How does Amazon’s shipping process from China work?

You have decided to become entrepreneurs and use Amazon’s online platform to market products in the US? The first step in this process begins with choosing the products that will be marketed, following a comprehensive market research, and then finding the supplier that offers you a quality product at a reasonable price. In most cases you will find that the preferred suppliers are in China.  But how to send a large volume of products from China to the US? In this article we will review the various steps and options available to you.

Step one – Choosing the shipping method
Freight forwarding can be done in one of two ways – by air or by sea. When goods are air shipped, the delivery time is shorter with deliveries made within a few days – but the shipping cost can be significantly higher. For relatively large heavy products the shipping cost can reach hundreds of shekels per product. In this case, we prefer to ship by sea – although the delivery time is much slower and can range from weeks to months but the cost is significantly lower.

Step two – Ordering the goods from the Chinese supplier
Now you are ready to contact the supplier and order the goods. After you have negotiated the price and chose the number of units you would like to order of each product (sometimes there are several models and colors of one product), again you can choose between two options. The first option is shipping with the supplier taking care only of supplying the goods. This shipment is called EX Works or EXW for short. The product supplier transfers the goods you have purchased to the person who collects them from the company’s warehouses in China, and from there the product is your responsibility. He does not take care of paying the customs for the product, for transportation to the port or the airport, or for the arrival of the products to Amazon warehouses.

The second method, which saves you quite a bit of hassle, is using Free On Board or FOB. In this method, the seller takes care of the necessary customs procedures in the port in China, until the goods are loaded on the ship. Now – the product is at your own risk, including its insurance. Most of the transactions currently being conducted with Amazon (estimated at 90% of all transactions) are carried out in this manner, when sellers are required to carry the goods through the Chinese customs.

Step Three – From the port to the USA
The goods are shipped to the port in the United States and the customs have been paid, either by your supplier using the FOB method, or by a contact person in China who takes care of the required procedure. The goods are registered and proceeds with their order number to the US Customs inspection process. The seller takes care only of the goods booking – and now you’re ready for the real challenge: clearing the goods from the US Customs and sending it to the Amazon warehouse.

Step four – the big challenge: Clearing the goods at US customs
The fourth step in this process is considered the most difficult. While shipping is carried out when the goods are classified according to a category in the Chinese customs, sometimes mistakes are discovered and the goods are not easily cleared from customs in the US. Officials in America are known for their strict observance of procedures, which we sometimes call in Israel “tiny minds.” A small mistake in classifying the goods, may lead to difficulties for the customs agent to match the product to the agreed tariff code in the various departments in the world (Harmonize System or HS code in short).  This code system should create uniformity of the various product categories worldwide in commercial importation, but sometimes, because of the differences between the countries, one will set, by mistake, the products in one code, while in the US it shall be marked by a different code. Therefore, it is important at the shipping stage to carefully examine whether the code in which the goods are sent, matches the code in which it will be released.

How to deal with the challenge: Using an agent experienced in dealing with Amazon and the customs departments in China and the United States

While the ways to find suitable products for sale and a Chinese supplier can be learned, the changes in shipping and customs regulations require years of experience and ongoing training on various customs requirements. In addition, Amazon also requires compliance with their own standards and goals.

Working with shipping companies that carefully examine the process of moving goods from the supplier in China to the United States, while examining the small nuances associated with each product, coupled with strict compliance with the objectives of Amazon, will ensure that the goods reach the warehouses of the Internet giant quickly and problem free.

For more information on shipping from China to the United States and other destinations, while strictly complying with the world’s customs requirements and the strict standards of Amazon, please contact us at

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