to choose ocean or air shipping? You can always request a quote for both. If your freight weighs under 100kg, air cargo can be nearly as economical as using an ocean carrier—and it’s faster. Consignments weighing over 100kg are almost certain to be less costly to ship as ocean freight from China to Italy.
Like most freight forwarders, Shipa Freight does not quote for consignments weighing under 35kg. International couriers will handle these smaller shipments.
Air freight is by far the quickest way to export from China to Italy, with shipments completed in as little as three days. Ocean vessels will take between 29 and 41 days to ship a container from China to Italy.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From China to Italy?
Below is a selection of maritime freight routes connecting Chinese and Italian trade partners. The times stated are port-to-port, so please allow extra for door-to-door consignments.
- Shanghai to Genoa—29 days FCL
- Shanghai to Milan—37 days LCL
- Shanghai to Ancona—41 days FCL
- Shanghai to Genoa—41 days FCL
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From China to Italy?
To give you an idea of how long it will take your air freight to get from airport to airport and clear customs in Italy, Shipa Freight’s airport-to-airport service from Zhengzhou to Milan takes around three days, while shipments from Shanghai to Milan can take between four and nine days to complete.
Customs clearance is required for every commercial cargo export from China to Italy. The process is complicated. That’s why many businesses engage a freight forwarder to manage it. It’s advisable for you to do likewise if your enterprise has little or no commercial shipping experience. Forwarders reduce the chances of unnecessary delays affecting your consignment and ensure your shipment complies with Chinese and Italian shipping regulations.
Even with a forwarder to help, you will still have a role to play in supplying the necessary paperwork to satisfy the demands of customs officials in China and Italy. The key documents that are required—and about which you should have an understanding—are as follows:
- A Commercial Invoice
- A Packing List
- A Certificate of Origin
- A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
- An Airway Bill for air cargo or a Bill of Lading for ocean freight (this will be provided by the carrier or freight forwarder)
Examples of these documents can be found on this document list page. Please note that you may need to provide additional documents. For example, permits, certificates, or licenses may be necessary.
Transporting a shipping container from China to Italy is a long process. At least 29 days is required, but as many as 41 days may be needed. Your sea freight is likely to ship in a standard container that’s either 20 ft or 40 ft long and opens at one end. Other types of containers are available if your goods require ventilation, refrigeration, or other special conditions to be maintained in port and during transit. Your forwarder will advise.
A freight forwarder will also help you to choose between LCL and FCL ocean shipping. Below, we outline some of the key advantages and disadvantages of both modes of shipping:
Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping
- LCL shipping is likely to be the most suitable option for your consignment if:
- It occupies no more than six standard pallets
- Your cargo isn’t urgently required in Italy
- Your cargo is safe to ship in a shared container
- You can’t load and self-seal a container in China
LCL shipping is best avoided if:
- Your freight is needed in Italy by a certain date
- Your cargo is fragile and could be damaged if moved too frequently
- Your consignment is large, awkwardly-shaped, or unsuitable for shipping in a shared container
- Your goods are perishable and unlikely to arrive in good condition after at least four weeks at sea
Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping
- Importing from China to Italy using an FCL service might be best for your business if:
- Your goods need to be with the recipient by a specified date
- Your freight can’t share a shipping container with other products
- The supplier can load and seal a container in China and the recipient in Italy can unload it
- Your cargo is big enough to fill at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container
Although shipping rates for air freight are higher than FCL or LCL, transporting products from China to Italy by plane has many benefits:
***Urgent orders:***Those demanding customers who want your product urgently won’t wait for ocean freight. With air shipping, transit times from airport to airport are only a few hours, and an entire shipment can be completed in days, compared to weeks for LCL or FCL, so you can satisfy those demands.
***Time-sensitive freight:***It can be worth the higher shipping cost to ensure goods that perish easily or quickly spend as little time in transit as possible. In these cases, air freight is the answer.
***Mitigate delays:***Sending a percentage of your freight by air will help ensure that not all of your products are held up by issues that sometimes affect ocean shipping – such as delays occurring before or after public holidays in China and Italy.
***A small shipment:***Air freight can be more convenient, and may cost only a little more than LCL freight if you are shipping a small quantity of cargo that will occupy only a few pallets.
***Less time equals less risk:***the quicker a shipment gets from supplier to buyer, the fewer risks it will be exposed to en route.
Cargo Ports of Origin in China
- A major Chinese trading port for over 1000 years
- Located on the banks of the Pearl River
- Ranked number five in the world for container volume
- Facilities include a staggering 4600 berths
***Owned By: ***Guangzhou Port Group Co. Ltd. ***Annual Container Volume: ***>20.3 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNGZG.
- A collection of several ports in Guangdong
- One of the biggest amalgamated container ports in the world
- Infrastructure includes 18 container berths
- Located about 37 kilometers north of Hong Kong
Owned By: Shenzhen Government. Annual Container Volume: >25.2 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNSHK.
- One of China’s smaller ports
- Well-connected to some of the fastest-growing regions of inland China
- Many surrounding areas have expanded their manufacturing capabilities in the last decade, so expansion of the port is inevitable
Owned By: Changsha Harbour Administration Bureau. Annual Container Volume: >100,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNCSX.
- Located in Anhui province
- Traditionally regarded as the center of China’s rice trade
- Now a hub for local manufacturing
- A key port for shipping lines moving freight between locations all over China and the rest of the world
Owned By: Wuhu Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNWHI.
- Situated in China’s north-eastern Jiangsu province
- Among China’s to- ten biggest ports
- The 30th largest port in the world
- The name Lianyungang translates to ‘the port connecting to the clouds’
Owned By: Lianyungang Port Group Co. Ltd. Annual Container Volume: >4.7 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNLYG.
