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Shipping costs of a container with goods from China to the UK


Transporting from one country to another can be challenging in addition, it is crucial to know the calculations beforehand. During pandemics, most companies experienced issues with shipping and its costs.

Many factors will affect the costs while shipping, for example, distance, size, shipping mode, and others. Most businessmen prefer shipping through ocean shipping because of its attractive prices. The second most common transportation method is air freight; it is used because of its high speed of shipping. In this article, we will look at costs of both types of shipping from China to the UK.


Shipping by sea

LCL – Less than container load

LCL is a mode of shipment that allows transporting your goods even if their amount is not enough for a full container. So, multiple importers will share one container and it saves from various costs, like renting and transporting the whole container.

It can be the best solution for small business owners because air freight is too expensive and the whole container is too big for their goods.


FLC – Full Container Load

Another option is to use FLC services. You can fill the whole container and ship it. FLC is suitable for businessmen that import products in big quantities from China to the UK.


The average cost of FLC.

As it was said before it depends on the location of importer and exporter ports. For example, the cost of shipping:

  • From Shanghai or Ningbo to Southampton is around $1.550 - $1700
  • From Shenzhen to Southampton or Felixstowe is around $1800 - $1900.

But don’t forget that these were for huge containers with the size 39’6 x 7’9 x 7’10 (in feet).


Average cost of LCL

In this example, we will take door-to-door shipping prices for 200 kg / 1 cbm of good.

  • From Shanghai or Ningbo to Southampton is around $620 - $699
  • From Shenzhen to Southampton or Felixstowe is around $600 - $650


Time of shipment by ports.

It is difficult to predict the transit time for ocean freight shipping between China and the UK. It will depend on the port and the time of transportation. In the examples below, we will look at the average time of transit.

  • Guangzhou to Southampton or Felixstowe – 34 days LCL, 46 days FCL
  • Ningbo to Felixstowe - 33 days LCL, 41 days FCL
  • Shanghai to Felixstowe - 36 days LCL, 34 days FCL
  • Shanghai to Southampton – 37 days LCL, 33 days FCL
  • Tianjin to Felixstowe – 59 days LCL, 43 days FCL
  • Dalian to Southampton – 42 days FCL
  • Ningbo to Liverpool or London Gateway – 46 days FCL
  • Ningbo to Southampton - 41 days FCL
  • Qingdao or Xiamen to Southampton - 46 days FCL
  • Shekou to Felixstowe - 37 days FCL
  • Shekou to London Gateway - 38 days FCL
  • Qingdao to Felixstowe - 40 days FCL
  • Qingdao to London Gateway - 42 days FCL
  • Tianjin to Southampton - 38 days FCL
  • Zhongshan to London Gateway - 41 days FCL
  • Zhuhai to Felixstowe - 36 days FCL


Shipping by air.

The most common problem of ocean freight is late transportation. Sometimes time plays a key role in business and fast shipment can bring unexpected incomes. So, it is the biggest reason why entrepreneurs prefer air freight. However, it will cost you quite more than shipping by sea.


Factors that will be considered

Some factors will be considered by all air freight transportation companies. And tariffs are usually changed every month or even week. So, the most accurate way is to get freight forwarders quote. Factors that play a role:

  • The demand
  • Fuel costs
  • The type of freight
  • etc.

If you are transporting goods more than 100 kg it is better to use ocean freight. It will be cheaper than sending by air. And don’t forget that FCL is the most economical mode of transportation for large shipments.


Average cost of air freight

Let’s look at the costs of transfer from China to the UK. We consider door-to-door service and the 200kg / 1cbm product.

  • From Shanghai or Ningbo to Southampton is around $1.110 - $1180
  • From Shenzhen to Southampton or Felixstowe is around $1120 - $1200.



While importing from China to the UK, it is crucial to consider the number of your goods. It is better to import by sea and use FLC if you’re a wholesale buyer. But air freight also can be a good solution if you are a small business owner or the transfer time is limited.

So, the transportation of a full container from China to The UK by sea will cost around $1500-$2000.


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