Ocean and Air Shipping from China to the Philippines [Updated: Jul 2021]
FCL, LCL and air freight: information and online quotation
Mechanical, electrical, and high-tech products are the items that businesses most frequently import or export from China to Philippines markets. Indeed, nearly 24% of total imports in the Philippines come from China.
If you’re looking to export from China to the Philippines more easily and successfully, this page should be of interest. It features information about ocean and air shipping from China to the Philippines.
You’ll find details of how freight forwarders can help you through the lifecycle of your shipment, including simplifying the complex customs clearance process. The page also contains profiles of key airports and seaports in both China and the Philippines, as well as transit times from the Shipa Freight database.
Air and ocean shipping are the only viable ways to ship freight from China to the Philippines. Air freight is the fastest method, with many airports in China to choose from. Most freight from the People’s Republic will be flown into one of two airports in the Philippines—Manila or Cebu.
There are major seaports associated with both those cities too, plus another ocean hub in Davao. Freight forwarders are likely to recommend one of the three as your port of arrival in the Philippines.
Ocean Freight From China to the Philippines
Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipping requires your products to share a container with other goods from businesses importing from China to Philippines destinations. If you have a small consignment to send—less than 33 cubic meters—LCL is nearly always more cost-efficient than FCL.
Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL shipping, you will get exclusive use of a container for your goods. No consolidation or deconsolidation is required, and your container remains sealed throughout the shipping process. FCL is likely to be your most cost-efficient shipping option if you are transporting a minimum of six standard pallets of goods in a 20ft container, or 12 pallets in a 40ft container.
Air Freight from China to the Philippines
Over 2,800km separates the capital cities of China and the Philippines. If you’re shipping goods between the capitals, or from other cities in China, the fastest way to move them is with an air cargo carrier. However, air freight is the most expensive way to import from China to the Philippines.
Costs for ocean and air shipping from China to the Philippines can vary and fluctuate. Your freight forwarder needs key information about your shipment to calculate your quote. The kinds of questions they’ll ask are:
- What are the goods you want to ship?
- How much do they weigh?
- What’s the size and volume of your shipment?
- Do you want to ship by air or ocean?
- If ocean shipping, do you want FCL or LCL?
- Do you want a door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door, or door-to-port delivery?
If you’re unsure whether air or ocean shipping is the best way to go, here’s some guidance:
Ocean freight is often more cost-effective than air shipping for consignments weighing over 100kg. For shipments with a total weight of under 100kg, air carriage can be nearly as cost-effective as ocean shipping.
Shipa Freight does not provide quotes for cargo that weighs under 35kg.
Air freight is the quickest way to export or import from China to the Philippines. It’s the preferred mode of transit for businesses with urgent deadlines and/or small consignments. Ocean freight can take between nine and 31 days depending on the ports you choose and whether you opt for LCL or FCL shipping.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From China to the Philippines?
As the examples here show, it takes between nine and 31 days to ship a container from China to the Philippines:
- Shanghai to Manila – 15 days FCL, 9 days LCL
- Tianjin to Manila – 19 days LCL
- Wuhu to Manila – 24 days FCL, 24 days LCL
- Xiamen to Manila – 31 days FCL
- Guangzhou to Manila – 15 days FCL
- Lianyungang to Davao, Mindanao – 31 days FCL
- Qinzhou to Manila – 16 days FCL
- Qingdao to Cebu – 31 days FCL
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From China to the Philippines?
There are numerous direct flights from different airports in China to the two main airports in the Philippines—Cebu and Manila. The time taken to ship goods between the airports is usually one week. For example, your carrier will typically quote seven days as the required transit times for any of the following routes:
- Beijing to Cebu
- Shanghai to Manila
- Nanjing to Manila
- Dalian to Cebu
- Beijing to Manila
Customs clearance rules can be baffling, which explains why many businesses choose to engage a freight forwarder to manage the process. Doing so will eliminate the threat of unnecessary delays and ensure your shipment complies with rules and regulations.