Other Ports in China You Can Use
China has so many ports from where your shipment to Italy can depart. As well as those mentioned above, you can take advantage of FCL or LCL services from:
Cargo Ports of Arrival in Italy
- Established as a port in the late 19th Century
- A deep and natural breakwater harbor
- Now one of the Mediterranean Sea’s major container ports
Owned By: Port of La Spezia Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITSPE.
- Located in the center of the Italian Adriatic coastline
- Benefits from advanced container and freight handling facilities
- The port covers an area of 1.4 million square meters
- Container traffic volume is growing annually, as major global carriers are being attracted to the port
Owned By: Central Adriatic Ports Authority. Annual Container Volume: >150,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITAOI.
- Located in Northeastern Italy
- Italy’s eighth-busiest commercial port
- 23 freight terminals handle all types of goods
- A vast rail freight network connects the port to the rest of Italy
Owned By: Port Authority of Venice. Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs. ***UN/LOCODE:***ITVCE.
- A major Mediterranean seaport
- Located in the center of the city on Italy’s southern coast
- An important container hub with 38 berths and close to 5000 employees
Owned By: Port Authority of Naples. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITNAP.
- The busiest port in Italy in terms of freight tonnage throughput
- One of the top three Mediterranean ports
- An artificial harbor that’s over 1,000 years old
- Offers some of the most modern logistics and freight-forwarding services in Europe
Owned By: Genoa Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITGOA.
Airports of Origin in China
- Full name is Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
- The principal air-freight gateway for Guangdong Province
- The third-largest airport in China
- A crucial hub for the shipment of freight to and from the Orient
- One of the 20 busiest cargo airports in the world
Italy Airports Served: Rome-Fiumicino ***Guangzhou to Italy Cargo-Only Operators:***None. IATA CODE: CAN.
- The air-freight gateway to Sichuan Province and its capital, Chengdu
- A vital export facility for western China
- The fourth-busiest cargo airport in China
- Operates flights to more than 170 domestic locations in China, and 50 international destinations
Italy Airports Served: Rome-Fiumicino. Chengdu to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: None. ***IATA CODE:***CTU.
- Located on the east bank of the Pearl River
- 32 kilometers from Shenzhen city center
- Linked to Hong Kong International Airport by a ferry service
- The world’s 24th busiest airport for freight
***Italy Airports Served:***Rome-Fiumicino Shenzhen to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: SZX.
- Occupies a 40 square-kilometer site east of the city center
- One of two airports in Shanghai—the other is Hongqiao
- The world’s third-largest airport in terms of freight movement
- Well-connected to the city of Shanghai and the city’s other airport
Italy Airports Served: Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino. Shanghai-Pudong to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: China Cargo Airlines, Fed-Ex Express. IATA CODE: PVG.
- One of the world’s busiest airports
- The 13th busiest airport in the world for commercial freight
- Opened in 1958
- With the airport operating at near capacity, a second Beijing airport – Daxing – opened in late 2019 to relieve some pressure
Italy Airports Served: Milan-Malpensa, Rome Fiumicino. Beijing-Capital to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: PEK.
Other Airports in China
Other airports in China from which you can move freight to Italy, either using direct or indirect services, include Qingdao, Xiamen, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, and Shanghai Hongqiao.
Airports of Arrival in Italy
- Built nearly 50 kilometers north of Milan
- Adjacent to the Ticino River
- A two-runway, two-terminal airport
- Italy’s busiest airport for freight
Connected Airports in China: Beijing-Capital, Shanghai-Pudong China to Milan-Malpensa Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express. IATA CODE: MXP.
Rome-Fiumicino / Da Vinci
- The Italian capital’s busiest airport
- Named after one of Italy’s most famous sons
- Eighth-busiest airport in Europe
- Home of Alitalia, Italy’s largest airline
- Has five terminals, one of which is known as Cargo City
Connected Airports in China: Beijing-Capital, Shanghai-Pudong, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chengdu. China to Rome-Fiumicino Cargo-Only Operators : None. IATA CODE: FCO.
Shipa Freight digitizes many of the processes involved in international shipping, making it easier for enterprises to import from China to Italy. We remove much of the stress involved in shipping by managing the customs clearance process for you—and give you access to an innovative online platform to simplify your supply chain.
Choosing Shipa Freight when importing from China to Italy has the following advantages:
More control for you- Shipa Freight makes it easy to register your company details, sign-up to use our services, get a quick quote and make a booking. Also, you can pay for your freight from China to Italy online using a debit card, credit card, or wire transfer.
Impressive logistics resources- As part of the Agility Logistics group, we’re able to call on the expertise and resources of a major global supplier of warehouse and logistics services.
Full support service- Shipa Freight gives you access to worldwide freight and pricing experts available 24/7 to help you via online chat, email or telephone.
Competitive quotes- We offer instant online quotes for LCL, FCL, and air freight, and you can even get a multiquote to help you choose the best shipping mode for your consignment.
Automated freight forwarding simplicity- Shipa Freight uses easy-to-follow, self-explanatory features, so every stage of your shipment from China to Italy, whether you send it by air or sea, is stress-free.
Simplified customs clearance- Shipa Freight cuts through the complexity of customs regulations, reducing the time and effort involved in clearance.
To help you build your understanding of the language of shipping, we’ve explained the meaning of two potentially confusing terms used in the industry. You’ll find those explanations below:
- Know Your Options for Shipping Freight From China to Italy
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From China to Italy?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From China to Italy?
- Customs Clearance in China and Italy
- Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?
- Ocean Cargo Port Guide
- Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide
- Ocean and Air Shipping From China to Italy: Why Shipa Freight?
- Know Your Shipping Terminology