Even with a forwarder to assist with shipping, you will still have to supply compulsory documentation which will almost certainly include:
- 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 (you can leave this to Shipa Freight)
The above list is not exhaustive and you may be required to submit a certificate, permit, or license with your shipment. Your forwarder will advise.
Should you wish to take a look at samples of the paperwork we’ve listed above, please pay a visit to our comprehensive document list page.
China and the Philippines are separated by the South China Sea. A freight forwarder can arrange for your sea freight to be shipped from port to port across that body of water aboard a container ship.
For most types of freight, a carrier will be able to transport them in a standard shipping container from China to the Philippines. Here’s some information about these containers:
- They open at one end
- They usually come in two lengths—20ft and 40ft
- 20ft containers can fit 10-11 standard pallets
- 40ft containers carry up to 21 standard pallets
Your goods could require a special type of container, one with refrigeration, ventilation, extra height, or another unique feature. Your freight forwarder should be able to advise you on what’s best.
Forwarders can also help you choose between FCL and LCL ocean shipping. Below, we outline the pros and cons of both modes to help you make an informed decision about which is best for your business:
Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping
LCL shipping often works out to be the best option for businesses with:
- No more than six standard pallets to ship
- Cargo that isn’t urgently required in the Philippines
- Freight that can be safely shipped in a shared container
- No access to facilities to load and seal a container in China
- An understanding that LCL shipping requires additional logistics (consolidation and deconsolidation) that could result in longer transit times when compared to FCL shipping
It’s probably best to avoid LCL shipping altogether if your business has:
- Freight that’s required in the Philippines by a certain date
- Fragile cargo that risks being damaged if handled or moved too often
- A large or awkwardly-shaped consignment that’s unsuitable for shipping in a shared container
Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping
Importing from China to the Philippines using FCL ocean shipping could meet your needs if:
- Your freight is required in the Philippines by a certain date
- Your cargo cannot share a container for whatever reason
- You can load and seal your container and your recipient has the facilities to unload it
- Your consignment is big enough to fill at least half the capacity of a 20ft container
Air shipping is likely to be the best option for your business if:
- You need a quick export from China to the Philippines
- Your goods are perishable and will benefit from the shortest possible transit time
- Your consignment is a relatively small one—three pallets at most
- Your freight can be safely shipped aboard an aircraft
- Your cargo is of a high-value and will benefit from the stringent levels of security provided by airlines and airport operators
Cargo Ports of Origin in China
- One of the top-five biggest container ports in the world
- The gateway in South China for over 130 shipping lanes
- Ideal if your supply chain involves the movement of goods from Hong Kong or other locations in Southern China
Owned By: Multiple owners. Annual Container Volume: >27 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNSZP.
Xiamen Port Facts: Ranks in the top ten of the world’s busiest container ports Infrastructure includes nine cargo terminals The port processes over 10 million TEUs every year Can accommodate sixth-generation container vessels Owned By: Xiamen Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >10 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNXMN.
- Spans the shores of three rivers—the Yangtze, Jialing, and Wujiang
- The deepest inland port in China that allows foreign businesses to use its facilities
- Houses 181 production berths
Owned By: People’s Republic of China. Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNCQI.
- Home to the world’s biggest automated container terminal
- Easy to reach for any supplier or manufacturer based in Zhejiang and Jiangsu
- Has both shallow and deep water zones
- Retained its status as the world’s biggest port for containerized goods in 2019
Owned By: Shanghai International Port Company Ltd. Annual Container Volume: >40 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNSHA.
- Situated close to the South China Sea
- The only river port in Guangdong Province
- Is in line for expansion over the next few years
Owned By: Shantou Port Affairs Bureau. Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: CNSTG.
Other Ports in China
The list below shows other ports in China from where shipments to the Philippines can embark:
Cargo Ports of Arrival in the Philippines
- A 137-hectare facility
- The most important shipping gateway in the Philippines
- Two new cranes installed in 2019 enable the port to handle the world’s largest container ships
- Congestion problems that once blighted operations at the port have been overcome
Owned By: Philippine Ports Authority. Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: PHMNL.
- The busiest port in the Philippines for passenger ships is also an important container hub
- A new port is being constructed adjacent to the current one and is due to open in 2022
- The first quarter of 2019 saw the amount of containerized freight handled here grow by 12.6% compared to the previous year
Owned By: Cebu Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >950,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: PHCEB.
- A collection of ports in the Davao Gulf
- For recipients located in the Visayas or Mindanao, Davao is an ideal port of arrival
- Containerized goods are chiefly handled in the Sasa International Seaport and the Davao International Container Terminal (DICT)
Owned By: Philippine Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >600,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: PHDVO.
Airports of Origin in China
- Ideal if your supplier or manufacturer is based near the Chinese capital
- Over two million tonnes of cargo is processed here annually
- Outstanding road and railroad links make it easy to get goods into the airport from destinations across China
Philippines Airports Served: Manila. Beijing to Philippines Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: PEK.
- The world’s third-biggest air cargo hub
- Only Hong Kong and Memphis handle more freight
- In 2018, 3.7 million tonnes were processed here
- Home to many of China’s major air freight carriers, including China Cargo Airlines and China Southern Cargo
Philippines Airports Served: Cebu, Manila. Shanghai to Philippines Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express. IATA Code: PVG.
- Officially called Nanjing Loukou International Airport
- Serves the capital of Jiangsu Province
- Facilities include a 34,000 square meter cargo center
- Easy to get goods to the airport from locations in the Yangtze River Delta
- No direct flights link Nanjing to the Philippines
Philippines Airports Served: None. Nanjing to Philippines Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: NKG.
- Also known as Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
- China’s third-busiest air freight hub
- Situated in the heart of China’s air network
- The airport handled a throughput of 1.8 million tonnes in 2018
Philippines Airports Served: Manila, Cebu. Guangzhou to Philippines Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express. IATA Code: CAN.
- Located in the Dongli District in Northeastern China
- Situated to the southeast of Beijing and the southwest of Tangshan
- No direct flights operate between Tianjin and the Philippines, so your freight forwarder will use indirect cargo or passenger services
Philippines Airports Served: None. Tianjin to Philippines Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: TSN.
Other Airports in China
In addition to the airports mentioned in detail above, your goods can be flown to the Philippines from the following gateways in China:
- Shanghai Hongqiao
Airports of Arrival in the Philippines
- Serves the Central Visayas region
- The second-busiest airport in the Philippines
- A major hub for Cebu Pacific Airways
- A single-runway facility
- A second runway is under construction and due for completion.
Connected Airports in China: Shanghai-Pudong, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xiamen. China to Cebu Cargo-Only Operators: FedEx Express. IATA Code: CEB.
- Also called Ninoy Aquino International Airport (and Nichols Field)
- Located between the cities of Paranaque and Pasay, seven kilometers south of Manila
- The facility’s two runways are scheduled to be joined by a third which is currently in planning
Connected Airports in China: Beijing-Capital, Guangzhou, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenzhen, Xiamen. China to Manila Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: MNL.
Shipa Freight takes a refreshing digital-first approach to international shipping that simplifies supply chains for all kinds of businesses, helping them to trade on the global stage. When you choose to import from China to the Philippines with Shipa Freight, you get the following benefits:
- The chance to select from a big choice of ports and airports of origin in China
- An online platform that generates most quotes in a matter of minutes
- The ability to book and pay for your shipments online
- A choice of four types of delivery: door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port
- The expertise of the international shipping gurus at our parent company Agility Logistics
- Access to a 24/7 customer support service via telephone, email and online chat
- Know Your Options for Shipping Freight From China to the Philippines
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From China to the Philippines?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From China to the Philippines?
- Customs Clearance in China and the Philippines
- Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?
- Ocean Cargo Port Guide
- Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide
- Ocean and Air Shipping From China to the Philippines: Why Shipa Freight?